Going into the international break, here are some of the main points of the PL season so far.
HIGH FLYING EVERTON
Everton made a statement of their ambition with the appointment of Carlo Ancelotti; what was left to be seen was how well the appointment would work out. To call Ancelotti one of the best managers in the game will be putting it mildly; with successful spells at some of the best teams in Europe while managing some of the game’s best stars in recent times. Everton are one of the biggest spenders on transfers in the Premier League; their spending over the past five seasons is dwarfed only by the trio of Manchester City, Manchester United, and Chelsea. Hence money was never going to be a problem for him to bring in his desired personnel. ‘Our goal is to be competitive in the Premier League, to be towards the top of the table, to be competitive in Europe. It’s not going to happen straight away, but we have to work for this,’ said Ancelotti in his first Everton interview. The goal was clear from the onset. After Everton’s series of hit and miss managerial appointments in the last few years, Don Carlo’s arrival brought a sense of genuine optimism that a coach whose managerial credentials are only bettered by a handful of coaches in the PL. His work on the training ground and in the transfer market is now bearing fruit as Everton sit atop the standings going into the international break with four wins in four games. Their charge to the top of the league is headlined by Dominic Calvert-Lewin’s upsurge in form, which culminated in a first England call-up for the 23-year-old forward. James Rodriguez and Carlo Ancelotti’s mentor-mentee alliance has also helped provide Everton the needed touch of creativity from midfield with the Colombian midfielder scoring three and assisting three in five games; more than he managed in the entire campaign with Madrid last season.
It is still to be seen how well Everton can sustain this momentum as the season progresses. They surely look to be on the right trajectory at the moment.
WHO GETS THE BOOT FIRST?
The race for the first manager to be shown the door in the Premier League is well and truly on. A race that is traditionally won by managers of teams domiciled in the bottom half of the table looks very open. Going by the first four games of the season, the likes of Solskjaer, Lampard, and even Guardiola are looking like great candidates to win this season’s race. With the traditional bottom-half teams headlined by Scott Parker whose exquisite fashion taste has grabbed more headlines than Fulham’s abysmal form. Fulham are yet to register a single point this season, a record they share with Sheffield United and Burnley, who have a game in hand. Chris Wilder and Sean Dyche also look battle-ready to win this race too.
GEGEN PRESSING IN THE MUD
The venue was Villa Park, defending champions were visiting the home of a team that barely escaped relegation the previous season, neutrals predicted a walk in the ‘Park’ for the visitors. They all got a shocker; the hosts did not scrap a one-goal margin victory or a last-minute winner. Aston Villa comprehensively defeated Liverpool and once again exposed the faults in Klopp’s famous gegen pressing tactics. A tactic that has delivered the Champions League and the long-awaited Premier League title is by no means a poor tactic or one to be ridiculed at first sight. However, traces of Liverpool’s defensive frailties were already surfacing in their first game of the season against Leeds, where they managed to snatch a 4-3 win; Aston Villa laid it bare. Scoring almost at will to record a morale-boosting win to maintain their perfect start to the season.
PARTEY HOUR FOR THE GUNNERS
A transfer that dragged through the entire transfer window and left many Arsenal faithful on their knees eventually got over the finish line in the final hours of the transfer window. The deadline day arrival of Thomas Partey at Arsenal means The Gunners have taken another step in their rebuilding process under Mikel Arteta. While teams like Chelsea wrapped up many of their transfers well ahead of time bar Havertz, Arsenal left it late to test the Atletico’s resolve. A player plus cash swap involving Lucas Torreira was initially mooted but was turned down by ATM, who insisted on only selling Partey on activation of his release clause. Going into the last day of the transfer window, Atletico probably felt they have won the race in wading off Arsenal’s interest only to get an official confirmation from La Liga that Partey’s release clause had been paid, thereby rendering Atletico powerless and sending Arsenal fans into delirium.