In a weekend where it was hard to concentrate on any of the football because Nick Minaj’s new album had leaked, and therefore required about two thousand thinkpieces on whether or not she is a feminist or not to be read and written, there were nevertheless a few things to learn.
As we all know, football is now not about watching and enjoying, it is about cold, remorseless analysis. Please enjoy the cold, remorseless analysis provided for you as five chunks of bitesize content for you below.
Having waxed democratic and autocratic to the press in the last week, explaining just how he was very clever at managing players, and very clever in how he spoke about managing players, Old Brainy tried another way of demonstrating just how clever he is.
By dropping Simon Mignolet for their biggest league game so far, and by playing three at the back and a false nine in Raheem Sterling, he had used three separate ploys to show just how clever he was.
It was a cynical move, really. Had they lost, it wouldn’t have mattered what he tried, because Liverpool’s form indicated they were likely to lose again, anyway. Had they won, he could have praised himself for his tactical nous and managerial excellence, all coming back to how clever he is.
Sadly for Brendan, it wasn’t clever enough.
Allardyce can be good
Sam Allardyce is often overlooked when it’s time to give out praise.
Because of his gruff, sausagemeat exterior, and his arguments over player contracts, he’s treated almost solely as an Eighties, brown-envelope throwback. And while he certainly displays the old school media tricks, and makes sure to be regarded as a Good Football Man by the rest of the Good Football Men, there’s more to him than that.
As he proved at Bolton, he’s capable of using the talents of less prosaic players, like Jay Jay Okocha and Youri Djorkaeff.
And as he proves now, he can use both players like Kevin Nolan and Diafra Sakho to create an effective and watchable side a full decade later.
What’s annoying, then, is that for too long Allardyce allows himself to serve up utter dog muck for his supporters to watch. It’s bizarre that for all his ability to entertain, he rarely seems to bother.
It is big, but it is not clever at all. A double-denim fop with a loaf of bread on his head, he’s certainly not good enough to get away with such a ludicrous style.
It has never been the case that Wenger was accused of assembling a bad side, or a side that when everything clicks, or against poor opposition, that his side would not be able score plenty of goals and also showboat.
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Santi Cazorla and Alexis Sanchez on the same pitch, with Danny Welbeck and Olivier Giroud providing a more direct goal threat, will obviously result in some enjoyable games for the Arsenal fans. But none of this means that Wenger is the right man for the job anymore.
They might scrape fourth, they might not, but it should be immaterial to Arsenal’s future. They should be aiming higher than using victory against a Newcastle side without Moussa Sissoko as an indication of any particular, substantial progress.
Southampton are going to crash the top four. Ronald Koeman is a brilliant manager. Southampton have done brilliantly to replace the players they sold in the summer, and still made a profit in the process.
Their style of football has improved even upon last season, and Graziano Pelle is a fantastic, traditional striker who has made a mockery of Premier League defences - he could possibly challenge for the Golden Boot.
Southampton are going to crash into the relegation zone at this rate. Four consecutive defeats and Ronald Koeman is showing his limitations already.
Southampton might have bought plenty of players in the summer, but none of them are good enough to pick up the slack when Morgan Schneiderlin is injured, and he might be off to Spurs in January anyway.
Graziano Pelle looks like he’ll never score again, struggling with the demands of the Premier League after a flurry of beginners luck.
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