It’s always didactic, isn’t it, the weekend? A bruising two- sometimes three- day period, with the brawls, boisterous noise, moments of magic, some not so pretty moments (yes, you Mainz goalkeeper Robin Zentner) and of course results, as ever leaves us with much to ponder:
Dortmund need to arrest slide
You could put up a motion of a person wearing flat shoes on glass slipping down and it would barely be any different from Dortmund’s current predicament. After opening the Bundesliga campaign with seven wins from seven, and raking in goals, the best result Die Schwarzgelben have achieved in their next four is letting a two-goal lead slip for a solitary point. The latest of those quartet of games was a defeat at home to Bayern Munich, as they not only failed to close the gap on the Bavarians, but fell further behind and out of the top two. In those four games, they’ve scored five times, meaning what’s happening upfront isn’t the problem, the fact that they’ve conceded 10 in that period is the cause. Their poor form has already all but cost them progress in the UEFA Champions League, and with Bayern moving at their current pace, needs to change for the better soonest, or the league could be gone by winter.
Defeat at the Bridge makes Mou’s tactics open to more scrutiny
Hands up if you expected Manchester United to setup to be cautious at Chelsea. Yes, none were in surprise when Jose Mourinho and his side turned up at the Bridge and decided to retreat. In truth, that tactic is neither uncommon, nor is it ill-advised, and more often than not it works. But with Manchester City still in turbo mode at the top, United could really ill-afford settling for a share of the spoils, and the pressure is going to be cranked up for the Red Devils after the International Break. Five points lost against a defensively-suspect Liverpool and a Chelsea side hitherto short on confidence will surely now seem rueful.
Valencia look the business
Seven wins in a row, 26 goals scored, eight conceded, it’s been a rapid change in fortune under Marcelino for Valencia, the confidence oozing from the players from all sides of the pitch is clear to see. They’re still just four points behind Barcelona, four ahead of Madrid sides Real and Atletico, have not European commitments, and the big sides still don’t fully convince; a title charge this term is not unfathomable. With the leaders coming to the Mestalla at the end of November, they might offer up a big statement to the rest of La Liga.
It seems like West Ham took too long to act
After months of scrutiny, pressure and speculation, at times exasperatingly so, West Ham have finally let go of Slaven Bilic with the club in the relegation zone, but that probably begs the question ‘why not earlier?’. The performances hardly improved under the Croatian, some laboured wins granted him constant stays of execution, and the continuous pressure on the manager was hardly helping, even Bilic admitted this weekend that he had no idea when asked whether he’d be sacked. He finally has been, but that decision makes the ones to keep him on earlier seem rather pointless now.
Mahrez might just be finding his feet
An assist last weekend, a goal in this one, there seems to be some new life in Riyad Mahrez. Not just his end products in truth, his driving runs, his turns and control of play which struck fear into defenders in Leicester’s title-winning season seems to be returning as well. Perhaps he needed a new manager to galvanise him back into his old mould, should that be the case, Nigeria might just be glad they’ve qualified for the World Cup already as they face Mahrez and his new Algerian national team coach Rabah Saadane in a few days.