Image courtesy of the Premier League
After an extra week off to lick their respective European wounds, the league’s two Manchester squads joined the fray, turning in strikingly different performances. All that and more in this edition of “What We Learned.”
You get a goal, and you get a goal!
A forty-four goal barrage, a record for a 20-team Premier League matchweek, was the key talking point. Was this simply the result of bad matchups? Is Leeds going to play a 4-3 match every week? (If so, I have a new second-favorite club.) Or are there broader trends involved, such as those that the Associated Press’ Steve Douglas explored.
The relaxed atmosphere of still-empty stadiums seem like a contributing factor, but, as the article notes, last season’s goals per game ratio (2.72) was the same both before and after the COVID stoppage. A shortened offseason break is also a consideration. If Douglas’ final point — increased attacking depth — is the main culprit, we have a very entertaining season ahead of us.
Manchester Mixed Bag
The scoreboard read 1-3 in both matches involving Manchester sides, but that where the similarities end for the two rival clubs.
After a deflating home loss to Crystal Palace and Roy Hodgson (good on ya, Roy!) Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s claims of ManU needing “four to five games” to get their campaign up to full speed was handled with patience and understanding by the Old Trafford faithful. If OGS’ theory proves true, the Red Devils are in for a rough start with Spurs, Chelsea, Arsenal and resurgent Everton among their next six fixtures.
In the final match of the week, Manchester City avenged last season’s gut punch loss at Molineux – one of two they suffered at the hands of Wolves –with a convincing victory that showed that Kevin De Bruyne will continue to lead the POTY discussions.
More or Leicester?
Another ex-Liverpool boss enjoying early season success is Brendan Rodgers, whose Foxes top the table, one ahead of Everton and Arsenal on goal differential. West Brom and Burnley weren’t exactly threatening opponents, but Leicester got off to a strong start a year ago by consistently beating weaker sides. The opposite was true in the second half of the campaign, and their prolonged back half slide cost them a Champions League berth.
Ben Chilwell is now at Chelsea, but where there’s a (Jamie) Vardy there’s a party, so another upper middle class finish is realistic. Leicester’s next match-up, away to Manchester City, will tell us if they are contenders or not.