EPL rewind

The EPL was back in action and it looks increasingly like a two team race for the title, while the other two top four positions looks like it could be a mad scramble.

What we learned – title down to two, but top four a real scrum. Man U and Chelsea created some separation from the pack this weekend. Both had solid wins and with the Arsenal loss and draws between Liverpool and Man City – there is growing separation. The loss of Van Persie left Arsenal looking toothless. They are now in danger of falling into what looks like a wide open scrum for the top four. Spurs with a monstrous win are now even with Arsenal on points (Arsenal has a game in hand). Pool and City are in sixth and seventh, with Villa in fourth. While your money might be on Arsenal and Pool to maintain those spots, it is certainly wide open right now.

Spurs send a message to top 4.
Who would have thought Spurs would outscore the Cowboys and the Redskins this weekend. A 9-1 demolition of Wigan sent a signal to the league that Spurs are a legitimate threat. Still without Luka Modric, Spurs got Aaron Lennon back after a being out a month injured. The difference was night and day. Despite Jermaine Defoe’s 4 goals, Lennon was the man of the match. Lennon played a role in most of the goals, putting in balls on a tee for the Spurs strikers.

Arsenal are a different side without Van Persie. The game against Sunderland demonstrated how dependent Arsenal are on Robin Van Persie. They simply lacked that cutting edge without Persie or another physical presence in the box. Most worrisome for Gunners fans is they looked most dangerous when Gallas or Vermaelan got into the box, especially toward the end of the game. Eduardo simply can’t lead the line without another striker alongside. Wenger’s substitutions showed how one-dimensional Arsneal are. Bringing on Arshavin and Carlos Vela – both great players sure – but they are exactly the same sort of pacy technical players as the players they replaced – Rosciky and Eduardo. As a result, most of Arsenal’s attacks got pushed wide and few of their balls into the box had any potential target on the end of them. Gunners fans must pray that this placenta thing works for Van Persie, because they are falling off the title pace and could be in danger of the top four scrum.

Liverpool can’t catch a break and Man City look a bit soft. Two injuries in the first 20 minutes cut Benitez’ ability to change the game. Man City were a different team with Tevez in the second half, but with a sixth draw in a row their ability to launch a serious title or top 4 challenge have to be questioned. Liverpool look snake bit and need to start getting results or things may become increasingly desperate.

Jozy has learned to be a target striker at Hull – but has lost some attacking confidence. Jozy put in a really good shift in Hull’s draw with Wigan. He controlled the ball well with his back to goal, laying off the ball to his teammates and only had three unsuccessful passes, according to Guardian’s stat tracker. He is clearly listening to Phil Brown and has gained his trust to play as a target striker, as seen by him earning the start in such a key game. But Jozy has also looked a bit shackled in his target role and has seemed a bit out of sorts when he doesn’t have his back to goal. Rarely did we see Jozy attempt to turn his defender, as he did in the first game against Bolton and has he has done with the national team – ie against Spain. Jozy seems to be pressing a bit and needs a goal to increase his confidence. He came close – he had a great shot in the first half that was blocked by his teammate. But that was one of his few clear chances. Jozy also still needs to improve his work rate and throw himself more into the mix on crosses, instead of sitting back and waiting for knock downs. Jozy could just be following the Hull coaching staff’s instructions, but getting his head on the end of crosses is definitely an area Jozy needs to work on.

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