Lopategui To Be Sacked? Top 5 League Talking Points

It was a very eventful week in European football. Big teams failing, and some real stand out performers. Let’s get straight into it.

Bundesliga – Borussia Dortmund and Borussia Mönchengladbach’s 4-0 wins.

The Bundesliga was by far the most interesting league to discuss this week. Because I usually stick to just two matches (to not stretch the content too long and to add some consistency), it left me unable to even bring up Luka Jovic scoring 5 goals, Bayern back to winning ways, Schalke back to losing ways and Bayer Leverkusen getting a late equaliser. But let’s stick with the league leaders here, with both Dortmund and Mönchengladbach securing 4-0 victories. Let’s start with Dortmund, who earned a relatively comfortable victory over Stuttgart. This game seemed to just highlight how good Dortmund have been this season. While it is still early, it does seem that they are finally ready to challenge Bayern, with the champions underachieving massively. Dortmund did an excellent job in this game of ending any chance of their opponents of winning the game, with Sancho, Reus and Alcacer scoring in the first half an hour. Dortmund only managed 4 shots on target in this game, but were able to put their chances away, an element of their game I have not been impressed with in recent years. Favre has turned this side into a pretty multi functional one. They are able to play a possession style, while also being able to play on the counter attack (Dortmund have scored the most goals from counter attacks, with 4). While I did criticise the signings of Delaney and Witzel at the time, I cannot deny how well they have performed this season. Delaney was very good in this game, making 7 interceptions, 2 tackles and 5 accurate long balls. Witzel continued his very good start to the season, with the Belgian completing the most passes, and making 2 key passes. Both have given a very solid base in midfield, and it has given their forward players even more freedom, because of how well both have retained possession this season, resulting in more forward moving from the attacking players. It will be interesting to see how Dortmund will fair when they play both Bayern and Mönchengladbach, but they currently sit at the top, with the best attack in the league.

Speaking of Mönchengladbach, they secured a 4-0 win over Mainz. While Dortmund’s was more of a clinical performance, the second placed side in Germany produced a much more dominant performance. They out shot and had more possession than their opponent, and were fully deserving of their victory. While Hoffman will earn all the headlines for his brilliant performance, it was Thorgan Hazard who stole the show. The Belgian has lived in the shadow of his brother for a long time, but is a very, very good footballer. He is a great dribbler, like his brother, and is much more versatile, using his incredible movement to case defenses problems no matter where he plays. While Plea has been one of the signings of the season, Hazard has arguably been the player of the season so far. He has already scored 4 and assisted 3 for his side. He was the reason why Hoffman was able to get a hat trick. Hazard’s ball across for his second goal was brilliant, even though Mueller should have came out earlier to receive the ball. Hazard’s goal was superb, with the forward volleying the ball right into the top of the goal to seal the win for Mönchengladbach. It now leaves Mönchengladbach in a good position. They play Freiburg next, a team in the bottom half of the table. If they secure this win, it leaves plenty of pressure on both Bayern and Dortmund to keep getting results.

La Liga – Barca and Sevilla thriller, Madrid lose another.

La Liga is at his most competitive in years. The top teams are probably at their weakest in a long time, which left Sevilla at the top of the table. They travelled to the Nou Camp, in a tie between the top two sides, and to say it was entertaining is an understatement. The game ended in Barcelona’s favour, with the now league leaders beating their opponents 4-2. It was a marvelous display of attacking football from both sides, with there being a combined 42 shots in this game. Sevilla have had much success this season, by playing attacking players throughout their side, with their midfield persistent solely of number 10s. It is one of the main reasons why they have been so fun this season. However Barcelona did deserve the win here. They created the better chances, and definitely took them. Messi was key for the early lead, with the Argentine setting up Coutinho and scoring the second. However he came off due to injury, which now puts Barcelona at a huge disadvantage for the classico this weekend. It was still smooth sailing for Barca, with Semedo having a particularly good game. The Portuguese has been in rotation with Roberto since arriving, and definitely shown why he is such an alternative to the Spaniard. Semedo is much more direct, and might have less ability when it comes to controlling the game, but is a much better dribbler and uses his pace to cover more ground. As mentioned, he was very good in this game, in an attacking sense mostly. 42% of Barcelona’s attacks came down that right side, with Semedo having the joint most touches of the ball. While his defensive work was mostly non existent, he completed 3 dribbles and made a key pass. Both him and Alba were real driving forces on the flanks. However it was Ter Stegan who was comfortably the man of the match. He made 5 saves in the game, with one in particular being an absolutely impossible save for most keepers. I have always said De Gea is comfortably the best keeper around, and while I still believe that, Ter Stegan is comfortably the second best. It leaves Barcelona leading the pack, and with the classico coming up, it could leave their rivals without a chance.

