The Premier League October Review: Part 3

Download Hit Row Z’s first ever podcast here! 

In Part 3 of my October Review, I explore the progress of teams from Southampton through to West Ham.

Read The Premier League October Review: Part 1

Read The Premier League October Review: Part 2

Southampton

The South Coast outfit have spent big since returning to the Premier League and their boldness in the transfer market seems to be reaping the rewards. Mauricio Pochettino should be admired for his tactical prowess, particularly in the away game at Anfield as the Saints remain the only side to defeat Liverpool this year so far. A solid spine has been the key to stability in the side with new signings Dejan Lovren, Victor Wanyama and Dani Osvaldo impressing alongside José Fonte, Adam Lallana and Rickie Lambert. Rubbing shoulders with the likes of Chelsea and Man City will excite many Southampton fans, however it should be noted that Southampton have only played one of the supposed top six teams. Expect a good mid-table finish come May.

What they need to succeed: Second verse, same as the first. Pochettino seems to have found a winning formula that he’d do well to avoid tinkering with.

Stoke City

At the start of the season, I tipped The Potters to go down after a largely uninspiring summer of recruitment, and it’s fair to say they have been fairly unspectacular so far. A solid away win at West Ham and a hard earned draw against Man City have been the only notable highlights. They have scored the fewest goals in the league too, notching a paltry four goals. Mark Hughes has failed in recent years to bring back the attacking swagger his Blackburn team enjoyed and I can’t help but feel his squad lacks the guile to unlock more firepower up front. Grim times ahead.

What they need to succeed: A Plan B. Their no nonsense brand of long ball was found out all too long ago and while they still remain stubborn defensively, they lack the quality to break on the counter.

Sunderland

Gus Poyet is the man Ellis Short has chosen to pick up the pieces from the short, albeit memorable, reign of Paolo Di Canio. The Uruguayan is not short of controversy himself so it remains to be seen whether or not lightning will strike twice, and not the good kind. As well as propping up the league with a rather pathetic one point, Poyet has the unenviable task of working with a set of players who Di Canio himself couldn’t gel together, despite buying them himself. They showed some fight against a struggling Man Utd team, however were ultimately undone and sadly, this league does not reward points for effort.

What they need to succeed: Poyet to hit the ground running. There is now no room for error and ol’ Gus will not be afforded the luxury of a bedding in period – the Black Cats need points. Incidentally, the last manager to rescue a team in a similar scenario of one point after seven games from relegation was a certain Sir Bobby Robson slightly further north. Poyet has work to do.

Swansea City

We all wondered whether or not the Swans might suffer the same deficiencies in the league as Newcastle did last year during their own Europa League campaign. It seems Michael Laudrup’s difficult second season has so far stuttered. Michu and Wilfried Bony have yet to link up effectively in the league managing only three goals between them and a once sturdy defence has conceded a staggering 11 goals, the fourth worst statistic in the league. It’s a question of balance and Laudrup is having to balance the rigours of two games a week and in doing so disrupting any form of continuity in his team selections.

What they need to succeed: As much as Laudrup will enjoy a European adventure (including recording an outstanding 3-0 away win at Valencia) the league must be the priority. The Dane has had a early warning sign with his team’s current league position and knows the danger should he fail to rack up points on the board. Just ask Alan Pardew.

Tottenham

A relatively assured start by Spurs was hastily tainted by a rampant West Ham side in the last round of fixtures. That heavy defeat aside, André Villas Boas will be pleased with the progress of his Bale-less side. Despite the influx of big name players into White Hart Lane this summer, the likes of Gilfi Sigurdsson and Andros Townsend have responded by keeping the new recruits out of the starting eleven with some impressive displays. Erik Lamela and Nacer Chadli have largely been consigned to the bench – while the talented Christian Eriksen has seemingly forged a starting berth. Roberto Soldado has yet to score from open play but I can’t see goals from the Spaniard becoming an issue in the long run.

What they need to succeed: To keep their concentration. AVB, like Laudrup is balancing European commitments, but the strength in depth should easily cover fatigue after midweek exploits. Losing heavily at home does happen, but with the amount of money spent and talent acquired, Spurs can’t afford to crumble so easily, and certainly not against their local rivals.

West Brom

Steve Clarke suffered a sticky start to the season, not helped by Nicolas Anelka’s compassionate leave during the first couple of fixtures, especially with the Lukaku-shaped void they had to fill. Fast forward a few weeks and optimism has returned to the Hawthorns, helped in part by the acquisitions of Stephane Sessegnon, Scott Sinclair and Morgan Amalfitano. Their forward play is dynamic and they now have the pace to hit teams on the counter, as Man Utd found out to their cost. They went into the international break with a run of four games unbeaten and momentum on their side.

What they need to succeed: Their strikers to find the net. The midfield is currently masking deficiencies up front and with Anelka, Long and Anichebe in their ranks, they have enough experience at this level to come through for their fans.

West Ham

The Hammers, like Newcastle, have enjoyed mixed fortunes in the league so far this season. Defeats against Hull, Everton and Stoke have been been countered by wins against Spurs and Cardiff. Despite losing their star striker Andy Carroll to injury before the season started, the likes of Ravel Morrison and Ricardo Vaz Te have stepped up, with the former winning rave reviews in recent weeks. They do need more goals from their front men, however, most notably Madibo Maiga who has struggled in England since his move from Ligue 1.

What they need to succeed: Consistency. Big Sam must be confused at how his side can turn in terrible and then brilliant displays week to week. They do have quality in the side which should see them avoid being sucked into a relegation dogfight.

Read The Premier League October Review: Part 1

Read The Premier League October Review: Part 2

Download Hit Row Z’s first ever podcast here! 

 

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