A poignant and dramatic weekend of football was served up to us on week eleven of the Premier League. Here is a look at five things we learned from the best of the action.
Leicester pay fitting tribute
Premier League officials offered Leicester City the chance to postpone their match with Cardiff City this weekend. The horrific helicopter crash with took the life of their immensely popular chairman, has shaken the entire city to its core this week. After a lot of consultation and soul searching, The Foxes decided to go ahead with their match as a tribute to Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha.
Their 0-1 win in Wales was an emotionally charged affair and the club’s players did remarkably well to get through the ninety minutes with such an event hanging over them. Football was a secondary issue in this game, but Leicester showed tremendous solidarity with their fans amid some very touching scenes on Saturday.
Arsenal look to be the real deal
Unai Emery looks to be way ahead of schedule with his recovery plan for The Gunners. Arsenal put in a really strong showing in their 1-1 draw with Liverpool in Saturday’s late kick off. The home side were made to ride their luck in parts and Liverpool had a goal wrongly ruled out for off side, as well as twice hitting the post.
However, Arsenal really made The Reds work for their point and were aggressive from the off. They look trimmer and fitter than they were last season and moved the ball a lot faster through Liverpool’s lines. This was supposed to be the game when their old weaknesses came back to the surface, but on this showing they look a real contender for a return to the Champions League football.
Wolves show a return to bad habits
It’s not exactly panic stations yet for Nuno Espirito Santo’s men, but it’s now three defeats on the spin for Wolves in the Premier League. And yet they could so easily have got something out of their 2-3 home defeat to Spurs in Saturday’s evening match.
Spurs were clinical when they had to be, but they did afford Wolves a fair few chances during the game. In a weekend of dire decisions from officials, Jimenez had a goal ruled out for offside on 37 minutes for the home team, in a really poor call from the linesman. However, Wolves managed seven shots on goal and really should have hit the back of the net after Gibbs-White played a wonderful through ball into Costa who duly fluffed his lines on 75 minutes.
Neves and Jimenez also missed chances for Wolves who are starting to show a level of wastefulness that may come back to haunt them. With Arsenal coming up next, they will need to be sharper and more clinical otherwise it looks set to be another hard luck story after a really positive start to life in the top flight.
City get another training exercise
In all fairness to Southampton, any team can go to the Etihad and be well beaten. However, Mark Hughes will be all too aware of just how easy his side made things for his former employers.
Man City were superb again, but were treated to yet another exercise in warming up as opposed to an actual competitive game of football. As we’ve seen in their recent waltzes against Cardiff and Burnley, Southampton were just nowhere near the standard of the Premier League Champions. The Saints did actually test Ederson a few times, but when you’re three nil down after twenty minutes, those efforts seemed all the more futile.
Four times in their last seven league games, Guardiola’s men have been able to win comfortably without any real danger from the opposition. Whether this is down to a gulf in class, or pure intimidation remains to be seen. However, good as Liverpool and Chelsea have looked at times, City look a level above as things stand.
United still dependent on second half surge
For the third time in row, Manchester United needed an almost complete turnaround in attitude and effort from their players, to get something from a Premier League game.
For a significant chunk of their tie away at Bournemouth they were distinctly second best. They were fortunate to be level at half time, following some excellent attacking football played by Eddie Howe’s men. However, they did rally at The Vitality in the second half.
Bournemouth scrambled one clear off the line and were forced deeper than they’d have liked, for several passages of play as they bore the brunt of some much hungrier play by United. Ultimately, the visitors had the right quality when it was it needed, in stoppage time, but they really cannot carry on giving their opponents a free ride for an hour before deciding to turn up.