This week, Jen Offord takes a look at the weekend in which the bigger sides struggled to impress, music and medical teams stole the headlines, and West Ham unearthed a gem.
Mourinho miffed at medical team
Speaking after Chelsea’s 2-2 draw at Swansea, Jose Mourinho was furious at what he felt was unnecessary medical intervention for Eden Hazard after the midfielder took a tumble. Hazard’s treatment saw the team temporarily reduced to nine men, following goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois’ early bath for bringing down Bafetimbi Gomis. Bit embarrassing from Mourinho’s point of view for the doctor in question to have been named in the Independent’s list of 50 most influential women in sport then, I suppose. Mourinho did not want to talk about his keeper’s dismissal – he probably didn’t want to talk about Chelsea’s performance being a bit rubbish, either.
Money can’t guarantee success for LVG
It was a better start to Manchester United’s season, with Louis van Gaal’s side scraping a victory over Tottenham Hotspur. But it was a tepid start, with the difference being a Kyle Walker own goal. Despite the win, the Dutchman’s problems are far from over. Having had a season to bed in at United, he must no doubt be conscious of the expectations he faces in his second season as manager.
With the starting line-up barely recognisable from last season’s, Van Gaal has been on something of a spending spree since he took the helm at Old Trafford 14 months ago. The formation has changed, too, from a diamond to a Christmas tree, but one problem he’s been unable to resolve is his goalkeeper, despite Sergio Romero’s comfortable performance. With Real Madrid reluctant to pay United’s asking price, David de Gea looks set to watch from the sidelines until a deal is made – or not, as the case may be.
It was a disappointing, and rather surprising, start to the season for Arsenal, who were defeated by two goals to nil at home by West Ham. Though the Gooners dominated possession by 62 per cent to the Hammers’ 38 per cent, they could not match the visitors’ attack, which new manager Slaven Bilic was brought in to improve. Petr Cech, Arsenal’s new goalkeeper, also failed to make an impact.
Instead, it was West Ham’s youngest ever first-team player, 16-year-old Reece Oxford, who really impressed, losing possession only once during the game, with 95 per cent passing accuracy. You might want to make some changes to your Fantasy Football team at this stage.
Coutinho makes the difference
It was a grudge match between Liverpool and Stoke City on Sunday, following the Potters’ humiliating 6-1 whooping of the Reds on the final day of last season. If Van Gaal has been feeling the pressure, spare a thought for poor old Brendan Rodgers, whose continued employment remains a mystery to many.
With the surprise sacking of long-term right-hand man Colin Pascoe, and first-team coach Mike Marsh over the summer, it’s all on Rodgers to prove he was not the reason for the Reds’ disappointing end to last season. So he’ll be pleased that his Steven Gerrard-less team were the better of the two, and that the final 1-0 win, with a stunner from Brazilian Philippe Coutinho, reflected their superiority. Though, goal aside, you might have had a more entertaining 90 minutes watching paint dry.
Leicester are Fired up
Newly-appointed Leicester City manager, Claudio Ranieri, revealed a novel way of inspiring his players – instructing his men to become warriors when they hear the song ‘Fire’ by Leicester natives Kasabian. Still, it seems to have worked for them, resulting in a 4-2 victory at home against Sunderland, with Marc Albrighton the star of the show.
But let’s not get too excited; they have another 37 games between this goal fest and the end of the season. The club has also found itself making headlines for the wrong reasons, with striker Jamie Vardy apologising for his use of racist language in a leaked video. It’s going to be an interesting season for the Foxes.
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