Widening the Gap: Man City and Liverpool win comfortably as Chelsea are outplayed and United stutter again

It has been yet another entertaining Saturday of Premier League football. Title hopefuls Liverpool and Man City win comfortably away from home as this years season increasingly appears to be becoming a two horse race. Given the form of both sides this year it’s never a surprise when they add another win. Neither side conceded a goal with Man City beating West Ham 0-4 and Liverpool beating Watford 0-3 displaying both defensive and attacking strength.

Aside from the title leaders, perhaps the most eye-catching fixture of the day was between London rivals and Chelsea at Wembley Stadium. Despite a lack of summer spending in the transfer market, Spurs didn’t seem to be lacking in any area of the pitch dealing Chelsea their first defeat of the season, the score being 3-1 to the home side.

In general, Chelsea have been reasonably sound at the back this season, a key factor in their unbeaten start. However, they were far from secure today with both Luiz and Rudiger putting in faltering performances; Chelsea manager Maurizio Sarri described the their defending as a “disaster” after the game.

In spite of this, it could be argued that Chelsea’s main issue is not in defence. Morata started the game as a lone striker with Hazard and Willian playing on the wings either side of him. Chelsea fans would have had high hopes for Morata prior to the game given his recent goal scoring form. Yet, he failed to replicate this, struggling to make an impact and eventually being replaced by Giroud who grabbed a late consolation goal.

In fact, inconsistent could be the best word to describe Morata’s season thus far and even his time at Chelsea as a whole. He has occasionally shown flickers of his potential but has failed to truly kick into gear as of yet. Giroud didn’t do him any favours today highlighting his ineffectiveness as he scored Chelsea’s only goal despite spending most of the match sat on the bench. This has to go some way in raising the argument of Giroud being the best or, at least, the most effective striker at the club.

Giroud is quite an unusual player in that his large stature does not appear to hinder his technical ability in any way. On paper it’s difficult to overlook Giroud as the ideal target man. He would appear to be perfectly suited to Chelsea’s style of play; a presence up front who can hold up play to the benefit of willing runners like Hazard, Willian and Pedro either side of him. In all honesty, it’s a mystery as to why, like Morata, it hasn’t always worked out for Giroud during his time at Chelsea. The lack of consistency from both players may consequently force Chelsea to enter the transfer market in the hunt for yet another striker who they will be hoping to be much more clinical.

Like Chelsea, Manchester United have been struggling in the goal scoring department for a number of years now. They continue to produce lacklustre performances under Mourinho and today was no different. Their home match against Crystal Palace, who have also been struggling this season despite already achieving draws against both United and Arsenal, ended in an underwhelming 0-0 draw.

It’s difficult to know where to start when it comes to the issues Man United are facing at the moment. On the pitch they have been lacking creativity despite possessing a number of players who have previously displayed their abilities at other clubs; Pogba, Sanchez and Lukaku to name a few. Surely it can’t be a coincidence that all these huge names are underperforming at United. All factors seem to be pointing towards Mourinho. Tactically, Mourinho would prefer his side to grind out a result rather than letting his players express themselves and play entertaining football. This wouldn’t be a massive issue if his tactics actually produced these desired results but the fact that his side currently sit 7th in the league, 14 points behind rivals Man City, would suggest that wins aren’t being produced frequently enough.

Mourinho’s off-field tactics have been just as questionable as his on-field ones recently. Certain media comments have arguably had positive impacts on particular players, namely Luke Shaw and Anthony Martial have been two of United’s better performing players this season despite both facing public criticism from their manager. Yet, this public ridiculing of his own players has often backfired. Most recently he claimed that young players at the club, including the likes of Martial and Shaw as well as Rashford and Lingard, are spoilt and immature. Is this unfair considering this group have generally performed better than their older counterparts this season? This constant negativity stemming from the manager can’t be having a useful impact on the players with Manchester United certainly not looking like a happy camp right now. It would hardly be surprising if moody Mourinho was contributing to United’s awful season. The clubs fans will be wondering how long his reputation and past achievements can protect him from losing his current job.

Having pointed out the inconsistency of Chelsea’s strikers, this Saturday has been one of consistency for the Premier League as a whole. United continue to bore spectators whilst the blue side of Manchester continues dominate with Liverpool doing a pretty good job of keeping with the pace themselves.

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