Three big lessons learned from the Premier League: August 25
While the new Premier League season has barely got out of first gear, the same can be said for most of the teams, with some still languishing at the starting post.
Others appear to be doing a great impression of being in a permanent pit-stop, or at the very least in stall mode. A breakdown of performances so far can simply be rendered as ‘must do better’.
Coral take a look back at the action from the second round of fixtures and analyse lessons learned so far.
Man United need to buy, quickly
Clearly highlighted against Swansea, and then Sunderland, is the fact Louis van Gaal is trying to win the title with a sub-standard squad that firstly is past it in parts, and secondly just aren’t good enough.
A midfield screen that included Darren Fletcher and Tom Cleverley against the Black Cats highlights both these points fittingly. Utilising Ashley Young as a makeshift left wing back is downright desperate, while a back three with a combined age of 66 just don’t know what they’re doing.
The consolation perhaps, is that the front three of Robin van Persie, Wayne Rooney and Juan Mata know where the goal is when they’re the mood to find it.
It is easy to castigate Ed Woodward, United’s executive vice-chairman, however the wheel doesn’t need to be reinvented, and ‘easy’ is convenient.
Having told anyone who would listen that the club could buy anyone they wanted earlier in the summer, only Luke Shaw plus Ander Herrera, and Marcos Rojo are their only purchases. To add insult to injury, the former two are both injured.
United’s much publicised pursuit of Real Madrid’s Angel Di Maria has raised the question of whether the Argentine is a luxury that they don’t need. In a 3-4-1-2 formation he can only really play in Mata’s position, unless Van Gaal converts him to a wing back.
Instead, five world class players should be earmarked. Two centre backs, the same number of central midfielders, and a right wing back need to be high priority.
They have missed the boat with Borussia Dortmund’s Mats Hummels, who should have been bought at all costs. Dejan Lovren, perhaps another Nemanja Vidic in the making moved to Liverpool for £20m. The right amount of persuasion may have convinced the Croatian to take up residence at Old Trafford, despite the absence of Champions League football.
It’s all gone quiet on the Arturo Vidal front, while Van Gaal seems set against using his influence to bring in members of his Netherlands World Cup squad. The versatile Daley Blind would have been ideal, while young centre backs Joel Veltman and Stefan de Vrij showed world class potential.
With the transfer window fast approaching, United need an overhaul, otherwise their title odds of 12/1 could skyrocket.
Chelsea can win the league
There is no denying the fact that Jose Mourinho means business this season. His dealings in the transfer market suggest the ‘Special One’ could even be targeting trophies, plural.
While Diego Costa has been lauded in the media, Chelsea’s best buy is without a doubt Cesc Fabregas, who gives them the edge on other teams. Against a stubborn Leicester, the Blues were patient and considered in their play, but also relentlessly persistent.
Last season, this was a match that they would probably have drawn, the game against West Ham being a classic example, however this new ability to grind out a win will give them the advantage over their rivals.
At 11/10 to win the title, these odds could shorten dramatically, even over the next month. Maybe just one striker short of having the strength to compete on all fronts, Mourinho may consider his options over the coming days, before the transfer window shuts, however, the Blues are head shoulders above most other teams.
Three at the back doesn’t work for QPR
Harry Redknapp needs a re-think. Despite having on paper at least, an impressive back three of Rio Ferdinand, Steven Caulker and Richard Dunne, the 3-4-1-2 system implemented at White Hart Lane against Tottenham clearly failed.
It was a bold move from the former Spurs manager, however his old club were ruthless in their 4-0 dismantling of the Hoops. Mauricio Isla would be better used as winger, rather than a wing back to at least let him focus on what he does best; attacking.
Better balance is needed in defence. A trio of right-footers, including Dunne and Ferdinand who, for all their experience, are in their mid-30s, just didn’t work. Club captain Clint Hill could be an alternative, only he’s no younger than the above pair.
The squad that Redknapp has assembled does have quality, and the signing of Leroy Fer could prove to be an intelligent piece of business given time. Odds-on at 8/15 to stay up, QPR should survive, though they cannot afford too many repeat performances of this horror-show at Spurs.