This week Jamie Thomas looks at a Manchester United who seem to have finally found balance, what Tottenham Hotspur must do to support their prolific striker Harry Kane and the dire need of video technology in football.
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1. Theo’s hit a Wal
The deficiencies in Theo Walcott’s game have long been a topic of discussion. Some say he has the adequate pace to be a winger but no end product, others say he doesn’t track back enough, but that’s criticisms every winger gets at times.
Now, though, it would seem that Arsene Wenger may have had enough of the former Southampton prospect. Alexis Sanchez, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and, surprisingly, Danny Welbeck seem to be higher up the pecking order for starting spots on the wings for Arsenal than Walcott is. It was clearly visible against Newcastle as when the time came for some fresh legs, Wenger called on Tomas Rosicky instead of the Englishman.
He will have less than 12 months left on his deal in the summer and there’s no sign of a new contract or extension on its way, so it might make sense in the summer for the two parties to go their separate ways.
2. It’s Hurri-Kane
Harry Kane has had an amazing season. It remains to be seen, however, whether or not this season is a flash in the pan or whether this level of performance can be expected from the Englishman for years to come.
But if Tottenham are to push on further in the coming seasons and challenge for a Champions League spot (which they can’t be ruled out of doing this term) then they need to give Kane a better supporting cast, or at least find a way to get the best out of what they have now. With Hugo Lloris in goal they should not be conceding 1.5 goals a game on average.
For all of the criticism Manchester United defenders have been given, even they are averaging less than a goal a game. It is rather obvious where Tottenham need new recruitments in the summer.
3. Video help
In the past, fans and pundits have argued against video technology and replays because they believed the mistakes made by referees or officials were part of what makes the game so entertaining.
But after some serious refereeing howlers lately, it’s hard to argue against video technology. The wrong players have been sent off in two bizarre cases of mistaken identity in the space of a month, and with the Nemanja Matic debacle on top of the usual contentious decisions regarding diving and penalties, the time is right to finally introduce video technology.
4. Spanish stars
Manchester United fans had a hunch for some time that the answer to their creativity problems might lie in giving two certain Spaniards a run in the midfield. Against Tottenham Hotspur last weekend, United gave a kind of midfield performance that hasn’t been seen since the Alex Ferguson days.
When Louis van Gaal named an unchanged side for this weekend’s clash against Liverpool, it seems the Dutchman might have finally had the same idea and his faith was rewarded as Ander Herrera and Juan Mata were at the heart of almost everything that was good about Red Devils’ play.
Maybe now if LVG continues to name an unchanged side we might more consistently see the United of old – and the race for second place could become very interesting.
5. To Hull and back
Granted, Hull City scored two goals in 74 seconds against Chelsea, which is pretty incredible for any team to do against Jose Mourinho’s men. However, they were torn to shreds in the opening ten minutes and looked very sloppy for a lot of the game.
Manager Steve Bruce signed an extension a few weeks ago, but surely if they continue to play the way they are then he might be starting to worry about being in a job next year?
The Tigers should stay up but if it is even close to them being relegated on the final day of the season – when they play Manchester United, who could be fighting for a top-four finish – they might not survive. They need to get their act together before it’s too late.
Read more from Jamie Thomas here.