Fan Noise > Fake Noise
As tier systems were introduced by Boris Johnson a fortnight ago, a question everyone asked was: when would fans be allowed in? It was announced that all those clubs in tier 2 regions would be permitted up to 2,000 fans. The news was music to fans’ ears as it was the light at the end of the tunnel of a year unlike any other. West Ham, Chelsea, Tottenham, Liverpool, and Brighton (who play on Monday) all welcomed their fans back into the stadium for the first time in 9 months. Watching on, the difference between fans and no fans was noticeable. Loud cheers for big tackles, jeering of poor referee decisions, and whistles to put off your opponent when he had the ball. Whilst only 2,000 were allowed in, fans can hope this signals a step in the right direction. The next phase would be getting fans in all stadiums, up and down the country.
No Bruno – No party
Manchester United rested Bruno Fernandes for their trip to West Ham on Sunday night, with manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer saying he’d only bring him on if needed. 45 minutes played, 1 goal down, and being completely dominated, he needed him. Fernandes arrived and completely changed the game, creating chance after chance, troubling West Ham with his movement and skill; ultimately helping his side to a comfortable victory all things considered. It is, however, a worrying sign of how lost the rest of the United squad look without their talisman. A Bruno injury or poor run and form, and United could find themselves falling away from the top 4 rather than breaking into it. Another worrying sign is United’s first-half form. They were dominated by West Ham in a similar way Southampton did 6 days earlier. However, they showed powers of recovery that Ole would be proud of. With that being said, there will come a day when the fightback doesn’t happen, and with that the questions surrounding Ole’s future at the club, with his position seemingly changing on a game-by-game basis by some of the Old Trafford faithful.
Sheffield United in real trouble
Sheffield United have endured the worst start to any Premier League season ever. A single point after 11 games leaves them planted at the foot of the table, and are the only side yet to register a victory this season. It leaves them in a very bleak position and in dire need of points. Just what is going wrong at Bramall Lane? They’ve suffered an injury to a key player in Jack O’Connell, who was a leader at the back. Dean Henderson being replaced by Aaron Ramsdale, who whilst not the worst backup, doesn’t seem to make those decisive saves that Henderson pulled off so many times last season. Sheffield United are arguably suffering most from the lack of fans, however. The Blades get behind their team, generating some noise which undoubtedly gives the players a boost. Where they suffer most, however, is goals. Rhian Brewster was signed for £25m from Liverpool this summer but doesn’t seem to have just yet got the trust from Chris Wilder to be his main man. Ollie McBurnie, David McGoldrick, and Ollie Burke; whilst all hard-working players, don’t seem to have that killer instinct in front of goal. Sheffield United need to find it soon, or it might be too late.
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If the answer is Mesut Ozil, what is the question?
Arsenal suffered defeat again in the league this weekend. To add insult to injury, it was at the hands of bitter rivals Tottenham Hotspur, who top with the victory. In contrast, Arsenal languish just above the relegation zone. It’s dark times once again at the Emirates. Whilst Arteta seems to have somewhat steadied the number of goals Arsenal usually concede, it seems to have been sacrificed at the expense of the expansive, creative football many Gooners had hoped he would have bought with him. They dominated the ball but struggled to create anything that ever looked like troubling Hugo Lloris. They are crying out for a player who can dictate the play and create chances. That begs the question, what is happening with Mesut Ozil? No player has more assists in the league since his arrival in 2013. When you consider he has been out of the squad since March, that stat only becomes more impressive. Whatever you think of his work rate off the ball, his creativity and influence on it is what Arsenal need right at this moment. Whether he is added back into the squad in January, by Arteta or someone else, remains to be seen. However, having him in the squad and an option is far better than him sitting at home running his contract out.
Written by Jai Singh (@Jai_Singh1997)