By Niall Clarke
- Five lessons learned from match-week six of the Premier League season
- Full weekend results
PREMIER LEAGUE, UK – Manchester City remained perfect as Manchester United got back on track. Here are five things we learned from week six of the Premier League season.
Manchester United are better without Rooney
Jose Mourinho made the bold decision to leave Wayne Rooney out of the starting 11 against Leicester City on Saturday due to the captain’s poor performances in recent weeks. It was a decision that sparked plenty of debate, but it was one that proved to be successful.
In a much improved display, United defeated the defending champions 4-1 at Old Trafford. Goals from Chris Smalling, Juan Mata, Marcus Rashford and Paul Pogba gave the Red Devils an unassailable 4-0 lead at half time. Demarai Gray scored a long range consolation goal for the Foxes, but the damage was already done.
The decision to leave Rooney out meant that Mata was slotted into his more natural number 10 role, and we saw a good performance from the Spaniard as a result. Pogba also put in his best performance in a United shirt and looked like the £89 million player that was bought from Juventus in the summer.
Despite the much improved performance from Mourinho’s side, Leicester looked vulnerable in defence. The side that won the title last year would not have conceded the goals from Saturday. They lacked the organisation and stability from last season, they seem more vulnerable.
Chelsea’s defence needs sorting out
Chelsea are now win-less in their past three Premier League games after suffering a 3-0 defeat at the hands of Arsenal.
The Gunners put in a great performances, and that must not be taken away from them. However, Chelsea seemed void of ideas going forward, and defensively they were once again poor. Gary Cahill made another mistake that led to a goal, and David Luiz was…. David Luiz. The side did lack the leadership of John Terry, but they can not rely on him forever as his career will likely come to an end within a few years.
It will be interesting to see if Antonio Conte switches to three centre backs once the entire defence is fully fit again, but even then Chelsea will need some new personal. Cahill is a good, but not great defender for a side the stature of Chelsea. Luiz is erratic and error prone, and Terry is slow and approaching the end of the his career. Kurt Zouma is a promising young centre back, but he can not carry the entire defence. There is need for some investment in January if Chelsea are to become contenders once again.
Manchester City could leave the field behind
Another week and another victory for Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City. As is the par for the course this season, City secured a 3-1 win against a very game Swansea City side at the Liberty Stadium on Saturday to continue their perfect start to the season.
Sergio Aguero returned with a brace, then Raheem Sterling finished the job with a goal of his own to cancel out Fernando Llorente’s effort. It was not the perfect display, but it was enough to extend their lead at the top of Premier League standings.
There seems to be an air of certainty about Manchester City that the other title contenders seemingly lack. City look like they are going to win every game they play at the moment, and if the rest of the league continue to be inconsistent, the Citizens could run away with the lead.
The new rules on holding are effecting Stoke City’s defence
What has happened to Stoke City’s defence? It was once notorious for being difficult to beat and breakdown, but now it seems vulnerable to attacks from even mid-table competition.
Salomon Rondon’s late header denied Stoke their first win of the season in a goal that you would not think The Potters would concede, and that is just one of the collection from this season.
Stoke have always been a physical side, especially when defending a set piece. The cracking down on holding inside the penalty area cost them two penalties against Manchester City early in the season, and it seems like it is playing on their minds. For the corner that led to West Brom’s equaliser they decided to mark zonally, a tactic not associated with Stoke. The rule has also lessened the effect of Ryan Shawcross in these situations as his physical style of defending has been neutralised.
The Potters are no longer bottom of the pile thanks to the point, but they will feel they should have taken all the spoils. The pressure is on Mark Hughes to turn things around – will he be up to the job?
Something needs to change at West Ham
If things continue the way they are going at West Ham, then the Hammers may find themselves battling for relegation. Another week was marred by another defeat, this time at the hands of Southampton.
The 3-0 home defeat leaves Slaven Bilic’s side in the relegation spots after week six. Of course, it is too early to say whether or not they will be there come the end off the season, but their start does leave many concerned.
There seems to be a running theme about poor defences this season, and none can be argued as more comical than West Ham’s. It has been school yard stuff at times, and it does not bode well going forward. Something needs to change and quickly for the Hammers or they could find themselves in deep peril.
Full Premier League results
Man United 4-1 Leicester
Bournemouth 1-0 Everton
Liverpool 5-1 Hull
Middlesbrough 1-2 Tottenham
Stoke 1-1 West Brom
Sunderland def. Crystal Palace
Swansea 1-3 Man City
Arsenal 3-0 Chelsea
West Ham 0-3 Southampton
Burnley 2-0 Watford
The Premier League returns on September 30th.
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