The first match day of the new year was concluded with Everton and Tottenham’s draw at Goodison Park last evening, and here are the three things that particularly caught our attention during a weekend of intriguing performances.
- Risk Is Good
Manchester United’s performance against Chelsea earlier in the week was an indication as to an approach of football that seems more suited to the team’s ability. Although the Red Devils were denied goals against Guus Hiddink’s Blues, there were encouraging signs of a more attacking style of play.
Luckily for under-fire manager Louis van Gaal, his team managed to build on that game and delivered a more ‘United-esque’ performance against Swansea on Saturday. Beautiful goals by Anthony Martial and captain Wayne Rooney helped the team seal a much-needed victory, although Swansea initially managed to level, with only 20 minutes to go. In the end however, United were rewarded for a much more risky approach to the game and the manager was happy to acknowledge the benefits of risking more at times. If the team continue this approach, there might be a silver-lining after all, for those who regularly chant ‘attack, attack, attack’ from the stands of Old Trafford. It is a visit to Newcastle for LVG’s men next.
- Neither Here Nor There For Klopp
Jurgen Klopp will be a frustrated man; he wins, he loses, there is no consistency. Liverpool’s fairly dominant display against West Ham failed to reap any rewards and it rather seems as though the team is about to settle in no man’s land. 8th in the table and six points off the desired Champions League spot, the situation could be much more dramatic, but the unfortunate reality is that the club’s recent achievements have not yet justified the sacking of Brendan Rodgers.
Klopp needs to find a functioning formula for consistency if he is to manage a Champions League competitor next term. Otherwise, this season will be written off, just as many of Rodgers’ seasons in charge were. For the Reds, it is a home game against Arsenal next.
- For One Game, Chelsea Looked Like Last Season’s Team
An away game at Crystal Palace can be a tough trip these days and winning is certainly not guaranteed. However, if the champions are in town, the outcome might be almost predefined. The last two sentences could have been the tagline of this game last season, but post-Mourinho Chelsea look like the might have found the missing pieces, at least in this game.
A dominant performance was topped off by three goals, coupled with an excellent defensive display. This is only a small step for the reigning champions, but if they can take some inspiration from this game, they can genuinely focus on looking up rather than down. A tough home game against Everton awaits Hiddink’s team next.