Is it the tactics, players or luck that's causing these Premier League teams problems?
When a usual season normally entailing with Manchester United and Chelsea battling out at the top of the table, the 2015/16 season is no normal season. While United haven’t suffered in terms of league position, the fans are becoming restless with the slow paced football on show while the players have struggled to turn dominance of possession into goal scoring opportunities.
On the other hand, Chelsea have had a nightmare this season. Wins have been rare and the invincible ego they played with last season has long gone. Their manager, seemingly irreplaceable last term, is now hanging on for his job, according to the press. Rumours of a player revolt has shook the mood in the camp while Ramires and Oscar have gone public with their support for Mourinho to try dispel tensions. For a team that didn’t lose a league game until December last season, this season is complete contrast.
Back to Louis Van Gaal’s men, having drawn three game in a row before Rooney’s winner against CSKA Moscow, the fans were starting to turn on their Dutch manager; as shown by the boos when Fellaini replaced Martial against CSKA. The barren run of goals lead to much scrutiny towards captain Wayne Rooney. The United striker has had a dry spell this season unable to hit the heights he has in previous season. Rooney has been labelled as ‘past it’ and many feel ‘his legs have gone’. In reality, the team as a collective failed to provide their hitman with the ammunition to score.
United’s possession based game has been dominant although the opinion dividing Fellaini has appeared from the bench many times with him causing United to ditch their possession game which has lead to them looking more likely to score, as shown in the CSKA game recently.
Another issue for United is the rift growing between manager Louis Van Gaal and club legend Paul Scholes. Scholes, a member of BT Sport’s pundit team, has been constant in his criticism of Van Gaal’s management. United’s recent fixture against CSKA was used by Scholes as another opportunity for attack on United’s mishaps. The most worrying thing for United is that most of Scholes’ comments have been correct.
The lack of pace in the squad as a whole and the lack of form of summer signing Memphis Depay has also heaped frustration into United’s season. Only Anthony Martial is able to stretch the defenses and draw two men into a tackle to create space. Yet, the French wonder-kid has been occupied on the left wing, a common for position for him during Monaco however he prefers a more central role, where he has had less impact and the chances he has created are the very ones the young man should be getting on the end of. Van Gaal’s odd choices in player positioning has frustrated many this season with Martial, Young, Blind, Mata, Rooney and Herrera all arguably being played in an unsuitable position.
As for Memphis, the Dutchman’s form has left the start of his United career going from bad to worse. Before getting dropped from his national team, Memphis has been removed from the United’s starting line up as the pressure of joining such a big club seems to be getting the better of him. However, the brainless United fans that have lost patience with the 21 year old already are sure to be proven wrong in the future as the former Ajax man is a huge talent just taking his time to settle into his surroundings.
However, one thing that will please the United faithful, and sofa supporters, is the stability at the back. Drawing 0-0 does bring positive in the form of clean sheets. David De Gea’s new contract could appear vital in the future for Van Gaal’s back line reassurance while the growth of Chris ‘Mike’ Smalling’s ability will be a plus point.
Chelsea’s season has varied to United’s dramatically. The Red Devil’s have had a collective group of minor problems hindering their play but they’ve been grinding out results whereas Chelsea have had major issues damaging the whole clubs cohesion.
Starting with the results, Chelsea have lost 6 out of 11 league games having lost only 3 last season. This contrast doesn’t help their cause with constant comparisons being made to their superb title winning season last year. The Blues look a different side this term with the spine of the team non-existent.
The ever-present Matic last season has disappeared with his form leaving Chelsea struggling at the back. PFA Player of the Year Eden Hazard has been in and out the starting eleven with his poor form getting punished. However, a few missed penalties has shown Hazard’s season to be worse than it actually is. The Belgian is still completing dribbles and creating chances, he’s just lacking the luck he got last season.
Mourinho’s long standing grudge with the FA has led to problems as well. He’s now received a stadium ban while ‘The Special One’ has to restrain from being as honest with the press as he possible could do, for example, like a certain Frenchman is.
The form of his side has also started to split the fanbase. A few mumbles of dissatisfaction have started to appear from the crowds although there aren’t many better candidates to replace Mourinho if Abramovich did sack him – as constant press reports hint he is close to doing.
Chelsea’s spell of poor luck surely can’t continue across the whole campaign, the cracks and form of players will heal soon with Chelsea pushing to compete for the top 4 likely to come later this season. A s for United, the minor issues need to be kept under control before it splits the players camp and fan base entirely.
Featured Image – All Rights Reserved by Ronnie McDonald.