Last week's reduced shot numbers continued (23PG vs 27PG last season) and tight games between mediocre sides have been a hallmark of the first two weeks. Hull and Villa have both got 4 points despite twice posting the lesser numbers. Hull at least had the excuse of a red card this week, but Villa are creating very little right now and are already flattered; they've had two shots on target in 180 minutes of football
It's not inconceivable that there's a recognition amongst the lesser sides that not losing is a greater priority than attempting to win, especially in away matches. Of the potentially vulnerable teams West Brom, West Ham, Southampton, Stoke and Sunderland are all running at 10 or under shots conceded per game and only kindness leads me to omit Man Utd from that list. Even at this early stage it's possible to see these teams entrenched in the comfort of mid-table rather than battling relegation.
Horribleness surrounds Selhurst Park. It feels now that the late defeat at Arsenal was less about Palace's tenacity and more about Arsenal's profligate use of their talent and a stomping at the hands of West Ham made grim reading. Pulisball had strengths that were difficult to identify & praise via statistics and the magic potion he doused his side with last season has already evaporated. Two defeats & Pulis-esque league worst numbers without Pulis equals bad times. A new coach is required very quickly & it may well simply be a case that their talent gap is too large. #PrayforPalace.
City v Liverpool
We've seen this kind of display from City before (say, last year's 3-0 at Old Trafford?) It's almost as if they know that by simply playing for 90 minutes, in the normal course of events they will score more goals than the opposition. And that's not to fault Liverpool who for large parts provided plenty enough encouragement themselves but this was a game between two good teams, only one of which has pretensions to become truly great. Obviously for Liverpool the loss of Suarez is tangible & they are a lesser team without him, and I feel that Balotelli could be a smart move, if only for talismanic reasons. He is a world star, enigmatic & wayward but a star nonetheless & that seemed to be the difference here. City's squad is already full of stars, so much so that their bench sees little downgrade in quality from whatever eleven starts.
I've got City as big favourites for the title & from what i've seen so far in two games, I think they are better equipped this year than last.
- Aguero currently running at 6.2 NPG90 after 2 goals in 29 minutes of play which shows all the fun and failings of small samples!
- 7KPs, 6 dribbles and a goal for Hazard
- Only 10 T&Is for Mile the Wall this week
- Tadic was the only guy attacking for Southampton. He had 41% of their shots/dribbles/key passes.
- Youssouf Mulumbu with the season high 15 T&Is (9T,6I)
- There were 140 long balls in Hull v Stoke (73v67). Must've been a tough watch.
Harry came back, as did Glenn and Pochettino's system made them look like the relics they might well be. Fluid attractive play was the order of the day and whilst there was less pressing going on than was anticipated, nobody had a bad game and the match was wrapped up well before half time. This was a tantalisingly clear display of what many fans have hoped could be achieved with this set of personnel if only somebody coached them properly & after what should be a routine home European match in the week, Liverpool are arriving next time; a genuine test. Intriguingly with the transfer window closing very soon, Dawson, Townsend, Paulinho and Sandro didn't even make the bench and to my knowledge none was injured.
With centre back Fazio rumoured to be coming from Sevilla, a busy week can be expected for Chief Levy providing he recovers from his Ice Bucket challenge; his nomination of Florentino Perez 'who owes this club a lot' provided intrigue during this rare example of fan engagement.
And yeah, Lamela :)
Thanks for reading.
Did you see 'Comparing Schneiderlin' ?
I played with numbers & compared Pochettino's midfield and forward options at Southampton with what he has now at Tottenham.
And the Tottenham season preview is still floating around here .
Check back next week for another Premiership Review, between now and then a lot could happen: transfer insanity.