Prem 5 things: Tottenham’s title tilt & Man United’s weak link
Dynamics shifting at the top of the table
The weekend’s Premier League action began with Brighton & Hove Albion’s 3-0 rout of West Ham United in East London. And the drama only intensified from there, with a flurry of resounding wins and surprise results.
Chief among the latter category was Huddersfield Town’s first victory over Manchester United since 1952. The Coral News Team’s look back at the weekend’s talking points begins at the John Smith’s Stadium, with the Red Devils’ key concern…
Early signs suggest Swede isn’t up to scratch
Victor Lindelof. The name was supposed to strike fear into the heart of opposition strikers, but so far, it’s only been United fans who’ve been worried by the inclusion of the former Benfica man.
While Romelu Lukaku and Nemanja Matic have hit the ground running, the club’s other major summer acquisition has been little short of disastrous. Lindelof’s poor reading of the game saw him at fault for both of Huddersfield’s goals, and it’s far from the first time he’s cost United.
Having also been dismal in the UEFA Super Cup loss to Real Madrid, the 23-year-old has failed the first real tests he’s faced in a United shirt. With Phil Jones on the road to full fitness again, time is running out for Lindelof to show he deserves the trust of Mourinho and the Old Trafford faithful.
Huddersfield can down the big guns
While Lindelof gave the Terriers more than a helping hand, David Wagner’s men also deserve credit for downing the previously unbeaten Red Devils.
Having struggled in their previous test against a ‘top’ side – losing 4-0 at home to Tottenham Hotspur – they proved here that they can compete with and even beat the big guns.
Wagner set his side up in a 4-1-4-1 system which stifled United’s frontline, and hit them on the break. The skill and finishing of Aaron Mooy proved vital. But so did the pace and trickery of Tom Ince, and the relentless energy throughout the Town side.
Even when United recovered to make it 2-1, the Terriers didn’t buckle, allowing United possession without enabling them to get in behind the backline. A smart plan superbly executed.
Tottenham could be City’s biggest challengers
While the Red Devils faltered, Tottenham underlined their credentials as title challengers with an imperious 4-1 victory over Liverpool. Having failed to beat the Reds in nine previous meetings, Spurs rectified that stat in impressive fashion.
The unstoppable Harry Kane bagged two goals, with Dele Alli and Son-Heung Min also registering to down Jurgen Klopp’s men. While the hosts didn’t dominate play at Wembley, the clinical nature of their attacking play underlined the ruthless streak that a title-winning side require.
Having laughed off pre-season talk of a Wembley hoodoo with four wins and a draw from their past five home games, Pochettino’s men could well prove Manchester City’s most serious foes in the title race.
Mauricio Pochettino’s men head to Old Trafford on Saturday looking for a fifth league win in succession. Based on the pair’s recent form, Tottenham to Win looks good value for victory at 23/10.
Baggies must rectify goal drought
Tony Pulis’ sides have never been renowned for playing the most expansive football. However, West Bromwich Albion’s current failure to find the net will concern even the most optimistic Baggies fan.
The West Midlands outfit failed to find the net for the third time in five games in Saturday’s visit to Southampton. Despite a reasonably forgiving run of fixtures, the Baggies have continued to struggle for goals – recording just seven in nine league games.
No player has managed more than two goals in all competitions for WBA this term. And nobody looked like scoring for the visitors at St Mary’s, as they recorded just two shots on target. January reinforcements look to be needed at The Hawthorns.
End of the road looks near for Koeman
After a promising seventh-placed finish with 61 points last term, Ronald Koeman’s stock with Everton fans was high. But it’s come crashing down this season, with pressure mounting on the Dutchman. He’s now just 1/3 to be the Next Prem Manager to Leave.
The issues are many. The money reaped from the sale of Romelu Lukaku has been reinvested poorly. Gylfi Sigurdsson is yet to score in seven league games. £24m man Davy Klaassen is yet to manage even an assist from attacking midfield, while striker Sandro Ramirez has been virtually invisible in his 11 outings to date.
With Koeman’s side looking unbalanced in midfield, ropey at the back and toothless up front, their current spot in 18th place is entirely deserved. Shipping five goals in a 5-2 home loss to Arsenal on Saturday was – if remarkable – hardly a huge surprise.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing