Every Monday, we review some of the key talking points from the previous round of Premier League action. Gameweek 22 saw Newcastle continue their improvement going forward, Spurs establish themselves as legitimate title contenders and Sergio Aguero round back into form.
Georginio Wijnaldum leading Steve McLaren’s improved Newcastle
Newcastle’s transfer policy under Mike Ashley has been rightly scrutinised, for both an unwillingness to spend and a frightening inability to scout talent on the occasions they do enter the market. In Georginio Wijnaldum, they have bucked the trend and unearthed a gem of a footballer.
Wijnaldum’s pedigree in the Eredivisie will have sent shivers up the spines of Geordie fans bitten by the failed Luke de Jong experiment, but the former PSV Eindhoven man has been better than advertised. His eye for goal has translated to the Premier League instantly, while his determination and work-rate have been equally impressive.
The attacking midfielder added a goal and assist in the victory over West Ham – taking his totals to 9 goals/ 4 assists on the season. He has helped improve the attacking fortunes of a side that looked 100% destined for relegation early in the season. His sale to a club like Spurs or Liverpool in the summer is probably inevitable, but chances are he will keep Newcastle in the Premier League in the meantime.
Is it time to take Mauricio Pochettino’s Spurs seriously?
Tottenham Hotspur are quietly playing some of the best football in the Premier League, but are unsurprisingly drawing little hype as a legitimate title contender. People have seen this act before. Spurs start the season brightly, only to fade into obscurity once the ides of March roll around.
However, in this season, with the pack bunched closer than ever, with a manager who appears to have finally sowed some steel into a historically pudding soft squad, we may need to look at Spurs as club that is ready to play meaningful football right up until the middle of May.
Their performance to come back from a goal down against Sunderland showed a side capable of fighting through adversity and the upcoming fixture list is extremely favourable – so much so that Harry Kane is an absolute must own in fantasy football leagues of any kind. Could Spurs finally be ready to justify their decade-long self assessment of title contenders? We shall see.
Healthy Sergio Aguero will lead Manchester City to the title
Sergio Aguero returned to form in Gameweek 22, after a period of around eight weeks either spent injured, recovering from injury or finding his feet and fitness. This brittleness has always been a problem for City and Aguero – who is not one of those players who can seamlessly return to form. Now that he’s back, however, City immediately become the most dangerous team in the league.
If he can remain healthy for the rest of the season – which is as questionable as a Mantiwoc County deposition – City should win the league. Without him, their chances are at best halved. Wilfried Bony has shown little sign of being able to replicate his Swansea form at a bigger club, and Kelechi Iheanacho is, well, Kelechi Iheanacho. Aguero’s health may well determine the title race.