23/04/2024

Manchester City players celebrate in front of their fans in the away end at Old Trafford (Image: Ruben Dias on X)

Another blockbuster weekend saw the blue side of Manchester solidify its current supremacy, while both sides of North London stayed perched atop the league table. Here’s everything we learnt from Round 10 of the English Premier League.

Erik ten Hag might not be the answer for Manchester United

After enjoying a three match winning streak across all competitions, Manchester United were brought crashing back down to earth in the Manchester Derby on Sunday.

The Red Devils were humbled at home by their crosstown rivals in sky blue, defeated 3-0, which is a score line that flattered the hosts.

It was the worst home defeat to Manchester City in nearly a decade. Yet another reminder of how far the club has fallen.

Now 10 games into the season and United have already lost five matches.

All five games they have won have been unconvincing, against teams in the bottom half of the table (Wolves, Burnley, Sheffield United, Nottingham Forrest and Brentford).

After a promising first season under Erik ten Hag, there was plenty of optimism that United could build on from their third-place finish. While some slack can be cut for the injuries the squad has endured, the Dutchman is currently providing more questions than answers.

His side seem disconnected, and operate without any discernible style of play.

The United manager’s tactical decisions have also left plenty scratching their heads, while his in-game adjustments have been equally as puzzling.

The Jadon Sancho situation would be glossed over if the team was performing well but as things stand, it is an unwelcome distraction that is likely to be affecting the dressing room.

Regardless of the ongoing drama around the ownership of the club, ten Hag has been backed handsomely to get the players he wants to build the team in his image.

Based on evidence this season, United have regressed and ultimately, the buck stops with the manager.

The ownership has reportedly backed ten Hag for the long term, but if the situation does not improve, how long is it before the issue is revisited?

Can North London sustain its Premier League supremacy?

For the first time in Premier League history, Tottenham Hotspur and Arsenal sit at one and two on the league table after 10 games.

In second place, the Gunners find themselves in a familiar position to last season, and historically they are used to being around the top.

For Spurs, this is rather new territory. Only once before, in 2021, have they sat atop the Premier League ladder at this stage of the campaign.

Often accustomed to being placed around mid-table, the Lilywhites were in ninth place this time last year.

Ange Postecoglou has garnered the best ever points tally for a manager’s first 10 Premier League fixtures. With his side winning and playing exciting football, the Australian has Spurs fans daring to dream again.

When judging Arsenal’s performance this season with the eye test, it seems as if they haven’t enjoyed the same blistering start as it did last year.

However, the Gunners have only scored one less goal than in their opening 10 games of the previous season, and currently hold a better goal difference.

There are still doubts about Arsenal’s ability to handle a congested schedule this season as they return to the Champions League, but Arteta has built a reputation for proving the doubters wrong.

Tottenham have no such problems in regards to their fixture. Missing out on European football may prove a blessing in disguise, much like it was for Arsenal last season.

After 10 games, where teams sit on the league table is often a good indicator of where they will finish, a promising sign for the only two remaining undefeated teams in the league.

More Football News:

Aston Villa are becoming a force to be reckoned with

Under the management of Unai Emery, Aston Villa have been transformed as a football club.

The Spaniard took over Villa when relegation was a legitimate concern last year. Since taking charge, his side have the third-best record in the league behind only Manchester City and Arsenal.

On Sunday, Villa comfortably eased past Luton Town to extend their unbeaten run in the league to 12 games, dating back to last season.

In the five home games they have won this season, the Villans have amassed remarkable 20 goals.

Villa Park is fast becoming the toughest away trip in the Premier League calendar. In recent weeks, top sides in the form of Brighton and West Ham have shipped combined 10 goals between them.

However, there is still work to do on improving their away form, with heavy defeats at the hands of Newcastle and Liverpool likely still fresh in Emery’s mind.

But while other potential top six candidates have been struggling, Villa find themselves fifth on the table and five points clear of Newcastle in sixth.

Under Emery, the side from Birmingham have been flexible, altering their game plan to the likes of their opponent. The ability to play ball-dominant, possession football one week, and then soak up pressure and counter attack the next, has been eye-catching.  

While the addition of the UEFA Conference League to Villa’s schedule may have an effect on their consistency, Emery is no stranger to balancing European football with the league.

If Emery can manage the squad rotation successfully, his side will be the biggest outside threat to the top four this season.

Burnley’s naïve play won’t see them last long in the Premier League

Burnley handed Bournemouth its first win under new manager Andoni Iraola on Saturday, losing 2-1 at Vitality Stadium.

Both goals for the Cherries were a result of the visitors carelessly coughing up possession inside their own half.

These individual errors leading to goals are already becoming a worrying trend for Vincent Kompany’s newly-promoted side. The Clarets conceded goals thanks to similar midfield turnovers in their past two league fixtures against Brentford and Chelsea.

Last season in the Championship, Kompany was lauded for his side’s eye-catching possession football that saw them lift the title and gain automatic promotion.

However, as is the case more often than not, promoted teams who try to play the same way in the top flight are often found out.

It’s no secret that the Premier League is a significant step up both in terms of quality of opposition and speed of play.

As commendable as it is for Kompany to want to continue playing the same way, he and his players are naïve to think that they will be afforded the same time to do so.

The Burnley manager must have a back-up plan, and the players must take some responsibility to look after the ball. If the same errors persist and the poor results continue Kompany will be under serious pressure.

Eight losses from the opening 10 fixtures is relegation form.

Team of the Week:

After a comprehensive Manchester derby victory and a well earned away win over West Ham, Manchester City and Everton are well presented in the Team of the Week. Selected by Inner Sanctum writers Jasper Woodcock and Liam McMahon.

About Author