We’re starting to settle into the 2020/21 Premier League season, but inconsistency is rife across all twenty teams, with the only consistency being among the teams at the bottom of the table who have been consistently poor to date. There are some major things to discuss from the action from week 7 of the season, so let’s get started.
Manchester United’s Poor Start Continues
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side’s poor start to the season continued on Sunday as Manchester United suffered a 1-0 defeat at the hands of Arsenal at Old Trafford, the first time Arsenal have won away to the Red Devils in fourteen years.
There have been questions asked about whether Paul Pogba fits in the Manchester United side following the arrival and subsequent good form of Bruno Fernandes from Sporting CP in January, and Solskjaer tried to solve this dilemma by starting the game with a midfield diamond, which didn’t once look like working as the game began. However, this was just one of a number of issues for his side on the day.
From the opening whistle, Arsenal were aggressive in the press, positive when in possession and giving everything they had in every second of the game. In comparison, Manchester United’s players seemed uninterested and lethargic, looking disorganised when pressing and showing no real creativity when in possession. They looked blunt in attacks, as well as never showing any real urgency to win the ball back. The midfield, in particular Paul Pogba, never showcased any real quality, with the Frenchman completing just 35 passes and just one key pass in ninety minutes, as well as giving the penalty away for the only goal of the game, which was converted by Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.
It was a very encouraging performance from an Arsenal perspective but at Manchester United, Solskjaer will be feeling the pressure after accumulating just seven points in their first six games, sitting 15th in the table. This is a crucial period for the former United player to show he is the right man for the job, even if many in the footballing world think otherwise.
Chelsea Begin to Click
Frank Lampard has been struggling to strike a balance between defensive solidity and attacking fluidity in recent weeks but, following a 3-0 victory over Burnley on Saturday, the Chelsea boss will be feeling that he’s finally struck the perfect balance as his side dominated at Turf Moor while never looking to be in danger of conceding.
A first Premier League goal for Hakim Ziyech after 26 minutes showed just what the Moroccan can offer at Chelsea, whilst he also showcased his eye for a pass as he played Timo Werner in for Chelsea’s winner on 70 minutes.
N’Golo Kante was another man who looked to be back to his best after a difficult spell with injuries last season, but he showed at the weekend why he is Chelsea’s most influential player when fit. He offers another layer of protection to the defence, which was so sorely missed in Lampard’s first season in charge.
Meanwhile, for goalkeeper Edouard Mendy, he looks to have settled in very quickly, becoming the first Chelsea goalkeeper to keep two clean sheets in his first two league games since the legendary Petr Cech in 2004.
However, for Burnley, things went from bad to worse as they set a record for the club’s worst-ever start to a league season, with just one point gained in their opening six games. They most certainly have the players to turn things around, but if they don’t do it soon, they will find themselves in serious danger of relegation.
Returning Vardy Brings Leeds Back Down to Earth
Jamie Vardy returned to the Leicester City starting XI on Monday night and had a major impact on proceedings at Elland Road as the Foxes romped to a 4-1 victory over injury-hit Leeds United.
Despite their injury problems, as well as missing Rodrigo following his positive Covid-19 test result, Leeds created a golden opportunity just a minute in when Patrick Bamford had a free header from six yards out but could only head it straight at goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel. It turned out to be costly for Leeds as the ball made its way to the other end of the pitch, where Robin Koch’s horrendous backpass sent Jamie Vardy through, who rounded Illan Meslier and passed it across for Harvey Barnes to tap into an empty net.
Leicester added a second after 21 minutes, as Jamie Vardy’s header at the near post was palmed out by Meslier, only for Youri Tielemans to bury the rebound. Leeds would get back into the game early in the second half as Stuart Dallas’ cross went over everybody and into the back of the net, but on 76 minutes Leicester would regain their two-goal cushion.
As Leeds pushed for an equaliser, Leicester sliced through Leeds on the counter-attack and Cengiz Under put the chance on a plate for Jamie Vardy to get his goal, having been heavily involved in the first two.
The Foxes added a fourth from the penalty spot in the 91st minute after a foul on James Maddison by Mateusz Klich, which was converted by Youri Tielemans. The victory saw Leicester move up to second, but for Leeds, they’ll be hoping Kalvin Phillips returns from injury sooner rather than later.
Performance of the Week
On his return to the starting line-up for Leicester City on Monday night, Jamie Vardy showed that, at 34 years old, he is still the superb Premier League striker he has been since Leicester City’s historic title win in 2016, as well as showing that he is just as important to the squad now as he has been previously. With Vardy on the pitch, Leicester looked more willing to take risks with their passes in the Leeds half, which is understandable when you have someone like the Englishman in your team, a player who will chase every pass and every single yard for ninety minutes. He was heavily involved in three of Leicester’s four goals, scoring the third and assisting one, and he showed that he still has plenty left in the tank as a striker at the highest level of English football.