Luke Shaw is very much on the road to recovery
The re-debut of Paul Pogba, and the two goal brace from Zlatan Ibrahimovic grabbed the headlines from the Premier Leagues first foray into Friday Night Football (the Aston Villa vs Man United game from last year aside). But it was the understated performance of the United left back that showed that any lingering concerns about his fitness, following the horrific double leg break in September last year, can for now be eradicated.
Shaw making his first competitive appearance at Old Trafford, since the 3-1 win against Liverpool last September, was given the opportunity to operate the full length of the left flank, and he proved to be the biggest threat for United down that side which ultimately lead to the run into the box that won the penalty that Ibrahimovic duly converted. Shaw contributed 1 chance as a result of his forward runs, and generated 0 defensive errors. Although it’s clear that Shaw, and United’s back line will be tested by better opposition over the course of the season, it’s obvious that he will be a big part of United’s charge to the title. Jose Mourinho was also full of praise for Shaw, and his fellow full back Antonio Valencia.
“Luke [Shaw] and Antonio [Valencia] were offensive when they had to be and very good defensively. They always had very good support from our wingers to close down the opponents,” he told United’s official website.
Next up for Shaw and United is Hull City in evening kick off on Saturday.
Liverpool defensive issues remain
With one of the world’s leading coaches, summer investment, and a lack of European commitments, Liverpool are expected to challenge for the Premiership this season. However the defensive issues that were prominent during the 4-3 victory against Arsenal were not addressed, as the reds slumped to a 2-0 loss to Burnley, their first loss at Turf Moor since Boxing Day 1973.
While Liverpool’s style under Klopp has won plaudits for the pressing style of trying to regain the ball as quickly as they lose it, their dominance in this game did not convert into goals. As Burnley became the first team to have less than 20% of total possession, to win a Premier League encounter. Andre Gray, the outstanding player on the day, pounced on an early error from the normally dependable Nathanial Clyne to provide Sam Vokes with an assist that took the home side 1-0 up within the first 2 minutes.
While Liverpool went on to have 78% possession for the first half, they rarely troubled Tom Heaton in goal with Philippe Coutinho shots only bringing one save from Heaton. It was also an error from Coutinho that lead to Burnley’s second, as he dallied around the penalty area, Stephen Ward took a leaf out of Liverpool’s own style, pounced on Coutinho and was able to unleash Steven Defour who then found Gray to give Burnley the 2-0 lead they never came close to surrendering in the second half.
In his post-match interview Klopp conceded, that the first half performance of his team had knocked their confidence, and never allowed them to regain a footing in the contest. Klopp has already stated that he will not be dipping onto the transfer market based off the back of this performance. But the issue he now faces is how to convert possession into victories.
Liverpool face Burton away from home on Tuesday in the EFL cup.
Cesc Fabregas still has a lot to offer Chelsea
Following the arrival of Antonio Conte at Chelsea, it seemed that Cesc Fabregas days as a blue were numbered. With the arrival of the outstanding central midfielder of the 2015/16 season N’Golo Kanté and linked with a moves to Juventus, and Manchester United, it seemed there would be little room for Fabregas in the Chelsea team this season.
An unused substitute in the Chelsea’s 2-1 victory over West Ham in the opening game of the season seemed to confirm that Fabregas would not have a major role in Contes team this season. However with Chelsea chasing the game at Watford on Saturday in the 78th minute Conte turned to the experience of Fabregas.
Although not credited with the assist for Michy Batshuayi first goal in English football, he did find Eden Hazard outside the box, setting up the Belgian for a shot that ended up rebounding at the feet of Batshuayi to bring the blues level.
It was then his interception of a Watford attack, and superbly weighted pass to Diego Costa that enabled Chelsea to take the victory late in the game for the second week in a row. His manager also seemed to be delighted with Spaniards late cameo
“We all know Cesc’s quality, he’s a great player but it’s important to understand that we are at the beginning of the season and I am looking for the right balance.”
This seems to indicate that for the time being Conte will continue with his preferred partnership of Kanté and Nemanja Matic, but that Fabregas will play an important part of Chelsea’s title challenge this season.
Next up for Chelsea is a home game with Bristol City on Tuesday in the EFL cup
Arsene Wenger has lost the support of the most loyal fans
It’s no secret that the relationship between Arsene Wenger and the Arsenal fans is at an all-time low. Wenger is constantly being encouraged to spend money, in order to allow Arsenal to contend for the Premiership, but despite this encouragement the only arrivals this Summer at the Emirates have been Granit Xhaka and Rob Holding (Outstanding, alongside the more experience Laurent Koscielny in the 0-0 draw with Leicester) There have been rumblings of discontent for some time, with protests and cries of Wenger out at the Emirates stadium. But for the first time in his near 20 year reign, Wenger is now hearing cries of discontent away from the Emirates.
In the 75th minute of a rather drab affair, the away fans started to chant We Want Wenger Out, followed by Spend Some F**king Money. The chants were palpable and while they were quickly drowned out by boos from other Arsenal fans, this is the kind of thing Wenger will find hard to ignore.
In his post-match interview he said that Arsenal are in the market for top class players, and said he would spend £300 million if he could find the player. It is expected that Shkodran Mustafi will be arriving in the coming days to help plug some of the defensive issues that troubled Arsenal in their opening game of the season. But it’s clear that Arsenal are desperate for a top quality striker for Mesut Ozil to supply assists to. It seems that until Wenger makes that investment, there will continue to be discord between him, and Arsenals most loyal supporters.
Arsenal go away to face Watford in the Premiership next Saturday
Sunderland remain involved in a relegation scrap
With the arrival of David Moyes at Sunderland, Elis Short had finally got his man. He had tried on 5 previous occasions to get Moyes in the managerial hot seat at Sunderland. Upon Moyes unveiling, Short went as far as to state that Sunderland had gained an upgrade on previous manager, and current England supremo, Sam Allardyce who had lead Sunderland to a 17th place finish last season. Following an impressive, all be it a losing performance against many peoples favourites for the title Manchester City, Moyes took charge of his first game at the Stadium of Light looking for Sunderland’s first August Premier League victory since 2010.
Sunderland would concede 2 in the first half, before finishing the game out 2-1. Although there were extenuating circumstances that halted Sunderland’s chance to claim a win against local rivals Middlesbrough. Paddy McNair a recognised centre half played in midfield, with Jack Rodwell taking over for the injured John O’Shea at the central of defence. While Moyes admitted in his post-match interview that Sunderland were at bare bones, it looks like it will be another tough season for the Mackems.
Moyes, brought into take a team, who’s highest finished has been tenth in 9 seasons in the Premiership, to the next level admitted that 2 games into the season Sunderland once again find themselves in a relegation battle
“(The fans are) probably right,” Moyes said. “It’s been the same for last few years, I think it will be again. You can’t argue with the facts. People are hoping for it to dramatically change, but it can’t.”
Moyes, who does have an extensive injury list, now needs to invest in some quality in the transfer window and look to build a team that has a lot of young potential, otherwise Short may be wishing for a downgrade in Allardyce and a seventieth place finish.
Sunderland play at home, against Shrewsbury in the EFL cup on Wednesday.
By Rich Lee @richlee2202