Three up, three down: Featuring Manchester United, Bournemouth and Watford
Welcome to a brand new weekly feature on The Boot Room: Three up, three down!
Each premier League weekend is always packed with incidents, and the purpose of this column is to pick out three stand-out performances or moments; be it by teams or individuals, to give a condensed and concise view of the weekend.
This time out, as the season hurtles towards its busy festive period, we look at overcoming adversity, surprise packages, and a striker who momentarily appeared to forget which team he played for.
3 Up: A good week for…
- Harry Arter
There is much more to life than football, and this was keenly felt in Bournemouth’s 2-1 win over Manchester United. As the Cherries’ fans celebrated their historic win, there was a reminder that even the Premier League cannot escape the tragedies of human life as news emerged of the heart-breaking death of influential midfielder Harry Arter’s baby daughter just days before.
Arter played on, and put in a wonderfully spirited and emotional performance, bossing the opposition midfield that featured the likes of Juan Mata and Michael Carrick. His performance would have garnered praise in any week, but under his personal circumstances, it was nothing short of heroic. Arter deserves an enormous amount of credit for the outstanding levels of character he has shown in the last week.
- Mesut Özil
After two years of mixed success at Arsenal, Mesut Özil is finally starting to show the world class talent that saw him become a fan favourite at Real Madrid.
Against Aston Villa, the German extended a remarkable run of form, and has now assisted 13 goals in the Premier League this season. Not only is this by far the highest total in the league currently, but he is also within touching distance of Arsenal’s Premier League record of 20 assists in a season; something that belongs to club legend Thierry Henry.
To top it all off, Arsenal ended Sunday top of the Premier League. After Giroud’s Champions League heroics, it’s been a happy few days for Gunners fans.
If not for the emergence of Leicester as this season’s surprise package, Watford would be receiving a great deal more praise. Quique Sanchez Flores’ men are solid, hard-working and clinical, and after a third straight league win sit just four points off the Champions League places.
Troy Deeney and Odion Ighalo are an excellent strike partnership who are causing teams a plethora of problems this season, and are responsible for 15 of Watford’s 18 Premier League goals. Behind them, the rest of the team is strictly disciplined and very difficult to break down.
Considering Watford were tipped to go down in last position by many pundits, they have done astoundingly well to be sitting so high up in seventh place in the league. Can the Hornets qualify for Europe? Probably not, but they deserve a lot of praise nevertheless.
3 Down: A Bad Week for…
- Louis van Gaal
Where else to start for our first faller of the week? It has been a nightmare week for the Manchester United manager, who for the first time in his tenure is starting to have to fend off questions about his style and potentially future at the club.
After a Champions League exit to the hands of Wolfsburg on Tuesday; and a series of bore draws in the League, van Gaal really needed to see off struggling Bournemouth to steady the United ship. However, a 2-1 defeat at the Vitality Stadium has led to more scrutiny over van Gaal’s dictatorial reign, especially after another meek and mild display.
Tottenham’s defeat to Newcastle ensures that United remain in the top 4, and just four points off the top, but the atmosphere around Old Trafford is far from positive at the present time.
Something has changed at Southampton this season. They are still a fine side, and are more than comfortable in mid table, but seem to have developed a rather soft underbelly over the summer.
Much of this problem can be attributed to the sale of Morgan Schneiderlin, which is finally catching up with them as they slumped to another defeat at Crystal Palace. The Eagles completely outplayed Koeman’s side, and the Saints could count themselves fortunate to only come away with a one goal defeat.
Without a win in four league games, as well as a 6-1 drubbing by Liverpool in the Capital One Cup in the last few weeks, the south coast club really need to pick up their form to avoid serious damage over the impending Christmas period.
- Papiss Cisse
As Siem de Jong picked up the ball in the Tottenham penalty area early on, his curling shot looked certain to put Newcastle into a surprise lead. It would have too, if not for the heroic defending of Papiss Cisse, who threw himself in front of the effort with no regard for his own personal safety.
Sadly for Newcastle, Cisse is not a Tottenham defender, but is their very own number 9 forward. With just 2 Premier League goals to his name, and now one of the greatest blocks of the season, he is not really having the most positive impact this year for Newcastle. Thankfully his fellow strikers Aleksandr Mitrovic and Ayoze Perez were able to help him out and secure victory for Newcastle. As for Cisse, it might be sensible to keep a bag of frozen peas on his cheek for the flight home. Ouch.
Featured Image: All Rights Reserved by Alex Hannam