Aston Villa’s Surge Towards Top Four: Unai Emery’s Impact Takes Centre Stage
Unai Emery’s consistent downplaying of Aston Villa’s chances of breaking into the Premier League’s top four is starting to seem misplaced as his team continues to impress. Their 4-1 victory over West Ham on Sunday propelled them to fifth place, and while Douglas Luiz’s double stole the spotlight, it’s forward Ollie Watkins who epitomises Emery’s impact over the past year.
Watkins, who set up Luiz’s first goal and scored a stunning finish, has reached new heights under Emery’s management, marking his fifth goal of the season. Prior to Emery’s arrival, Watkins had plateaued, but now he appears to be a strong contender for England’s Euro 2024 squad.
Under Emery’s guidance, Watkins has been directly involved in 27 goals across 33 appearances (18 goals and nine assists). He has set his sights on scoring 20 goals in the league this season.
Jacob Murphy Shines for Newcastle, Giving Eddie Howe Selection Dilemma
Jacob Murphy’s exceptional performance in the opening 45 minutes against Crystal Palace on Saturday has posed a selection headache for Newcastle United manager Eddie Howe, who is spoiled for choice with attacking talents. Murphy scored early and played a role in two more goals during their 4-0 win.
Of note was Murphy’s strong partnership with fullback Kieran Trippier, which caught the eye as they dominated Palace in the first half, leading 3-0 at the break. Trippier set up Murphy for his early goal, and their synergy stretched the Palace defence to its breaking point.
Howe now faces a challenge in selecting his starting lineup, considering the likes of Miguel Almiron, Alexander Isak (who started on the bench), and Callum Wilson. It’s a fortunate dilemma to have in the Premier League.
Everton Manager Sean Dyche Criticises VAR in Loss to Liverpool
Everton manager Sean Dyche expressed his dissatisfaction with the officiating in Saturday’s 2-0 loss to Liverpool, particularly criticising VAR for slowing down the game and expressing a preference for the old handball rules.
Dyche stated, “I’m getting bored of all this running over to the TV because we all know what’s going to happen, don’t we?” He questioned the need for time-consuming VAR reviews when decisions are almost always confirmed as initially signalled by the referee.
Despite playing most of the game with only 10 men, Everton found themselves on the wrong side of three key decisions. Dyche was particularly frustrated when Liverpool’s Ibrahima Konate was not shown a second yellow card for a foul on Beto, a decision that even Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp conceded could have gone in Everton’s favour.
Chelsea’s Creative Midfielders Shine in Striker-less Lineup
In a London derby against Arsenal, Chelsea, under manager Mauricio Pochettino, fielded a lineup without a recognised striker, opting for a make-shift attack. Midfielder Cole Palmer, just 21 years old, played as a forward and proved instrumental in Chelsea’s performance.
Conor Gallagher was also tasked with an attacking role, creating numerous chances as Arsenal’s defence struggled to contain the creative threats from the Chelsea midfield. Palmer even confidently converted Chelsea’s early penalty, raising questions about the choice between him and the more experienced Raheem Sterling when the team’s strikers return from injury.
Jeremy Doku Boosts Manchester City’s Forward Arsenal
Manchester City, already rich in attacking options, welcomed Belgian winger Jeremy Doku, adding another dynamic dimension to their offensive capabilities. Doku played an electrifying role in their 2-1 victory over Brighton & Hove Albion, assisting Julian Alvarez for the opening goal with his remarkable pace.
The 21-year-old Belgian earned the title of Man of the Match and expressed his desire to keep improving. Doku highlighted his room for growth, particularly in terms of his goal-scoring abilities, and remained optimistic about his development in training sessions.