The Premier League season is seven matches old. Narratives have been built – some have already crumbled – and teams are getting to that point in the campaign where they re-evaluate their preseason goals.
Some might be considering a title push, others are preparing for 31 more matches battling for their Premier League lives. This weekend was not littered with drama like some, but it taught us plenty...
Mourinho Meltdown Continues
West Ham made light work of Manchester United on Saturday lunchtime. After a week including humiliation to Derby and a public spat between Paul Pogba and Jose Mourinho, such a result was hardly surprising.
Mourinho’s post-match comments were as curious as ever. Anthony Martial’s lack of impact defensively was questioned and the Portuguese tried to maintain his ‘everything is fine, nothing to see here’ approach.
2013/14 under Moyes: 7 games, 10 points— 888sport (@888sport) October 1, 2018
2018/19 under Mourinho: 7 games, 10 points
You can see where this is going. pic.twitter.com/uqGni98yeW
With Valencia in midweek, it feels like Mourinho is only a poor result or two away from the sack.
He might survive a little longer, of course, but Manchester United are best off cutting their losses and moving on to whatever bizarre appointment they make next.
Salah Isn't The Same
Mohamed Salah was a sensation last term. He had a reasonable claim at World Player of the Year honours. This season, though, everything is different.
He is missing chances and his decision-making is suspect, as we saw on a couple of occasions in the first half at Stamford Bridge.
Crucially, he is still getting the chances. His goal scoring record will improve from here, but we are not going to see the ludicrous overachievement of last season. The 2017/18 tally was a career year rather than a breakout.
Liverpool are a better side than they were last season. Seeing Salah substituted might not be such a shock this season, particularly if Daniel Sturridge and Xherdan Shaqiri continue to perform.
Cheap Ashley Condemns Newcastle (Again)
There was talk this week that former Manchester United and Chelsea chief executive, Peter Kenyon, is leading a takeover bid of Newcastle United.
The news came at a fitting time, as the Magpies lost 2-0 at home to Leicester to leave them on just two points from seven matches. Rafa Benitez's side were limp in defeat. They offered very little going forward, and the crowd did not react well to Benitez’s substitutions.
Newcastle in 2018/19:— 888sport (@888sport) September 29, 2018
1-2 vs Tottenham ❌
1-2 vs Chelsea ❌
1-2 vs Arsenal ❌
0-2(?) vs Leicester ❌
For the first time EVER, it looks like #NUFC are going to lose their first four home games of the season. pic.twitter.com/WoGCfm9vXN
Newcastle might have had a difficult fixture list so far, but that does not change their situation. The north east club needs points and they need them fast.
Benitez’s options, though, are very limited. Ashley’s refusal to back his manager in the market has cost the club in the past. It’s quite possible it costs them again.
Ambitious Fulham Are Some Way From The Finished Article
Fulham’s summer transfer business was impressive. From Jean Seri to Alfie Mawson, they added quality and did it in a balanced manner.
A top half finish is not out of the question, but they have five points from seven matches and were thumped 3-0 this weekend. Despite additions, Fulham have the joint-worst defence in the league on goals conceded and non-penalty expected goals against.
Unless their attack starts to produce at Liverpool levels, the back line is going to force them into a relegation scrap. It is far from a crisis at Craven Cottage. There’s more than enough time to turn things around, but this is the sort of slow start that can descend into chaos.
Fulham have to find a blend between their individual quality and defensive organisation if they are to have the sort of comfortable campaign it looked like they would have.
Wolves ARE The Real Deal
Okay, beating a poor Southampton side at home wasn’t the first sign of this. Wolves are a good football team. They are three points off the Champions League places at the moment.
While that may not remain the case for long, the 10-point cushion to the bottom three is hugely significant for any promoted side.
This is no fluke either. The west Midlands club cruised to promotion last term and added more international quality footballers in the summer. Their results have hardly been smash-and-grab, they are – by any metric – performing like a top eight side.
Wolves are looking like a genuine best of the rest contender. That would be an astonishing achievement and might just set them up for a European spot next season.