See? See? This is exactly what I mean about Arsenal, and I am not even a fan. I am the worst tipster in the world, I accept that, but even I thought I couldn’t be wrong suggesting Arsenal would wipe the floor with Stoke City on Saturday. The facts were clear to all of us, weren’t they? Arsenal might be shocking defensively but it would not matter as Stoke have been unable to string together an attacking move all preseason plus their 1-0 defeat at Everton last week. Arsenal might be terrible defensively but in Alexandre Lacazette they finally have the man that would win tricky away games at Stoke singlehandedly. Yeah, I should have read the signs a little better really. I mocked Mark Hughes for getting on the phone to PSG last week, begging for any attacking players that might not get in the side ahead of Neymar and the one they sent him, Jese Rodriguez, scored the only legally allowed goal of the match giving Stoke a 1-0. Sure Arsene, you can blame Xhaka for being ‘stupid’, though that is hardly new news and, yes, Lacazette’s goal should have counted but at the end of the day, you went and lost to the worst Stoke City side in a very long time. It may as well be 2007.
I would imagine the score from the Bet365 Stadium will have made Jose Mourinho’s Saturday even more complete. Jose is wise. Unlike 96% of his United fan base he knows there are still a further 36 matches to be played in the Premier League this season and back to back 4-0 victories does not a title maketh. Still, United were dominant against Swansea City who kept it fairly tight for most of the match until they decided to try and pinch a draw rather than accept a 1-0 defeat. A change of tactic by Paul Clement, coupled with Jose sending on Fellaini and Martial, saw United dispatch three quick fire goals and coast home once more. As the world has been repeatedly told, Mourinho has won the league in his second season with five different clubs – a fact that sells slightly fewer papers than talking about his usual third season at a club.
Chelsea in crisis eh? While Tottenham were spending the week putting bids in for defenders Paul Merson has never heard of and deliberating which vibe of drum beat to play over the Wembley PA to generate an atmosphere, Conte had his troops on the training pitch working out a new system that would nullify the threat of Harry Kane and Dele Alli and protect the defensive deficiencies of Antonio Rudiger and Andreas Christensen. And blow me, they only went and pulled it off. All that time spent on getting Michy Batshuayi into goal scoring positions from set-pieces was time very well spent, eh? More importantly was Marcos Alonso’s brace. Tottenham were unbeaten at their real home, White Hart Lane, last season whilst struggling at Wembley. The first ever Premier League match at Wembley also ended in defeat for Tottenham, creating a narrative that will run for a few more weeks yet.
Some weeks you have to dig around for some amusing stories to put in this column, and on other weeks West Ham United pretty much write it for you. Southampton hadn’t scored a goal at home since St Mary’s was a mere glimmer in the eye of the architect so many believed that even Joe Hart might actually keep the ball out of the net for 90 minutes. Not so, not so. Southampton sped into a comical 2-0 lead and to make life just that little more tricky for the Hammers their big money crazy man Marko Arnautovic was red carded for one of the more obvious elbows seen in recent memory. Naturally, rather than sparking a further collapse, this galvanised a previously heartless, half-arsed performance from West Ham and Chicharito scored twice from combined distance of about 37 centimetres to get the ten men level. Bravo West Ham, bravo. But wait a minute, where is the comedy in this you might ask? What could be more West Ham than to fight all the way back into the match a man down and then throw it away late on? And they didn’t just lose to a 30-yard wonder strike or anything, oh no. West Ham gifted Southampton a penalty kick in injury time. Boom, 3-2 Southampton and Joe Hart has now conceded 7 (seven) since returning to the Premier League. Yeah, Pep knows nothing.
Hey Frank, how’s the plan to roll out Total Football at the Palace working out for you? Crystal Palace headed up to Liverpool, presumably confident that the Reds couldn’t be fairly defensively sound for two matches in a row. Well, it turns out that if you don’t try and hit their weak spots they can be. I’m sure most of us reading this right now would not claim to be footballing experts, but even we all know that if you get a corner against Klopp’s team and you have someone the size of Christian Benteke in your side you get it in the flipping box? No, not if you are Frank de Boer. Knock it short boys, they’ll be expecting us to stick it into the area! Sadio Mane scored the winner at Anfield and Palace resorted to chucking Scott Dann up top towards the end. I’ve thumbed through my Johan Cruyff Ajax coaching manual and I couldn’t find the page that said do that.
Mike Ashley did loosen the purse strings last week, allowing Rafa to sign Joselu from Stoke for a princely £5m. However, that wasn’t enough to make any kind of Geordie impact at Huddersfield who have spent their summer recruiting rather well. And, as a result, Huddersfield have six points from six and Newcastle have zero from six.
Bournemouth could well be in for a tricky old season, as they fell 2-0 at home to a Watford side looking pretty decent under Marco Silva. It’s all very well signing Jermain Defoe but you need to actually use him and then get the ball to him, Eddie.
Brighton will almost certainly be relegated by the end of November, as Leicester strolled to a 2-0 victory. Far too many people were getting a little bit excited by Riyad Mahrez playing well and I would care to remind them about two simple details. Firstly, he was playing Brighton. Secondly, the transfer window is still open and he isn’t going to get that move he wants if he plays badly against Brighton.
I warned you over the weekend that West Bromwich Albion could well be joint top of the table come Monday morning and this was one of the rare times I was right. Hal Robson-Kanu clearly believes in packing as much as possible into his 20-minute cameo appearances as the Welsh international managed to climb off the bench, score the winner and get sent off. The win was even more impressive considering that Manchester City’s £28m target Jonny Evans was “injured”. Tony Pulis, top of the league. I bet that is making Arsene Wenger hurt even more.