It’s Sunday, which means the weekend is almost over and the working week, sadly, starts up again. It also means that the Premier League is over and, like your free time, also gone for another week. In times like these, I find it’s always best to take a little time out for yourself and have a moment of quiet reflection, and maybe have a little nose at some football commentary while you’re at it! So, here it is, Millsy’s second takeaway of the season (if you missed last week, you can find it here) and what a weekend of football it has been – the second week of the season, players start to gel a little more, the fitness levels get a little higher, and those looking to make a run for the title start trying to make statements of intention to their rivals. So let’s get to it….
Chelsea and Arsenal Show Greatest Strengths AND Greatest Weaknesses
The big fixture everyone was looking forward to this weekend was obviously going to be the big London Derby between classic rivals Chelsea and Arsenal at Stamford Bridge and it really lived up to it’s promise. For the first half an hour, Chelsea were cutting through Arsenal like a hot knife through butter and, really, eased into a two goal lead, before The Gunners struck 2 quick replies before half time. Except for one sitter for Aubameyang, it was all Chelsea and, although they got there in the end, they really should have done better to stay ahead.
Sarri has inherited a very strong team at Chelsea and is a manager who I have a very high amount of respect for, he’s worked his way up the lower leagues in Italy and made his way to the very top of the game. At Napoli, he was highly praised by the best coaches in the game for his style of attacking football, and, in a league like Serie A, all-out attack may have been a highly successful tactic where the lower down teams may not be able to offer as much as in the Prem. However, Arsenal are not one of the lower-down teams (despite being 15th after that loss) and some other teams watching that game might have been licking their lips a little. Give a game like that to a team like Man City or Liverpool and they will tear you a new one. If there’s one thing you don’t want to do in the PL is show a team that you may be a bit frail at the back, because that will give them a licence to attack (as demonstrated in United’s game against Brighton, more on that later…).
Arsenal too, after a poor start to the season against City needed to make some kind of statement in this game that they’re going to compete this season, last week they didn’t do that. This loss, where Chelsea stomped all over them for most of the first half, will have done nothing to improve their fan’s confidence that the post-Wenger era will have a successful start. You can’t judge a team on their opening two games, especially when they’ve been City and Chelsea, but Aubameyang’s miss of an absolute sitter when they were 1-0 down pretty much said it all – they’re a team low on confidence and Emery has a real job on his hands to sort it out.
The other match that I had my eye on after Friday’s news about De Bruyne and, being the important player he is, I wondered how City might cope without one of last season’s brightest stars. Obviously, I had absolutely no need to wonder about anything, as City showed just the strength they have in depth by absolutely HAMMERING Huddersfield 6-1. Such is the danger that City pose this season, they pretty much walked through the entire 90 minutes at The Etihad, showing no signs that they might be a bit short of confidence without their main playmaker, and why would they? There’s a reason I picked them as my Champions-elect, they have, not only the strongest starting 11, but they could afford to leave stars like Leroy Sane and new signing Riyad Mahrez on the bench!
As a United fan, there’s nothing more hurtful than watching a stunning performance like that from our neighbours across Manchester, hell just looking at their team sheet leaves me with a small pain in my chest (nothing I need to get checked out, don’t worry) and it leaves me a bit teary eyed, as much with sorrow as with reminiscing about times when we were the team to beat. Anyhow, enough of my wallowing (again, more on that later…) and back to the matter at hand: City’s dominance. After a performance like that, I have to hold my hands up and admit that they are miles ahead of where United are and I reckon Pep Guardiola is probably rubbing his hands together at the idea of of being the first manager since Fergie to retain the title, and maybe, eventually, knocking them off their f*cking perch…..but let’s not get ahead of ourselves, it could just be me being a bit negative.
United Don’t Deserve A Catchy Headline
Well….what else is there to say in this part of the article except congratulations to Brighton for a performance that showed all the glaring holes that United failed to cover up during the transfer window? Their performance was truly astonishing and they thoroughly deserved the win as Man United showed what an utter lack of organisation there is at Old Trafford right now. Last week, I wrote about how United got through a tough first game of the season rather unscathed, and I was pretty positive despite us not putting in a wonderful performance. This week, I find myself utterly gobsmacked at the absolute lack of quality shown by Jose Mourinho’s team against Brighton, they looked scared to play, low on confidence and wholly confused by the idea of football.
Paul Pogba, again captain this week, showed absolutely zero leadership on the pitch, as he put in a performance reminiscent of the run that got him benched last season. He typified our performance, looking again like he was putting in hardly any effort, less than half of what he put into any of his games for France at the World Cup, less even than against Denmark, and he didn’t even get onto the pitch in that one! It’s times like these that I really wish I didn’t feel the need to write a blog, on weekends like this, football itself can be painful enough, without having to write about my team’s dire performance after just being forced to sit through 90 minutes of having crap thrown in my face.
The real difference in our performance today was shown by what happened after Lukaku pulled one back for us. Normally, you’d expect United to then march on against a team like Brighton and come back to win (no offence guys) but, instead, we allowed them straight back in to score a third. Maybe the Amex Stadium is United’s new bogey ground after losing their last season, maybe Mourinho’s third season syndrome is rearing it’s ugly head, maybe this is the start of a Fergie-like reign for Jose and we’ll dominate football again for another 20 years, maybe I’ll start believing in superstitions. Either way, all I can say is this: United need to get their arses in gear or, at this rate, it’s going to be a very tough season ahead for fans like me as Bournemouth are looking more likely to take a Champions League spot than us. Right, now I need to have a good stiff drink….
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