Speaking of their rivals, Real Madrid lost another game. It leaves them with their worst start in 16 years, and has put an incredible amount of pressure on Julien Lopategui. The rumours are already circling that it could be the end for the Spaniard, and it wouldn’t be the worst decision. While I do not like the idea of him constantly wanting a high line, when they should start to grind out games instead of leaving themselves so exposed. I can sympathize with him. Florentino Perez did not back him in any way in the summer. Madrid only bought in another goalkeeper, a back up right back and bringing back Mariano Diaz, a player who isn’t good enough to start for them. I can respect putting faith in Bale and Benzema, two players who have shown in the past that they can perform at a high level. I just do not understand why Madrid didn’t make that Galactico signing. They were linked to Hazard, Icardi, Mbappe, Neymar, Dybala, yet didn’t move for any of them. Bale, Benzema and the rest of the team could add more goals, but not enough to fill in for all the work Ronaldo did. Ronaldo didn’t only score goals, but he was excellent in taking shots in really good areas, and giving Madrid a vocal point. Madrid do have a lot of shots, but are just so much more wasteful. This game might be a bad example, because they were chasing the game for 75 minutes, meaning there was definitely an element of desperation. Madrid under Zidane might have been poor defensively, but they were so good at creating good chances, and especially scoring them. Lopategui does deserve plenty of blame, but Perez is by far the biggest culprit to why Madrid are failing. It was made so clear in the summer that Lopategui was not his first choice, but it doesn’t give him a reason to throw him in a job where he would never succeed. It perfectly captures why Madrid can burn managers out. They need to fix this, otherwise attracting top talent might not seem as easy, with the club in such a mess.

Ligue 1 – Lucky Marseille, Montpellier sit in 3rd

Ligue 1 has not been great to look into this season. Paris are walking the league already, after another 5-0 victory, and Lille are closest team towards them. They do not look near equipped enough to challenge for a title. Let’s look at Marseille, who can call themselves fortunate to beat Nice. The home side had more shots on target, created more chances and dominated the game. However thanks to a brilliant ball from Sarr, Morgan Sanson put Marseille ahead and held their own throughout. While Nice did have chances to get back in the game, credit has to be given to the away side, who thanks to very good performances from Mandanda, Sarr and Amavi. Amavi had the most touches of the ball for Marseille, and put in 4 tackles and 2 interceptions. A very defensive display from a more attacking player. Nice may have deserved more out of this game, with Balotelli and Saint-Maximin having very good games. Balotelli had 4 shots, and 2 on target, whilst Saint-Maximin completed a crazy 8 dribbles. Nice have lost many of their best players since that 3rd place finish. However if they keep up playing the way they do, it will improve over time. Viera has done a very good job so far for Nice, considering it is his first job in a top five league. Marseille face PSG this weekend. If they show the same resilience they showed here, there do have a chance, but it is still very minimal.

Let’s quickly talk about Montpellier, who are currently sitting in 3rd in Ligue 1. While they haven’t been spectacular by any standards (like Ligue 1 itself), but they have been very good this season. Ever since their surprise title win back in 2012, Montpellier have been trying to get back to those glory days. They finished in 10th last season, while their 9 defeats were less than the five teams above them, they ended the season with 18 draws, struggling to turn those draws into wins. While there are elements of that not changing this season, they are unbeaten since their defeat on the opening day to Dijon. They have struggled to retain their leads, but have still been very impressive. Defensively they are one of the best sides in the division, facing the 4th least amount of shots in the league. They remain organised in their system. They are really hard to beat, and use their two forwards Laborde and Delort to do the business on the other end. Out of the pair, Delort has definitely been the standout player. He has 4 goals and 1 assist to his name this season, the most for his side. He has been a huge vocal point for Montpellier, with his 4.2 aerial duels the highest in the side. He does so much off the ball work and is still able to offer so much in the final third. Expected goals shows how this has not been a fluke, with him expected to get 4.50 goals this season. He is performing to his level. While Lille have been the real surprise package, Montpellier do deserve a mention.

