Well, well, well. At the beginning of the season, in my first article, I spoke of Manchester United being favourites to win the title…but could be easily be let down by their shabby defence. Now, I don’t like to say I told you so, but I told you so. Never before have I seen such a great, prowess of attacking players combined with the most unreliable and rusty defence (although Liverpool’s up there with them too!).
Huddersfield Town had a very good start to the season, winning their first 2 games and drawing one, but then went on a 5 game streak without winning. So when they faced an unbeaten, strong Manchester United team at the weekend, I thought this would be a pretty much simple victory for the Red devils. Yet, in the 28th minute Juan Mata gave the ball away to Aaron Mooy in midfield and after he fed Tom Ince, whose shot was saved by David de Gea, the Australian was first to the rebound to sweep home from 10 yards, giving Huddersfield the shock lead. And to my dismay, the Swedish defender Victor Lindelof – on as a substitute for the injured Phil Jones and making just his second Premier League appearance – misjudged a goal kick by Jonas Lossl and Laurent Depoitre raced onto the loose ball to round De Gea and double the Terriers’ lead. Marcus Rashford gave United hope with 12 minutes remaining when he nodded in a terrific cross from the otherwise quiet Romelu Lukaku. But despite a nervy finale and with United enjoying almost 80% of possession, the Terriers clung on to record their first league win against United since 1952 and end a run of six league games without a victory. Legends such as Rio Ferdinand, Nemanja Vidic, Jaap Stam have all vacated the starting centre back role for Manchester United in the past years and to see Lindelof, an unexperienced, dodgy youngster playing at the back is an embarrassment to a club of that size and stature.
One player I’ve been watching all season so far is the Brazilian, new boy Richarlison. Despite having only arrived at Vicarage Road in August for a £11.2 million transfer from Fluminense, the 20 year old skilful winger has already won over the Watford faithful. Overseas talents – particularly ones so young – usually need time to adapt to English football but Richarlison already looks right at home, after scoring 3 goals, assisting 2 and earning the MOTM award in 3 of his first 6 games. Going into the game against Chelsea, Watford found themselves in the top four and after beating Arsenal and considering Chelsea handed Crystal Palace their first 3 points of the season last weekend, the Hornets fancied their chances at Stamford Bridge. The reigning champions started off on the front foot as Pedro put the home side ahead in the 12th minute with a sensational 25-yard strike that curled away from Watford goalkeeper Heurelho Gomes and in off the right-hand post. But the Blues were shaky defensively throughout and Marco Silva’s Hornets scored twice through Abdoulaye Doucoure and Roberto Pereyra to put them on course for a famous victory. At this point I think a valuable lesson was learnt showing that sometimes playing well isn’t just enough, you actually have to get the result. As Richarlison, dubbed the “young Ronaldo”, showcased his talents with a number of tricky skills he fluffed his lines while Watford was in the ascendancy. Missing two glorious chances – one from six yards out, the other a close-range header – either side of Pereyra’s goal. Then Batshuayi’s equaliser prepared the eruptions around the stadium when Cesar Azpilicueta headed the Blues 3-2 in front in the 87th minute before Batshuayi scoring his second of the game and sealing victory in stoppage time, ending a three-game winless run despite an unconvincing performance from the champions.
“I still believe I can change the whole situation.” Ironic that. These were the last words Ronald Koeman said to the media before being sacked by Everton after Sunday’s 5-2 home defeat by Arsenal left them in the Premier League relegation zone. The 54-year-old Dutchman, who guided Everton to seventh place in his first season in charge last term, paid the price for a poor start to this season despite having spent £140m in the summer. Considering Lukaku left in the summer and with no true out and out striker starting for them every week, it was no wonder Everton’s fall from grace was so rapid. But for me, I believe this was an unfair sacking as not only did the former Barcelona and Ajax player guide Everton to Europe but it was the board’s decision to sell Lukaku and embed on a new strategy while juggling with double the number of games compared to last season. Now, I’m not usually the one to be praising the Gunners as I believe they’re a prime example of how not to run a football club.It frustrates me how everything to that club is a business but I do have to say Sanchez and Ozil were the most outstanding players out on that pitch on Sunday. But, that ponders the thorny question facing manager Arsene Wenger whether those two illustrious players will actually stay at the club, considering their contracts run out at the end of this year. If you lose those two Arsenal, say bye bye to Champions league football for maybe another season.
Toon Toon Toon! Substitute Mikel Merino scored a late winner as Newcastle beat Crystal Palace to keep Roy Hodgson’s side rooted to the bottom of the Premier League. Newcastle manager Rafa Benitez described it as “another step forward” as his side climbed to sixth in the table. The Magpies, promoted last year after winning the Championship tittle, have started the season off the best way they could have hoped for and with Benitez sitting comfortably in his glorious chair, listening to the army of Geordies singing his name as another win is secured, he couldn’t ask for anymore.