Harry Kane is not a number 10
Harry Kane has always been a bit of a slow starter going into a brand new season. He hasn’t scored for games in August. Last season, following his breakout campaign for Tottenham, it took Kane 748 minutes to get his first Premier League goal of the season. Despite the late start, Kane would go on to win the Golden Boot with 25 goals. True to form, it seems that Kane will be in for another slow start, with his third game in a row without registering a goal. But playing out of position at number 10, won’t end this drought anytime soon.
Kane, a selfless player at the best of times, became a victim of a tactical sacrifice following Kyle Walkers substitution for illness. This created a domino effect, as the right-back was replaced by Vincent Janssen, a striker. The Dutchman replaced Kane up front, Kane replaced Dele Alli at No 10, Alli replaced Eric Dier in central midfield and Dier moved to be right-back. Suddenly, with Kane sitting behind Janssen, a goal (which would take Kane to 50 league goals for Spurs) was further out of sight.
With his switch to number 10, Kane had 0 shots on target, and created no chances during the Liverpool game. Kane, who also played the role in the home win against Crystal Palace, said he was happy to play the role. At the conclusion of the Palace game, Kane said
“I played as a number 10 throughout my time in the youth team and a lot growing up so I am used to that position. It feels like a long time ago now but I am happy to play that role and I think it worked well on Saturday.”
Despite his happiness playing in the role, Kane can’t have been happy to be substituted in the 82nd minute, as Tottenham went looking for a winner. It’s clear to get the best out of Kane, he needs to return to his position as the lead striker for Spurs. Kane is the most complete centre-forward in the Premier League. In terms of his all-round game, his ability to lead the line, hold up the ball, link the play, win his fair share of headers and, of course, regularly find the back of the net, Kane stands top of the pile. But with the addition of Vincent Janssen, it may be for now Kane will have to settle for being Spurs number 10.
Next up for Tottenham will be an away trip to Stoke on the 10th September.
Antonio Conte is getting the best out of Eden Hazard
Last season’s drop In form of Eden Hazard was alarming to say the least. All the attributes that defined the 2014-15 player of the season had disappeared seemingly overnight. Beating a playing on the wing, dribbling inside of opposition fullbacks, assists and goals had all disappeared. Much had been made of a fall out with Jose Mourinho, as well as being asked to play a new role for Chelsea. But Hazards form was hardly improved under temporary coach Guus Hiddink. So one of the big challenges facing new coach Antonio Conte, in order to challenge for honours this year, was to try and get the best out of Eden Hazard.
Although still early in the season, it seems Conte has already started to see the returns on his investment of effort, as Hazard has chipped in with 2 goals (half the amount he got in total for last season) and is once again creating chances. In the 3 games he’s played this season, Hazard has generated 6 chances.
In the game with Burnley, there was more to suggest that Hazard is getting back to his best, as he put on a man of the match performance, and chipped in with a stunning solo effort. Hazard was bright from the off at Stamford Bridge, combining with Diego Costa in the opening exchanges against a Burnley side that invited pressure.
With 9 minutes on the clock, the Belgian made the Clarets pay as he picked up possession off Nemanja Matic in his own half, burst into Burnley territory – leaving defenders in his wake – and picked out the bottom corner of Tom Heaton’s goal with a sublime finish. His manager was naturally delighted with his star player’s performance, and Conte has vowed to help Hazard maintain this form. Post-match Conte said “Eden is a fantastic player. He has great talent and also I know he’s a good guy. What’s important is that he wants to improve and wants to work very hard to improve himself.
“I want to work with my players to improve them and put them in the best condition to show their talent – and Hazard is one of those. There are others but above all I’m talking about the wingers. We have fantastic wingers who are all very good one v one, it’s important to put them in the best condition and I’m very happy for Eden.”
For Chelsea they go into the international break with 3 wins out of 3, and next play Swansea at the Liberty Stadium in the 16:00 game on Super Sunday.
Mike Phelan Should be Hull City manager.
Towards the end of Sir Alex Ferguson’s Manchester United reign, it was claimed that the man who was involved in most of the hands on work was his assistant, Mike Phelan. As United stormed to their 20th, and currently last league title, it appeared to be a no brainer that Phelan would work alongside David Moyes in the “Chosen One’s” new Manchester United. Alas this was not to be. Phelan would then go onto work with Norwich City as the 1st team coach, before joining former United teammate Steve Bruce at Hull, as there assistant manager. Hull would go onto win promotion back to the Premiership, in last season’s Championship play-off final. But their preparations for the new campaign were thrown into disarray with the resignation of Steve Bruce, 3 weeks before the start of the season. Phelan was appointed the caretaker manager, and this has been the case ever since.
