Top Four: Essential Notes on the Current Top Four
Another dominant win which means another week at the top for a very impressive looking Chelsea. Norwich was this week’s victims going down 4-1 in what was another free-flowing display by playmakers Juan Mata and Eden Hazard. Chelsea dominated from beginning to end, controlling the game with 69% of the possession.
As good as Chelsea have played, to an extent they have been fortunate with injury. Daniel Sturridge is the only real injury currently at the club while the rest of the table topping team has enjoyed a fine start to the campaign. It’s pretty clear so far that Hazard and Mata are essential to the clubs initial success, if one or even both were struck by injury who steps in? With Fernando Torres playing well and scoring goals, what happens if he goes down injured on international duty? Other top teams are having several injury issues but Chelsea so far have kept fit and depth has not been an issue. So far. I think the league leaders real test will come when one or two go down with niggling injuries or when the Christmas fixture list stretches the squad but until then I see the dominance continuing.
After the international break, Chelsea’s next game will be the eye catcher of the round as the blues travel across London to face a Tottenham team high on confidence and on the brink of the top four. This will be quite the test for Chelsea and as Villas Boas gets a go at his ex-employers, I think this is to close to call.
My Prediction: Tottenham 1 – Chelsea 1
Manchester United (Last Week #3 This Week #2)
United came away Tyneside with a strong 3-0 win; only their second league clean sheet this season. The Red Devils capitalised on the home sides defensive issues as Evans and Evra both scored early headers off almost identical corners. Both were followed by a wonderfully placed shot/cross into the top right corner by Tom Cleverley, however if you asked the Englishman he would obviously say he was going for goal.
The 3-0 win looks impressive on paper, but clear issues were raised between the sticks as David De Gea got his first start in four games. De Gea did has always been an excellent shot stopper and is improving in the United keeper top but his weakness in the air during crosses is still frequent. The Spaniard looked uncomfortable coming off his line for various corners and crosses from the opposing team and easily could have lost his clean sheet had the ball fallen to a Newcastle player. Pressure is on De Gea, as Anders Lindegaard continues to compete for the No.1 jersey. It would be unfair however to just criticise the goalkeeper as Ferdinand and Evans were equally weak under the high ball. Demba Ba had the better of the pair throughout the match and was unlucky to not get on the score sheet. United have progressed this week, but still have plenty to fix at the back.
Next up is the forever tough game with Stoke City. As Liverpool found out over the weekend, this physical team is very hard to break down but with the ability United have up front I expect a win in front of the home fans. It will be close, but I see United taking this one and Rooney getting on the score sheet.
My Prediction: Manchester United 2 – Stoke City 0
Manchester City (Last Week #4 This Week #3)
Premier league champions Manchester City showed their quality in another 3-0 win, this being their first clean sheet of the season as both Manchester teams stay strong at the back this week. Two amazing free kicks by Kolarov and Milner while super sub Aguero capped off a match that made fans remember they are still the team to beat.
Club captain Vincent Kompany missed the game through a calf injury which allowed City to show off their incredible depth. The English pair of Micah Richards and Joleon Lescott controlled the back for City as Sunderland rarely got an opportunity away at Joe Hart who is arguably the best keeper in the world at the moment. The clubs depth is so strong Sergio Aguero only got just over thirty minutes off the bench while Edin Dzeko couldn’t get on the field. Mario Balotelli was sacrificed to accommodate one of the world-class strikers but clearly was not happy as he walked down the tunnel without acknowledging the bench. The former Inter man is an amazing talent, but must improve his temperament or he could find himself on the way out. I would be surprised to see Mario start the next game after his recent outburst, as others need game time.
City now head to the Hawthorns to face an over achieving West Brom, as impressive as they have been I don’t see them getting a result based on Cities most recent performance.
My Prediction: West Brom 0 – Manchester City 3
Everton (Last Week #2 This Week #4)
Based on the incredible start by his team, David Moyes would have expected all three points at Wigan but thanks to a late penalty from Leighton Baines Everton only came away with a point in a 2-2 win that drops the club down to forth. Early goals from Wigan made a comeback difficult but it was Everton’s commitment and constant pressure that resulted in the penalty that took the point.
Although the overall result was disappointing and resulted in dropped points, Nikica Jelavic was a plus as the clubs main striker performed yet again. The Croatian scored his fourth league goal of the season and was constantly a threat while the Wigan back four struggled to deal with his aerial ability and movement in the box. With the international break upon us, Everton fans can only hope the momentum continues when the league re commences later this month. With a Merseyside derby on the horizon retaining the clubs form would mean a lot to the local fans who love getting one over on their neighbours. For this to happen, David Moyes and the clubs coaching staff can only wish key players like Jelavic come back without a scratch. Even though the club has improved in-depth, players like Jelavic and Pienaar for example won’t be easily replaced especially with tough matches ahead.
After the break is another game Everton fans expect three points from as the club travels to Loftus road to face a lowly QPR side in need of a win. Provided Everton keep momentum going they should still be in the top four by the end of the match, but with the pressure of Tottenham in fifth anything could happen.
My Prediction: QPR 1 – Everton 2
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