Premier League in the midweek saw Bournemouth run rampage on the Champions, complicating the curious case of Conte at Chelsea.
Manchester City claiming the title is a question of when rather than if, with another emphatic win against West Brom. Both the Merseyside teams rejuvenated itself with much-needed wins. However, too many draws involving bottom half teams kept the table in check.
The match of the midweek didn’t deliver as a contest, with Spurs sweeping away the newly gathered might of Manchester United comprehensively. But, the story of the midweek emerged from the liberated city of Swansea, whose latest ambush was Arsenal.
Biggest winners: Bournemouth
An inspired second-half performance where a blizzard blew away the Bridge, ensured that Bournemouth gathered momentum to maintain distance from that fatal drop zone which is changing every Matchday. They are now 5 points clear which is massive considering how close that bottom half is. 2018 hasn’t been kind to lower card teams and every point earned is a perennial to survival.
Biggest Losers: Chelsea
The consistent decline of Chelsea saw Liverpool overtaking them in the midweek with Conte looking for answers from. The signing of Giroud raises more questions on Conte’s credentials, than to provide confidence to his talent. The manner of defeat would have left the fans humiliated more so, because there is no clarity on intent and direction this club is aiming for.
Best Team: Tottenham Hotspur
Wembley woes have transformed into Wembley wonders for Spurs in recent times. They were electrifying, to say the least bringing the flamboyance in attack, and by the same token bullied United in central midfield with the likes of Dembele delivering on all cylinders. I keep mentioning style and substance from time to time. Spurs demonstrated that in its purest manner.
Stats: Tottenham Hotspur vs Manchester United (2-0)
|Total Shots (on target)||Accurate Passes %||Duels won||Shots Conceded (on target)|
|22 (6)||82%||60||6 (3)|
Worst Teams: Arsenal and Manchester United
I usually don’t pick worst teams because a majority of the players collectively don’t underperform for more than 75% of a match in normal circumstances. But in midweek, we saw that with two teams whose morale should have been high. Especially considering they have acquired some serious talent. Arsenal just collapsed in the second half while United were never in the contest and played more like a Championship side, depending on their individuals, who were invisible.
I feel sorry for the managers as both of them picked a very strong side, especially Jose Mourinho, who has the reputation of being a conservative personality heading into big matches. Players have to take the blame on both fronts and there is no place to hide now.
Best Player: Christian Eriksen
Eriksen in ecstasy is a treat to watch. I do feel sorry for him at times, because he often gets overshadowed by Kane and Alli. But to be honest, Erisken is their true attacking engine in midfield when he presses and passes with positivity. The likes of Alli and Kane get the type of service that can match their movement. Eriksen’s runs in the box are methodical that can be used as a dummy both to shield Alli, and unleash him depending upon the state of the game.
He got lucky when the ball ricocheted kindly into his path, but the finish was inch-perfect personifying his composure. 92.6% pass accuracy in a high tempo match is incredible.
Honorable Mention: Sam Clucas
I remembered Clucas’ arrival in the Premier League for Hull against Leicester. He was a leader in that game, and after a long while, we saw that shade of Clucas against Arsenal where his mentality was to penetrate. He didn’t just look to keep possession via sideways passing or provide a breather for the defense, a mindset which mid and lower table team midfielders often get into. Two opportunistic finishes, both coming at crucial junctures of the game, would give his confidence a world of good.
Worst Player: Petr Cech
There were a lot of candidates from the marquee sides who were awful in the midweek. Yet, Cech’s meltdown came at the most inopportune time. It was a big letdown for his team and Arsenal never recovered from that horrendous error. Physically, he is not in his prime, but the schoolboy stuff in his own box, messing up a regular clearance at such a crucial phase of the game, depicts that his mind is also running out of endurance.
Honorable Mention: Paul Pogba
Pogba’s passivity in big games has made fans lost their passion for participation in defending this polarizing figure at United. He was poor in the purest from losing possession in his own half, and was snatching at shots. The Frenchman was two or three levels behind the game and above all his body language was pedestrian.
Best Manager: Carlos Carvalhal
Carvalhal’s hilarious and optimistic, yet studious plus tactical approach is providing the new ray of hope for the Swansea faithful. The acquisition of Andre Ayew has brought pace and desire to this team, which also allows the likes of Leroy Fer and Clucas to make dipping runs in the box. Swansea seem to have a fetish for foreign managers, who could do a job for them as a short-term settlement.