How the premier league look

After Three Weeks In How The Premier League Looks

The Premier League season careered into the international break at the end of Matchday 3. At the top of the table, the big-spending trio of Manchester City, Chelsea and Manchester United are locked on nine points, each with a 100% record.

Perhaps the only surprise in the way the table is shaped is that Arsenal and Tottenham are not closer to the top, four and five points adrift of the leading pack respectively.

We look at what we have learned so far from the opening phase of the 2016/17 Premier League season.

How the Premier League Looks ​

CHANGE IS GOOD

For the most part, anyway.

The top five all have new managers. Their clubs are revitalised and reinvigorated by new philosophies, new signings and a general feelgood factor around the place.

But one club – more than any other – epitomises the good which change can bring.

Hull city rise

Hull City are a shambles off the pitch, subject to a takeover by Chinese investors and owned by individuals unwilling or incapable of investing in the squad. Yet Mike Phelan took over following Steve Bruce’s abrupt departure and has fashioned two wins out of three. He can argue his side were unlucky to lose against Manchester United by a single Marcus Rashford goal and few would disagree.

It’s a testament to the belief Phelan has instilled in his players and their willingness to fight for each other that the opening day win over defending Premier League champions Leicester City was followed by an equally impressive win at Swansea.

No-one believes Hull will emulate the Foxes success but the club many forecast to be racing certainties for a quick return to the Championship, are six points closer to safety than many of their relegation rivals.

SPENDING MONEY ISN’T NECESSARILY BAD

The equivalent of a small country’s GDP has left the Manchester United coffers this summer but so far, Jose Mourinho’s investment policy is paying off.

Mourinho Press confrance

Paul Pogba made his debut against Southampton with an imperious performance which went some way to justifying his exorbitant price tag. More like that, coupled with a title win, and few will argue it wasn’t good business.

But the Portuguese manager is a changed man. Sort of. There have been tetchy outbursts in press conferences – part temper, part stage-managed – as he keeps himself in the public eye and stops his players’ performances being dissected.

It’s typical Mourinho and why journalists love him; he’s good copy. The business end of the season may see that change as may results. United are winning at the moment and playing some delightful football along the way. But three wins out of three was what we expected from matches against Bournemouth, Southampton and Hull City.

Next up is the Mancunian derby, Pep Guardiola and all, where we may learn if there is any substance to the United revival.

PEP GUARDIOLA’S RUTHLESS STREAK TAKES CITY TOP

It didn’t take long for Pep Guardiola to make his presence felt at Manchester City. The club’s pre-season was indifferent in terms of results and the opening day win over Sunderland, a little fortuitous.

Since then City have gone from strength to strength, scoring thirteen goals in the four subsequent games. Stoke City were demolished, as were Steaua Bucharest, whilst West Ham were toyed with before being finished off.

Free-scoring, relentlessly pressurising their opponents; it’s as if Bayern and Barcelona have come to the Premier League but the same caveat which was applied to city neighbours, Manchester United, applies here as well.

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City were expected to win those games and comfortably. Nine points and Champions League qualification were the targets set for this month and they have been achieved. Anything less and the pressure would have been huge. We will learn more the weekend after next in the Mancunian derby and also in the two European matches against Monchengladbach and Celtic; it’s a busy spell and City need results.

However, Guardiola’s biggest impact has been his ruthlessness. Samir Nasri is set to follow Joe Hart out of the door with the England goalkeeper joining Torino on loan. Pep quickly made up his mind that Hart’s distribution was a liability and not going to improve enough for his liking.

Relegated to the bench in favour of Willy Caballero, salt was rubbed into the wounds when Claudio Bravo arrived from Barcelona. England’s Number One was City’s Number Three. Hart’s reputation has been shredded by Guardiola with a move to Serie A the solution.

It was a clear message to the rest of the squad: shape up or ship out.

CHELSEA HAVE MUCH WORK TO DO

Which might seem a strange thing to say given that they have won three out of three. However, the only convincing victory, the only semblance of cohesion on the pitch for ninety minutes, came last weekend in the 3 – 0 win over Burnley.

West Ham United and Watford were beaten by the skin of their teeth with both having good arguments that the winning goalscorer, Diego Costa, should not have been on the pitch at the time.

can chelsea crown premier league Champions

Antonio Conte is sure to brighten up the Premier League season with his touchline histrionics as he kicks every ball passionately. Fourth officials are careful to stand clear of him lest they be on the receiving end of a full-blooded volley from the Italian.

But the Blues misfiring in the opening two games is a concern. Adding N’Golo Kante has strengthened the midfield but Conte has struggled to add defenders. Two deadline day deals for David Luiz and Marcos Alonso are mooted but is it enough?

The allure of signing for Chelsea has dulled as they aren’t in this season’s Champions League but also reflects the diminished status following higher profile managerial changes at City and United. As much as Conte has a fabulous footballing reputation, it seems the bigger names are only looking to the north-west for their taste of English football.

With Liverpool and Arsenal to face next month, it’s vital Chelsea strengthen their defence this transfer window otherwise the better opposition may punish them severely.

PATIENCE IS NOT A VIRTUE

There’s something in the north London air and it’s the sound of mutiny. Certainly from N5 but it may also be brewing along the Seven Sisters Road.

