Three Points From The Weekend
• Arsenal’s 2-1 victory over Manchester United at the weekend was one of the games of the season so far and Arsene Wenger’s side proved a lot of people wrong. Not only did they show their outstanding technical ability but also grit, determination and heart to keep United at bay during the onslaught of the last 10 minutes. After 10 days where everything and everyone at the club was questioned, it now seems that 90 minutes on Saturday morning have changed everything. The crisis talk has gone and Arsenal are back in the title race. It’s amazing how the opinions of the press can seemingly change overnight and with one victory all the hysteria wiped away.
Cesc Fabregas summed it up in his post-match interview when he said: “Last week we were not rubbish as everyone said. That’s football, it changes quickly.” Saturday’s win was vital but it was only three points and they will need to play like that every week if they want to seriously challenge for the title.
It still doesn’t change the fact that they need to find a way to break down teams who get 10 men behind the ball and learn to overcome teams who get physical with them.
• West Brom have got off to their best start to a season in the Premier League, yet today when they look at the league table they will themselves right at the bottom. Tony Mowbray’s side’s style of football won a lot of admirers as they won promotion from the Championship last year and their slick passing saw them dubbed ‘Arsenal-Lite’. While such a comparison should be taken as a compliment, the reality is that they can also be accused of the same flaws as the Gunners. Only they don’t have players like Samir Nasri, Cesc Fabregas and Robin Van Persie to get them out of trouble.
Tony Mowbray’s team should be admired for trying to play good football but as everyone likes to point out to Arsene Wenger, you win no points for style. Stoke City have been labelled a long ball (throw) team but at the moment they look to have more of a chance of staying in the division than West Brom. Your first season in the Premier League should be all about survival. Once established you can look to develop a more refined philosophy. It is possible to merge to the two, as Hull have shown, but West Brom just don’t have the players. Roman Bednar might look mean but he won’t scare many Premiership defenders and while Borja Valero, Jonathan Greening and Robert Koren are all neat, tidy passers of the ball they lack someone who can break up play in the midfield and a commanding centre-back.
The upside for Mowbray is that the bottom half of the table is so tight that a couple of wins can lift you right out of trouble.
• Zlatan Ibrahimovic is a fine footballer and is capable producing moments of magic. He recently scored a superb back-heel volley against Bologna and it was not the first time he had scored such a goal, having struck a similar strike for Sweden against Italy at Euro 2004. On Saturday at the KC Stadium Marlon King went close to scoring a ‘Zlatan’ for Hull against Bolton. His improvised effort was as good if not better than the Swede’s and he was unlucky that it hit the bar and went over.
Had it gone in it would have been one of the goals of the season and while I’m not saying King is anywhere near as good as Ibrahimovic, his contribution to Hull’s great start to the season has gone largely un-noticed.
While Daniel Cousin and Geovanni have taken the headlines, King has been superb and must have left Steve Bruce scratching his head as to why King couldn’t perform like that for him. While at Watford Aidy Boothroyd said that he valued King at £60m, what he was trying to say was that the role he played for the team was priceless and I’m sure that Phil Brown is now thinking the same.