After another fantastic weekend of Premier League action, it’s time to review five things we learned after game week 23 …
The goals and form have dried up for Chelsea
Chelsea’s 0-0 against Leicester was the third game in a row the Stamford Bridge club have drawn without getting on the scoresheet. Antonio Conte’s side were outplayed for large parts of Saturdays encounter, and their summer signing Alvaro Morata is cleary finding life in the Premier League tough after a superb start to life in England.
Even after Leicester had Ben Chilwell sent off in the 66th minute the current Premier League Champions never really looked like breaking the deadlock. Chelsea’s manager Antonio Conte (who hasn’t won a game since he began his feud with Jose Mourinho), continues to blame his sides woes on fatigue, due to his their busy schedule, and he can of course point out that this is why he is so adamant that his club needs to strengthen their squad this month. But in many ways his constant complaining about his players being tried could well be giving them a ready made excuse for below par performances.
Most of us expect the Italian coach to walk away from Stamford Bridge this summer, however if his team do not get back to winning ways against Norwich in the FA Cup on Wednesday speculation about his future will only intensify.
Klopp shows everybody else how to beat Man City
Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool finally succeeded were every other Premier League team had failed so far this season, by beating runaway league leaders Manchester City 4-3 in a thrilling encounter at Anfield yesterday.
Many teams had tried many different strategies to stop Pep Guardiola’s sky blue juggernaut up until yesterday. Some tried to go at City, whilst others tried to defend deep and exploit space on the counter attack, however almost all these differing approaches ended up with the same result, defeat.
In many ways Liverpool’s win yesterday was not just a win for them, but also a win for footballing purists. Fittingly the team who finally ended City’s 22 game unbeaten run in the Premier League this season was a team that did so by going toe-to-toe with them.
Klopp’s side blew the opposition away during a 15 minute period in the second half that was the perfect demonstration of high pressing and clinical finishing.
This was no fluke however, as this was the German coaches fifth career victory over Guardiola, which is more than any other manager. Klopp’s high press has proven over time to be the most effective way to combat team’s who are insistent on playing out from the back.
The fact Liverpool put this superb performance in without the recently departed Philippe Coutinho and £75 million defender Virgil Van Dijk, simply made it all the more impressive.
Arnautovic starting to prove his worth for West Ham
Marko Arnautovic’s first few months as West Ham’s record signing were far from ideal. His work-rate and commitment were openly questioned by both the club’s coaching staff and the Hammers faithful.
After leaving former club Stoke for £25 million and being pretty vocal about his belief that he had joined a bigger club, it looked as if the Austria international was going to actually end up regretting his move to East London.
However, since the arrival of David Moyes as manager at the London Stadium, and his subsequent decision to start playing the 28-year-old attacker as a central striker the player has put in a series of superb match-winning displays.
On Saturday against Huddersfield Arnautovic was simply unplayable, and has now scored or assisted nine times in his last seven Premier League appearances.
The former Inter Milan star is now starting to look worth every penny of his clubs outlay in the summer, and if Moyes side are to continue their march up the league table he will undoubtedly be their key man.
Arsenal’s top four bid is over before the end of January
Arsenal’s 2-1 defeat against Bournemouth now means the club are eight points away from fourth position in the Premier League. Last season when The Gunners failed to achieve Champions League qualification, it represented the first time in 18 seasons that Arsene Wenger had failed to guide his team into Europe’s premier competition. Yesterday’s dismal display all but confirmed that Arsenal will again not be able to finish in the top four this campaign.
With the club’s only two genuinely world-class players Mesut Ozil and Alexis Sanchez looking likely to leave The Emirates, either this month or next summer, it seems as if what will be left after their departure will be nothing more than a very average side, and a manager so past his sell by date that he is starting to grow mould.
If Wenger does in fact leave the club this summer it will be with his reputation well and truly tarnished, and sadly he will have nobody to blame but himself.
Burnley’s brilliant season is starting to run out of steam
Burnley’s 1-0 defeat to Crystal Palace on Saturday meant it is now seven games without a win for Sean Dyche’s side. Worryingly, for the gravelly voiced coach, it is not just the three points that have dried up, but also the goals and shots on target.
The Clarets have of course suffered from injuries and suspensions lately, and have really missed the creative spark of Republic of Ireland midfielder Robbie Brady. However, Dyche will be aware that his side could really do with a decent result and performance when Manchester United visit Turf Moor next weekend.
It is of course not all doom and gloom for The Clarets, in fact for a club of their resources to sit in seventh place in the table on 34 points after 23 games is an outstanding achievement. Although, if they do not stop the rot soon, the danger is that they will begin to fall down the table, and a season that promised to be one of the finest in the club’s history may well end up leaving a sour taste in the mouth.