1. Is it time to unseat Petr Cech as first choice goalie?
Cech hasn’t been the keeper he once was in his early days at Chelsea. Sure, he’s better than many and shows he’s still got the magic with some exceptional saves (think back to the Chelsea game). But under Emery, he’s been tasked with the unenviable task of being the fore front of Arsenal’s possession/pressing game with emphasis on his passing to the outfield players.
Cech is a fine shot stopper but clearly not very good with his feet. Nowadays, keepers are required to be adept with their feet and composure on the ball. It’s not just enough to be very good at punching and catching. Goalkeepers are sometimes required to be the 11th man on the pitch, get involved in open play. Manuel Neur is the prime example of this new found philosophy.
Cech is 36 and isn’t getting any younger. Learning new tricks as you grow older is not as easy as some make it out to be. Only Emery and his staff know whether to sacrifice experience for someone more suited to his style of play. We’ll see if Bernd Leno will eventually displace Cech as Arsenal’s no 1.
2. Will Jose romance with the fans be enough to steady the ship?
Jose Mourinho has never been one to stand alone without dissonance with elements within the game: whether it be with fans, the upper management, the press or even his team medics. He’s thrived in the past when he put out a united front with his team and instigated a ‘you vs us’ siege mentality. It worked well. It worked wonders. But to do that he needed everyone onside. He made them believe in him, believe in his work. His players were ready to go to war for him. The fans stood like the Wall of China around him. With support from his own team, he attacked anyone who put up a ‘barrier’ to his march to success.
It all changed with his move to Real Madrid. For the first time, he clashed with elements within his own team. It never happened to him before. Many think this experience change him. That innate phlegm was replace by a more broody, less happy Mourinho who regularly lashed out at anyone, within and outside his camp. He has won trophies of course, but it’s not just the same anymore. He was bundled out of Chelsea after a falling out with several of his players and the board noted he lost his influence in the dressing room and promptly pulled the plug.
At Manchester United, similar stories are unfolding with falling out with Martial, Pogba, Woodward amongst others. The defeat to Spurs was preliminary to his near meltdown ‘respect’ session with journalists. His acknowledgement of the fans was well received by the fans who chanted his name after the game. He did the same after the victory over Burnley. The deliberate ardour with the fans is interpreted as building the bridges. He needs the fans onside.
He may have been secretly thrilled that the banner flying over Old Trafford calling for the resignation for the Ed Woodward shifted the blame from him and his role in the shoddy results of late. But will handling love notes to fans assure him of his place if results and performance continue going awry?
There’s probably no one more welcoming of the the international break than Mourinho. He has two weeks to make sense of his tactics, of his relationship with his wards and more importantly of his place on the dugout.
3. Should Giroud be starting over Morata?
Four out four, Sarri will be pleased but still has persistent headaches over holes in his system. Chief of all would be the organisation of the team defensively. Team that plays so high tend to have this problem. It will take time to groom Chelsea to strike a balance when they are without the ball.
The present concern has to be who would start in the striker position. Sarri seldom plays with two strikers as he needs more bodies further down the pitch to rotate the ball fluidly and effectively. Morata has started all the games, but barring the Arsenal game where he scored a good goal, he has often looked isolated. He doesn’t affect the play as much as Giroud and doesn’t score sufficiently to justify his inclusion in the team.
Bournemouth were adept at sitting back and also causing Chelsea trouble at their end. It looked like a game was heading for a statement when Giroud combined with Pedro to score the first and settle Chelsea nerves. Two deft touches and Pedro has the space to shoot and score. Morata – if sincere – would have been taking notes.
Giroud isn’t particular prolific, but Chelsea would prefer a striker who contributes to play rather than a passenger. Morata looks very much like a commuter in this Chelsea train.
4. Will Leroy Sane regain his importance with Pep?
Last year’s winner of the Young Player Of The Year is less than happy. Omitted from the German squad from the world cup despite being on the most prominent left sided wingers in Europe last season. He must stifled a chuckle at the national team’s premature exit from the competition. That oversight must have gotten to the Afro-haired speedster. He’s not started a game this season. The goal count read empty. He hasn’t provided an assist either. Could it be that Pep has found an upgrade in Mahrez? I seriously doubt that as the Algerian has hardly set the Ethihad alight just yet.
There has been reports of his attitude in training which has limited his playing opportunities. It’s a shame because when on his game, the 22 year old is one of the most existing players to watch not just in England but in the whole of Europe. Sane has to improve on his mien or he could be looking in from the periphery as the season progresses.
5. Will Liverpool prioritise winning over entertainment?
Kloop has won over the hearts of the Kop faithful with football that is challenging to replicate anywhere else. A couple of cup finals is an indication that they are within grasp of greatness. Most pre-season predictions on the Premier League title has placed Liverpool as the closest challengers to Manchester City’s crown. This season, The Reds haven’t hit the giddy heights of last season in extravaganza.
A possible explanation is that they are bedding in new players into the Kloop system. Fabinho hasn’t enjoyed game time, Xherdan Shaqiri is in the same boat. Another explanation is that Kloop wants to tweak his tactics in order to play a lot more attention to results. More ‘worryingly’ some players who impressed last season – Firmino, Salah to mention a few – have been less than authoritative.
However with 12 points in the bag and top of the league, Liverpool will be more than happy to worry over the brand of football rather than the spectacle on display.
6. Will the lack of summer recruits adversely affect Tottenham’s season?
There’s strength in continuity, in togetherness. Tottenham are like a family united by a manager who is self assured in his methods. Spurs have grown from laughing stock to a formidable unit in the last couple of years. Pochettino must be wondering what it will take to convince Levy to free up funds to booster the squad. Spurs are a Kane injury from calamity in forward areas. Son, thankfully, is back from international duty and could play in the Kane role.
Lucas Moura has been a bright, sparkling sensation this season and the thought of him running at defences would make many at Wembley giddy with excitement. However, Spurs are in the Champions League and need to juggle domestic duties with European commitment. Can they cope? What are their targets? These are some of the best crop of players ever to play at White Hart Lane and it’s be a shame if they disintegrated due to lack of ambition from the hierarchy.