Premier League – Chelsea’s equaliser, High five for City

The Premier League title race is really starting to heat up, with Liverpool, Man City and Chelsea all looking good at the top of the table. While I still think City are comfortably the best side in the league (we’ll get to them), the sides around them are still excellent sides. Let’s start with Chelsea, who fought back against Manchester United to retain their unbeaten record against the red devils at home. This was a game that many had written off for United, because of their awful start to the season and just how good Chelsea have looked this season. However United did surprise everyone here. While they did not exactly deserve to win the game, credit is due for their impressive comeback, thanks to great work from both Rashford, Mata and Martial. They were all amazing on the day and really helped United salvage a point. Chelsea were definitely the better side. Both Kante and Jorginho were brilliant in the middle of the park. Kante completed 4 tackles and 2 interceptions, while Jorginho completed 3 and 1, while also making 2 key passes. I do think Chelsea were quite lucky in this game. I do not think there should have been nearly as much injury time as was given, and on another day, United would have won that game. This does not excuse just how terrible United were on set pieces, with both Lindelof and Pogba being at fault for the first goal. The second goal was just a chaotic mess, with Chelsea players lining up for the finishing blow. It leaves Chelsea still in a very strong position, with them looking like the better side now against 3 of their rivals. United are a mess, and should not even be in the discussion for top 4.

Manchester City’s 5-0 win over Burnley is just another reason on why there is a high chance they will retain their title. This is the 3rd time they have scored more than 5 goals this season. While many critics will say the teams they are beating are not at a high level, they are still absolutely destroying these sides, showing so much ruthlessness in games. It’s Pep wanting the most out of his players, and wanting them to treat every game like it’s a cup final. Pep actually rested a few players for this game, with Sterling, arguably their best player this season, not even coming off the bench. This game actually highlighted one player’s huge influence after the absence of another, and that is Bernardo Silva. Funnily enough, Silva made the most appearances for City last season, with 53. It was crazy to find that out, because he seemed like such a bit part player through most of the season. He has really excelled as a number 8 in De Bruyne’s absence. So far this season, he has made 1.7 key passes, taken 1.3 shots, made 1.3 tackles and has scored 3 and assisted 1. It does seem Pep has really favoured him since his arrival, and De Bruyne’s injury might be a blessing in disguise for Silva. The reason why I say that City still look like the favourites is because of games like this. While they have the occasional slip in the big games, you just can’t see a team below 5th having any chance of stopping them. They are just relentless and so difficult to break up. They could go down as the best side in the league’s history of they keep this up.

Serie A – Juventus drop points, Milan Derby

Let’s start with arguably the most interesting talking point this week in Serie A, being Juventus dropped their first points of the season. The old lady were held to a 1-1 draw at home against Genoa. While Juventus did manage 21 shots in this game, only 3 were on target, and they were all Ronaldo. The 5x Champions League winner had a handful of chances to really put the game to bed. While criticising him for not scoring every chance he gets is quite unfair, I’m putting more blame on his teammates. When Ronaldo plays, the main attacking strategy is to create as many chances for him as possible. While there is still a lot of pressure for him to score the goals, he usually delivers. But when he has a day where some of his chances aren’t getting out away, the others around him as still need to contribute. Mandzukic for example. The Croatian didn’t manage a single shot or key pass in this game. And while Cuadrado did manage 3 key passes, he didn’t manage a single shot on target. His teammates cannot rely on him constantly, and need to still contribute. One player did seriously deliver in this game was Alex Sandro. The Brazilian didn’t have the greatest of seasons last year, after falling out with the board, but seems to be back on track. He had 120 touches, and was the only player to manage over 100 touches. He had a 92.5% pass accuracy and managed 5 key passes. He is one of the best full backs in Europe for a reason, because of his incredible contribution. He really showed that against Genoa. While Piatek didn’t score in this game, to continue his run of scoring in every game, he still managed to win 7 aerial duels, showing how scoring isn’t his only contribution in games. Juventus are still comfortable favourites, but it is good to see they are human.

The big game of the whole weekend was the Milan Derby, and it didn’t disappoint. The Milan Derby is a game I never miss, because of the sheer emotion felt by both teams. Inter won the derby, thanks to a late goal from their captain, Mauro Icardi. It was a deserved win. Their captain was his usual best in this game. In only 16 touches, he managed 3 shots, 2 on target and 3 key passes. Icardi is easily my favourite striker in Europe right now. His great consistency, his ability to take shots in great areas and his ability to get involved in build up play is only improving. Icardi is a rare breed of striker that barely every touches the ball, doesn’t shoot as much as others. But because of how good he is of getting on the end of chances, it makes him the most clinical striker in Europe. Last year, he scored a hat trick to win the game for Inter, has won it again. However his fellow countryman, Higuain, didn’t do so well. He seriously struggled to get into the game. He only managed 2 shots, and both were off target. What sums his bad game was he only managed 10 passes. He barely had an involvement in a game. Suso has been the best player in Serie A this season, yet he struggled to really show it today. While he did manage 4 shots, he was only player to get a shot on target for the Rossoneri. His goalscoring isn’t his best feature, it’s it’s chance creation. He only managed a single key pass in this game. While it isn’t all his fault, his wasn’t his best performance. It leaves the Milan clubs in very different positions. Inter are now looking like they are ready to finish in the Champions League spots again, while Milan still have a long way to go.

