Premier League Talking Points: Pep Tinkerola, Michail 'Zlatan' Antonio, in-form Red Devils
Asiaville sport desk's four major talking points from the week’s Premier League action.
It’s not often that newly-crowned champions of a football league get thrashed 4-0 their very next match but it’s 2020 (the year when strange became the norm) and considering how Liverpool have had to play a patient game to clinch the trophy, it is only fair they partied a little too hard and lost a bit of focus for their match against City.
That said, City did the most City thing to do this season, by following it up with a 1-0 loss away to Southampton. In another league, City would never be the second considering the number of matches they’ve lost this season but Premier League’s competitive nature means the chasing pack have an even tougher time notching up the points.
The red side of Manchester have no such problems though and they continued their winning streak with another dominating victory again struggling Bournemouth to really put pressure on Leicester City and Chelsea who currently occupy the final places for Champions League qualification.
With Wolves, Manchester United, Chelsea and Leicester all fighting for the two Champions League slots, the Premier League is set for a grand-stand finish. Here are four major talking points from the week’s Premier League action.
Guard of honour
After an embarrassing title defence, it was only fair that a lot of Manchester City players did not enjoy having to give the newly crowned champions Liverpool a ‘guard of honour’ before their match. The event sparked a lot of hue and cry with Liverpool fans calling out City’s half-hearted attempts. Bernardo Silva refused to even clap as football fans highlighted how the Sky Blues were “sore losers”.
A 'Guard of Honour' for the newly crowned Premier League champions! ????????— Sky Sports Premier League (@SkySportsPL) July 2, 2020
Manchester City's players applaud tonight's opponents as they enter the pitch ahead of tonight's Premier League clash.
Watch live on Sky Sports Premier League or follow: https://t.co/Z31k5IjOL0 pic.twitter.com/4lji7rwCY3
What did one expect though? For top footballers to rejoice their rivals’ domination of the Premier League? These are players with ego and used to being at the top so it is normal they don’t enjoy someone else taking away their glory. Why do they need to pretend like they enjoyed it and all is well? It certainly seemed to have rejuvenated the City team who played like a Champion side beating Liverpool 4-0 but the whole act of clapping before the kick-off seriously needs to be questioned. Respecting traditions is fine but do we still need to force people to do something they clearly enjoy because that was the practice in what…18th century?
Tinkering Pep brings out best and worst
Pep Tinkerola, the biggest enemy of the Fantasy Premier League gang, opted to not play City’s talented midfielders Kevin De Bruyne and Phil Foden in their match against Southampton, and one might argue that proved decisive as City looked inspiration-less going forward. To be fair, their replacements Riyad Mahrez and Bernardo Silva aren’t mediocre players (we need to talk about City’s bench strength someday) but this constant tinkering with the lineup is certainly affecting the rhythm of this side. Guardiola must have his eyes on the Champions League – City’s Holy Grail -- with the Premier League decided and perhaps is saving his players for the European assignments but momentum is a key factor in football and this stop-start, post-lockdown phase is certainly not going to aid the team in any way. The lack of leadership in the defence is also likely to worry Guardiola who will surely be hoping to see through that signing of Kalidou Koulibaly in the window.
The race for the Top-4
Just like the previous season, the race for third and fourth places on the table is what is keeping fans on the edges of their seats. Leicester City had looked comfortably positioned to take away one slot but they’ve only managed one win post the restart. The win, however, came in their latest outing and will give the Leicester enough confidence to stage a fight to keep their third place. Chelsea have looked unstable too, with West Ham United exposing the chinks in their armour which must give in-form United a good chance at taking away one of the slots. Wolves and Arsenal also remain in the hunt and the last few matches will decide the fate for all these teams.
Manchester United have won more points since the Premier League restart (10) than any other club.— Statman Dave (@StatmanDave) July 5, 2020
3 wins & 1 draw; +9 GD. ???? pic.twitter.com/HGfo0wTEhZ
Manchester United have arguably the easiest run of matches though most often it is the lower-ranked teams that surprise the big teams. It looks a battle that will go down till the last day but the squad strength of United and Chelsea make them slight favourites to finish third and fourth.
With Timo Werner and Hakim Ziyech already signed up, Chelsea have apparently set their eyes on securing the services of German international Kai Havertz. Bayer Leverkusen want over 90 million pounds for their star footballer but Mr Roman is in the mood to splash the cash so one shouldn’t be surprised if the deal takes places despite coronavirus severely reducing the transfer fee.
The problem for Lampard and Chelsea aren’t going forward though. The defence one against exposed when Michail Antonio was made to look like peak Zlatan in West Ham’s 3-2 win against Chelsea. There are errors across the back-four for Chelsea and the Havertz rumour does sound like a luxury signing when there are other bigger issues to be addressed. The London side do have a lot of bit-part players who could be sold to fund a major transfer in the summer though so expect busy days in West London till the summer window closes.