- Premier League weekend action is here with us after a round of European competition.
- We look at the major talking points of the Premier League.
Premier League weekend action is here with us after a round of European competition.
We look at the major talking points of the Premier League.
Optimism returns at Chelsea
After a dismal start under Mauricio Pochettino, Chelsea’s optimism has grown. Following an intriguing draw with Arsenal, the west London team is now four games undefeated in all competitions.
This season, Pochettino has experimented with his forward lineup, and he found success playing a front three that includes Cole Palmer, Raheem Sterling, and Mykhailo Mudryk up front without a designated center-forward.
Due to the influx of new players and the injury to star acquisition Christopher Nkunku, Chelsea’s playing style—especially in the attacking third—remains ambiguous. Chelsea’s strong attacking performance may be interpreted as a sign of their adaptability or as a lack of identity, depending on how full your glass is.
Chelsea ranks third in high turnovers and fifth in presses per defensive action, but despite their pressing, the Blues have not been able to convert their chances into goals. They rank just 12th in high turnovers that result in a shot and 18th in high turnovers that result in a goal.
In contrast, Chelsea shows that they can adopt a more patient strategy as they are only surpassed by Manchester City and Arsenal in terms of passes per attacking sequence and 10+ pass sequences. Chelsea wants continuity, so Pochettino could have to choose a preferred approach.
Callum Wilson’s chance
Over the past 18 months, Callum Wilson has been forced to accept a bit-part role at Newcastle due to intense competition for a center-forward spot following Alexander Isak’s club-record signing. Wilson has however maintained to return goals at a career-best rate despite periods of being out of favor.
The 31-year-old’s 18 goals in the Premier League last season was his best-ever performance and helped Newcastle move up into the Champions League spots. With five goals in only three league starts, Wilson is averaging a goal per 66 minutes in the Premier League this season. Despite being disappointed by his meager 329 minutes of Premier League action, the England international could get an opportunity this weekend against Wolves, after Isak sustained a groin ailment midweek.
Wilson has scored on each of his three Premier League starts, and he will be eager to add to that record and get back regular playing time under Eddie Howe for Newcastle, who top the league in goals (24), xG (19.9), and big chances (37).
Aston Villa fighting for Europe
Following back-to-back 4-1 victories against West Ham and AZ Alkmaar, Unai Emery’s Aston Villa team is now feeling very confident. The club’s offensive surge is being led by Ollie Watkins, who scored his ninth goal of the season midweek. However, Emery’s team has improved mostly due to their midfield.
As the 2022 summer transfer season drew to an end, Douglas Luiz nearly left Aston Villa after Arsenal’s offers were turned down in the last moments. Once a deal fell through, the Brazilian reaffirmed his commitment to Villa, and he has since developed into one of the division’s most complete center midfielders.
Luiz won Villa’s Player of the Season award in 2022–2023, but in the current season, he has improved even more. After scoring a brace in the victory over West Ham, he has five goals in nine games; but, goals are only one aspect of his well-rounded skill set.
No player is gaining the ball back more frequently (7.3) each game than Luiz, who leads his Villa colleagues in progressive passes made every ninety minutes. Luiz is in the center of everything, whether it’s winning back possession, distributing it skillfully, or getting into the final third to have an impact.
Manchester United’s poor attack
Manchester United is riding high heading into this weekend’s Manchester Derby, but their comfortable victories over Brentford, Sheffield United, and Copenhagen won’t do much to boost confidence before their matchup with City.
City has won four of the past five encounters between the two teams in all competitions, demonstrating their dominance over this matchup in recent years. Manchester United, on the other hand, has had difficulty scoring goals this season; their 11 goals from nine league games are the fewest in the top half.
Despite being behind only Tottenham in open-play shots (115) so far this season, United has struggled to score goals. Nonetheless, they are only ranked ninth in the division with an open-play xG of 10.18, which is connected with that return.
This weekend, United must create more quality opportunities to defeat their neighbors, City, who have given up the fewest open-play attempts in the Premier League (43).