The Biggest Disappointments of the Premier League So Far
One of the things that makes the Premier League so exciting is that things very rarely go completely according to plan. Over the course of the season, every team may have some great triumphs, but also some great disappointments. With nine games played, we are now just over a quarter of the way through the season, and it seems like the perfect time to take a look at some of the biggest disappointments so far.
Three clubs have spent more than £200 million since last summer. Manchester United have spent the most, £212.5 million, followed by Arsenal who have spent £207.7 million. Not far behind are Everton, the team has spent £200.6 million, but it seems to have had very little effect.
Under Sam Allardyce, the team never suffered four consecutive Premier League defeats, nor did they in their worst form under Ronald Koeman. The team haven’t performed quite so badly since New Year’s Day 2015 under Roberto Martinez.
Things were looking up at the end of last season, when Everton won six and drew three of the last 11 games, including victories over Chelsea, Arsenal and Manchester United, and a draw with Liverpool. It was these results that Silva had in mind when placing Iwobi, Moise Kean, Jean-Philippe Gbamin and Fabian Delph alongside the permanent arrival of Andre Gomes, but things quickly went wrong.
There were high hopes for Everton. On paper, things were coming together for the team. They have a forward-thinking manager, strong financial backing, and Marcel Brands, one of the top directors of football in Europe. “We are starting 2019 from a position of real strength,” said chief executive Denise Barrett-Baxendale in January. There were suggestions of Champions League qualification and even Premier League titles. However, Everton are currently fifteenth in the league having won just three games and drawn one, from the nine they have played.
There are very varied opinions about Marcus Rashford. When Ole Gunnar Solskjaer took over at Manchester United, it very quickly became clear that Rashford would hugely benefit from it. During the first eight games of Solskjaer’s time in charge, Rashford scored six goals and provided two assists. He also scored two in the team’s opening match against Chelsea this season. Most recently, Rashford scored against Liverpool.
Many believe that Solskjaer is the perfect mentor for Rashford. He should be more than capable of teaching a young and talented striker how to finish. However, some believe that Rashford has now stagnated. Solskjaer has put a huge amount of faith in the young player, making him his first choice striker, but in many ways, he just doesn’t seem up to the task.
Tottenham Hotspur is another team that there were high hopes for this season. However, despite reaching the Champions League final last season, their end to the last campaign was anything but impressive. They won just six of their last eighteen games, and just two of the final nine.
They brought in Tanguy Ndombele, but they loaned Jack Clarke straight out, while Ryan Sessegnon is yet to feature and Giovani Lo Celso has been hit by injury. Regardless of how one looks at it, it has been a terrible start to the new season for Spurs, as exemplified by their draw with Watford last weekend. In many ways their 4 – 0 win over Crystal Palace was their only true display of teamwork over the last six months. They urgently need to turn things around before they become even worse.
Manchester City’s Defence
Speaking recently, Pep Guardiola said, “I’d prefer to have John Stones and Laporte back. Against Everton we were lucky, Ederson saved us in two or three clear chances. But it is what it is. I said when it happened that we couldn’t be crying or complaining and that we were going with the two guys that we had, and the two young players had an opportunity. Right now we don’t concede but tomorrow we could concede five, so the important thing is to concede few chances.”
Manchester City then went on to concede two against Wolverhampton Wanderers, and the team certainly didn’t have any of the luck that Guardiola was talking about against Everton.
Of course, any club would struggle without their two top central defenders. However, Liverpool would not look as vulnerable if they were without Joe Gomez and Dejan Lovren, while Arsenal would also survive without Shkodran Mustafi, Calum Chambers and Rob Holding. However, City have not used the opportunities they have had to strengthen their defence. The effect of Vincent Kompany leaving and the refusal to replace him has been exaggerated. Together with a number of other setbacks, it has resulted in Manchester City, a club with considerable resources, playing without a solid defence. Last season it took until their eighteenth game for them to concede nine goals, this season it took until their eighth game.
Upon signing for West Ham, Pablo Fornals said, “I know about the loyal fans and the stadium, which is a beautiful stadium. The fans fill the stadium every weekend and that is something admirable, especially with the passion with which football is lived there. I think it is important to play with the support of your fans at home. Of course, Manuel was a big influence because in the end he is one of the best coaches in the world and who doesn’t want to work with people like that?”
Despite these fine words, to date all Fornals has managed is one goal, against Newport County in the League Cup.
It was thought that West Ham had struck gold when Fornals came to the team two days before the start of Spain’s U21 European Championship Tournament. At the tournament, Fornals impressed with two goals and an assist on the way to the trophy and the team’s only defeat came in the first of two games that he didn’t start. In the second game, he came off the bench to score the winner.
In many ways, Fornals seemed like a perfect match for Manuel Pellegrini’s side. However, he has had an incredibly slow start and there are bound to be many disappointed fans.
In many ways, things have not been going too badly for Arsenal. They are fifth in the league and are not far behind any of the three teams immediately above them. They have already faced a number of the league’s toughest teams, such as Liverpool, Spurs and Manchester United, and have a number of important players returning from injury. The team is bound to improve once Kieran Tierney has established himself, Hector Bellerin returns to right back, and Alexandre Lacazette is sharing the goal burden once again.
However, this may feel like a familiar situation to Arsenal fans who have been told before that nothing is wrong and that things could be worse. Last season many pointed out problems with structure and style but were ignored due to a 22-match unbeaten run, then fans had to endure watching the campaign disintegrate and all possible paths to the Champions League blocked.
There is every chance that history could repeat itself. Unai Emery looks no closer to integrating a particular system than he did this time last year. Arsenal are conceding a huge number of shots and the team is almost entirely reliant on a combination of an elite goal-scorer, a young midfielder, poor opposition and luck. It seems inevitable that it is just a matter of time before the results start to turn and much of this is down to Emery.
Aston Villa’s Resolve
While Aston Villa’s return to the Premier League has not been a disaster by any means, there does seem to be a bit of a problem with the team’s mentality. Just a few weeks ago, they had dropped as many points from winning positions as they had won overall (since then they have secured three more points).
They were in front for 64 minutes against Spurs before losing and led for an hour at Arsenal before losing that match as well. They also drew against Burnley despite twice having an advantage. At times, the team have been excellent. John McGinn seems to have settled very well in to the Premier League, Nakamba has been impressive, and only five clubs have scored more goals. However, with slightly better game management and determination, they could be in a far stronger position than their current one.
Bournemouth Staying in the Middle
Bournemouth have won three games, drawn three and lost three. They are perhaps one of the most stable and secure teams, but they seem to be permanently stuck in the middle of the table. They are currently tenth, and in many ways, it seems like the perfect position for them. There is no real chance of demotion and there is equally little chance of Champions League qualification. While Bournemouth’s results are perfectly respectable, it all feels a little disappointing and underwhelming.