EPL Weekend Review: Midfield Matters

This weekend, a couple of tough matches ensued, along with some very one-sided fixtures. Arsenal, QPR and Manchester United were the standout performers of the fixture, comfortably dispatching Liverpool, West Brom and Aston Villa, respectively. Arsenal and United would’ve had clean sheets if it weren’t for disappointing errors, particularly a rare one from David De Gea. What almost every single team this weekend showed is that, without a solid midfield, winning a match is very hard.

Liverpool looked decent in defence and attack against the Gunners, but the midfield was inexistent. One would doubt that a midfield of Allen and Lucas Leiva is a good future option, and you could barely tell they were on the pitch. Francis Coquelin and Santi Cazorla had them in pieces before you could even think of Mesut Ozil, who played a phenomenal match.

As for Swansea, Ki-Sung Yueng continued his ascension into the tier of top midfielders in the Premier League with a mesmeric performance for Swansea. For Manchester United, Ander Herrera broke the statistic charts almost as badly as Cristiano Ronaldo for Real Madrid (he scored 5 goals). The Red Devils midfielder has been on fire for the last two months, but against Aston Villa he performed on another level, completing a staggering 96% of his 98 passes, along with 108 touches on the ball, 2 tackles and 2 goals. Absolutely ridiculous.

The interesting thing about Herrera’s ability is that he’s found his best in a very interesting system. Herrera doesn’t have to worry too much about keeping possession or being physical, as Michael Carrick and Marouane Fellaini (respectively) perform both roles fantastically. Herrera, as a result, takes riskier passes (which is why completing 96% of them is broken), gets into goal scoring positions, and has averaged an insane amount of tackles and interceptions. It just goes to show that in the right system, talented players can perform at world class levels.

At the end of the day, Liverpool’s chances of a Champions League spot are all but gone, and Manchester United is now 8 points in front of Liverpool and 8 behind Chelsea (Blues game in hand). United and Arsenal will be looking up with the form they’re in, and Manchester City should definitely fear Pardew’s Crystal Palace. They’ve been a better team than the Citizens since Alan Pardew started there.

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