EPL: Essential Notes on the Current Top Four
Chelsea (Last Week #1 This Week #1)
No changes at all this week as Chelsea remain top. In an entertaining game, Juan Mata proved he is the best player in the league right now scoring twice and setting up the other two in a 4-2 over Tottenham. Chelsea dominated with close to 60% of the possession but it was unfortunate to see form players Gareth Bale and Mouassa Dembele miss out through injury mainly because the game was lost in the middle through the dominance of Juan Mata.
With three goals and five assists its quite hard to argue a better player in the country than the Spaniard right now. He is simply thriving under Di Matteo and it is a mystery why he still cannot break into the Spanish starting team.
As good as Chelsea look in the middle, the same cannot be said at the centre of defence. Between Gary Cahill and David Luiz you have two defenders that are excellent going forward but are prone to costly mistakes at the back, while defending is their main job. Yes, Cahill got a great volley (small deflection) but there seems to be no leadership at the back. Without John Terry the backline has little structure and no real leader, even though the ex-England captain is not the player he once was he is still important at club level at least for now. I would be very surprised if Terry was left out of the next match, especially considering the opponent.
First versus second is up next as United come across for what will be the most anticipated game so far. Both teams are similar in ways at the moment, looking world class going forward but the backline leaves something to be desired. Expect goals, but if one team decides to defend it could go either way.
My Prediction: Chelsea 2 – Manchester United 2
Manchester United (Last Week #2 This Week #2)
Wayne Rooney finally scores…. In the wrong net, but scores two in the right one. So is that a hat trick? United win 4-2 against a decent looking Stoke team. Robin Van Persie and Wayne Rooney looked extremely impressive together while Danny Welbeck even got a start in what was a very offensive line up and a great game to watch. The best moment for me however was the reception Michael Owen got when he came on late in the game, no United fan will forget that 97th minute winner against City and that appreciation was shown with rousing cheers.
Similar to Chelsea, issues at the back continue to be raised. This is the sixth game this season where United has had to come from behind to win. Having conceded eleven goals in the first eight games is poor by the clubs standards and Sir Alex will be looking for improvements. However, with English duo Phil Jones and Chris Smalling nearing a return to the first team it can only get better for the Red Devils as the injury crisis slowly comes to an end. The defender that is the biggest talking point however, is Rio Ferdinand who has disappointed his manager by not participating in the pre match anti-racism stand. Sir Alex expressed his disappointed with the situation and the press is speculating the future of the Englishman. Players like Jaap Stam, Ruud Van Nistelrooy, David Beckham and Carlos Tevez have all crossed the manager before and have all been shown the door so this situation will be interesting to follow.
United face a tough away game against the league leaders, and will have to improve at the back to come away with all the points. With the form Juan Mata is in he will be hard to stop, but Ferguson has seen it all before and will expect a draw at the least from this game.
My Prediction: Manchester United 2 – Chelsea 2
Manchester City (Last Week #3 This Week #3)
In a true champions display, ten man City came back in the last ten minutes to win 2-1. Its games like this which a club can look back on as important games in a title win and defence but there is still plenty of football to play. Edin Dzeko scored two goals of the bench and showed his intentions to become a starter as he continues to score for Mancini off the bench.
The Bosnian has scored six off the bench so far this season and is also the clubs top scorer in the league but yet is still coming off the bench in the 79th minute. My interpretation from his celebrations after both goals shows he is after a starting spot or he’ll be out the door. Surely it only makes sense to start your top scorer? But Mancini seems to prefer the smaller and faster Tevez and Aguero. Edin Dzeko came close to moving to Bayern Munich in the transfer window but talks broke down over agent demands and the German club looked elsewhere. If the Bosnian is still sitting on the bench by January I wouldn’t be surprised to see him leave in pursuit of the first team football he deserves.
Welsh side Swansea City are next for City and a likely three points here for the champions. I can only hope Edin Dzeko gets a derseved start in front of his home crowd but with the amount of players and egos to manage I can only guess what kind of squad the manager will put out.
My Prediction: Manchester City 4 – Swansea 1
Everton (Last Week #4 This Week #4)
Evertons impressive start to the season is slowly coming undone as the club dropped more points, this time to bottom club QPR in a 1-1 draw. The game only saw three shots on target from Everton and a red card to one of the clubs top players Steven Pienaar. Although the cards were harsh, what could be decisive is that the South African is likely to miss the Liverpool game this coming weekend.
Marouane Felliani was missed dearly; his strength and aerial presense going forward could have swayed the game in his clubs favour while his steel in the middle would have likely given QPR a lot more trouble but a knee injury prevented the Belgian getting any game time. The past weekend’s game showed how important he is, playing with a more offensive role this year he has scored some important goals and with the departure of Tim Cahill, David Moyes can only hope this continues. Everton fans can only hope he makes a swift recovery for their biggest game of the season. A player of Felliani’s quality could prove to be key and if he is out any longer I imagine more points will be dropped.
A huge Merseyside derby is up next for David Moyes team as Liverpool come across to Goodison Park. Everton will be up for this game, like any derby but I have a feeling Liverpool will take this one and Everton’s impressive stint in the top four will come to an end.
My Prediction: Everton 1 – Liverpool 2