It’s funny how many of those constantly calling on Arsene Wenger to “SPEND SPEND SPEND” previously criticized Wenger for bringing too many foreign players into the Premier League. Right now, no other top six side in England is so reliant on British players — particularly young British players — than Arsenal. While Manchester City, Chelsea and Spurs are making all their buys on the continent, Wenger has in recent years bought from the likes of Charlton Athletic, Southampton and Cardiff City.
Aaron Ramsey has developed into the type of mobile two-way player that Wenger has long desired. Ramsey’s movement off the ball has gotten crisper while his tackling ability and short passing continue to evolve. He has been the best player in both of Arsenal’s wins this week.
Former Arsenal man Kolo Toure, who was let go on a free this summer by Manchester City, has been an integral part in Liverpool, keeping two clean sheets to start the season. Toure looked exceptional in spot duty last season for the Blues when Vincent Kompany was injured. In fact, Toure looked so good, I thought it would be wise to give him an extension but City’s management felt otherwise.
Speaking of Toure, Manchester City could really use him as cover in the defense. But more important than the ill-advised decision to let Toure go is the apparent tactical naivety of Manuel Pellegrini about English football. Manchester City has set up in both matches thus far this campaign without a ball-winner in midfield. Under Roberto Mancini, Gareth Barry and often Nigel De Jong (later Jack Rodwell) were employed in a deep-lying role. The City brass sacked Mancini because they wanted a more “holistic” approach and stylistic change. However, in the three full seasons Mancini led the club, the side gained the second most points total in the English top-flight league and won a Premier League title. Yet management desired a different approach and the inability to control midfield or win the ball back in critical situations was exposed by an excellent Cardiff City side on Sunday. Barry, who was one on the first names on Mancini’s team sheet, has yet to dress this season. And Rodwell, fit for a change, has yet to feature. Pellegrini rued the set piece mistakes by his defense in his post-match comments but ignored that the set pieces had been earned by defensive breakdowns in midfield particularly by Yaya Toure and new signing Fernandinho whose physique is not suited to sitting deep in tough away fixtures.