What an exciting weekend of Premier League action! 37 goals were scored, there were bust-ups, late turnarounds and defensive collapses. The Soccer Sofa discusses the major talking points from the weekend.
Costa Supremacy over Aguero
Antonio Conte has transformed Chelsea from a depressing excuse for Premier League champions to a team that frankly look unbeatable at the moment. It cannot be better summarised than to look at the drastically changing fortune of Diego Costa. The Spaniard has scored 11 goals so far this season, one more will take him level with his last year’s tally.
Although Sergio Aguero is not far behind Costa in terms of goalscoring this year, with 10, his all-round forward play has left something to be desired. The Argentine is yet to register an assist this season and has only created 12 chances for his teammates, compare that to Costa who has 5 assists and double the number of chances created.
Recently sacked QPR manager Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink said to Sky Sports on Monday that Costa was way ahead of Aguero this season and The Soccer Sofa tends to agree. Aguero will miss four games thanks to his horrific and unnecessary challenge on David Luiz at the back end of Chelsea’s 3-1 victory over City and now risks slipping further behind in the race for the Golden Boot.
West Ham’s Woes Continue
The summer period between leaving the Boleyn Ground and moving to the London Stadium was one of the most exciting times in the club’s history. Slaven Bilic was an exciting manager that had begun to take the club onto the next level, Dimitri Payet was excelling with the eyes of Europe on him at Euro 2016 and the revenue that the London Stadium would generate would allow West Ham to match the wages of the biggest clubs.
What has happened?
Slaven Bilic was chilling out in the ITV studios over the summer instead of closely scouting potential first team players. The signing of Simone Zaza has got to be the flop of the season so far. Perhaps the boss will allow him to take the Hammers’ next penalty to boost his confidence.
Dimitri Payet certainly seems to be suffering from a hangover from the Euros, brilliant as he was, he is not meetings the high standards he met last season. And the club manufacturing an atmosphere through the speaker system at the new ground could see them nominated for a British Comedy Award.
With Liverpool away next, it could be a shrewd move to put money on Bilic being the next Prem boss to go. He is 13/8 with Sky Bet.
Errors Cost United and Liverpool
It was a thrilling Super Sunday as Bournemouth came from 3-1 down to beat Liverpool and José Mourinho made a calamitous substitution to allow Everton to nick a point at Goodison Park.
There was no hiding place as Liverpool’s number 1 Loris Karius spilt Steve Cook’s shot directly into the path of Nathan Aké, on loan from Chelsea, who completed an amazing Bournemouth comeback. When teams suffer pressure late on, goalkeepers must hold shots and crosses to withstand that pressure. Karius certainly did not show the calmness needed at the weekend. Klopp will remain with him for now, however, and before fans start calling for his head, they should remember the sloppy first season David de Gea endured and hope that the young German can follow somewhat in his footsteps.
After a dreadful November, the last thing José Mourinho needed was for one of his last minute substitutions to backfire and concede a penalty. But Marouane Fellaini did just that. In trying to protect a 1-0 lead at Everton, Mourinho took off the resurging Henrikh Mkhitaryan for the 6″4 Belgian international who fouled Idrissa Gueye in the box which allowed Leighton Baines to equalise. One United fan put it politely:
Pulis Showing Palace who’s Boss
Whilst Alan Pardew got a much-needed win against Southampton, buying himself perhaps two more games in the process, Tony Pulis took West Brom into 6th on Saturday.
The Guardian wrote that the West Brom boss was last week ordered to pay £3.77m back to Crystal Palace after he left the club just days before the opening day of the 2014/15 season. It is a huge sum of money to pay back even for a Premier League manager, but the Baggies’ league position will be some consolation for Pulis.
It was a 3-1 victory over Watford that took them briefly above Manchester United but a tough run of games including Chelsea, Arsenal and United as three of their next four could mean a difficult end to 2016.
Pardew, on the other hand, has endured a torrid calendar year, winning just nine games and has a fight on his hands to save his job. Commitment from chairman Steve Parish has seen him given longer than the average manager would get, but he needs to build on the victory versus Southampton to steer Palace to a respectable league finish. Christian Benteke needs to continue scoring goals to keep Pardew’s men out of a relegation dogfight, which after £75m player investment over the last two seasons, they should not be in.