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5 Talking Points from England Vs Tunisia

I’ve said before that I genuinely believe this England team is a very good team, and while I am not an England fan myself, it was good to see all these talented players get some real credit. Let’s go through 5 talking points from last night’s game.

A rocket of a start

England began the game brilliantly. They pressed high up the pitch and and quickly moved the ball up the pitch. It was the way they were bound to play. With players like Lingard, Alli, and Sterling, you are given players who are great at finding space and at moving zones. The first 10 minutes were great signs. Lingard has a couple of chances which he probably should have stuck away, but it was different to what I have ever seen an England team do, have a plan. My issue with England over the past 16 years is they seem to not have any sort of tactic on how to approach the game. They seem to just rely on star players like Beckham and Gerrard, hence why they seem to jam them all in a team even though it didn’t work. This England team however has so much balance. The midfield highlights that pretty well. You have two solid defensive midfielders in Henderson and Dier, two good ball carriers in Lingard and Loftus-Cheek, an energetic midfielder in Delph and a good creator in Dele Alli. This midfield worked so well and it is mainly because of a certain Geordie.

Henderson – MOTM?

While Kane will get all of the headlines, and rightly so, Henderson does definitely deserve a lot of credit. Henderson is a player I have never loved, but I do understand why managers seem to like him. In this game he showed why. His passing was very impressive. Whether it was a simple ball to Alli or Lingard, or a long ball straight to the full back, he constantly kept things ticking. It was great to see him do so well. I’ve also mentioned how I don’t understand why Shelvey was even considered an option. Henderson had a much better pass accuracy and completed the most passes in the premier league last season. He has the quality and gives England a real shield for the defense. While I like Dier’s tenacity, Henderson definitely has been the right pick.

Solid Defense?

On paper, a 3 man back line of Maguire, Walker and Stones would be okay, and it was. The biggest positive with all three of these players is their ability on the ball. All definitely have confidence when in possession, and are able to carry the ball out effectively. This could be seen multiple times, with Walker slipping in a very good ball to Trippier in the first half, and John Stones always keeping that back four very calm. However there were moments that did show their inexperience. Kyle Walker had a moment of madness and elbowed the Tunisian forward, and Maguire misplaced a simple that could have lead to a goal. This back four contains a defender that has a never played at the top level, another who is still very young, and another who usually plays fullback. It will have its sketchy moments, but overall very positive.

Harry Kane

The new captain began his first world cup with a bang, and scored 2 goals that won his team the game. Before this tournament, Kane has been very decent for England. He managed to get only 5 goals in qualifying. This was a very low number when comparing to other top strikers, with Lewandowski banging 16, and Cristiano Ronaldo scoring 15. Like England, he wasn’t too impressive. But tournaments can bring the best out of a player, and so far it has. While Kane’s involvement in the game was pretty limited, with most of ball going to the two central midfielders or the full back, he still managed to get in that right place at that right time to back both goals. We always want the modern striker to get involved in the game and keep the ball to assist teammates, but sometimes a pure goal scorer is what they need. If he keeps it up, he could be remembered just as fondly as Lineker or Shearer.

Positive changes

I was very impressed with Southgate’s changes in the game. He took of Sterling, who didn’t have the best of games, and brought on Rashford. The United winger had a great impact on the game and gave England so much energy and was willing to take on players with his speed and strength. The next change was Loftus-Cheek for Dele Alli, who got a slight injury in the game. He gave quite the direct replacement, offering an incredible dribbling ability, and because of his size, was so hard to get off the ball. Dier for Lingard was right at the end, but that was just to waste time. Overall I thought Southgate is making the right decisions regarding making changes to the game.

Manchester United 3-0 Stoke City

After 10 games off, it was great to us return with a bang. After city’s defeat on Sunday, let’s try and make this gap less embarrassing.

