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Premier League Goal Glut Silences The Critics

torres Premier League Goal Glut Silences The Critics After two successive weeks of top of the table clashes and fiercely contested derby matches, last weekends fixtures had looked about as attractive as a day trip to a pencil museum (there’s one in Keswick, believe it or not). A shock result at Wigan and 37 goals later and all of the sudden this Premier League season looks like it may just live up to the hype.

A few short years ago there were increasing concerns as to the tactics being employed in the Premier League. Certain bottom half clubs have always been defensive through necessity but it had got to a point where even title challengers like Chelsea and Liverpool were accused of a lack of attacking ambition, with pundits pointing disdainfully towards the increasing popularity of the lone striker role.

At the time they may just have had a point – as anybody who watched some of the pre-2008 clashes between the two will testify. Yet the last couple of seasons have seen a notable switch in the managerial mindset, as the delicate balance between attack and defence lurched back in the direction of the former.

Some statistics for you: in 2005-06 and 2006-07 the top six teams scored an average of 62 goals apiece. In 2007-08 and 2008-09 that total rose to 67. This season at the current rate, the figure will top 90. While it’s highly unlikely that the top six will continue to score at quite that rate, another significant increase does look to be on the cards.

So why the sudden change? At Liverpool this is their best goalscoring start to a league season in over 100 years. This could well be put down to manager Rafa Benitez who has adopted a more attacking approach, by fielding a flexible formation in which a minimum of four players are given a license to attack.

The tactic sees the majestic Fernando Torres spearhead an attacking quartet that also features the likes of Yossi Benayoun, Dirk Kuyt, Ryan Babel and Steven Gerrard. The reward for this approach is there for all to see – in the last four league games, these five players have scored 15 goals between them.

Liverpool of course have been far from the only team to champion attacking football this season. Arsenal have been revelling in free flowing football for years and after a season of stagnation, Spurs are again finding their shooting boots.

In fact, throughout the Premier League there are teams looking forward and not back. Chelsea have switched to two up front; Ancelotti dismissing the myth that Anelka and Drogba can’t play together. Sunderland have signed Darren Bent, one of the most potent strikers in the country and have been rewarded with 14 goals in seven games. Burnley have shrugged off a horrendous fixture list to net five in three at Turf Moor and even second bottom Hull have hit six in seven.

Maybe it’s down to a weakening of the ‘big four’, resulting in a more balanced division, maybe it’s down to fine attackers and poor defenders or maybe it’s down to Premier League managers finally deciding to stop being so cautious and “have a go”. Whatever the reason it’s hugely entertaining.

Former Stoke manager Alan Durban once said that if you want entertainment, you should go to the circus.

For once it looks like the circus may have come to us.

After two successive weeks of top of the table clashes and fiercely contested derby matches, last weekend’s fixtures had looked about as attractive as a day trip to a pencil museum (there’s one in Keswick, believe it or not). A shock result at Wigan and 37 goals later and all of a sudden this Premier League season looks like it may just live up to the hype.

A few short years ago there were increasing concerns as to the tactics being employed in the Premier League. Certain bottom half clubs have always been defensive through necessity but it had got to a point where even title challengers like Chelsea and Liverpool were accused of a lack of attacking ambition, with pundits pointing disdainfully towards the increasing popularity of the lone striker role.

At the time they may just have had a point – as anybody who watched some of the pre-2008 clashes between the two will testify. Yet the last couple of seasons have seen a notable switch in the managerial mindset, as the delicate balance between attack and defence lurched back in the direction of the former.

Some Premier League statistics for you: in 2005-06 and 2006-07 the top six teams scored an average of 62 goals apiece. In 2007-08 and 2008-09 that total rose to 67. This season at the current rate, the figure will top 90. While it’s highly unlikely that the top six will continue to score at quite that rate, another significant increase does look to be on the cards.

So why the sudden change? At Liverpool this is their best goalscoring start to a league season in over 100 years. This could well be put down to manager Rafa Benitez who has adopted a more attacking approach, by fielding a flexible formation in which a minimum of four players are given a license to attack.

The tactic sees the majestic Fernando Torres spearhead an attacking quartet that also features the likes of Yossi Benayoun, Dirk Kuyt, Ryan Babel and Steven Gerrard. The reward for this approach is there for all to see – in the last four league games, these five players have scored 15 goals between them.

Liverpool of course have been far from the only team to champion attacking football this season. Arsenal have been revelling in free flowing football for years and after a season of stagnation, Spurs are again finding their shooting boots.

In fact, throughout the Premier League, there are teams looking forward and not back. Chelsea have switched to two up front; Ancelotti dismissing the myth that Anelka and Drogba can’t play together. Sunderland have signed Darren Bent, one of the most potent strikers in the country and have been rewarded with 14 goals in seven games. Burnley have shrugged off a horrendous fixture list to net five in three at Turf Moor and even second bottom Hull have hit six in seven.

Maybe it’s down to a weakening of the ‘big four’ resulting in a more balanced division, maybe it’s down to fine attackers and poor defenders or maybe it’s down to Premier League managers finally deciding to stop being so cautious and “have a go”. Whatever the reason it’s hugely entertaining.

Former Stoke manager Alan Durban once said that if you want entertainment, you should go to the circus.

For once, it looks like the circus may have come to us.


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