Hull started the campaign with only 13 fit first team players, and only 1 new signing in Jonathan Edwards from Peterborough. Their opening game was to Leicester at home, and they became the first team to defeat the defending Premiership champions on the opening weekend of the season. Hull went into the United game undefeated, and they were unlucky not to maintain that record.
The Hull team, who were hailed as magnificent in Phelans post-match interview, probably didn’t deserve to lose to a last minute goal from United. Curtis Davis was the outstanding player on the day. Alongside Davies, Sam Clucas impressed in midfield, while Adama Diomande and Abel Hernandez chased hard to make something from the few scraps in attack. Hull’s ability to soak up pressure was really tested, as United had 62% of the ball during the game. They will count themselves unlucky not to have scored just before United. As David Meyler blasted over the bar from 25 yards.
For Hull there ownership issues look to be at an end, as a Chinese consortium look to be close to completing a takeover of the club. Which should free up funds for transfers, with Manchester United starlet Will Keane now signed along with Ryan Mason, Hull still have time to bring in a couple more before the end of the transfer window. If the Chinese consortium want to get the fans onside, surely Phelans appointment will be made permanent. No less than Jose Mourinho called for the same appointment in his own post-match interview. For Phelan, whatever happens next, he has proved he is ready to take the step up and move on from the assistant’s role.
Hull will be away to Burnley on the 10th September in there next game.
Manchester United will attack to the last minute
Manchester United have been renowned for their late goals in the modern era. Countless league titles and trophies have been won in what became dubbed as “Fergie Time”. This is something that was engrained into all players that joined United, and this was down to the inability to ever give up on a game. United would attack right to the very last second. Louis Van Gaal’s United did not share this philosophy. More often than not, United would look to send the ball back to midfield or even defence, than attack the opposition goal in the dying minutes of a game.
Refreshingly, Saturday against Hull City saw a return to this never say die attitude, with Marcus Rushford’s 92nd minute winner. This late win was inspired by the 2 substitutions Jose Mourinho made in the second half, with Rashford and Henrik Mkhitaryan coming on for Juan Mata and Anthony Martial. Hull, who had defended heroically facing 29 shots from United during the game, were undone by a cross from Wayne Rooney with Rashford there to finish the job. United had tried several different approaches throughout the game, with the front 3 interchanging constantly. But it was with the introduction of Mkhitaryan and Rashford that pushed United on, to get the winner.
Both have yet to start this season, and will be contenders for the Manchester derby. Especially Rashford, who could earn a place ahead of the underperforming Anthony Martial. Post-match Mourinho laid the gauntlet down to not only his own players, but the rest of the Premiership:
“We deserved it and in a more comfortable way. We had an amazing mentality. We tried and tried and got it.
“I tell the boys every day we have to go into every match to win. We know we will draw or lose matches but the mentality has to be go to win. Today they showed that.
“Marcus Rashford gives new problems to the opposition so I am really happy with him and the team.
“We want to be champions, we don’t want to start well, we want to finish well.”
With 3 wins out of 3, and a heavy summer investment, anything less than a top 2 finish maybe considered a disappointment for Mourinho and United in his first season. For United, they know they have a chance to lay claim to being the title favourites with a victory over Manchester City in the early game on the 10th September.
Sergio Aguero could be out of the Manchester Derby
In what was otherwise a routine victory for Manchester City, as they continued their 100% start to the season, there was a moment of madness from Sergio Aguero. In the 76th minute Aguero appeared to elbow West Ham defender Winston Reid in the throat. This rendered Reid unable to continue the match. However as the referee, Andre Marriner, did not book or send off Aguero, the Football Association can take retrospective action. However, if Marriner states he did see the incident and is comfortable with his original decision not to act on it, the FA may not charge Aguero.
If the Argentinian is found guilty of violent conduct he will miss not only the visit to Old Trafford a week on Saturday but also the home game against Bournemouth and the trip to Swansea City in the EFL Cup. But with Aguero having pulled out of Argentina’s World Cup qualifiers through injury, the ban may end up being irrelevant in terms of Agueros ability to feature in the derby. This is a big blow for Guardiola as he lines up for his first competitive game against Mourinho in England. Certainly the return to form of Raheem Sterling will please Guardiola, and the option to play Nolito up front on his own with Sterling behind him, with Aguero’s absence, may appeal to Guardiola for the trip to Old Trafford.
Rich Lee @RichLee2202