Magical Pogba

By now you have probably realised I have a real love for Paul Pogba. And against Stoke he really put in a Pogba performance. He was constantly demanding the ball and just driving us forward and acting as our main creative hub. He had his usual Hollywood balls to the fullback (which I would prefer him to do less of) and doing quick passes to give others space to take advantage of. He added two more assists to his tally this season, making 12 goal contributions in 13 games. To compare De Bryune has the same amount in 10 more games. I find it ludacris that Pogba is not discussed in the same bracket as the likes of Modric, De Bryune and Kroos. He has the biggest skill set of a midfielder on the planet and can do everything. Pogba is on course to have his best season in club football. Not bad for a dab merchant.

Return of Valencia

It was great to see our Ecuadorian powerhouse return in his position. With him playing it gives us a much more balances back line. While Lindelof did okay at right back, he will never have the same consistent performances in that position as our captain. It also shows why Valencia is captain in the first place. He leads by example by putting the same energetic displays every week. While he is great going forward and defensively, his cross still can’t beat the first man, he still the best right back we could get.

Lingard in midfield?

A strange decision from Mourinho but did pay off. While it wasn’t a perfect performance, he did show why Mourinho played him there. He showed his usual lively performance with some great passing moves as usual. While I love his flexibility and his new found end product. This really isn’t his best position. I would play him in these games against weaker sides, to give us an extra edge, but in tougher games I’d prefer Fellaini or Herrera to play there, to give us someone more disciplined and stronger. Good performance from Messi Lingardino.

4-3-3 working again

Another game, another reason why 4-3-3 works. It just is the right position to play, and with the possible arrive of a certain arsenal winger, it might get even better. The issue still remains that right side, and if the Sanchez rumours are true, then we might be ready next season. Sanchez will give us a big game player who is at the top of his game, ready to win games and trophies with United. While it will be costly, bringing glory back to the red side of Manchester will be worth it.

A typical English appointment

Paul Lambert? Really? It is just such an underwhelming appointment in general. I’m just tired of teams just picking the safe option. I mean there has to be someone better right. Lambert has a 27% win rate in the league, which is dreadful. He’s been appointed for doing a great job keeping Aston Villa in the league, a job he lost the season after to Tim Sherwood. The board clearly do not know what they’re doing or do not feel ambitious in their appointment. They just want a pair of predictable hands with no difficulties.

5 Talking Points from Manchester United 1-0 Bournemouth

Another game I actually went to see. Besides the great seats and atmosphere, the game wasn’t great to watch. But many players did stand out. So let’s talk about it

Return of Shaw

The biggest talking point would have to be a great performance from Luke Shaw. I have been constantly wining about Ashley Young starting for united, because he isn’t good enough to be starting for us. But seeing Shaw play at his best just shows what a real left back is. He didn’t a foot wrong and was incredible going forward. He was able to give united another option and works so well with Martial. It might limit the Frenchman’s options but having another man on the wing can always help. If Mourinho knows anything about football then Shaw should get more minutes. He definitely deserves it.

A Shining Scott

With more games means more players being given a chance. Nothing makes me happier than a player from the academy given a chance in the premier league. It isn’t the first time we’ve seen McTominay. In fact he’s played in most competitions this season, but this was his first start in the league. I’ve been complaining about Herrera and Matic not working as a partnership and Mourinho not trying something different during Pogba’s absence, but this time he did and it definitely paid off. McTominay was very good. He didn’t nothing wrong, while not doing anything spectacular. He just did everything right. I thought him and Matic both had great games. They both were very good defensively and especially McTominay. Near the end of the game he had the crowd on their feet. He was making some crunch tackles in the opposition half to keep us moving. He even was making late runs to give Lukaku some options. Something that was lacking throughout the game from the team. I think Scott has done enough to earn his manager’s trust and hopefully get more games.

A Solid Jones

Phil Jones can be credited for making sure Bournemouth didn’t get more chances. He did the usual Phil Jones, but his body on the line to make sure the ball didn’t go in. He has been one of our better defenders this season and him making a return will be a huge boost.

A change of formation

Another game, another slow performance in the 4-2-3-1. Without Pogba this formation just doesn’t work. It focuses on one creative force. Without the Frenchman it can’t work. Mourinho can keep trying but it just doesn’t work. We were solid defensively but weren’t great in the final third. We were slow and didn’t pick the right passes. Decision making in general wasn’t great and needs improvement. However the last time we lost to city we kept losing, so I’d prefer this then losing.

A risky Bournemouth

Credit to the Cherries, they did try. Usually I get frustrated seeing teams come to Old Trafford and not even try to attack. Bournemouth had a few chances and to be fair they have done much better than most teams have done this season. I don’t think they’ve been great this season mainly because of how easy they are to open up. Nothing was different here.

