It occurred to me the other day that I had been a little bit disingenuous in my last Premier League Recap of Week 10. In a previous article, I had mentioned that I would choose my winner for the Premier League “by the end of October.” Manchester United’s win against Tottenham made that choice a little bit harder, but with results going the way they did this past weekend, it’s not clear to me that Manchester City, failing a huge upset, are going to run away with it.
It pains me to say it, but it’s true, and we’re going to get in to the reasons why, starting with Sunday in the Premier League at Stamford Bridge.
Manchester United showed up to Chelsea with the fans expecting a performance. A win against Tottenham the week before, paired with Chelsea’s embarrassing loss to Roma in the Champions League, the stage was set for a smash and grab. Hardcore fans are often forgetful, however. Going in to the game, Jose Mourinho had managed zero wins against the top six in his previous 10 away games. Five draws. Five losses. What would have indicated that this game would be any different is beyond me.
On the flipside of this quite shameful statistic, after United’s win over Benfica in the Champions League, they are now unbeaten in 38
games in all competitions at home. An incredible achievement that translates to an entire Premier League season.
In the end however, this all amounts to nothing, as Manchester United fell 1-0 to Chelsea on Sunday, stretching Mourinho’s unwanted winless streak to 11 games. This statistic was highlighted several times throughout the game, and it only goes to show how little thought or effort seems to be going in to these away games.
In the past, when the winner of the Premier League was either Manchester United, Arsenal or Chelsea, this tactic would have paid dividends, but in a Premier League that is becoming increasingly competitive, with arguably six teams that could challenge for the title, dropping points away from home is a huge hit to any title bid.
Manchester City now sit on top of the Premier League table by eight points. Yes, we’re only in November, and yes, Manchester United have clearly improved on last season, but the fact stands that the gap of eight could, and possibly should be three points if Mourinho were to go in to the Liverpool and Chelsea away games with more positivity.
In reality, the best team won on the day, and after a rocky start to the season, Chelsea seem to be creeping back up the table in their bid to challenge for the title. A tough game away at West Brom awaits them after the international break, but the win against United should spur them in to some form, with the Roma defeat long forgotten by then.
Manchester United welcome newly promoted Newcastle, hoping to restore some calm around Old Trafford after a few knee-jerk reactions from some supports and critics alike. Jose Mourinho will be keen to silence anybody who says he may be “finished,” and Newcastle at home might be the best opportunity to do so, especially with Paul Pogba close to returning from a hamstring injury.
The red half of Manchester wasn’t the only place where disappointment was the main emotion, with West Ham United losing heavily to Liverpool at home. As a result, we say goodbye to another manager this year, with Slaven Bilic sacked after the defeat.
The match ended 4-1, putting the owners in a bit of a bind. Results aren’t going their way, the fans are getting increasingly upset, and one of their board member’s cares more about reality television than the club.
Bilic is a good man, articulate despite English being his second language and passionate about West Ham Football Club, but if we remove the huge victory over Tottenham at the end of last season, West Ham haven’t exactly had a structure. If you turned on the television today and saw a West Ham game, you’d have no idea how they were setting up that particular day.
And it shows.
The players simply didn’t know whether they were coming or going, and the four signings over the summer did nothing to change the fact that nearly half-way through the season, they still don’t actually seem to have a plan or a solidified starting 11.
David Moyes has been announced and unveiled as Bilic’s successor, and despite the long-running joke that Moyes is now a specialist in relegation, I really hope he proves his doubters wrong.
He hasn’t exactly had the best career since leaving Everton for Manchester United. Funnily enough, he’d still be under that first contract with Manchester United had he not been sacked. That would have run till 2019. He’s managed Real Sociedad, Sunderland and now West Ham United since then.
West Ham did the right thing in hiring him when they did, too. Going in to an international break, Moyes has just under two weeks to get his ideas across to his team, and hopefully he can start prizing some goals out of summer signing Javier Hernández.
His first game in charge will be away at Watford, who have been sitting comfortably in the mid-table position. A tough game, but one that could easily get Moyes and West Ham off to a good start.
I think, if the West Ham Players and fans buy in to what Moyes will try to do, he could potentially have a long and successful career back in the Premier League. If after three games without a win, the fans turn on him, then he may well be taking yet another team down to the Championship at the end of the season.
Ryan Oldham is a Manchester native and a lifelong supporter of Manchester United. He knows far more about English Premier League football than you do, and therefore was selected to write a weekly update on the most popular professional sports league in the world. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org
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