Saturday analysis: Lukaku's weakness, Fulham's unwanted passenger & Saints' costly lesson

FourFourTwo's James Maw analyses the day's Premier League action, as Lukaku shows his weaknesses despite scoring, Ruiz has another stinker, and Oscar helps Chelsea bounce back...

Lukaku shows why Jose's waiting

A cursory glance at the scoresheet for Saturday lunchtime's Merseyside Derby would suggest Everton striker Romelu Lukaku performed well. After all, the Belgian scored twice as Everton drew a match they had at one stage trailed 2-1.

But a closer examination of the Belgian's performance will show exactly why Jose Mourinho opted to send the youngster out on loan, despite having limited striking options at his disposal.

On more than one occasion, the 20-year-old was in the position to play in a team-mate with a simple pass, but instead opted to attempt to take-on a defender or dally on the ball. None of his three take-ons were successful, with his record when crossing the ball identically disappointing.

Scoring goals is, of course, the primary task of a striker, and in that sense Lukaku's performance was a success. Yet, punishing slack marking is one thing, creating chances and making the right decisions in crucial moments of tighter game is something else altogether, and that is what Jose Mourinho is looking for.

Lukaku is at Everton to learn, and that's exactly what he's doing - although the Toffees are the only ones benefitting right now, it will be Chelsea who do so in the longer term.

Everton 3-3 Liverpool: Analyse this match

Saints can do it all… apart from score

Had it not been for two careless mistakes, Mauricio Pochettino’s team would have got something out of this game. They were let down by comical goalkeeping from Artur Boruc and a silly shirt pull from Jose Fonte. Otherwise, they were brilliant.

They had 10 attempts on goal, to Arsenal’s eight. They just about shaved the share of possession, completing 385 of 493 attempted passes – a completion rate of 78%. Despite this Arsenal made 61 more passes in the attacking third, 73% of which found their target.

The visitors were less productive in the final third and not as accurate – just 60% of their passes at the business end of the pitch found the feet of a team-mate.

Defensively Southampton were solid. An impressive 35 of 41 attempted tackles were successful, but there’s one stat that matters and they were unable to beat Wojciech Szczesny. The Saints have only rippled the net 15 times in the Premier League this season – ranking then ninth in the table for goals scored.

If they’re serious about mixing it with the big boys they’re going to have to be more clinical in front of goal.

Arsenal 2-0 Southampton: Analyse this match
Arsenal CAN defend set-pieces: Five lessons from Arsenal 2-0 Southampton

Fulham can't afford to carry Ruiz

The list of Fulham players enduring a torrid start to the season isn't exactly a short one, but one player has fared worse than most - Bryan Ruiz.

The Costa Rican has generally looked so languid and disinterested that he's made Dimitar Berbatov look like Scott Parker on pep pills. The biggest frustration for Fulham's fans, and presumably the club's coaching staff, is that Ruiz is a gifted player. He showed flashes of his talent in his first season in the Premier League, but the good moments are becoming vastly more infrequent.

Saturday's performance against Swansea was another low point and, not for the first time, Ruiz was jeered by his own fans upon being substituted. Only 1 of his 8 crosses found its mark and, although he completed 21 passes, only 7 were in the attacking third, a particularly low figure for an attacking player.

Put simply, Fulham aren't a good enough team to accommodate a player who'll only drift into matches sporadically. Martin Jol has a rot to stop, and dropping Ruiz would be a good start.

Fulham 1-2 Swansea: Analyse this match

Time for Hull to look over their shoulder

Hull played well in their defeats to Chelsea, Manchester City and Tottenham, and were rightly praised for making life difficult for some of the Premier League's strongest sides. Yet those plaudits won't help them win matches, and that's something Hull have done just once in their last six league outings.

Only the current bottom two - Sunderland and Crystal Palace - have scored fewer goals and, despite a few resolute defensive showings, the Tigers' back line isn't strong enough for their meagre strike rate to not be a huge problem. None of their strikers look like the kind of player likely to reach double figures in the top flight (at least not in this team) and with Liverpool and Arsenal their next two opponents, they'll need more than heroic defeat to prevent a slide towards the drop-zone as the festive period approaches.

Losing those kind of matches is excusable, but losing at home to fellow strugglers is not. Saturday's defeat to Crystal Palace follows home draws with Cardiff and Aston Villa. The fact they hit the target with just two of their 14 shots against the South Londoners tells its own story.

Taking 14 points from 12 matches is a decent return for a newly promoted team, but Hull must be careful not to allow their hard work to go to waste.

Hull 0-1 Crystal Palace: Analyse this match

Newcastle need a little patience

Alan Pardew's side surely went into their home match with Norwich full of confidence, having just beaten Chelsea and Spurs without conceding. That should only have increased when Loic Remy scored from close range to give the Magpies an early lead against the Canaries.

Yet, rather than patiently keeping the ball and attempting to pick their opponents off, Newcastle lashed in a raft of shots from long range, many of them wildly off target. Cheick Tiote was as guilty as anyone, failing to hit the target with any of his five long-range efforts.

Although Norwich were unable to punish Newcastle by scoring a second goal, on another week the Magpies' lack of patience could come back to haunt them.
Newcastle 2-1 Norwich: Analyse this match

Sparky's summer signings start to shine

The Mark Hughes revolution - surely the most politically insignificant of recent times - has been far from spectacular, but there are one or two signs that the former Wales boss is starting to have an impact at the Britannia Stadium.

Two of his summer signings were particularly impressive in Saturday's win over Sunderland. Leftback Erik Pieters largely kept Sunderland winger Adam Johnson at bay, completing more tackles than any other player on the pitch (5). He was joined on the left flank by Marko Arnautovic, who created three chances and also led the way in terms of interceptions.

Stoke 2-0 Sunderland: Analyse this match

Insert 'Oscar winner' pun here

Chelsea's Saturday evening victory at West Ham was a much-needed one, after the Blues dropped points in their last two Premier League matches - away at Newcastle and at home to West Brom. It was ultimately a routine win, but only because Chelsea's attacking midfield trio, and in particular their Brazilian No. 10, were so impressive.

"I've never seen a No.10 with such work-rate", said Frank Lampard of Oscar, who joined the England midfielder on the score-sheet at Upton Park. This statement is perhaps best underlined by the fact Oscar made 7 successful tackles over 90 minutes, more than any player on the pitch.

The headline moment was, of course, his stunning goal - the fitting ending to an impressive move. In a season when Juan Mata hasn't been allowed to lead the charge, Oscar has the chance to prove he can be the Blues' new creative hub.

West Ham 0-3 Chelsea: Analyse this match


SHARES
comments