Saturday and Sunday provided the full complement of ten games in the Premier League, and surprisingly enough, away team continued to rule the roost as there were only three home wins. Leaders Manchester City continued their title charge, while other challengers fell by the wayside.
Impressive home wins for Swansea City and Southampton saw them rise the highest in the table; the Swans moving four places up to fourth while the Saints’ 3-0 win over Norwich City saw them jump nine places into tenth after their slow start to the campaign. Here is a look at the five talking points from gameweek 4.
1. Newcastle’s Physical Game; Arsenal’s Striking Woes
Newcastle failed in their bid to register their first league win of the season as they suffered their first home defeat of the Steve McClaren era. The Magpies were overly physical from the off, clocking up three yellow cards and a red card for Aleksandar Mitrovic before the half hour mark.
In total, they had six players booked and as for Mitrovic, it couldn’t have been worse for a start of his Premier League career. The Serbian collected his third card in four games, stamping his mark on Francis Coquelin as well as on English football.
That was only one side of the coin though, as Arsenal themselves struggled to translate game control and possession into goals. Manager Arsene Wenger stated with Theo Walcott for a change, and the England international seemed to compound the Gunners’ inadequacies in front of goal.
Walcott missed a number of presentable chances to score his first goal, while Olivier Giroud also missed a glorious chance late into the game. With tomorrow’s deadline day looming, will Wenger make a splash to prize away a proper goalscorer? Or will the status quo remain intact?
2. Pardew Inflicts Another Loss On Mourinho As Chelsea Falter Yet Again
Alan Pardew has turned into a proper nemesis for Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho. The Crystal Palace boss is now the holder of the record of most wins against the Portuguese. Not a bad statistic to shout about, Pardew’s Palace climbed up to second place behind Manchester City with their second away win of the season.
The table makes for a bad reading for Mourinho’s defending champions, who are down in the dumps and have collected only four points from a possible 12, a damning statistic for the champions who have yet to figure out a way to stop leaking goals. They have now conceded nine goals in four outings, which could lead to some interesting knee-jerk reactions.
The Blues’ summer long pursuit of Everton’s John Stones seems to have hit a roadblock, and with the window closing in a little over 24 hours, it will be time for some massive decision-making from Mourinho and co. Incidentally, it was Mourinho’s 100th home league game, and only his second defeat.
3. Liverpool’s Work In Progress Hits A Snag As West Ham Offer A Lesson In Defending
Liverpool’s supposedly easy home tie against West Ham provided a stark reminder to Brendan Rodgers that the Reds are not fully functional in their new-look attack. Although defensive mistakes in the first half allowed the Hammers to take advantage, Liverpool were painfully lacking in creativity in the final third.
Only one shot on target tells a story, and star man Philippe Coutinho’s sending off did not help matters either. As much as the Reds were good in last weekend’s draw against Arsenal, they lacked conviction against a West Ham side who parked the bus after taking an early lead and played effective counter attacking football.
It was a lesson in defending for Rodgers’ Reds, as West Ham easily nullified the threat posed by striker Christian Benteke, who fed on scraps all afternoon. Slaven Bilic’s side cut all passing options for Liverpool through the middle, and restricted them to potshots from range and crossed balls from wide areas.
4. Manchester City In Cruise Control
Cruise control would be a flattering term to use at this stage of the season with barely a month having passed, but it wouldn’t be an understatement for a Manchester City side who remain the only team in the top flight to boast a 100 percent record so far. They are yet to concede, and set a club record of winning ten games in a row.
Watford were expectedly blunt, and although they did well to keep the Sky Blues from scoring in the first half, their loss against a strong City unit looked inevitable long before kick off. There was an interesting tactical switch from City manager Manuel Pellegrini which opened the floodgates in the second half.
Pellegrini took off right winger Jesus Navas at the break and allowed summer signing Raheem Sterling to play centrally on the shoulders of the Watford rear guard. This increased presence in support of Sergio Aguero up front saw Sterling score his first goal in sky blue colours and with Kevin De Bruyne signed, things couldn’t be rosier.
5. Monk’s Swansea Show Their Class In Comeback Win
Swansea’s impressive start to the season continued against Manchester United as Garry Monk yet again got the better of Louis van Gaal at the Liberty Stadium. The Red Devils, like Liverpool, conceded their first goals of the season, but it was the fluidity of Swansea’s attacks which caught the eye.
Swansea even changed their shape in the second half to morph into a diamond midfield to hoodwink their opponents, who were characteristically off-coloured up front. Ander Herrera, who had a fine night midweek against Club Brugge in the Champions League playoffs, had a difficult time in south west Wales, so did captain Wayne Rooney, who was back to firing blanks after his European hat-trick.
With the international break set to provide a break from the weekly activities of the Premier League, it is time now for Van Gaal to address the issues. Manchester United looked desperately short of attacking ammunition, and bringing on a midfielder in Marouane Fellaini as an alternate attacking option clearly points to Van Gaal’s lack of conviction.