Monday Manager: Talking Points

Alexandre Song

Every week we bring you our take on some of the big talking points from the Barclay’s Premier League.

To Break or not to Break

The jam-packed Premier League schedule enhances all of our Christmas times, as we deposit ourselves on the couch to watch the action unfold. However, as is always the case, many of the league’s managers have voiced complaints about the congested fixture lists.

While we would never argue for a winter break one could sort of see their point. They argue that four games in such a short period increases the likelihood of injuries to their squad, while also disrupting the players normal routine. One can also say that the quality of play is diluted. This was clearly seen in the United v Spurs game, which tapered off dramatically after a bright first half. Managers who argue endlessly about the schedule could point to that game as a reason to at least ease back on the festive fixture list.

All of these points seemed valid until they were cast aside by that stunning Burnley performance on Sunday. If a squad with such limited resources can overcome a 2-0 deficit away to the Champions, just two days after starting the exact same eleven, than the bigger clubs should be able to manage just fine. It may not be ideal preparation, but neither is it insurmountable.

Officials are the ones interfering with play

Once again the offside rule and the issue of whether a player is “interfering with play” reared its ugly head again on Sunday, and once again Premier League officials interpreted the law with maddening inconsistency. To nobody’s surprise, it was one of the big clubs that benefited.

The decision to rule out Alex Song’s stunning, 7th minute volley against his former club, Arsenal, was not necessarily wrong by the letter of the law. The issue is that officials pick and choose their moments to determine when somebody is interfering with play, and often interpret this incorrectly.

In this instance, the goal was ruled out because the ball went through Diafra Sakho’s legs when the player was in an offside position. It reminded us of a similar incident when Newcastle were wrongly denied a goal against Manchester City. Below is some great analysis from the Monday Night Football crew as to why that decision was wrong, most of which can also be applied to this incident.

If we are ruling out goals like this, fine, but let’s have some consistency. This goal from Harry Kane needs to be disallowed too. You can clearly see that the whole Burnley defence stops as the ball comes to Eriksen, meaning he interfered more with play than Sakho could be accused of doing. Once again the decision went against the “smaller club”.

The ideal scenario would be to have all three goals stand, but if we can’t trust the officials to implement the laws correctly, than we need to simplify the process so less mistakes are made.

Burnley Brilliance

Sean Dyche’s Burnley have had a rough enough start to Premier League life, and currently reside in the dreaded relegation zone. This isn’t much of a surprise given they were roundly written off at the start of the season. What was a surprise was their stunning second half performance on Sunday, where they overcame a 2-0 deficit against Manchester City to claim a well deserved point.

Performances like that are what make the Premier League so special. Dyce’s , side looked like they could get battered against a City team unbeaten in 10 matches. Instead, they went out and dominated the champions in their own back yard. This Burnley side has proven they wont give in, and if players like Ashley Barnes, George Boyd, Tom Heaton and Danny Ings keep producing they have a very real chance of surviving.

So far they have taken points from Southampton, Man Utd and City. Now the pressure is on to beat those around them. Can they rise to the challenge?

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