Monday, August 31, 2009

2009/2010 Barclays Premier League Season: Week 3 Review and Top Five Observations

Week 3 of the Barclays Premier League has just concluded. And what a week it has been, full of events, talking points and incidents. We have had pitch invasions, stabbings, world class diving and finally the all-conquering Barcelona capturing another trophy, this time the UEFA Super Cup.

So, it was good to get back to the mundaneness of Week 3 in the Barclays Premier League. Here are all the scores for last week.

Monday, August 24, 2009
Final Liverpool 1 - 3 Aston Villa
Saturday, August 29, 2009
Final Chelsea 3 - 0 Burnley
Final Tottenham Hotspur 2 - 1 Birmingham
Final Blackburn Rovers 0 - 0 West Ham United
Final Bolton Wanderers 2 - 3 Liverpool
Final Stoke City 1 - 0 Sunderland
Final Wolverhampton Wanderers 1 - 1 Hull City
Final Manchester United 2 - 1 Arsenal
Sunday, August 30, 2009
Final Portsmouth 0 - 1 Manchester City
Final Everton 2 - 1 Wigan Athletic
Final Aston Villa 2 - 0 Fulham

Liverpool started the week terribly losing to Aston Villa on Monday night. What's more worrying was that all goals conceded so far have been goals from setpieces, giving the impression that Liverpool defence isn't as solid as they have been in previous seasons. The purchase of Greek defender, Sotioros Krygiakos who is touted as a no-nonsense and strong in the air will certainly help address this. His physical presence was a big help against Bolton where he was winning most of the headers ahead of Kevin Davies. Glen Johnson's impressive showing in Liverpool's colours continue with another great goal. His attacking instincts will be vital to the Reds this season. The Gerrard-Torres fulcrum is gathering speed as we speak, in the last four matches, the duo have contributed to five goals and three assists. Undoubtedly, the best duo in the Premiership right now.

West Ham could not break down a tough Blackburn defence though Carlton Cole tried his hardest to break the deadlock. His reward for another impressive display of power and pace was a call-up into the England squad together with Upson and Green. Another Hammer due a call-up is Scott Parker but I would imagine only injuries to Barry, Lampard or Gerrard will force Capello to call up Great Scott. On a more nostalgic note, it was good to see Blackburn's David Dunn back in action and looking in good form. Alessandro Diamanti steps into a very talented squad and will be expected to link play intelligently together with Luis Jiminez. All in all, four points from the first three matches means West Ham are sitting comfortably in 11th position. The lack of goals is naturally worrying but hopefully that deficiency can be addressed through the transfer window.

Tottenham Hotspur have a new found spirit and resolve about them this season. Perhaps it is going to be a Big 6 this term after all. A late Aaron Lennon goal maintained a 100% win record this season. The introduction of Peter Crouch troubled Birmingham, thereby underlining the strength and variablity of the Spurs attack.

Manchester City also have a 100% wins record and more prominently, they have yet to break sweat. Without knowing his best eleven, Mark Hughes have quietly moulded a strong team together. A team with plenty of Premiership experience and a team with a winning mentality.

Chelsea continues to impress, looking strong in all departments. Michael Ballack is clearly benefitting from Ancelotti's trust in him as he is finally looking like his imperious self while at Bayern Munich. Two goals from four starts proves that the swagger and self-confidence are permeating through the German's play.

The first Big 4 clash between Manchester United and Arsenal proved to be a highly entertaining match. Ferguson fielded a side intent on stifling the talented Arsenal side and they did so in whatever means possible, legal and illegal methods included. A match with loads of talking point, not least a dubious Rooney penalty. Andrey Arshavin again showing his big match temperament with a wonderful all-round game, his goal easily the goal of week 3. What this match highlight ed was the cautiousness of Fergie when approaching a Big 4 clash. Will this success mean that he will continue to load up the midfield and stop Chelsea and Liverpool from playing? Obviously United do not have the players to take the game to Chelsea, Liverpool and Arsenal. Sir Alex Ferguson is pragmatic enough to accept that he will have to employ a spoiling tactic to get the better of these more superior teams.

Finally, these are my top five observations from last week's matches.
1. Emmanuel Adebayor has scored three goals in three matches, two of which have been match-winning goals. He is the focal point for the CitiZens right now.
2. Sir Alex Ferguson will not start Owen and Berbatov for massive games simply because he does not trust them. Besides, Berbatov do not have the stomach for Big 4-type matches as he is a bit of a pansy. Owen is far too profligate to be a first team starter.
3. Liverpool only became effective when Steven Gerrard retreated to midfield and started controlling the Bolton game from there. The winning goal was a result of Gerrard taking up a position which otherwise would be Xabi Alonso's.
4. Carlton Cole is the only West Ham threat upfront during the Blackburn match. Zola must really strengthen the attack with another signing. The capture of Alessandro Diamanti will offer a different attacking dimension to West Ham but is it enough?
5. Chelsea is the strongest of the Big 4 or Big 6 after week 3 with a dominant display against a Burnley side that has beaten Everton and Manchester United. The last time the Blues won four opening matches in a row was in the 2005/2006 season. Chelsea took the Premiership title that year so beware!

Form team of the week: Spurs, Chelsea and Manchester City.
Rubbish team of the week: Blackburn, Portsmouth and Wigan Athletic.

Next weekend is World Cup qualifiers weekend. A number of West Ham players will be involved, a testament of Zola and Steve Clarke's work with the boys. Carlton Cole, Matthew Upson and Robert Green will be with England to face Slovenia (friendly) and then Croatia in the World Cup qualifier. Jonathan Spector hopes to win his 19th and 20th US caps against El Salvador and Trinidad & Tobago. Welsh duo, Danny Gabbidon and James Collins will try to help Wales keep their dream of World Cup qualification alive. Another Welsh dragon, Jack Collison will be on U-21 duty. The younger Hammers, James Tomkins, Junior Stanislas, Fabio Daprela and Danny Purdy will also be on international duty with their respective clubs. We wish them all an injury-free international outing.

Related Articles:
2009/2010 Barclays Premier League Week 1 Review
2009/2010 Barclays Premier League Week 2 Review

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