1 – Arsenal’s title credentials challenged again.
Once again Arsenal’s title challenge is under scrutiny. Wenger’s side are now three points behind leaders Leicester City after losing 1-0 to struggling Chelsea at the Emirates.
All eyes were on and eyebrows were raised at manager Arsene Wenger as he subbed top scorer Giroud off early in the first half. This was after Mertesacker was sent off for bringing down Diego Costa, much to the fury of the Emirates crowd, and probably much to the delight of Chelsea interim coach Hiddink. Without Giroud, the Gunners lacked cutting edge or a focal point in their attacking. Even the introduction of Sanchez did little to penetrate the Blues’ defence in the second half as Chelsea closed out to take the three points as they extend their unbeaten run to seven games.
This was the type of defeat that would leave Arsenal fans doubting everything all over again, a loss that would have the Arsenal manager waking up with cold sweats. Does Arsene Wenger seriously deserve to stay in the job if he fails to win the title this year? This has to be Arsenal’s year, or I fear for the inevitable downfall of a great manager.
2 – Liverpool need an overhaul in defence.
A game to treasure for all the wrong reasons; Norwich against Liverpool showed why both managers need to strengthen their defensive options this transfer window.
The extraordinary 5-4 win for the Reds kept them in seventh in the Premier League, but there are clear problems in defence. And although Klopp lost his glasses in the celebrations, he definitely is not blind to the issues surrounding Liverpool’s back four.
Conceding four goals, all from set-pieces, against a team who are favourites for relegation is a damning statistic, and Jurgen Klopp needs to make wholesale changes. Arguably only right back Nathaniel Clyne makes the cut as the quality defender they need to break into the top four. Dejan Lovren and Toure are inconsistent, and Moreno is a winger. As for Mignolet, he simply cannot be trusted. Yet despite all the talk of needing a new defensive line, Liverpool are reportedly bidding for Shakhtar Donetsk forward Teixeira.
Klopp has since held intensive talks with the Liverpool players regarding defending from set-pieces. Norwich’s opener this weekend was the eighth time Liverpool have conceded from a corner this season and the Reds have conceded from 13 set-pieces in total. The top four slot seems to be slipping away as each game goes by, and after this summer we should see a very different squad with the hope of finishing in the top four.
3 -Spurs do not need more striking options.
After Alli scored what could be a goal of the season candidate, it seems Mauricio Pochettino may not need to delve into the transfer market for more attacking options. Supporting the prolific Harry Kane is an inform trio of youngster Dele Ali, and wingers Chadli and Son.
Against Palace, Chadli came on to assist Kane before firing a sublime strike himself in a 3-1 away victory over Crystal Palace. It is no wonder that England manager Roy Hodgson was seen laughing and smiling at Selhurst Park, as Kane and Alli produced more fine displays that we can only hope to see this summer at the Euros.
Perhaps Pochettino is lucky to not need a striker. The Spurs boss recently admitted he is slowly searching for a new striker following his history at Southampton. The signing of Dani Osvaldo, who caused fights in the dressing room, lacked consistency, and cost a lot means Pochettino is reluctant to repeat his mistakes and rush into the transfer market.
But what must Tottenham do now to push on to the top four? Be more ambitious. The Spurs faithful seem satisfied with finishing fourth, but with Manchester City and Arsenal slipping up, they have every right to step up to the plate and press for the title.
4 – United need to start games as they end them.
Old Trafford has seen some thrillers in recent years, but this season they aren’t only limited but are non-existent. This weekend’s dull 1-0 loss to Southampton makes it the 11th straight home game which United have failed to score in the first half, and you have to go all the way back to their European match against German outfit Wolfsburg in September for the last time Van Gaal’s men scored in the first half at Old Trafford. And to add salt to the wound, even that was a penalty.
It seems that the Dutch manager’s days are numbered, and their season looks bleaker than the one they endured in David Moyes’ reign. Five points off the Champions League spot, and another setback against another mid table team, Southampton, and with the rumours Jose Mourinho wants the United job, it seems that the resignation or the sacking is imminent.
Read more about what needs to change at Manchester United here: https://kettlemag.co.uk/article/what-needs-change-manchester-united
5 – Jamie Vardy back with a bang.
We are still in shock that Leicester are still top of the Premier League. Not only that but they extended their lead to three points after an impressive 3-0 victory over Stoke City.
Jamie Vardy returned to the scoresheet after going eight games without a goal, and looked sharp again after his form dropped over Christmas. But you cannot help but feel that the Foxes need another top quality striker to keep their title challenge on track. Kramaric has been sent out on loan, Okazaki came off injured this weekend and Leonardo Ulloa’s goal against Stoke was just his second of the season.