Kieran Davies reviews the weekend drama as big-name managers already begin to look over their shoulder.
The executioner is sharpening his blade. We are six games into the new season and the guillotine is looming for many a manager. It’s the players who are truly culpable for a side’s poor form or performances but as is the way in the crazy world of football, it’s the manager who faces the chop. There are some big clubs struggling for form, but no side is too big to go down. West Ham never even contemplated being in the position they are in, everything was rosy in the summer and they were even targeting big name signings which really raised some eyebrows. After all, at some point last season they were actually in the race for that coveted 4th place Champions League spot…….how the temporarily mighty have fallen! Dimitri Payet was largely responsible for their fantastic form but his qualities seemed to make the others around him to raise their game as is often the case. European football, a new stadium and despite his fantastic Euros they even managed to hold onto their star man. This dream has well and truly imploded however, knocked out of Europe by some part time minnows and finding themselves in the bottom three is not what even the most pessimistic Hammers fan could have predicted in their worst nightmares! One win and five defeats sees Bilic already looking over his shoulder and they looked poor at home against Southampton, Championship material almost. Maybe it’s a good thing their fans are sat so far away from the pitch in their new stadium that only people with 20/20 vision or those who have invested in binoculars are able to see the action!
Luckily for West Ham there are two sides who currently couldn’t win a raffle if they were the only ones buying tickets, Stoke and Sunderland fans, you know who you are! Just like the last ten minutes at the Olympic Stadium, at Sunderland the most poignant chant from away fans would be is there a fire drill? Is there a fire drill? As there we more empty seats than a Man City Champions League game! Shockingly Moyes’ side found themselves 2-0 up in this one with an hour played, only to go on to lose the game 3-2. There is surely only so long David Moyes can point to his success at Everton before people just focus on his achievements or lack thereof, since departing Goodison Park.
Stoke City on the other hand are letting that many in, you’d swear Angela Merkel was in goals for them! This is a big worry for Potters fans, as Hughes side have been well beaten all too often this season. Like Sunderland they suffered the heart wrenching feeling of a late away goal denying them a first win of the season. There is a long way to go in this campaign but these fine margins of not being able to see games out may come back to bite them.
Despite their impressive start to the season, Middlesbrough are in a rut of three defeats on the bounce and are sliding towards that Premier League trapdoor. This week, in form Tottenham were the visitors and although the scoreline looks close, Spurs will feel they should have been awarded two penalties in this one which would have given a more realistic scoreline. The White Hart Lane outfit find themselves still unbeaten this season and sitting pretty in second place but more importantly, winning games without Harry Kane.
Pace setters Man City, maintained their 100% start to the season with a convincing win in South Wales against Swansea. Guardiola really seems to have hit the ground running and boasts a fantastic record in the early days of his Man City tenure. There are still question marks over his defence and it will be interesting when they get more of an examination by an attacking, free-flowing, determined opposition. Sergio Aguero is on fire at the moment and even at this early stage it is easy to see that keeping him fit will be important to City’s success. Swansea on the other hand are already talking of a change of manager with Ryan Giggs being mooted for the role. I would be surprised and disappointed if the former Man Utd player/coach were to take this role. A Cardiff boy manager of Swansea? Surely not!
That’s worse than sleeping with your brothers…..ah wait! Swansea’s problems stem from selling Ashley Williams the rock of their back four and being deprived of a 15/20 goal striker since the days of Michu and Bony. They may need a magician not an ex-Man Utd legend!
Eddie Howe’s Bournemouth were flirting with the wrong end of the table before this weekend’s fixtures but they managed to upset the form guide against a lacklustre Everton team. Koeman will be bitterly disappointed with this week which has seen his team knocked out of the EFL Cup at the hands of Norwich, closely followed by sacrificing their unbeaten start to the season against a workman-like Bournemouth. They seem too reliant on Lukaku’s goals and need to find scorers in other areas of the pitch. To make the weekend even worse for Toffees fans, being leapfrogged in the league by local rivals Liverpool, will be a bitter blow. Jurgen Klopp’s brand of heavy metal football was just too much for Mike Phelan’s Hull. They didn’t help themselves when for a second consecutive week one of their players forgot who wears the gloves in the team with Elmohamady seeing red. In all fairness, Liverpool were already well in control of this one, the sending off just making it a more difficult afternoon for the ten men left on the pitch. The pick of the goals in this 5-1 drubbing was a Phillipe Coutinho stunner from long range which took The Reds to fourth in the table and since Herr Klopp took the reigns, Liverpool have scored an impressive 71 goals.
Manchester United faced defending champions Leicester City in the early kick off and during an impressive 20 minute spell the home side stuck four goals past Ranieri’s men. For the second time in a week, The Foxes were on the end of a heavy 4-1 defeat. Not so much Gary Lineker in his pants form than Gary telling everyone how Tottenham is, has and always will be his team. It’s certainly left the neutral wondering whether Kante really made such a difference to this side last season that they now look like also rans. Certainly not the form of defending champions. Enjoy that Champion’s League group Leicester fans as the players will be watching it on TV just like you next season.
Going into the late kick off, the form guide and history would tell you Chelsea were going to assert their dominance on this London derby but how wrong could we be? A fantastic first half performance and a monumental mistake by Gary Cahill saw Wenger’s side dispose of Conte’s men with ease in a 3-0 win. Conte doesn’t seem to know what formation he wants to play but a bigger problem for me is they have too many players who disappear and whose heads drop when things aren’t going their way. They will need to turn this around sharpish as Roman Abramovich isn’t known for his forgiving nature.
With Burnley and Watford matching up in Monday Night Football, if the game doesn’t entertain us, surely Carragher and Klopp analysing the weekends action will be. It will be a nice change for Carragher to have someone with him with some sort of management pedigree, that’s for sure!