In Chelsea’s matchday programme ahead of Nottingham Forest’s visit to Stamford Bridge, Mauricio Pochettino insisted he is “pleased with the progress” his new side is making. And after a slow start to his reign, consecutive wins over Luton and AFC Wimbledon suggested the Argentine had a point.
Those are hardly inspiring results, but there were small signs of encouragement in each fixture to give Pochettino optimism about the direction Chelsea are heading in. But Saturday’s shock home defeat by Forest is a significant bump in the road and will clearly hurt the former Tottenham boss.
However, Pochettino’s project will take time as he attempts to stamp his mark on a completely new squad full of young players. Chelsea’s starting XI against Forest had an average age of 24.5, and there is nobody better than the 51-year-old to guide their development.
Pochettino will be confident of finding a winning formula and bringing his attractive style of football to Chelsea, but he won’t be naive. After spending a record amount of money in the summer transfer window and already passing the £1bn mark under the ownership of Todd Boehly, he’ll know the club’s hierarchy will want to see clear improvements sooner rather than later.
Spurs head coach Ange Postecoglou decided to lead the line with Heung-Min Son for the first time under his management – and the decision paid off handsomely at Burnley.
Son scored a fine hat-trick at Turf Moor to keep Spurs unbeaten in the Premier League and also kick-start his campaign
The South Korean had not scored before the trip to Burnley but the switch to the number nine position – that had been taken up by Richarlison in Spurs’ previous four games in all competitions – brought the best out of him in this fluid ‘Angeball’ system.
His captain’s display saw him have the most shots (5) and shots inside the box (4) of any player in the 5-2 win at Burnley.
Son also combined superbly with Richarlison’s replacement Manor Solomon, with the winger – taking up Son’s previous position on the left – setting up his first two goals.
Solomon created the most chances (5) in the victory and, with Son showing he can be the player to replace Harry Kane up front, Richarlison will surely remain on the bench for the next game at home to Sheffield United after the international break.
Haaland hits hat-trick as the Citizens beat Fulham 5 – 1
On a day Erling Haaland bagged another hat-trick – and a good one at that – the thing we continue to circle back to, the thing that hogs the headlines, is VAR. Contentious VAR. The system that was created to put an end to controversy, is actually serving to fuel it.
Phil Foden’s corner was promptly nodded goalwards by Nathan Ake in second-half stoppage time – nothing wrong with that. But as Manuel Akanji lept over the ball, he did so from an offside position. There is no doubt Akanji was “in the line of vision” of goalkeeper Bernd Leno, which a quick scan of the rulebook will tell you is a definite infringement. The entire episode was somehow missed by on-field referee Michael Oliver.
Sounds like a clear and obvious error, right? Wrong. “He must have put the goalkeeper off, he must be interfering with the goalkeeper,” said former referee Mike Dean on Soccer Saturday. VAR, remarkably, disagreed.
The system is fundamentally flawed – governed by judgements that are far removed from the actual nuances of any given football match.
Haaland touched the ball 17 times against Fulham. Three of those were goals. One was an assist for Julian Alvarez. It’s a truly remarkable return. Yet, all the reflections centre on an issue that isn’t going away. Haaland won’t go away either, of course, but while we celebrate his achievements, VAR continues to be a sleight on our sport.
Brighton 3-1 Newcastle: Evan Ferguson’s hat-trick rocks ragged Toon
Nick Pope set the tone for a wobbly Newcastle performance, making multiple errors for Brighton’s opener which was clinically finished by Ferguson after Billy Gilmour’s shot was spilled by the Toon goalkeeper.
Brighton’s football at times was sumptuous, running rings around Newcastle’s midfield and Ferguson’s second goal was a thing of beauty as he curled home majestically from 25 yards.
The points were wrapped up by Ferguson on 70 minutes as his deflected effort completely wrongfooted Pope to cap a quite extraordinary performance from the 18-year-old.
Source: Sky Sports