5 Talking Points from Manchester United 1-2 Manchester City

What a dreadful performance. This was the worst I’ve seen united since we drew against Celta Viga in the Europa League. It was awful and it might just have been the game where we gave City the league. So let’s go through the talking points

The Lukaku Criticism

The player clearly getting the most criticism from the fans. Most I think is justified. He should have scored that chance he had and should have done better on the set pieces. Those are why I think he was one of the worst players on the pitch, next to Young, Smalling and Martial. Many have said since he costed £75m he should score with every chance. This is complete nonsense. When I think of the best strikers around I think of Cavani, Lewandowski and Icardi. These players normally score one in every four shots. Strikers need a lot of creativity to get chances. I’ve already mentioned how bad Zlatan was at scoring goals last season and it just shows how stupid some fans are. I still like Lukaku. I would have been fine with him, Morata or Belotti. They’re all great strikers and as long as they play great I’m fine. Yes he is in some bad form but in these big games he’s had zero creativity. Without Pogba we offer nothing in creativity. It’s an area in the squad we need to fix. Lukaku will score over 20 goals this season. It just depends if Pogba is fit and if our other players actually decide to chip in. I do think his criticism in this game was definitely justified, but some of the things said about were definitely an over exaggeration.

The Game Plan

Simple question, what was the plan? By the team sheet one would assume we were ready to play on the break, but we were constantly hitting long balls and transitioning slowly. Sometimes we’d hit the ball into the channels, and then play some short passes. It was as if we didn’t know what we were doing. The midfield is still the reason why we are so bad without Pogba. Herrera just isn’t good enough to pass the ball in long distances and Matic doesn’t usually do this job. Mourinho has tried this so many times and still doesn’t realise it doesn’t work. Just play Mata or McTominay in midfield. An extra man would help us move up the pitch quicker and help dominate. Mourinho didn’t set up correctly.

Poor on set pieces

The way I thought we could beat city turned out to be our downfall. We were all over the place and was quite surprising. In a Mourinho team I expect much better organisation when defending a set piece, but instead we had David Silva being allowed to run and Lukaku giving a dreadful clearance. It was just the worst way to lose.

Lingard performs again

Mentioning De Gea as our best player isnt a surprise, but Lingard isn’t far behind him. He made some tidy passes and set up Lukaku for a good chance. He has been great recently and can come out of this game with a bit of dignity. I love Jesse and hopefully continues to perform. He has such a pretty way of playing.

City weren’t great, but won

City haven’t been great at all recently, but they keep winning. I do think labelling this as title mentality is stupid. They’ve just been below par. They’ve definitely been better but they still were quick, clinical, and just horrible to defend. Pep has made this team hard to beat as well as beautiful to watch. I hate them for personal reasons but I still have to give credit where credit is due.

5 Talking Points from Arsenal 1-3 Manchester United

What a brilliant game of football. It had urgency, terrible defending, great attacking, and overall was very end to end. Arsenal may have had more of the ball, but United took their chances, and for the first time, early on. So let’s go through some talking points.

A strong start

A strange one but all the more true. United this season usually take a while to really put their mark on the game. They have a slow build up and spend most the game crossing the ball, which in itself is a very hit or miss strategy. But against Arsenal it was different. We put a lot of pressure on Arsenal’s bang average defence, forcing them to make mistakes not once, but twice. Koscielny was the first culprit, giving the ball away in the first 5 minutes, and then Mustafi just took too long on the ball, giving Lingard the chance to run with it. Arsenal were terribly naive when defending, but it still took a lot of work for united too clinically put those chances away.

Messi Lingard

To this day it still bothers me how so called united fans do not like Jesse Lingard. He represents everything great about united. He should never be sold and is good enough to be a bit part player. He continues to show his quality. He is a great dribbler, with a great ability to find pockets of space to exploit. He was the main reason why we were so good on the break. He moved the ball quickly and drove the team forward. If it wasn’t for a certain Spaniard, he would have been my man of the match.

De Gea is the best keeper in the world.

De Gea made 14 saves, 5 of them being simply unbelievable. The way he was about to keep out Sanchez’s shot with a slide tackle just shows his incredible speed and reflexes. Many say United don’t have any big game players, but that is wrong. One being Messi Lingard, and the other being De Gea. Both always perform when called upon. The only time Arsenal scored was when they couldn’t miss. In all honesty I do not know where we would be without De Gea. He is the best keeper around and the best ever in the league. Controversial but true.

