After a quarter of the season (almost) I think this season will be almost as surprising as last season. With one point separating the top 5 I think it will remain similar throughout the season – every time one team gets 3-6 points ahead they will be pulled back into the chasing pack. God knows who will win it – its hard to look past City, but I wouldn’t rule out Spurs or Arsenal, who again have the best chance they have had in ages.
United are still to find their feet, and if Jose can keep his head together I think they will hit a streak of form around the New Year – Jose and 3 or 4 really big name additions have disrupted them, but Pogba is a quality player who will eventually start to scare the opposition – and a look through their potential line up (if Jose would only pick them!) and they have a hell of a starting 11. Plus the best keeper in the league. Maybe one more signing in January?
After the fixtures came out I would have been delighted for Liverpool to be on 20 points after those first 9 games. Realistically the best we can sustain is just a challenge for a top 4 spot as our defence is still a bit suspect and we have two keepers who are somewhere between average and s**t – we cannot put up a sustained title challenge yet, and I don’t see any major signings in January.
Chelsea – hadn’t been very impressed with them until the game against United – although I wish united had thrown one in their net after 30 seconds at Anfield. I guess Chelsea similar to Liverpool will be happy to be on 19 points at this point after changing manager and formation and playing style – plus what a comeback for Victor Moses!
Well, my prediction that Maureen would finish higher than Pepe/Conte is looking a bit shaky, although like everybody else, I said Leicester would disappear. The only other prediction I can remember was Spuds getting more points than last year….
As for everybody else, I think City are about where I would have put them, Chelsea and Liverpool are doing better than I thought, with a special mention to Pool as they probably have had the hardest opening 9 games. Arsenal are Arsenal, always there or thereabouts, still not 100% sure about them but let’s be honest, I never would be!
As for my Spuds, got a defence tighter than a ducks butt but the shooting boots are still on holiday. Our squad is certainly better than last years, coping with a few injury’s better than usual, although quite ironically, we have less points this year than we did last year with the same fixtures…
As for the future, as mentioned on another thread, I think City/Arsenal will break away from the pack a bit with Pool/Chelsea/Spuds competing for the other Champions League places. I think YooUtd are in trouble, Zlatan looks bored already, Pogba I have to say, for the hype/cost, would expect more, Rooney is gone, Martial seems to be going backwards and Rashford (for now) should be restricted as super sub, he doesn’t seem to have the same impact when starting, and now Bailly injured for the foreseeable future, their best defender is out.
My Top 5:
3) Spuds (best defence of the rest!)
4) Pool (best attacking of the rest!)
5) Chelsea (it was only YooUtd…)
Mourinho in it for the long-haul
I think there’s a counter argument to that and it could be that Mourinho was burnt badly at both Madrid and Chelsea by players that ultimately cost him his job. After watching recent interviews and his behaviour over the years, i definitely think he is here for the long haul. He is probably not getting close to the squad because as Gary Neville recently said, there’s a train about to get driven right through that punch of players. Mourinho’s old approach of picking fights, creating siege mentalities and being a friend and cheerleader for his squad had a shelf life of about 3 years. If he wants to be at Utd long term then obviously this approach has to change. You could go through all coaches in world football that are successful and you will see examples of some taking training sessions and others who don’t. Similar with their approach to player relationships. Some will be close with their players and others not.
The biggest disappointment with Mourinho for me has been the apparent lack of a concrete style of play and his team selection. There seems to be some confusion around what system or players are going to play in any given game. However, there is no legislating for piss poor performances from players like what we saw on Sunday. Ultimately, our season has been poor until now because of poor player performances. If players like Ibra had of taken his chances against Stoke, Pool and Chelsea at crucial moments in the game, then things might be different. Also, who would have thought Pogba would be doing his best to look like Eric Djemba Djemba?
Its far too early and easy to blame Mourinho just yet. Like all managers he needs a year and a few more transfer windows to get a team out on the pitch that is actually his. In the meantime, the players need to seriously up their game or we are gonna end up with another season like last year.
Conte’s selection dilemma
After that thorough spanking of Utd and the return to form of certain players Conte is going to have some interesting selection posers. Our lack of European football will see less squad rotation with the probable exception of the League Cup. One Wednesday I can see the likes of JT, Oscar, Chalobah, Willian, Begovic and, if fit, Cesc starting. But come the weekend, who does he pick? What is our current strongest team? Based on the 3-4-3 and the 3 consecutive clean sheets, should Conte change things? Don’t fix it if it aint broke is a maxim often applied. But does JT assume his captains role in defence? Will Luiz get pushed into midfield? Will Pedro make way for Willian? Where does this leave the likes of Cesc and Oscar? Do they suit the 3-4-3? Once Costa gets suspended I would assume that Bats comes in…he should in my opinion! Injuries are part and parcel of football and our squad players would no doubt step up if called upon. But it’s refreshing to see players fighting for their spots and Conte being spoilt for choice in certain areas. Mikel needs to be moved on – Chalobah and RLC are far better options. Ivan’s days are probably over especially with the returning Zouma. Interesting times ahead and Conte has some serious decisions too make. Anyway 1 point off top…who would have thought that after our capitulation against the Goons last month.
I see KZ played the full 90 mins last night for the youth team and come through unscathed. This lad getting back playing is a huge boost for us, it will be interesting to see how Conte get’s him back in and around the 1st team.
I wonder if we´ll end up seeing an Azpi, Luiz and Zouma back 3 as the preferred line up? Like a couple of others have mentioned in other posts, it looks like Ivanovic is done for sure. Been an absolute beast for us and for 7m was a steal, but he´s been a liability since the very start of last season against Swansea. Let him go get the payday he deserves in the states!
Arsenal’s Royal chances
I’m looking forward to this one. Even though its not the most exciting comp in the world, its a way of keeping our fringe players hungry. In particular I’m thinking about the likes of Gabriel and Lucas, who we will need during the season. its vital for these guys to feel part of the group and to be contributing.
I feel like Perez might be on the brink of going either way. He has already made noises about how he felt he would have featured more etc. If he doesn’t get a chance soon, it could become really damaging to his development with us. I know its still early but we need to use games like this to make him feel important to our team. Send him out there full of confidence and tell him we need him to deliver.
Also keen to see Holding play again as he looked really promising in the few games he had before Mustafi arrived.