Kieran Davies takes in a week of football that was over-shadowed by tragedy.
Pundits and ex-pro’s are constantly berating the lack of home-grown talent in the Premier League. While their arguments do have some substance as teams like Chelsea and Man City really make it difficult for the British players to break into the first team, there are exceptions to the rule. In the main, at some clubs, success demands that they buy world-class footballers to challenge for silverware. The pressure of success is huge in the most watched league in the world but is it the influx of foreign managers which in turn results in so many overseas players plying their trade here? With the likes of Lampard and Gerrard taking to management the true romanticist would envisage them both honing their skills in the lower leagues before locking horns in a Premier League match as respective Chelsea and Liverpool managers. Whether this comes to fruition or not, time will tell.
With Chelsea and Arsenal in need of a new man at the helm over the summer, why is it that British managers are completely overlooked? If you spoke to any Arsenal fan while the Wenger bus was slipping and sliding all over the road, they wanted Eddie Howe to be given his chance at a ‘big club’. West Ham appointed a British manager temporarily to prevent the club nosediving into Championship football again but on achieving this, got rid and appointed a South American manager. This season Howe is making a mockery of those who decided he was not enough of a ‘name’ to take on the task at their clubs as he has led Bournemouth to the heady heights of sixth place, only a couple of wins off City in top spot. With Mourinho’s United visiting the Vitality Stadium this weekend, Howe has the chance to really show his credentials against a much-maligned Manchester United team. At home, The Cherries can give anyone a game and they are currently in a rich vein of form. Jose beware.
Of course, the game which attracts the attentions far and wide this weekend is Arsenal hosting Liverpool. Emery’s team have been in good form of late and despite a minor blip in letting three points slip at Crystal Palace last time out, they have found points easy to come by. Some would argue however that Arsenal have only played two decent sides this season and lost both games. Gunners fans would argue this was too early into the new manager’s tenure to be considered relevant. As good as they look going forward, they really are susceptible at the back. Have they got the steel to prevent Mane, Salah and Firmino from doing their thing? At Liverpool, Klopp has added real quality to the squad so in reality, this team isn’t just about those three any more. Also, a side whose Achilles heel used to be their defence, now bask in the knowledge that they have addressed these issues throughout the summer.
With Manchester City and Chelsea playing Southampton and Crystal Palace at home, you would expect them to lead the way at the top of the table. It is a lot to ask of Hodgson’s Eagles or Hughes’ Saints to get any points on their travels this weekend. Both teams are finding goals hard to come by and will be hoping the same can be said of their opponents by the end of the weekend, but this is more hopeful than expectant. Despite losing on what was no better than a well-marked out cabbage patch, Tottenham will be looking to bounce back to winning ways on the road against Wolves. Their fantastic start to the season has petered out somewhat over the last few weeks. However, this does not take anything away from the remarkable feat which sees them in tenth place in the table as this early stage. Can the team from the Black Country add more misery to Pochettino’s stop/start season?
Rafa Benitez has been warned by police for his purposely flouting the law this week, as it was reported that the Spanish manager was repeatedly seen doing in excess of 100mph outside St James’ Park. The things he will do to try and secure his team three points at home. Javi Gracia’s Watford come to town this weekend looking to continue their impressive start to the season. Two points clear of Manchester United and four ahead of Everton, another Hornets win could see them cement their standing to compete for those European places. West Ham and Burnley face each other this weekend knowing that defeat could drag either side into a relegation dogfight early on in the season. Neither side in much form, this could fall into the category of a ‘bore-draw’ but this league has history for surprising us.
Everton have the pleasure of entertaining Hughton’s Brighton side at Goodison Park after the south-coast club enjoyed a ‘binary October’ where all their results have involved zeros and ones. Fortunately for them, all these figures have been in their favour with three impressive 1-0 wins in the month. What Hughton would give to carry that trend on into November. Huddersfield and Fulham meet on Monday night for a real ‘six-pointer’ with both teams finding themselves in the bottom three as things stand. An unenviable position that is for sure. It will be an eerie atmosphere at the Cardiff City Stadium in South Wales as they take on Leicester City. Sport pales into insignificance where loss of life is concerned. The tragic accident which led to the death of Leicester City owner Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha truly shocked the footballing world. Fans aside, no one truly knew how much this man gave back to the community of Leicester until his sad demise. One thing is for sure, win, lose or draw……….football is little emptier without the man who made 5000-1 outsiders dare to dream about winning titles. Rest in peace.