Everton have upgraded Martinez
The appointment of Ronald Koeman has been somewhat of a master stroke by the Everton hierarchy. Unbeaten so far in the Premier League, and having won their last four outings, this Everton side looks a completely different one to the outfit that limped to an 11th place finish last term under Roberto Martinez.
Koeman has only made some small changes to the squad he inherited, but the signings he has made have been very shrewd. Banking £47.5m for John Stones softened the blow of losing such an important young player, but in Ashley Williams they’ve recruited a very solid and reliable replacement.
The creativity and intensity offered by fellow new boys Yannick Bolasie and Idrissa Gueye also seem to be bringing the best out of Romelu Lukaku. Having been very forthcoming with his desire to leave Everton during the summer, he scored again against a lacklustre Middlesbrough after ending his 13 game barren spell spectacularly last week.
It’s early days, but this already has the makings of a very exciting new chapter for the blue half of Liverpool.
Manchester City will take some stopping
Eight successive wins in all competitions and five wins in five games in the Premier League is pretty impressive by anyone’s standards. Despite resting John Stones, and missing Silva and Aguero through injury and suspension respectively, City cast Bournemouth aside here with alarming ease.
My colleague Mark said last week that Guardiola looks the real deal – and he’s not wrong. After their win at Old Trafford it seemed too early to start talking about Manchester City in the same breath as the Premier League title, but on this evidence and the unpredictable form of their rivals, it doesn’t seem to be heading anywhere but the Etihad.
City now sit two points above Everton with a very healthy positive goal difference, but importantly they already sit six points ahead of Man Utd and five points above Chelsea - two sides who only a few weeks ago looked like they might push City all the way.
If they keep up this form, they’ll be out of sight by Christmas. And with Guardiola at the helm, you wouldn’t expect them to let that slip, would you?
The honeymoon is over for Jose
It was all looking so good for Jose Mourinho. After the abject failure of his final season at Chelsea, he’d won his first three Premier League games as Manchester United manager and it was looking like he’d already banished the nightmares which United fans have been having since Sir Alex Ferguson hung up his hairdryer.
Fast forwards a couple of weeks and he’s lost his first Manchester derby on home soil - and against arch rival Pep just to rub it in – he’s suffered a poor defeat in the Europa League at Feyenoord and this weekend he’s seen his expensively assembled side well beaten by Watford –side who’d failed to register a single win in all competitions until 10 September.
It’s become clear that the clean-up operation required to right the wrongs of the Moyes and Van Gaal eras – or should that be errors? - at Old Trafford will take a lot more than one truly world class manager, a single transfer window and a seemingly bottomless pit of cash.
After his Chelsea capitulation, Mourinho’s reputation is well and truly on the line and he will be hoping there isn’t another slip-up at Northampton in the EFL Cup on Wednesday, ahead of what’s looking like a huge game against Champions Leicester City on Saturday.
Pressure mounting on Hughes
Stoke City were one of the surprise packages last season. After years of route one borefests under Tony Pulis, Mark Hughes had managed to put his stamp on Stoke and they were playing some lovely football. The likes of Xherdan Shaqiri, Bojan and Marko Arnautovic made Stoke genuinely exciting to watch, and they finished a respectable ninth last term.
Fast forwards five games into this campaign and Stoke find themselves rock bottom, with just a single point - taken in their first game back on 13 August. The four defeats since then have placed Hughes under a certain amount of pressure, especially after completing some high profile summer deals to bring in the likes of Joe Allen, Wilfried Bony and Bruno Martins Indi.
The latter of those signings, central defender Martins Indi, was arguably the most important after leaking 55 goals last term. It doesn’t seem to have made much difference though –The Potters have already shipped 14 goals in just 5 games – 8 of those coming in the 2 games Martins Indi has started.
Hughes was known for his goal scoring during his playing days, but if he’s to keep his job he really needs to urgently plug the holes in his Stoke defence before things get a whole lot worse for manager and club.
Spurs can’t just rely on Kane
Tottenham had 31 shots during their Sunday evening contest against Sunderland, but managed to break through a resilient Black Cats defence only once. Harry Kane was on hand in the 59th minute to send Spurs up to third.
The relief that Kane had managed to end his barren spell over the last week was soon forgotten though, after the England man was stretchered off in the second half with what looked like a nasty ankle injury. Looking at the Spurs bench, there’s a genuine concern about where the goals are going to come from in the event of a lengthy lay off for Kane. Despite sitting in third, they’ve got the worst goals scored record of any team in the top six.
Summer signing Vincent Janssen joined from AZ Alkmaar with a very good reputation as a goal scorer, having scored 27 times in just 34 outings last season. Though his late appearance in place of the stricken Kane saw him fire off a shot which had more chance of troubling passing air traffic than the outstanding Jordan Pickford in the Sunderland goal.
Despite Spurs having several injury worries along their back line, the real concern for Mauricio Pochettino will be how Spurs can start to convert the multiple chances they’re creating, without their top marksman.
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