This week, Arsenal manager Josh Kroenke told Sky Sports he has a multi-year plan to bring the club back to the top of English football. It will be a huge and demanding task, given the resources of their rivals and how much Arsenal have fallen, but there were once again encouraging signs that Mikel Arteta’s young group are on the right track.
The 1-0 score did not reflect their dominance and it would have been nicer if Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang alone hadn’t controlled badly when Bukayo Saka scored from offside position, converted a penalty or opted against attempting to touch the door by Martin Odegaard- bound shot. There were also several nice stops from Ben Foster to consider.
Arsenal, even without the injured Thomas Partey in midfield, again caught attention on the front foot, while there was a clean sheet for what became a petty defense.
They are unbeaten in up to 10 games in all competitions and have made it into the Premier League top five, where they don’t look out of place.
Making the final leap to compete with the division’s all-time elite risks being a bit far away but, after 100 games under Arteta, there is new optimism at Arsenal.
David Moyes’ West Ham studied the cover of the textbook. Here’s how to get the most out of a football team.
If there was 90 minutes to sum up West Ham’s strength, this was it. Sometimes he was too cautious, but often devastating and always physical.
The goalkeeper, defense and midfield who played most of this excellent showcase win over Liverpool all cost just £ 60m – a drop in the bucket for a truly challenging side for the top four.
In the first half, rarely has a team seen the ball so much without creating clear chances; Liverpool’s goal came from their only shot on goal, a splendid free-kick.
In the second, West Ham gave their best and it all made sense. They are resilient on set pieces – they have scored five more than any other team since Moyes joined – but they are more of a dead ball team.
In Tomas Soucek and Declan Rice they have the two most in-form central midfielders in the Premier League. When they win the ball, the mood changes; it’s an all-out attack but with a supreme ability to return to the type if it breaks.
Despite the European distraction – five of these players started on Thursday in Genk and Liverpool had 24 more hours to prepare – they are arguably a better side than last season. In this view, West Ham will be close again.
West Ham are a great side, so there’s no shame in being eliminated in a five-goal thriller in front of 60,000 fans at the London stadium. There will also be frustration for Liverpool fans that Aaron Cresswell was allowed to stay on the pitch after a tough challenge on Jordan Henderson.
But this was a game they wouldn’t have lost if it weren’t for Alisson enduring one of his worst afternoons with Liverpool. As Jamie Carragher said Sky Sports afterward, the Brazilian goalkeeper should have done better for all three West Ham goals in this 3-2 defeat.
Jurgen Klopp believed that the leading goal should have been canceled due to a foul on Alisson. It would have been a stretch. Angelo Ogbonna did not move towards the goalkeeper. Alisson was the one who tried to find a path for the ball. It was a difficult situation, but it was a mistake.
The second goal was a one-on-one chance for Pablo Fornals and therefore could hardly be classified as a mistake. Still, Alisson is usually exceptional in those situations. Here, the decision to get out of his line didn’t allow him to get close enough to the shooter, it only shortened his reaction time.
When Kurt Zouma’s third goal went through his clutches at the far post, that was the crowning glory. There were other problems with Liverpool’s performance, of course. But if their keeper was in top form, then he could just have helped them navigate successfully. Not this time.
In what appears to be a tight title race, perhaps it will prove costly. Chelsea’s mistake offered an opportunity to bridge the gap. Instead it expanded and Liverpool fell to fourth place. The only comfort for Alisson is that rivals have yet to go to London Stadium. His ordeal is over.
Those who expected Antonio Conte to wave a magic wand and instantly turn Tottenham into a challenging beast in the top four, had a little surprise at Everton. For much of the tedious standoff, it looked like a team from Nuno Espirito Santo was playing in a 3-4-3 formation. Tottenham have failed to score in their last three Premier League games, a streak of 347 minutes without a goal, and have not shot on goal in the last 225 minutes of the league, although Giovani Lo Celso hit a post late with a fine hit.
The tactic was to try to play fast forward in transition through the more central Lucas Moura and Heung-Min Son feeding on Harry Kane, but a combination of slow passing and stubborn play in midfield by Allan and Fabian Delph made difficult for the Spurs. There was joy for the Spurs, especially in the first 45 minutes, but Emerson Royal and Sergio Reguilon still don’t have the clinical advantage in front of goal that Conte usually requires from his full backs.
Conte’s gesture on the flank in the second half was a key indicator: his message to his Tottenham players will take time, or perhaps a transfer window or two, to get across.
There are only 11 games left to the season, but after a difficult start the allegations of ‘Bielsa burnout’ had already been leveled at Leeds.
However, the performance of Marcelo Bielsa’s team against Leicester should be enough to dispel these doubts.
Despite a 1-1 draw at Elland Road, Leeds put up an energetic display to remember the team everyone enjoyed watching last season.
When asked if Leeds had returned to anything that came close to the best, Bielsa said: “It was exactly the same comment I gave to the players after the game.
“That they seemed much more like a team capable of building, good ball recovery, possession, creation of danger, high percentage of domination of the game and duplication of the opponent on occasions. These are all aspects to be enhanced and apart from that, a very nice game to watch “.
Raphinha, who is in excellent form, continued his scoring exploits, putting the hosts ahead in the middle of the first half, but it was an advantage they could not keep as Leicester responded just 73 seconds. after.
Another day, Harvey Barnes’s shot would not have been enough to stop Leeds, costly in front of goal.
They should have taken the lead when Jack Harrison sent the ball high over the crossbar from close range and with plenty of goals to aim for after being spotted by Kalvin Phillips at the near post.
It was not to be for Leeds, but the fans, and Bielsa, will be delighted to see the Leeds signs they know, and love, return.