Top teams run wild amid predictable games

By Hilton Yip Source:Global Times Published: 2017/9/25 23:18:40

Is there anything that can stop Manchester City? Conversely is there anyone who can resuscitate Crystal Palace? Thank goodness there was a tight contest between Leicester and Liverpool as well as a late comeback attempt by West Ham to make the Premier League last weekend more interesting.

Coming off a mediocre 0-0 draw against Arsenal a week ago, Chelsea came roaring back in style by crushing Stoke 4-0, with new signing Alvaro ­Morata scoring a superb hat trick. This was an impressive win against a Stoke team that had held Manchester United and beaten Arsenal this season. Even more impressive, Chelsea started with Eden Hazard and Cesc Fabregas on the bench, probably because of Chelsea's Champions League game against Atletico Madrid on Tuesday.

Spurs were cruising to a comfortable win at West Ham Saturday until a red card for newcomer Serge Aurier almost led to the Hammers completing a surprising and undeserved second-half rally. Spurs will especially treasure the win since it was a shock loss at the same venue last season in May that helped derail their title chances.

However, league leaders Manchester City's impressive goal machine was again in action on Saturday as they ran over hapless Crystal Palace 5-0. The scoreline perfectly ­reflected the fact that it was a clash between first and worst in the league. Palace are in deep trouble, especially given they had already changed managers and brought in Roy Hodgson. They have yet to score, six games into the season, and it might not be unfair to see them as relegation "favorites." Their next two league games are against Manchester United and Chelsea so their winless run might very well continue for a while. However, it has been reported that the club have arranged a ­friendly with non-league side Bromley to boost the players' confidence so perhaps a ­rejuvenated Palace will show up at Old Trafford on Saturday.

Liverpool managed to get the better of Leicester in a thrilling 3-2 contest but manager Jurgen Klopp would probably prefer more boring results with tighter scores. The Reds are in fifth place, just outside the top four on goal difference but they need to firm up their defense.

Meanwhile, Arsenal will have played West Brom on Monday night after this article is published, but it is still a concern given they play in Belarus on Thursday evening. While the Premiership's TV deal means Monday night fixtures are a recurrence this season, one would think that some kind of flexibility should be made for teams that play in Europe the same week. As it is, Arsenal will also play on Sunday at noon, meaning they will have played three games in six and a half days.

The author is a Hong Kong-based freelance writer. hcpyip@gmail.com

Posted in: SOCCER,EXTRA TIME

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