The big story last week (and really since the start of January) was where Alexis Sanchez would end up. The saga started last Summer, with Manchester City looking to sign the Chilean. They failed in that transfer window, and were favorites to sign him either in January for a fee, or the Summer when he would be available for free.
City failed to get their man again, however, and Sanchez moved to Manchester United instead, calling United the “biggest club in England,” and his move a dream come true.
His debut will come this weekend in the FA Cup, with the Premier League taking a week off to make room for those Cup fixtures, so Sanchez will run out on to the pitch at Yeovil Town. Probably not exactly what he expected when signing his multi-million dollar deal this week.
Last week’s article was also home to this quote:
“what would be equally unsurprising is Liverpool going to Swansea on Monday night and conceding four.”
While Liverpool didn’t exactly concede four, they did concede one and failed to score, meaning they went from beating top of the league, to losing to bottom of it in typical Liverpool FC fashion.
The scoreline doesn’t do Liverpool justice for how much they dominated the game, considering they had 72% possession of the ball, and 21 shots to Swansea’s three, but they didn’t take their chances and Swansea snatched the winner from a defendable corner just before half time.
But being dominant in possession doesn’t excuse how bad Liverpool played, and how well Swansea played in return. Funnily
enough it would have been the perfect game for Philippe Coutinho to play in, who was sold to Barcelona earlier this month. Coutinho, a master at breaking down stubborn defenses, would have thrived in this match, and it goes to show that selling your best player without replacing him is risky business. It is the Liverpool way, though.
And a reality check for any team is never a bad thing. Last week it was City’s turn to realize they weren’t the invicibles, and now it’s Liverpool’s turn to be knocked down a peg. The loss leaves them in 4th place in the Premier League, six points behind Manchester United in 2nd, the only realistic spot they could really hope for this season, with City cruising at an altitude of 65 points.
Swansea’s win puts them on 20 points, and amazingly only six points separate them from 10th placed Watford.
A serious relegation battle is opening up with potentially 10 teams in the running, and now way in to the second half of the season, it’s about to get exciting!
For the next match we go back a day to St. Mary’s Stadium where Tottenham were held to a 1-1 draw against Southampton. It’s not typical that I talk about draws in these articles, since they’re not exactly the most exciting, especially for an American audience, but tthis draw is significant to the top four and the relegation zone.
The draw means Tottenham again drop points, with Chelsea winning and moving on to 50, as well as United moving on to 53. The draw looks much better for a relegation threatened Southampton, who are now within a point of escaping the drop, and within four of being in the top ten!
This result is indicative of a much larger problem that Tottenham have faced over the last few years in their bid to win a Premier League title.
So far this year they’ve dropped points against Swansea, Watford, Burnley, West Brom, West Ham and now Southampton. Manchester City losing to Liverpool makes the headlines, but you’ll struggle to see City dropping points against these types of teams.
You simply can’t drop points like this if you’re wanting to become serious contenders, because when the “bigger” games come, there’s a lot more pressure to perform, which we’ve seen them fall short in this season too.
It all comes down to the wage structure at Tottenham, and how they simply aren’t able to compete with the big clubs in pulling in top players.
A story recently broke that Tottenham were ready to smash their wage structure to make Harry Kane the highest paid player at Tottenham on $285,000 a week. As a comparison, Alexis Sanchez, Paul Pogba, Kevin De Bruyne, Romelu Lukaku, Sergio Aguero, Yaya Toure, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, David De Gea and Eden Hazard ALREADY make that amount of money a week.
Kane’s most recent contract extension made the striker earn $140,000 a week, which is less than Cesc Fabregas, Raheem Sterling, Mesut Ozil and David Silva.
If we’re seriously talking about Harry Kane as the best English striker since Wayne Rooney, surely his wages need to reflect that, instead of Tottenham seemingly taking some kind of moral high ground while they watch the biggest stars move to other clubs, and slowly but surely slip down the table.
A trophyless season this year will see questions asked by their biggest stars. Dele Alli, Christian Eriksen and the aforementioned Kane will most likely not want to waste their careers winning nothing other than the “finished above Arsenal” trophy.
Next week, Tottenham will face Manchester United at Wembley to see if they can take on that biggest test against a United side that will feature Alexis Sanchez. Arsenal travel to Swansea as they look to start an unlikely charge up the table, and West Brom will visit the Etihad in the midweek fixtures.
The weekend fixtures include two mouthwatering ties with Arsenal facing Everton and Liverpool facing Tottenham. That means that Weeks 25 and 26 will come together for the next edition, where there’ll be much more to talk about!
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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