Wednesday 18 October 2017

Man Utd need more than long ball tactics - six things we learned from the weekend Premier League action

Jack de Menezes

Chelsea's gap at the top looks bigger than ever, QPR need to appoint a new manager immediately and West Brom show their resolve

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Harry Kane was the star of the show for Tottenham once again.
 

SPURS HAVE FOUND THE STRIKER THEY’VE BEEN LOOKING FOR

Tottenham spent £26m on Roberto Soldado, £30m on Erik Lamela and the less said about the move for Emmanuel Adebayor the better. Yet if they wanted to find the striker that would get the north London side firing and stand a real chance of a Champions League return, they needn’t look any further than their own academy. Harry Kane’s two goals against fierce rivals Arsenal on Saturday not only completed a deserved comeback victory, but saw the young Englishman take his goal tally this season to 22 goals in all competitions.

The 21-year-old has put himself in the frame for an England call-up, but it will be matters at White Hart Lane that will currently be drawing his attention – and that of the rest of the Premier League. Kane now has 12 goals in the top flight, and only Diego Costa, Sergio Aguero and Charlie Austin have more. With big league matches against Liverpool and Manchester United on the horizon, plus the Europe League last-32 double-header against Fiorentina and the Capital One Cup final against Chelsea, Spurs fans will feel a renewed sense of confidence that they can emerge victorious from all five of those matches.

MANCHESTER UNITED NEED MORE THAN LONG BALL TACTICS

What ever happened to enjoying the sight of a Manchester United performance? The 1-1 draw with West Ham was the latest in a long line of demonstrations in how not to play beautiful football, and even Sam Allardyce got in on the criticism when the Hammers’ manager labelled Sunday’s opposition “Long United”.

If Louis van Gaal had a limited supply of talent on offer at Old Trafford then a direct approach to matches would be understandable. But this is a squad that went through £150m worth of strengthening last summer, and the 11 players who made up the starting line-up plus the two substitutes that Van Gaal made are all international footballers who have shown their quality in the past. If Van Gaal doesn’t start to get the best out of those players, he may find his time at the club dramatically cut short.

Read more: No belief, no shape, no clue - five reasons Manchester United are not creating goalscoring chances under van Gaal

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Jose Mourinho has praised Branislav Ivanovic, pictured, after the defender's winner at Aston Villa on Saturday
 

CHELSEA’S GAP AT THE TOP LOOKS BIGGER THAN EVER

As Chelsea battled to a 2-1 victory over Aston Villa to give Jose Mourinho his first ever victory at Villa Park, Manchester City were struggling to a 1-1 draw with Hull – and that only came through a late James Milner free-kick. The Blues now lead City by seven points and although Manuel Pellegrini’s side have already battled back from eight points behind this season, the gap now looks to be bigger than ever.

Given City’s woeful run of form they currently find themselves in – no wins in their last five games in all competitions – and Chelsea resolve to grind out victories at all costs, you’d have to say that it will take something special from now until the end of the season to stop the Blues from lifting the trophy.

QPR NEED TO RESOLVE MANAGER POSITION BEFORE IT’S TOO LATE

Queens Park Rangers have just 14 games to save their season and remain in the Premier League, but they are yet to appoint a new manager after Harry Redknapp quit last week. With Redknapp set to undergo knee surgery, he decided he could no longer perform in the role to his best abilities, and it’s widely expected that Tim Sherwood will get the nod in the near future. However, with the club second-bottom in the league table and struggling to find any form away from Loftus Road, Rangers need to appoint a manager immediately in order to lift the squad.

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Under pressure: Nigel Pearson gets his hands round the throat of James McArthur
 

PEARSON GETS A REPRIEVE AFTER MCARTHUR CLASH

Leicester appeared to perform a surprise U-turn last night and keep manager Nigel Pearson at the helm despite reports that he had been sacked. Pearson was involved in an altercation with Crystal Palace midfielder James McArthur during Saturday’s Premier League encounter, which saw the Foxes slip to a second straight defeat. Having been accidentally taken out by McArthur, Pearson put his hands around the neck of the Scotland international, although at first he appeared to be joking. However, when McArthur tried to return to the pitch, Pearson held him back and things appeared to become heated.

It was then reported on Sunday evening that Pearson had paid the price with his job, but after hours of silence the club issued a statement to “clarify” Pearson’s position and announce that he had not been sacked. It came after staff at the club were reportedly informed that Pearson was no longer in charge, and places his future in serious doubt even if he is still the boss for tomorrow’s trip to Arsenal.

Read more: Video: Nigel Pearson involved in bizarre touchline row with James McArthur

WEST BROM SHOW BATTLING RESOLVE THAT WILL KEEP THEM UP

Two goals down and staring defeat in the face, West Brom needed to score. They did so just before half-time courtesy of Chris Brunt’s header, and when Brown Ideye scored with a header of his own, it felt like the Baggies were the new star of the Great Escape.

The draw keeps them three points above the relegation zone, but perhaps more importantly, keeps them above both Burnley and Aston Villa and with the way those two sides are playing at the moment, you’d suggest that they are better candidates for the drop than Tony Pulis’ side.

Independent News Service

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