Dubai: Played six, won two, drawn two, lost two, 10 points behind Premier League leaders Liverpool.
Given they have almost identical records so far this season, shouldn’t it seem odd that there are very different moods surrounding Manchester United and Chelsea following a weekend they both suffered losses?
In a word: No. United sit three places above their London rivals in the standings in eighth place, yet there is a funeral air around Old Trafford these days, while the Stamford Bridge faithful seem to have a spring in their step.
Up at the top, while Liverpool lead Manchester City by five points, it is Pep Guardiola’s men rather than Jurgen Klopp’s who have the biggest smiles this week.
Here is a breakdown of why each manager and their side are feeling the way they do:
1. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and Manchester United
The Norwegian is under the microscope. Solskjaer has won only five in 17 since he took over from Jose Mourinho on a permanent basis last term and that goes a long way to justifying the growing grumblings from the Old Trafford terraces, pundits and former players. But the questions over Solskjaer’s off-field management are what have him in the firing line. When Marcus Rashford limped off in the second half of the 2-0 loss to West Ham on Sunday, United had no recognised striker on the pitch. Why did the boss not replace Romelu Lukaku and Alexis Sanchez, both of whom have departed to Inter Milan? Churchillian rallying calls by the manager look absent as United’s once-famous midfield looks out of ideas. Then there is the ‘upgraded’ defence, which looks as bad as ever despite the signings of Wan-Bissaka and Maguire for a small fortune. Solskjaer may be out of a job by Christmas at this rate.
2. Frank Lampard and Chelsea
In contrast, Lampard has Chelsea where many expect them to be, given their injury list, a new rookie manager and a transfer ban preventing them of bringing in fresh talent and a replacement for Eden Hazard. If anything, he has them playing better than many expected, with Tammy Abraham and Mason Mount looking like real prospects up front for the Londoners and the Blues went toe-to-toe with Liverpool on Sunday.
Unlike Solskjaer, Lampard should be given plenty of time to shape this young team into contenders, and they will only get better when they are back to full strength.
3. Pep Guardiola and Manchester City
Last weekend’s 3-2 loss to Norwich City is now firmly in the past and Saturday’s 8-0 whipping of Watford shows that City will not give up their Premier League title easily. A clean sheet with a makeshift defence was impressive and the goals are coming from everywhere, even though star forward Raheem Sterling was rested, having played every minute of the season so far before the visit of Watford.
City have every right to think they can still reel in Liverpool over the coming months.
4. Jurgen Klopp and Liverpool
A 100 per cent record after six games is a brilliant start as the Anfield side once again go in search of that elusive first title. But last season’s rock hard defence suddenly looks creaky and clean sheets are a rare things for Liverpool these days. The way they were on the ropes in second half of the 2-1 win over Chelsea shows that it only seems like a matter of time before they drop points. When they do, City will be waiting to take advantage, and that will worry Klopp…