Arsenal have just completed their summer signings with £52m spent on Shkodran Mustafi and Lucas Perez, adding to the £36m already spent earlier in the window. But supporters are asking why the wait?

Germany defender Mustafi

Centre back and forward were both areas Arsène Wenger identified as needing strengthening earlier in the summer. The opportunistic purchase of Jamie Vardy fell through in May so why the delay in signing a striker? Linked to Lacazette, Griezmann and Morata, the Gunners couldn’t strike a deal with anyone and signing Lucas Perez by activating his release clause smacks of a club running out of options.

Wenger and CEO Ivan Gazidis made big plays last season of the financial muscle the club had, of how they were able to compete in the transfer market with the elite clubs. Instead, they acted like a small club, bystanders whilst others went about their business efficiently.

Five dropped points already suggests Arsenal got it horribly wrong this summer despite the quality of their purchases. Time will tell if they will eventually get it right.

Over at White Hart Lane, it’s been an equally frustrating time for the fans. Victor Wanyama and Vincent Janssen are decent additions but on their own, they are not going to transform last season’s also-rans into contenders.

Much-vaunted as a negotiator, Tottenham chairman Daniel Levy has struggled to push deals over the line and is now scrambling around to get them completed before the transfer window closes today.

One of the two north London clubs is going to regret this summer and be cruelly reminded that patience is not a virtue in the transfer window. Missing out on Champions League football will most likely cost one or both of Arsène Wenger and Mauricio Pochettino their jobs.

MERSEYSIDE HAS THE BLUES

A week is a long time in politics but it’s a lifetime in football.

Liverpool opened the season by blitzing Arsenal at the Emirates, before tamely succumbing to defeat at Turf Moor. It was the first time in nearly half-a-century that Burnley had beaten the Reds in a league match, and they did so with a ridiculously low amount of possession.

A draw at Tottenham is a good result and thoroughly deserved but Jurgen Klopp’s first full season in charge has begun inauspiciously. The German and a host of new signings haven’t shaken off the inconsistency which has dogged Liverpool for years, with little sign that the former Borussia Dortmund boss has got close to finding the true cause.

Across Stanley Park, Everton are riding the crest of a wave. Ronald Koeman’s best business in the transfer window may have come in persuading Romelu Lukaku to stay at Goodison Park for one more year but the other members of his squad have stood up to be counted.

Unfortunate to draw against Spurs on the opening day, they have since beaten West Bromwich Albion and Stoke City with flourishes that weren’t reflected in the scoreline. There is a new pragmatism at Everton, superseding the indecisiveness which became the hallmark of Roberto Martinez’s reign.

The win over Stoke at the weekend saw them shut up shop as the match entered the final stages rather than chasing a second and potentially decisive goal. In years gone by, they would probably have been hit by a late sucker punch.

The Koeman era is getting off to a strong start.

MONEY CAN’T BUY YOU LOVE BUT IT CAN BRING IN A LOT OF PLAYERS

When Arsenal completed the signings of Shkodran Mustafi and Lucas Perez, the combined £52m spend took the total summer bill for the Premier League to over £1bn. One billion pounds; think about that for one moment.

Recent weeks have seen Arsène Wenger and Antonio Conte bemoan the fact that foreign players have become more expensive, with overseas clubs demanding higher fees for players than they would from their domestic counterparts.

It’s tough; the English game boasted about the riches the new broadcasting deal would bring them and there were only two things which were going to happen: players would want higher wages, and, players would cost more to buy.

If the layman could see that, why did it take two experienced managers by surprise?

Eleven of the twenty Premier League clubs have smashed their transfer records this summer, and it’s no coincidence that those at the bottom of the table have been relatively low spenders, with the exception of Crystal Palace.

Developing squads is rapidly becoming a thing of the past with the Premier League’s answer to everything being to spend, spend, spend!

LEICESTER CITY’S SUCCESS IS A FLASH IN THE PAN

Premier League champions last season, mid-table this. Claudio Ranieri, the top flight’s most likeable manager, may have exceeded expectations last season but his squad will be sorely tested this time around.

Beaten on the opening day by Hull, they have gradually improved, recording their first win at the weekend against Swansea. September is likely to be the most testing and gruelling of months. Trips to Liverpool and Manchester United in the Premier League, Chelsea in the EFL Cup and their Champions League debut against Brugge followed by Porto.

Claudio Ranieri

If they win two of those, they will be lucky and I suspect supporters would prefer it to be the European games.

Chelsea snaring N’Golo Kante has been a body blow to the Foxes and they are struggling to cope with his absence. Patience, in this case, might be a virtue and allow new players to bed into English life on and off the pitch.

However, it’s very obvious even now that mid-table obscurity will be a good season for the defending champions. So long as they finish higher than Chelsea last year, they won’t mind.

Leaving the Blues firmly as the worst defending champions isn’t much of an ambition but in modern football, it’s somehow fitting that one of the division’s richest clubs is to date, the holder of an unwanted record.

About the Author Moha

Hardcore fun of the beautiful game. Played soccer for different clubs in my country before hanging up my boots. Now writer for My Soccer HQ

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