London Derby’s don’t get much fiercer than Arsenal vs. Tottenham, especially recently with the apparent shift of power from the former to the latter, but this past weekend saw Arsenal take a victory on and off the field as they were able to gain bragging rights for at least half a season, winning 2-0 over Spurs at the Emirates. Everton continued their poor start to the season with a 2-2 draw at Crystal Palace (seriously), and Huddersfield were brought back down to earth with a 4-0 battering at the hands of Bournemouth. It was Week 12, and it was a good’en!
Manchester United get a lot of hate for how they play away to the top six, and rightly so, but similar judgement has to be put on Tottenham and Mauricio Pochettino for their lackluster performances so far this season. They have only played two top six games away from home, but have lost both and performed quite badly in both.
Losses to Manchester United and Arsenal respectively came around a time when Spurs fans were rightfully getting excited about Tottenham’s chances this season by playing well in the Champions League so-called “Group of Death,” and continuing on from last season’s good performances.
After the loss to Manchester United, they were able to bounce back and beat Real Madrid in the mid-week game, and they have done similarly to beat Borussia Dortmund this time around after the 2-0 loss to Arsenal, but the holiday schedule is as packed as ever, and tough away games to Leicester and Watford over the next couple weeks will really test a Tottenham side that are desperate to prove they’re the new kings of North London.
Jamie Carragher claimed in his analysis of the match that Arsenal are still miles ahead of Tottenham, and also discussed how poorly Dele Alli played, claiming if “Mesut Ozil performed the way Dele Alli did in that game, we would be slaughtering Ozil.”
Carragher is spot on with his criticism, but it opens up another interesting window into how journalists and managers alike treat English “rising stars.”
Harry Kane has only scored two goals in the Premier League since the 4-1 win over Liverpool on October 14th, yet the big news was constantly about how Romelu Lukaku, a Belgian player, was having a goal drought. Lukaku, who scored against Newcastle at the weekend, currently sits one goal behind Mo Salah at the top of the Golden Boot standings with eight goals, the same as Kane, but we never heard the end of Lukaku’s worries in front of goal.
English fans love a scapegoat. Wayne Rooney was England’s scapegoat for years when the national team inevitably lost in the World Cup or the European Championships, but we seem to be so nervous of giving these players the criticism they deserve during the season when the Premier League and Champions League are on the line.
Whether or not Pochettino noticed how bad Alli played is up for debate, but a real statement would be to drop him to the bench in the next Premier League game, and show these young English players that they aren’t as bulletproof as they may think they are.
So close to the World Cup, Gareth Southgate has shown that no player has an automatic spot in the team after Reece Oxford and Harry Maguire impressed over international duty, but maybe we’re getting down to the real reason England always underperform: bulletproof players who are coddled the entire season face real adversity in a tournament setting and can’t handle the pressure it brings.
Southgate lad, if you’re reading, I can break the curse for $100k a week and an office at St. George’s Park.
Brighton continued their unprecedented and surprising rise up the Premier League, moving up to 9th(!) with a 2-2 draw at home to Stoke City. This brings Brighton’s unbeaten run in the Premier League to five games, their last loss coming to the aforementioned Arsenal at the beginning of October.
At the tail end of last season, football pundits and armchair watchers alike all praised Huddersfield as the team to watch this season, and with good reason. Huddersfield sit just one spot behind Brighton, but many did not expect Chris Hughton’s men to be anywhere close to survival when the end of this season rolls around.
Hughton proved his Premier League pedigree before at Newcastle, and it surprised me that it took this long to see him return to top flight football. He has built something special at the Amex, however, having been there for almost four years now, and with a win percentage hovering around 50%, it’s one of the best of his managerial career.
The real test for Brighton starts at the weekend when they travel to Old Trafford to face a Manchester United side that is revitalized with the return of Paul Pogba and Zlatan Ibrahimovic, but with doubts on the fitness of Eric Bailly and Phil Jones, they may well want to exploit the unproven center-back partnership of Victor Lindelof and Chris Smalling.
After Manchester United, Brighton face Liverpool, Tottenham and Chelsea before the new year, among others in a congested fixture list that will test the best of teams, so they will need composure and a fully fit squad if they are to come out of those games alive.
As we look ahead to Week 13, a mouthwatering fixture between Liverpool and Chelsea at Anfield awaits, with Liverpool wanting to forget about blowing a 3-0 lead during the week to Sevilla. Huddersfield will be looking to make it a clean sweep of Manchester clubs at home when they face Manchester City in the late game on Sunday, but with City destroying everything in their path, it’ll be a tough ask for The Terriers to get any kind of result.
And last but not least, I hope you all have a happy Thanksgiving, and I’ll see you next week for unlucky 13!
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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