Newcastle, West Bromwich Albion and especially Blackpool have added an exciting element to the league with open and attacking play instead of parking the bus against the ‘bigger’ teams.
These teams have perked up and taken notice, coming to the realisation that putting 10 men behind the ball isn’t always the answer to taking three points. Leaving a striker lonely up the top running aimlessly around and getting the odd touch looks to be in the past. But is it a good thing?
As previously mentioned the attacking style has benefited the players leading the line for their team and scoring goals like they never have before. The best examples of re-ignited strikers are Jon Elmander and hot prospect Andy Carroll, who has given top-class defenders a torrid time since being introduced to top flight football.
The Magpies target man finds himself up with the likes of Didier Drogba, Carlos Tevez and Dimitar Berbatov in the scoring stats. Luckily for quivering centre-back’s, he is currently out injured, but still, his scoring record speaks for itself. Some say it comes from playing in the legendary number nine shirt, others, his big frame disguising some crafty footwork.
Scoring 11 goals in just 19 games, his team are lapping up the benefits and sitting comfortably in 9th position, only two points off the European places.
However it isn’t only Carroll who has brought success to Newcastle. Kevin Nolan’s 10 league goals have propelled him to the levels of Frank Lampard and Steven Gerrard as a goal-getting midfielder.
It is almost impossible to discuss the new breed of Premier League teams without Ian Holloway’s name being mentioned. The country will be calling for the Blackpool manager to take over England once Fabio Capello has finished whatever it is he hopes to achieve with the team.
His witty, cut-throat banter has not only given audiences entertainment off the pitch, but the confidence bouncing off him has seen Blackpool do surprisingly well and again his strikers have benefited by not only having a partner up top, but having chance after chance to pounce on.
Dudley ‘DJ’ Campbell has notched up an impressive eight goals for the Seasiders and a win from their game in hand will see them join Newcastle in the top half of the table.
Where the new style has come from can only be viewed subjectively. To the trained eye there will be many different reasons but on the surface it seems the underdog, ‘nothing to lose’ attitude is now potent.
Although it seems obvious, managers have realised that you can get through the best defences instead of hoping for a wonder strike or a scrambled goal from a set piece.
However with pros, there are always cons. Blackpool’s recent outing against unbeaten league leaders Manchester United showed this open attacking play can come at a cost and naivety starts to take centre stage.
At 2-0 up, their failure to be disciplined and ‘shut up shop’ condemned them to a last ditch 3-2 loss. This can be seen in one of two ways, a result like this against arguably the best team in the league’s history is no disgrace and taking it too the wire is nothing but admirable.
Or, not taking the three points to further secure staying in the division was rather ignorant. It is yet to be seen whether Holloway has learnt that in some circumstances, putting every player behind the ball is sensible and can be very beneficial.
Whilst audiences don’t like seeing it for 90 minutes, it is likely they will want to see Blackpool’s first-half display justifying putting up the wall for 30 minutes or more.
Either way, the Premier League has become more interesting. There is not much that can be done to change the top four or five, but they are far from running away with it. 609 goals have already be scored and it looks like there is a lot more to come.
Despite being unbeaten Man United have still dropped 18 points and are worse off than they were at this point last season. The teams chasing them (Arsenal, Manchester City) have all lost five games already with Chelsea losing six.
This has given other teams more hope of taking three points against them and for the neutral the entertainment has never been better. Never knowing what to expect has set up the rest of the season nicely whilst the open play may lose a team games, it also wins them.
If anyone is willing to argue against it, Mr. Holloway will undoubtedly have a humorous response waiting.
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