Pogba’s red card

Lets cut straight to the point. It was a a straight red. Pogba in dangered an opponent and deserved. I do have to question one thing, being Bellerin’s position. I have never seen anyone tackle like that. It’s as if Bellerin was looking for Pogba to get sent off. It’s likely that I’m wrong but it’s just too strange to believe. Pogba is going to be seriously missed. We saw before how important he is during his time out. He is needed if we ever want to get close to City.

Arsenal keep getting worse

Yes they had a lot of chances but they didn’t score any. They are poor defensively and their midfield is average at best. If it wasn’t for their front three, they wouldn’t even be in the top 10 never mind the top 6. They showed in this game how much they need Ozil for any success. He is their sole creator and if he isn’t performing, Arsenal aren’t performing. If they lose him they are going to get no where this season.

5 Talking Points from Manchester United 4-1 Newcastle

Oh have I missed putting 4 in the title! Manchester United came back flying after the international break with a beatdown on a very organised Newcastle side, so let’s go through the usual 5 talking points.

The return of Pogba

We’ve missed him so much. The big Frenchman has been our most important player this season. Our time without him showed how much we need him. He gives us that arrogance, character just some real quality. In five starts this season in the league, he has scored 3 and assisted 3. That is just insane. Not only that, he’s also made 2.2 key passes per game. He’s only played 5 games and it’s so obvious how good he’s been. Let’s just hope he stays fit and our title challenge should continue.

Lindelof’s distribution

Many will criticise him for the first goal, but I don’t blame him. A player slips every once in a while, it just happens. Personally I thought Matic was to blame for not tracking Gayle’s run. But one thing I did notice was Lindelof’s quality on the ball was finally on display. There were a few occasions where I saw the other big Swede run with the ball and hit a good ball forward. Hopefully this is him regaining his confidence, trying more ambitious moves. Having a defender like Lindelof, a player who can pass the ball very well, would be useful. It’s just a shame he still can’t defend.

Another number 10

After many poor performances from Mhiki, many fans (including myself) thought it was time to give another play a go in that number 10. It was definitely needed. I think Mata adds something different to Mhiki. The Armenian loves to run with the ball and drag the ball further forward. But the issue is he gives the ball away too much and started to fade out of games way too much. Mata is definitely more a playmaker, and with Pogba in the squad to make those runs, Mata is able to look for pockets of space to give an option to Lukaku and other forwards. He also lead the press. An odd move but seemed effective. I hope this is the start of Mourinho switching his players more often. He needs to use the squad to its full capacity, instead of playing players when they’re out of form.

Magical Martial

Oh what a season the Frenchman is having. With 5 goals in a small amount of appearances, it seems Martial is back to his best. He’s getting into great positions and most importantly, scoring goals. There has been a consistent discussion who do you start, Rashford or Martial. The answer now is clearly both. The front three in general were given free roles, with Rashford and Martial constantly switching sides. It’s a perfect tactic because they both like to beat players differently. Martial likes to cut inside while Rashford likes to run to the corner flag. Rashford is more selfless while Martial is more selfish. They’re both so different that it gives Mourinho such tactical fluidity when approaching games.

A difficult start

For the first 30 minutes it looked as if Newcastle would score more than the one goal they scored. Rafa’s approach made it difficult for us to keep hold of the ball in general. Newcastle are definitely staying up. It could be 10th or 17th. They’re quite unpredictable in that sense. Merino has been one of the signings of the season and defensively they’ve looked fine. Going forward they’ve seriously been struggling. Joselu plays the way Rafa wants to, even with his lack of goals. It explains why he played Joselu and Gayle together. Both aren’t good players, but excel in one area. Joselu as a target man and Gayle as a finisher. They need some serious investment in January if they need to guarantee survival.

5 Talking Points from Huddersfield 2-1 Manchester United

What a shambles! A performance that should have been predicted, based on United’s last few performances. But it should have been a win for United. Huddersfield haven’t scored since September and look to struggle in the Premier League. But this was still an away game, and all away games should be taken seriously. So let’s go through five things to take away from this game.

Poor midfield

Matic and Herrera just do not work together at all. They have similar qualities in their both good at intercepting and ensuring that the opponent doesn’t create any tempo in their play, but not only do they not work together, they were both really bad. Out of 6 attempts, Matic only completed 1 tackle. It just shows the lack of control we had in this game. Herrera and Pogba work because Pogba gives us a brave player with quality on the ball. He has been seriously missed but this game was the first time we needed him. With Fellaini we still had a player who would go forward and give us an extra threat, but with Herrera we don’t. Until our record signing comes back we’re going to struggle to break down anyone. His recovery can’t come quick enough

No creativity

While I did think Mhki needed to be dropped (after some sub par performances), I didn’t think we were going to be that bad going forward. United started the game with Martial, Mata and Lingard as the forward three, with Lukaku in front. Lingard was the only player I thought who actually had a good game. He made some good runs and was a good option. But the others were poor. Martial constantly lost the ball and wasn’t making enough runs, and Mata made the mistake that lead to Aaron Mooy’s goal. It was a poor first half from the forwards but it does lead me to my next point.

