Shaky Starts in the Premier League

Liverpool

After the hapless 3-0 humiliation at West Bromwich Albion, with games against Manchester City, Manchester United, and Arsenal coming up, it looked like Brendan Rodgers would not last long in the notoriously short-lived job of football manager. How one point changes perception so drastically…

Many of the same problems that haunted Liverpool last year are still around— most notably the weakness at the back (against West Brom) and the inability to win games they dominate (against Man City, who looked very poor in their 3-4-1-2).

In both games, the defense looked uncomfortable with Brendan Rodgers’ passing philosophy, but that is to be expected, after only two games. Indeed, the fact that the players stuck with the game plan despite the errors says something about their trust in Rodgers.

Long term, Brendan Rodgers will help Liverpool. The errors will disappear, the Premier League’s best midfield (together with Man City-the two cancelled each other last game) will flourish, and Liverpool will contend for the top four.

One thing Rodgers got wrong, however, was not moving to a more defensive lineup after his side took the lead the second time. Particularly strange with two wingers on the pitch, both unnecessary and exhausted.

United, Arsenal, and City have all lost points, and the Reds host the former two in two of the next three games.

Manchester United

The problem here is, quite simply, their defense. They were completely overrun against Everton and allowed two to Fulham. Yes, four of their five center backs are injured, but the one that isn’t, Nemanja Vidic, has looked terrible so far, even scoring an own goal. Two years ago, Vidic was the best center-back in Europe, and captain of a strong United defense. Now, in charge of a much weaker back line, with no central midfield, he looks out of his depth. Worrisome, for the Red Devils.

Manchester City

City have the best squad in the Premier League, but sometimes that doesn’t matter. They got all six points from the Manchester Derbies last year and only won the title on goal difference— United got six more points against everyone else in the league. The fact is, that no matter how much better City’s squad is than United’s and Chelsea’s, both of those teams will beat the Wigan’s and Aston Villa’s of the league most of the time. City, for some reason, doesn’t seem to have the same motivation as those teams against lesser sides.

On a different note, the 3-4-1-2 is not working. Strange for Mancini to try it against Liverpool’s 4-3-3.

Neither Arsenal nor Spurs have won yet, with Arsenal’s offense lacking both the assist and the finish, and Tottenham already finding out why Andre Villas-Boas failed at Chelsea.

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