Premier League Matchday 14: Top Observations

Bournemouth’s breath-taking battling

They may not have won, but Eddie Howe’s side left the pitch following their thrilling 3-3 draw with Everton having proven a significant point. Many observers, this one included, suggested that their possession-based philosophy would have to blend with some pragmatism if they were to have a hope of competing in England’s top flight. Disappointing results both to Newcastle and Swansea – where they threw away a two-goal lead – seemed to hammer home this point of a side having lots of style but not enough substance. Their fight to the death against the Toffees, without once abandoning their tactical approach, was the sign of a squad discovering its spine without ever losing their faith in the manager’s firm footballing beliefs.

Crystal Palace win the Pardew Derby

As much as his post-match interviews with the BBC were an exercise in restraint, the smugness of Alan Pardew radiated far and wide. In a game where his new side showed spirit and skill to demolish his former employers, he ended the day as the cat with the tastiest bowl of cream. Pardew’s decision to switch Bolasie to the middle worked wonders as he demolished Newcastle’s pathetically soft centre, and the manager deserves credit for engineering the comeback having been a goal down. However, for a Newcastle fan still smarting from his departure, there must have been few worse sights than his eyes beaming behind the ‘respectable’ frown in front of the cameras.

East’s performance far from Eden

The Etihad played host to some fine performances during Manchester City’s 3-1 victory against Southampton. On the one hand, City were excellent in the first half, with de Bruyne impressing up front and Otamendi dominating when pushing out from the back. The second half saw a shift in circumstances, as the Saints hugely improved with Virgil van Dijk driving powerfully out of defence and Willy Cabellero having one of his better games deputising for Joe Hart. However, the most memorable showing of the game came from a disappointing Roger East. A missed penalty for either side were the standout errors in a refereeing performance riddled with missed fouls, poor player management and some truly baffling inconsistencies when playing advantage. Refereeing is often referred to as the game’s hardest job, but understanding should not excuse referees any more than it does (or does not) a star player.

Unsexy Chelsea finally gives Mourinho some Blue Steel

A goalless draw rarely gives much optimism, but this one certainly did for Jose Mourinho’s Chelsea. Not only was it a stark reversal of the humiliating goal fest of last season, but it was another small sign that the champion’s woeful start to the season could finally be over. Much of the post-match talk focused on Diego Costa and the manager (when does it not these days?) but the pleasant reality for Chelsea fans was this felt like their team again. They were darting and direct going forward and were recognisably resilient when on the back foot. They weren’t especially sexy or special, but were strong and full of steel: they were a Mourinho Chelsea side again.

Vardy, record, etc…

That former non-league player scored, United weren’t that exciting…same again next week?

Follow Chris on Twitter @ChrisDWorrall

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