Rashford and Lukaku

Both of these two had relatively good games. Because of our poor wide players, Lukaku got no service at all, but when he did, he tried to make the most of it and he did okay. Rashford was brilliant when he came on. He was so lively and was on the end of a great cross from Lukaku. These were the only two players who showed any desire to get back in the game and should get some credit after the game.

Where are the leaders?

At 2-0 down against a promoted team, I was hoping United would come out firing and get back into the game, but we just didn’t. It was a poor reaction from the players. It makes me wonder who in this team would be screaming at half time? I would have assumed Pogba and Zlatan would be two players to get furious at half time, but both are out. This team doesn’t have leaders to drag the other players through messy times. The reaction wasn’t good enough and the players need to take some of the blame.

Poor Lindelof

What a shocker from the Swedish defender. I already knew that he wasn’t good enough yet and so far he isn’t proving me wrong. In Europe he has looked okay but in England he’s looked very bad. That second goal almost sums him up. Misread the header and let Depoitre through on goal. This isn’t like Mhki where he wasn’t ready. It just seems like Lindelof isn’t good enough. I still believe Mourinho will get the best out of him but right now he should not be near the first team.

5 talking points from Manchester United vs Everton

Another game, another 4-0 victory. United are on fire right now so let’s look at all the talking points from Sunday’s game

Pogba was missed

This was the first premier league game of the season where our french maestro was unavailable, and it showed. United lacked any sort of creativity through the midfielders, Matic and Fellaini. I am not saying they performed poorly, in fact the opposite. Both Matic and Fellaini were brilliant. Matic controlled the game brilliantly and Fellaini was brilliant in his own way, winning 3 aerial duels and making 3 interceptions. I thought both of them contributed brilliantly in defence, but didn’t contribute enough going forward. Everton have a poor defence so their partnership can be excused in this case, but against a team like Burnley or West Brom, a more creative midfielder will be needed.

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THAT goal from Valencia

A goal that is worth mentioning. Valencia was never a goalscorer for United, in fact the last home goal he scored was before Mourinho was even in charge. But for a moment it was like a young rooney was playing again. The Ecuadorian hit the ball perfectly from the right side. This will easily be remembered as one of the goals of the season, with the goal giving us and advantage against a very defensive team that just began the game sitting back and showing no ambition to attack.

Lukaku’s reunion

This was the big Belgian’s first game against his former club, and he marked the occasion by scoring and celebrating, as he should. Lukaku had no reason not to celebrate. He is a young guy and was at the club for roughly 100 games. It might seem like a lot but that was his fourth club in his short. Lukaku seems like a player who doesn’t get attached to a club. It isn’t like the Van Persie or Frank Lampard situation, where they played for Arsenal and Chelsea respectively for most of their careers. Lukaku said he celebrated because the Everton fans were mocking him for missing a free kick, which makes his goal even sweeter.

Importance of our Armenian 

Mhiki is continuingly showing why he is the incarnation of Mourinho on a pitch, starts slow but needs time to show why he’s one of the best. To me Mhiki is one of the most underrated players in the league. People seem to forget he plays for the club because he didn’t feature that prominently last season. Mhiki so far has scored 1 and assisted 6, which is just ridiculous. I think he’s been our best player so far this season next to Matic. Many complain about him losing the ball and while it might be frustrating, it’s because he is running at players. I want the players to be ambitious, and if it could end up with a goal, it is worth the risk. Let’s hope he keeps up his incredible form and even scores more throughout this season.

Everton not performing

Many are already asking for Koeman to leave, and i can understand why. Looking at Everton’s signings now, you can see they signed too many midfielders and didn’t get enough pace in the team. They are seemingly relying on an ageing Rooney and a very average player in Sandro. They’re playing a 3-4-3 with poor wingbacks. Martina is just not very good and Baines is now starting to show is age. Compare them to Chelsea for instance. They player Alonso and Moses, two wingers with an incredible workrate. Everton should have players similar to them if they want to play this system. They had a poor showing against Chelsea, Spurs and United, and their next game against Bournemouth, will be a sign to Everton fans what their situation is.