Premier League hits and misses: Mikel Arteta’s Arsenal taking shape 100 games in, West Ham top-four challengers again? | Football News

100 games in, Arteta’s Arsenal is taking shape

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FREE TO WATCH: Highlights from Arsenal’s win against Watford

This week, Arsenal director Josh Kroenke told Sky Sports he has a multi-year plan to return the club to the top of English football. It will be a huge, challenging task, given the resources of their rivals and how far Arsenal have fallen, but there were once again encouraging signs Mikel Arteta’s young group are on the right track.

The 1-0 scoreline did not reflect their dominance and would have looked more handsome had Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang alone not mis-controlled when Bukayo Saka scored from an offside position, converted a penalty, or opted against trying to tap in Martin Odegaard’s goal-bound shot. There were several fine stops from Ben Foster to factor in too.

Arsenal, even without the injured Thomas Partey in midfield, caught the eye again on the front foot, while there was a clean sheet for what has become a mean defence.

They are up to 10 games unbeaten in all competitions and moved into the top five of the Premier League, where they do not seem out of place.

Taking the final leap to compete with the absolute elite in the division is likely to still be a little way off but, after 100 games under Arteta, there is optimism again at Arsenal.
Peter Smith

This was West Ham to a tee

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David Moyes grabbed his 50th win as West Ham manager with their 3-2 victory against Liverpool on Super Sunday and he described it as a ‘brilliant victory’

David Moyes’ West Ham have studied the textbook cover to cover. This is how you get the very most out of a football team.

If there was 90 minutes to sum up West Ham’s strength, this was it. It was sometimes too guarded, but often devastating and always physical.

The goalkeeper, defence and midfield that played for the majority of this excellent showcase victory over Liverpool cost barely £60m – a drop in the ocean for a side genuinely challenging for the top four.

In the first half, rarely has a side seen so much of the ball without creating clear-cut chances; Liverpool’s goal came from their only shot on target, a superb free-kick.

In the second, West Ham came into their own and it all made sense. They are heavy-duty at set-pieces – they have scored from five more than any other side since Moyes joined – but they are more than a dead-ball side.

In Tomas Soucek and Declan Rice they have the two most in-form central midfielders in the Premier League. When they win the ball, the mood changes; it is all-out attack yet with a supreme fitness to return to type if it breaks down.

Despite the European distraction – five of these players started on Thursday in Genk, and Liverpool had an extra 24 hours to prepare – they are arguably a better side than last season. On this viewing, West Ham will be close again.
Gerard Brand

Alisson has a game to forget for Liverpool

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FREE TO WATCH: Highlights from West Ham’s win over Liverpool

West Ham are a fine team so there is no disgrace in being edged out in a five-goal thriller in front of 60,000 supporters at the London Stadium. There will also be frustration for Liverpool supporters that Aaron Cresswell was allowed to stay on the pitch after a robust challenge on Jordan Henderson.

But this was a game that they would not have lost had it not been for Alisson enduring one of his worst afternoons in a Liverpool shirt. As Jamie Carragher told Sky Sports afterwards, the Brazilian goalkeeper should have done better for all three of West Ham’s goals in this 3-2 defeat.

Jurgen Klopp believed the opening goal should have been ruled out for a foul on Alisson. That would have been a stretch. Angelo Ogbonna made no movement towards the goalkeeper. Alisson was the one attempting to find a path to the ball. It was a tricky situation but it was an error.

The second goal was a one-on-one chance for Pablo Fornals and so could hardly be classed as a mistake. And yet, Alisson is usually superb in those situations. Here, the decision to come off his line did not allow him to get close enough to the shooter, it only shortened his own reaction time.

When the third goal from Kurt Zouma went through his clutches at the far post, that capped it off. There were other problems with Liverpool’s performance, of course. But if their goalkeeper was on top form then he might just have been able to help them navigate it successfully. Not this time.

In what looks likely to be a tight title race, perhaps that will prove costly. Chelsea’s slip-up presented an opportunity to close the gap. Instead, it has widened and Liverpool have dropped to fourth. The only comfort for Alisson is that their rivals still have to go to the London Stadium. His ordeal is over.
Adam Bate

Different manager but same problems for Tottenham

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FREE TO WATCH: Highlights from the goalless draw between Everton and Tottenham

Those expecting Antonio Conte to wave a magic wand and instantly turn Tottenham into a top-four challenging beast again got a bit of a surprise at Everton. For large parts of the tedious stalemate, it looked like a Nuno Espirito Santo side playing in a 3-4-3 formation. Tottenham have now failed to score in their last three games in the Premier League, a run of 347 minutes without a goal, and they have not had a shot on target for their last 225 minutes of league football although Giovani Lo Celso did hit a post late on with a fine strike.

The tactic was to try and play forward quickly in transition through the more central Lucas Moura and Heung-Min Son feeding off Harry Kane, but a combination of slow passing and some dogged midfield play from Allan and Fabian Delph made it a struggle for Spurs. There was joy to be had down the channels for Spurs, especially in the first 45 minutes but Emerson Royal and Sergio Reguilon have not quite got the clinical edge in front of goal which Conte usually demands from his wing-backs.

Conte’s arm-waving on the touchline in the second half was a key pointer his message to his Tottenham players is going to take time, or maybe a transfer window or two, to get across.
Lewis Jones

That’s more like it from Leeds…

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FREE TO WATCH: Highlights from the 1-1 draw between Leeds and Leicester in the Premier League.

We are only 11 games into the season, but after a difficult opening the accusations of ‘Bielsa burnout’ were already being thrown at Leeds.

However, the performance Marcelo Bielsa’s side produced against Leicester should be enough to dispel those doubts.

Despite being held to a 1-1 draw at Elland Road, Leeds put in an energetic display in a reminder of the side that everyone enjoyed watching last season.

When asked if Leeds had returned to something approaching their best, Bielsa said: “It was exactly the same comment I gave to the players after the game.

“That they looked a lot more like a team able to construct, good recovery of the ball, possession, creating danger, high percentage of dominance of the game and duplicating the opponent in chances. These are all aspects to value and apart from that, a very beautiful game to watch.”

Raphinha, who is in superb form, continued his goalscoring exploits, handing the hosts the lead midway through the first half, but it was an advantage they could not hold onto as Leicester responded just 73 seconds later.

On another day, Harvey Barnes’ strike would not have been enough to stop Leeds, who were wasteful in front of goal.

They should have retaken the lead when Jack Harrison sent the ball high over the crossbar from close range and with plenty of the goal to aim at after being picked out by Kalvin Phillips’ flick-on at the near post.

It’ was not to be for Leeds, but the supporters, and Bielsa, will be pleased to see signs of the Leeds they know, and love, returning.
Oliver Yew

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