11 weeks into the 2019/20 campaign and there’s nothing predictable about this season’s Premier League with Sheffield Utd unlikely European contenders and Man Utd and Spurs treading water in mid-table.
Here’s our round-up of seven big talking points from the last week of football…
7 things – Another star turn from Sheffield United
2019/20 could be the season of surprise packages….
Could this be the year of the outsider? Few pundits would have predicted Sheffield Utd, Bournemouth and Brighton to be sitting pretty above the likes of Spurs, Man Utd, West Ham and Everton by Bonfire Night.
In a tight-knit league, a small drop-off or improvement in form for any side means we can expect the pack to shuffle a lot more before Christmas.
Beyond the top two, however, this Premier League looks to be the most entertainingly open in years – with Sheffield Utd showing that playing without fear really can reap rewards.
Long may that continue.
The Premier League sack race heats up….
Is this the calm before the storm in the Premier League? Bar Watford’s ruthless decision to part ways with Javi Gracia, most clubs are holding their nerve on the managerial front with the league still relatively congested. That could all change imminently. This week, Unai Emery is in the firing line after another lacklustre home display from Arsenal.
However, Marco Silva, Maurico Pochettino, Ole Gunnar Solksjaer and even Quique Sánchez Flores can’t afford to relax.
Will the looming international break see the floodgates open?
Sacking season begins on the continent…
While Premier League bigwigs are currently holding fire, there’s been far less restraint elsewhere in Europe. German giants Bayern Munich opted to wield the axe on under-fire boss Niko Kovač after a humiliating 5-1 reverse away to his former club Eintracht Frankfurt.
With Barcelona and Real Madrid both looking unconvincing in La Liga, a full-blown managerial merry-go-round could be on the cards as some of the biggest jobs in European football become up for grabs.
VAR’s teething problems aren’t going away…
Another weekend, yet more VAR chaos. Expect more of the same next weekend.
Rinse and repeat.
Leicester City are the real deal….
While inconsistency seems to be the watchword for most of the established clubs this season, Leicester City look to be in the box seat to secure a top four berth. Under Brendan Rodgers, the Foxes look like they can win any number of ways. That’s an encouraging habit for any side chasing Champions League football.
Free-scoring against Southampton, Leicester played more of a patient waiting game to pick up three valuable points away at Crystal Palace.
Norwich and Watford at risk of being cut adrift…
We’ve seen plenty of great escapes in the past. That means it’s still too early to write off Norwich or Watford completely. However, both sides look like spiralling towards the Premier League exit door if they fail to find momentum from somewhere before the turn of the year.
Fortunately for both, they’ve now got a perfect opportunity to turn things around.
The catch? Things could get even worse for one side as they meet at Carrow Road on Friday night.
A scrappy six-pointer… in November? We’re sold…
The Championship is up for grabs…
The most unpredictable of leagues continues to deliver the goods.
We’re just under a third of the way through the Championship season, and still no one team looks capable of taking this league by the scruff of the neck.
Preston are the latest side to have a chance to enjoy the view from the top of the table after a battling 1-0 win away at Charlton. Don’t expect them to get too comfortable. Only seven points separate 1st and 15th. At this rate, it could be some final day shootout.
The Old Firm assert their authority…
The Scottish League Cup semi-finals played to type as Celtic and Rangers both eased into December’s final at Hampden Park. A 3-0 win over Hearts means Steven Gerrard now has the chance to win his first silverware as a manager – and potentially usher in a new era in Glasgow.
The psychological boost of a win next month for Rangers would surely help electrify the title race – and hint a power shift is finally underway after a decade of dominance for Celtic.
The week’s Top 5…
Player of the weekend:
John Lundstram – Sheffield Utd’s now not-so secret weapon continues to impress in the Blades midfield, netting his third goal in 11 Premier League outings.
Manager of the weekend:
Chris Wilder – the Blades manager continues to make a mockery of the step up in class.
Result of the weekend:
Hull City – one of the pre-season favourites to struggle, The Tigers thrashed promotion candidates Fulham 3-0 at Craven Cottage.
Team of the weekend:
Preston North End – moved to the top of the Championship with Alex Neil also looking likely to commit his future to the club.
Biggest loser of the weekend:
Unai Emery – patience is wearing thin at the Emirates after yet more dropped points at home.
Image sources from PA Images
What was your moment of the weekend?
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