Joel Embiid Should be Considered an MVP Candidate
It is only January and a lot of people are talking about either James Harden or Giannis Antetokounmpo to win the MVP, but what about Joel Embiid?
Liverpool set the pace while Chelsea and Watford also maintain a 100% record after 4 games.
Klopp's Reds set the pace in the Premier League
The Reds make it four wins from four games to start the season in the best way possible since the 1990 season. They have been impressive scoring 9 goals and conceding only one goal after a dreadful error from new keeper Allison in the 2-1 win at Leicester last weekend. With wins against West Ham, Crystal Palace and Brighton, Klopp's men continue to set the pace ahead of Chelsea and Watford on goal-difference - both teams also having won their first four games this season.
The Reds, have the strikers and Sadio Mané is the league's top-scorer so far after 4 rounds this season. Of course Mané, Salah and Firmino score the goals but their defence is exceptional and has been instrumental to their success.
The central pairing of Van Dijk and Gomez has been as impressive as any across Europe and they have been very strong at the back with Alexander-Arnold and Robertson on either flank. Manager Klopp now has a reliable defence, actually the best in the league after 4 rounds, having conceded only 1 goal. The Reds are ahead of Chelsea, City and Watford on three goals conceded.
The Reds have been efficient in the middle as well with Wijnaldum, Henderson or new signing Naby Keita all able to give protection to their defence but also very capable at creating chances for their forward players. The engine in midfield has been the superb James Milner who is 4th the league with a distance covered of around 46km in 4 games and a massive 12.39km against Leicester last weekend - second best on match day 4. He also provided the assist for Firmino's goal from his corner-kick, his second assist this season.
Another key factor for Klopp is his squad now has the depth in their ranks to make his rotation system work effectively. Against Leicester he started with Henderson instead of the dynamic Naby Keita who was introduced after 71 minutes following the dreadful goal they conceded. Shakiri also replaced Mo Salah who was certainly on one of his rare off-days. The team worked just as well as in the previous game against Brighton and they now have the added bonus to be able to bring into play top-quality players such as Shakiri, Lallana or Sturridge.
The Reds now have to test their steel against more ferocious opponents especially away from home. If they do that and win even on the bad days, then the fans will be convinced of the true potential, if they are not already. First chance to shine against another title contender is on the 15th September away to Tottenham who are still licking their wounds after defeat at Watford.
This game will be key to assessing their progress after 5 rounds. But after hosting Southampton, they travel to Chelsea to meet another title contender on the 29th September. Ok, Reds “show us what you've got” and if your still unbeaten after 7 games, then we will really start to believe in your chances to lift the EPL title.
Chelsea's dream start shows signs of a top team
Did anyone expect Chelsea to have such a dream start? Not particularly. And as inquired by Ian Wright just before the start of the season, “Who is going to score the goals?“, was a concern following the poor run last term in the Premier League where Chelsea finished 30 points behind champions City. Well they appear to have solved that problem as they have found the net consistently since the start of the campaign.
They scored through 6 different players and their top scorer Pedro already has 3 goals so far - one fewer than the 4 he managed last season - and player-maker Eden Hazard has scored 2. It was vital for Chelsea to keep their play-maker amid speculation of his desire to join Real Madrid and he is expected to have a stellar season though he managed 12 league goals for the Blues last season - their top-scorer ahead of Morata.
Another stand-out player for them is Marcos Alonso who was the man of the match in the victory against Bournemouth last weekend. The dynamic left-back has netted one and assisted 2 goals so far and he has been a real threat for Chelsea. In that game he was a constant menace and hit one shot onto the post and another was saved by Begovic before Chelsea opened the scoring through Pedro. Hazard doubled the score with a tidy finish to seal the fourth win in as many games.
Chelsea's new coach Maurizio Sarri has had an immediate impact and his team are off to a flying start this season but he does not want them to get complacent despite the great start. Indeed they have been very organized at the back and that is the key improvement for us compared to last season.
“I'm very happy with 12 points in four matches. But I always think we can do more. We can improve,” said the former Napoli boss.
The Blues have the second best attack behind City. They have scored 10 goals from their first 4 games, just one behind City and one better than Liverpool and have the joint second best defence. Its a team on a mission and we will want to see what they can do when they host Liverpool at the end of the month. However they still have to face Cardiff City and West ham United before that game.
We think they can keep the winning streak especially as newly promoted Cardiff have still to win a game - only 2 draws from 4 games - while West Ham, who sit rock bottom of the league, have lost their opening four games. This will be a great chance for Chelsea to sharpen their skills before they meet the other title contenders. So far so good for Sarri and the Blues.
Surprising Watford make history with 4 wins
Watford stay in touch with the leaders and have 12 points from 4 games, as they equal their record of four wins in a row in the Premier League (which they also achieved in December 2015 under Quique Sanchez Flores). It's actually their best start in some 30 years. The Hornets are certainly the surprise team in the Premier League but they have been sensational so far under coach Javi Gracia who's well-oiled side managed to defeat Tottenham on Sunday with a well deserved 2-1 victory at Vicarage Road. Prior to that they beat Brighton, Burnely and Crystal Palace before the excellent win against Tottenham.
Hornets key players: Roberto Pereyra, Captain Troy Deeney and José Holebas.
Pereyra has scored 3 goals including a double against Brighton on the opening match day. The Argentine also scored the first goal and was man of the match in the 2-1 win against Crystal Palace. Forward and captain Troy Deeney has also been in top-form and has also scored two goals - after netting the opener against Spurs last weekend he also scored in the 3-1 win against Burnely. He works very hard for a forward and his leadership has been key for the Hornets success.
Left-back José Holebas has been directly involved in three of Watford's four Premier League goals at Vicarage Road this season (one goal and two assists). The Greece international has 4 assists so far, joint-best in the Premier League with Benjamin Mendy of Manchester City. Holebas, is very effective on his left-flank and has combined perfectly with Pereyra to bring the attacking momentum for the Hornets. Holebas has been directly involved in five Premier League goals so far this season - more than any other player in the competition.
Watford boss Javi Gracia: “I'm very happy because it is always difficult to get a result in the Premier League. The players have been rewarded because they have worked very hard.
The Hornets have scored 9 goals and have conceded only 3 goals in their magnificent run this term and their goal-difference (+6) is only bettered by Liverpool and City (+8) and Chelsea (+7). They showed character and though they do not tend to hold possession much, they are clinical and they showed against Tottenham that they can also defend. The Hertfordshire based club - just outside north London - came back after an unfortunate own-goal by Doucouré to win against a Spurs side that lacked the conviction to beat the well-drilled Hornets team at home.
The Hornets will be confident when they host Jose Mourinho's Manchester United after the international break on Sunday 15 September. With the kind of form they are on, we would not be surprised if they beat Mourinho's men who have only 2 wins from 4 games and who despite their win at Burnley on the weekend will have a tough time at Vicarage Road.