Posted: 16 January, 2017 by Matt Bellotti

The six big talking points from EPL matchday 21

Tags: EPL, Soccer

By Far The Greatest Team In The Premier League (At The Moment)

Spurs got a bigger audience than usual in Australia this week as they were the early game on SBS. And Aussie viewers were treated to a performance that was as complete as any in the Premier League this season.

West Brom were dismantled and destroyed. As Mauricio Pochettino noted, his team prevented the Baggies from having any shots on target and not a single corner.

It was ruthless, dominant, clinical, and technically superb.

Eriksen and Dembele worked sensationally, purring like Maserati engines in the midfield. Rose and Walker put in another best-in-class performance as the wing backs that the envy of the rest of Europe, and the Alli-Kane partnership up front reached a new level with the audacious fourth goal that completed Kane’s hat-trick.

Ben Foster, who made at least half a dozen saves that would have been goals on another day, confirmed after the game that Spurs are the best team he’s played against this season. Many other players – including Chelsea’s – would agree.

For more than half the season in 2015/16 Spurs were the best football team in the Premier League. They currently are again. In fact, to give an idea of the level this team are performing at, only Real Madrid (19.3) in the whole of Europe are creating more goal-scoring chances on average per game than Tottenham (18.4). Spurs have now scored 14 goals in their last 4 Premier League games, and only let in one goal in their last 450 minutes of football. All playing a brand of football that is more than easy on the eye.

The question is, how capable are this young team – who still rely so heavily on the magnificent Harry Kane for end product – of sustaining this brilliance right until game 38. 

The Struggle To Remain Relevant

Last night’s Manchester United vs Liverpool game remains the biggest football match in the world, the biggest rivalry, the most universal interest.

The draw, however, did neither of them too many favours. It also reflects that both teams are locked in something of a battle to remain relevant, even despite the prominence and dominance of headlines – achieved due to the size of each of their fanbases rather than any recent glory.

Liverpool were the best team in the league for a month or two in Autumn but currently look the likeliest to be caught if Pep Guardiola sorts out his mess at City.

Mourinho, meanwhile oversees a team which is the most expensive in British football history, but despite winning six games in a row has not been in the top four all season.

After the match, both coaches traded passive-aggressive insults at their opponents (Jose saying his team were more positive, Klopp pointing to the “long balls” late on as the only way United could play). In doing so, both run the risk of being defined by each other in a league with four other contenders who are more than capable of leaving these two behind.

Take Chelsea. Antonio Conte is a breath of fresh air after matches. Not for Conte the sniping or the point scoring. He does the latter on the pitch. After his team were humbled at Tottenham they tore up Leicester in textbook fashion.

Without Costa, it gave Conte the freedom to play a more dynamic forward line with Pedro, Willian and Hazard taking it in turns to stretch and toy with the big Leicester centre backs (it remains a mystery why more teams didn’t try this last season – only Arsenal did so and they were the only team to win both games).

As the world dissects another mediocre United-Liverpool match, making a great deal of trivial matters like Paul Pogba’s inconsistent form, Simon Mignolet’s fine saves, or whether Fellaini fits at Old Trafford, the really relevant talk in this season’s Premier League is all in London. And no one is more suited by today’s chat focusing on United, Liverpool and City than Chelsea, Spurs and Arsenal. 

Snakewatch

Fantastic result for West Ham and an even more fantastic goal for Andy Carroll, who remains an exceptionally clinical striker, as hard to defend against as ever.

However West Ham fans are finding it hard to fully enjoy the result or Carroll when they know there’s a snake in their midst.

Things have got so bad, they’ve had to hire security for a poster:

Here’s the West Ham manager talking about his wantaway player:

“He’s on a fantastic contract. He signed it. Now he wants a move…so there’s nothing we can do. West Ham are a big club in our eyes, but he feels otherwise.”

That, I should point out, isn’t the *current* West Ham manager but ex-Hammers boss Harry Redknapp talking back in 1997.

The player ‘Appy ‘Arry was talking about? Current West Ham boss Slaven Bilic. Whose take on the Payet saga is to feel “let down and angry”.

“We gave him everything, we were always there for him. I expect him to show commitment.”

To be fair, no one can claim Bilic isn’t qualified to speak about Payet’s situation.

Shitty City Bang Bang (…Bang…Bang)

Everton are a good team. Not getting a win at Goodison Park is not a total disgrace. Getting spanked 4-0 is well on the way, however.

And even the biggest Pep Guardiola enthusiasts (a group I make no apology for being part of), will admit he is failing with a very good squad.

This is NOT a team in need of rebuilding from the ground up. This is not some hopeless mob. The fact is, it’s virtually the same team that Manuel Pellegrini produced quantifiably better results with. This is a highly skilled, experienced team of world class players. Albeit one that plays in front of a heinously diabolical goalkeeper.  

High credit to Everton who put in a highly assured performance that belied their league position. They were brilliant and too good for City.

Pep needs to get a hold of this situation and do what Conte has done at Chelsea, Pochettino at Spurs, and Mourinho at United: get better results.

PS: Note to Pep, in case he hadn’t noticed the way those three have seen results improve: they started by sorting out their defences. 

A “minor, minor, minor incident”

Alexis Sanchez scored this weekend (again), as Swansea were ripped apart at the back (again), then Arsene Wenger substituted Sanchez (again), and the Chilean reacted with a gesture of frustration (again).

But, according to the Arsenal boss, this was a “minor, minor, minor incident”.

Because when something meaningless happens, saying it is meaningless three times makes it much less significant and we will all definitely think you’re not absolutely petrified about losing by far your best player, Arsene.

So, let’s leave this minor (minor, minor) incident here because it definitely is the last we’ll hear about Alexis Sanchez wanting to leave Arsenal.  

Chant Of The Week

It had to be (apologies for strong language).

Matt Bellotti

Writer

Matt is the only member of The Greenfield Post team to have been to an Auto Windscreens Trophy Final, the Malaysian FA Cup Final, trained at Trent Bridge, and watched all nine tiers of the English football league pyramid – which he thinks makes him better than the rest of us.

He supports (not “barracks for”) St Kilda because, like the England football team, the only moment of success in their long history came in 1966. Bloody Poms.   

Tags: EPL, Soccer

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