#1 Diego Costa is the first to fire 10
Chelsea are currently perched at the summit of the Premier League after 12 games following a perfect run of 6 wins in the last 6 league games, scoring 17 and conceding not a single league goal in time. The re-birth of the 3-4-3 has had pundits salivating of late, but the form of Diego Costa is a big part of this Chelsea side’s recent success and becomes the first man this season to bag 10 Premier League goals.
After he played 12 games last season he had scored only 3 goals. In fact he only scored 12 goals all season.
But he looks like a player re-born under Conte, helped in no small part by the in-form and ever impressive Eden Hazard who is making the team purr at the moment who himself has 7 league goals so far.
Costa currently has a strike rate of 0.83 goals per game this season and a shot accuracy of just under 70%. His style of play also means he has contributed 20 chances for his team mates so far this season and 3 assists. To put that into perspective, Hazard has only created 6 more chances than Costa but only has 1 assist.
Many believed that Costa could be on his way out from Chelsea given his form last season, with the expectation Conte will clear out the ‘dead wood’ and players that didn’t want to give all for the badge. But since his arrival, like a phoenix from the ashes, players such as Hazard, Moses and Costa have risen and now seem integral to this Chelsea side.
Any team that wants to win the league needs a goal getter, someone who can break the 20 league goals barrier. Costa is already halfway there after just 12 games, and this puts Chelsea right up there as one of the favourites for the Premier league this season.
#2 Man United are the ‘unluckiest team in the league’
Saturday lunchtime saw one of those games you look forward to when the season fixtures get announced Man United vs Arsenal. It is always a game that creates headlines and is played at an aggressive pace with some of the best moments in Premier League history.
This anticipation was heightened somewhat with the sub-plot of the Mourinho vs Wenger rivalry. The game however didn’t really deliver, eclipsed by memories of games gone past. To be honest, it was wildly one sided for much of the game as Man United put on a very good performance. Finally fans saw a midfield of Herrera, Carrick, Pogba and Mata and you could see why there has been so much call for it. Man United looked the most complete over 90 minutes as they have all season, helped in no small way by Arsenal failing to turn up until the 88th minute where they scored with their only 1 shot in the 2nd half.
Man United drew the 3rd home league game in a row, and in all 3 games, they dominated. At the start of October, United drew 1-1 with Stoke, a game that they should have won by 5 or 6, Zlatan and Pogba missing a plethora of chances. The next home game saw Burnley turn up to the Theatre of Dreams where keeper Tom Heaton’s dreams certainly came true with an absolutely world class performance. Again United should have been 4 or 5 up yet drew the game 0-0.
So onto the weekend’s game, United once again threw away the 3 points with their lack of ruthlessness up front. Arsenal were poor and United deserved the 3 points. But the Marcos Rojo header a few minutes before the Arsenal equaliser pretty much summed up United’s season so far.
This lead Jose Mourinho in the post-match interview to claim United were the ‘unluckiest team in the league’, and I can’t help but agree to some extent. In each of the last 3 home games, the goal keepers have had fantastic displays, they had hit the post, crossbar and had near misses. It seems United are actually not far off clicking but if that doesn’t translate into points it still leaves them in a sticky position in the league.
They currently sit in 6th place, following an indifferent run of only 1 win in the last 6 games and find themselves 6 points and a large goal difference deficit off 4th place, the absolute minimum required this season. In fact the 6 points dropped from the last 3 home games would have had United right amongst the leading pack.
United now need to go on a decent run of games, and if they carry on playing the way they are, it will surely come. If they can end 2016 within 3 or 4 points of the top 4, they will fancy themselves to mount a charge in the 2nd part of the season.
#3 Tottenham back to winning ways
Tottenham started this season in fine form with 5 wins in the first 7 games, including the very impressive 2-0 victory over Man City.
But since winning that game, they hadn’t registered a single win in the league, following 4 draws in a row. That was until this weekend of course.
Harry Kane returned at Arsenal before the international break and upon his return grabbed the equaliser. Many said Spurs had missed his presence up front and of course his goals and that was displayed at the weekend as Tottenham picked up their first league win since the 2nd of October.
Spurs were losing to West Ham with the Hammers 2-1 up until the 89th minute when Harry Kane grabbed 2 goals in 2 minutes to steal the victory away from East London rivals who themselves were in desperate need of the 3 points.
For Spurs, they have a very tricky game on the coming weekend playing Chelsea at Stamford Bridge so this win has come at the right time, the climax of the London Derby triple header for Tottenham.
But if Tottenham get through the Chelsea game in one piece, and remain as the only undefeated team in the league, it will give them the confidence to work their way back up to the top of the league jostling for the top spot as they were before this recent blip and Harry Kane will be integral to that challenge.
#4 Palace are the ‘worst’ team in the football league in 2016
Former Palace and Arsenal striker Ian Wright said “Alan Pardew is saying he’s not worried about relegation but he’s going to have to start worrying about it soon,” whilst cross examining the 1-2 defeat to Man City on the weekend. And he would be right to be fearful.
Crystal Palace have lost 7 of the 12 league games so far this season, drawing another 2 with only 3 wins. They are also in torrid form losing the last 5 games on the spin without a win in 6.
It now means they are precariously teetering above the relegation zone with 11 points knowing that a defeat in the next game could sink them as low as 19th depending on other results.
This is something that must be worrying Alan Pardew, the old adage ‘we have too many good players to go down’ was dispelled last season, as big clubs like Aston Villa and Newcastle took the plunge to the Championship.
But Crystal Palace’s issues are not just something we have seen at the start of this season, it has been a prominent feature of the club in 2016 as a whole.
Palace have only won 5 games in the whole of 2016 and lost a staggering 19 out of 31 games played in 2016 in the league. This means they have a points per game total of 0.71 down in 92nd position, the lowest of all English professional football teams. They have the unwanted crown of being the poorest professional football team in the country in 2016.
The trapdoor beneath Pardew’s feet must surely now be starting to creak, with the exit strategy of the England job not looking like materialising, he needs a change in results. Their next game away to Swansea could be very important indeed, that could play a big part in Pardew’s immediate future.
#5 Yaya is back!
Pep Guardiola vowed not to play Yaya Toure until he got an apology from his agent Dimitri Seluk. The exuberant Russian said Toure’s exclusion from City’s Champions League squad had ‘humiliated’ the 33-year-old which created a dialogue between the two that was reminiscent of a school playground tit for tat war of words.
And that wasn’t the first time Seluk has been vocal in the press about Man City after ‘birthday cake gate’ a couple of seasons back. It seemed that a history of petty squabbles had not subsided and therefore, we would not see Toure in a Man City shirt again.
But in a recent change in heart, Yaya Toure released a statement apologising of all wrongdoing or ‘misunderstanding’, and it seems all has been forgiven.
Toure started for the first time in the league this season and played as if he hadn’t been away bagging 2 goals and the 3 points against Crystal Palace.
In fact he scored with his only 2 shots meaning he had 100% shot accuracy at the weekend but also completed the game on just under 90% pass accuracy.
Whether or not he will become a permanent fixture in this City team only time will tell. However if the troubles he’s had at the club are now water under the bridge he could play an important role in the squad this season as they fight on 4 fronts. Toure is known for scoring important goals in big games, and he could be a player Pep looks to in the near future.