Tuesday 20 February 2018 / 10:45 PM


Talking points and analysis from Week 6 of the Premier League.

Merseyside catch a break

They may be bitter rivals, but both Liverpool and Everton will be happy to have something in common.
A win brings respite, but as has been the case thus far, all of Liverpool’s woes were on full display as they got out of jail late from what would have been a disheartening draw with Leicester.

Liverpool’s midfield is spongy, and their set-piece defence is truly awful. When the two come together, the panic is clear. After defending a free kick, they were so relieved they clocked off and allowed points of the following corner.

Frustratingly, Klopp once again failed to address these woes in any media interactions. At the very least, it’s great to see Coutinho back on the pitch and contributing, his creation necessary to lift them to the next level. He was by far the best on ground, a gorgeous ball putting Salah in before he added a goal of his own with a screamer free kick.

Meanwhile, Everton relied on former outcast and unlikely hero Bayer Oumar-Niasse to score twice off the bench to come from behind and beat Bournemouth. Points will help in the short-term, but neither inspired confidence or addressed their woes moving forward.\

‘Pep’ in their step

The Pep Guardiola revolution has finally taken hold of Manchester City. The 5-0 result against Crystal Palace was of no surprise, but the relevance it holds for City’s progression shouldn’t lost in the scheme of their current dominance.

For seasons, this has been the type of fixture City has failed to capitalise on, so an emphatic victory holds plenty of weight, even when totally expected. Most importantly, the playing style has come together. The crisp passing now has a direction, and there is a clear understanding of what they are working to as a unit.

For tangible proof of the style evolution, prior to Fabian Delph’s wonder goal — a tremendous curler into the top corner — City strung together 32 passes, the most in the lead-up to a goal in the EPL since early-2015. Now we need to see it against a top-tier opponent…Chelsea come on down.

Chelsea ruthless, Stoke toothless

‘Defend and extend’: there is no team in the Premier League harder to dislodge from a 1-0 lead than the defending champions. Stoke knew any chance of victory would have to come in similar fashion as their win against Arsenal, holding serve and striking late, so conceding inside the first 90 seconds wasn’t exactly ideal.

It was a case of awful defence that Chelsea were perfectly orchestrated to capitalise on — Bakayoko interrupting a lazy pass and linking with Azpillicueta who put it on a platter for Morata, completely unmarked in front of goal. From then on it was about holding secure and frustrating Stoke out of the match.

The visitors were clinical, but far from aggressive: they only took seven shots on goal for the entire game — impressive considering the 4-0 final score — whilst Stoke managed to fire off seven of their own, failing to build anything substantial, with only two attempts on target. The Blues pressed the air out of the home side before Fabregas and Hazard took the offence to a new level once entering. With Stoke against the ropes they dazzled in space and created plenty of opportunities late.

Signs are positive for Chelsea, flying under the radar as they prepare for a heavyweight clash against Manchester City.

Pesky promotion teams causing trouble

Huddersfield Town thwarted any hope of Burnley finding some form, killing all momentum to produce a dour 0-0 draw. They are now sole owners of the third-best defence record in the league, with only the two Manchester sides conceding less goals.

The other two newcomers squared off in a much more lively affair. Newcastle were poised and calm in the first half, seemingly unconcerned with Brighton’s frantic movement, managing to stifle their early energy and appeared well in control of the game.

But the Eagles won’t die wondering, and their constant pressure led to an opportunity. They converted and rode out the advantage to a win.

Brighton bring it to their opponents, and despite being perennial underdogs, they don’t shy away from the competition, unlucky not to crack Newcastle in the opening third. Once Newcastle regained possession they simply found their shape, tracked back and protected the goal square with what essentially became a back-six, looking as stable as you can when you goal without the ball for 10-minute periods at a time.

Underestimate these clubs at your own peril, it feels likely that one will soon upset a big club and shake up the competition.

Spurs open up

Finally, Spurs have a shot-to-goal ratio that makes sense. After jacking up 20-plus without a score last week, it took only 15 to net thrice, thanks to a more balanced game where West Ham were willing to attempt to disrupt them and press back. It didn’t work, but it brought out a different Spurs to the one struggling to open up any clean looks on goal so far this season.

Harry Kane is a beast, growing in form each week, and the more they feed him the quicker they’ll re-enter the title race. The scoreline looks a little less dominant due to Serge Aurier’s red and a small Hammers fightback, but with Huddersfield and Bournemouth in sight, Spurs should keep the good times rolling.

Stray Observations

  • Loftus-Cheek was again outstanding in a losing side. Palace’s lone bright spot thus far.
  • City are ridiculously deep, but how do they leave Sane out of the starting XI considering the touch he’s in? Always produces.
  • The penalty against Mingolet was controversial, but he should have fully committed to the ball. He covered his error by stopping Vardy’s poor penalty.
  • Jonjo Shelvy’s ridiculous red card appears to have cost him his spot in Newcastle’s starting side. Without surprise, his first involvement off the bench was a foul.
  • Mat Ryan watch: 17 shots for Newcastle, not one troubling the Australia keeper. Brighton’s shape in their own half is tremendous, completely protecting the goal.
  • Happy to see Arthur Musuaku get on the pitch late and pick up an assist against Tottenham. A horror opening game against United killed any confidence and dented the manager’s faith in him. Plenty to offer when he’s on.

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About the author

Brayden Issa

Brayden is a Sydney-based sports management student and sports fanatic, specialising in rugby league, basketball, football and cricket. He is concerned with everything related to professional sports performance and management.

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