For much of the early stages of this season I have been unable to write for various reasons. During that time there were a number of interesting games and impressive performances. In this series I will analyse aspects of some of these matches.
The Champions League returned in mid-week with the first legs of the final qualifying round on Tuesday and Wednesday. Unfortunately, the draws pitched together a number of strong teams that could have a big impact on the competition, who would now have to battle over two legs to reach the group stages. Fortunately, this gave PR, AL and JD interesting ties to analyse, and each author summarises the key aspects in the clash they watched.
Following an eventful summer in the Blue part of Manchester, Pep Guardiola’s team started off their Premier League season with a comfortable win over Brighton, who were newly promoted from the Championship. Although the implementation of the game plan could be accurately described as lethargic, some of the potential themes and modifications of this new Manchester City group were shown, with room for improvement on display as City shake off the cobwebs.
The first season in Manchester under Pep Guardiola has been a little inconsistent, although the clear signs of improvements are steadily visible. With the arrival of Guardiola a whole adaptation process started for the team, which was basically and most importantly the presentation and implementation of the Positional Play. Here TP in August has already previewed the issues City has had in the previous season, and the possible changes that Guardiola may bring to Manchester City.
Inconsequential—this it the word that characterises both Manchester sides appropriately when they met last Thursday. The Battle of Manchester saw both committing to their respective roles but lacking some tweaks and turns in order to win the match.
Following a prolonged period of mediocre form, including a defeat to Leicester City on Monday night, Klopp’s Liverpool returned to Anfield to face an Arsenal side who have been on an equally poor run, losing their last three Premier League games.
Mourinho’s United and Puel’s Southampton met at Wembley for the EFL Cup final on Sunday evening. Cup victory would be significant for either side, it would offer Europa League qualification for Southampton and a chance for Mourinho to be the first United manager to win a trophy in their first season.
Klopp’s Liverpool hosted high-flying Tottenham on Saturday evening still looking for their first league win of 2017, with a poor run of form that saw them drop from 2nd to 6th, albeit temporarily. Pochettino’s men however were unbeaten in their last 9 league games, winning 7 and earning the title of Chelsea’s main “challengers”. The clash between both sides’ high intensity approach was an element that added further intrigue to a tie which already had the league’s attention.
Guardiola’s Manchester City hosted in-form Tottenham in a highly anticipated clash on Saturday evening. Fresh from their 4-0 defeat at Everton City were under pressure to win to keep alive their increasingly slim title hopes. This task was made tougher since they welcomed the league’s most in-form side with the North Londoners enjoying a 6 game winning streak.
Guardiola suffers the highest league loss of his career against Everton. The formation of the team and the roles of the players were poorly chosen.