The weekend round-up – clouds over Wembley


Clouds over Wembley – sloppy Spurs punished by Burnley

I was at the match on Sunday, and the hoodoos surrounding Tottenham felt more real than ever. Pre-match talk centred around two themes – Spurs’ wretched form at Wembley, and Harry Kane’s wretched form in August. Both curses continued.

A sluggish first-half performance left the fans almost craving half-time, and a subdued atmosphere was reciprocated on the pitch. A post-match report noted ‘waves and waves of Tottenham attacks’ in the first half but that’s severe overstatement. Burnley were more than happy to sit back and let Spurs methodically bluster their way through the afternoon. Tottenham looked worryingly short of ideas.

A breakthrough just after half-time raised optimism across the stadium as Dele Alli scrambled home, but it wasn’t enough. Harry Kane had several chances to kill the game off in the second half, but Tom Heaton succeeded in frustrating his England captain. A 92nd minute sucker punch from record signing Chris Wood was just punishment for Tottenham’s lack of ruthlessness.

Spurs have now dropped five points from their first two home matches, in the whole of last season they only dropped a total of seven. The international break comes at a welcome time for them to re-assess.

Arsenal embarrassed at Anfield

We’ve been here so many times before, it’s hardly worth reiterating. Arsenal turned in a stunningly poor performance to lose 4-0 at Anfield. Conveniently, it was the six year anniversary of their most embarrassing loss in the Premier League – an 8-2 washing at the hands of Manchester United.

The fact that it came a week before the transfer deadline is small beans – their primary goal will not be to target reinforcements. Their aim is to either keep hold of Alexis Sanchez, or negotiate at least £70m from Manchester City to soften the blow of losing their best player. It’s a numbing situation for Arsenal fans, although for most of them, their patience wore thin long ago.

Arsene Wenger’s footballing philosophy is possibly the one I admire the most – a focus on unselfishness, technique and a keen eye on how the economy affects the long-term consequences for both his club and the Premier League. With each passing season though, it becomes more difficult to defend him.

Anglo-de Boer War

I could have just left this without any explanation, such is the brilliance of the headline, but I’ll explain. Frank de Boer has been in charge of Crystal Palace for three Premier League matches, failing to pick up a single point. They haven’t even scored a goal yet. It’s early days though.

De Boer’s name carries weight across European football, but his managerial record has been sporadic when out of his comfort zone. Away from the warm encirclement of his Ajax family, De Boer was sacked as manager of Internazionale after just 85 days with a win rate of only 35.7%. He claimed he ‘needed more time’ following that sacking, a sentiment he will be sharing with the Crystal Palace board this week. Reports this morning suggest Sam Allardyce is being lined up to return, should the Dutchman be sacked.

Palace’s next two fixtures are now crucial – Burnley (A) and Southampton (H). Failing to win either of those may be curtains, as a less than kind set of matches follows that – Manchester United (A), Manchester City (A) and Chelsea (H) in the next three. Big Sam could be back before you know it.

Manchester clubs leave it late

United continue their perfect start, with a 2-0 win over Leicester at home. The only blotch was Romelu Lukaku’s penalty being saved by Kasper Schmeichel, advancing at least three yards off his line. Marcus Rashford and an offside Marouane Fellaini sealed the victory. Mourinho’s men are yet to concede a goal in the Premier League – worrying signs for their rivals.

On the south coast, Manchester City made harder work of their three points. Raheem Sterling scored a 98th minute winner when a 1-1 draw looked more likely. Pep Guardiola’s side, considering their summer spending, must quickly improve. Sterling was sent off for his part in the celebrations as he raced towards the travelling fans. Alan Shearer ranted on MOTD about the harshness of the booking, but, unfortunately, rules is rules.

Solid weekend for the new boys

The Premier League new boys secured valuable points over the weekend. Huddersfield Town continued their unbeaten start to the season with a goalless draw with Southampton. Brighton got their first point of the season with the same result away at Watford.

Newcastle smashed three past a sorry-looking West Ham side, leaving the Hammers at the foot of the league table with a goal difference of -8. It’ll hopefully cheer up Rafa following a frustrating summer in the transfer market. Speaking of which…

Transfer deadline day approaches

The transfer window closes on Thursday, in what may be the most dramatic deadline day since Andy Carroll and Fernando Torres made their infamous transfers in January 2011.

Some ongoing transfer sagas are yet to be concluded. There appear to be some big moves on the horizon for a host of players, including Alexis Sanchez, Philippe Coutinho, Fernando Llorente, Ross Barkley, Raheem Sterling and Riyad Mahrez. Some or all of these will be sealed before Thursday evening, tune in to find out.

Chris Henderson

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