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Hiddink's swansong and more, EPL: three talking points

Editor: Li Kun 丨CCTV.com

12-25-2015 16:11 BJT

By Colin Robinson, CNTV Sports Commentator

Welcome to EPL3TP, where we take a look at the big talking points from the Premier League. This week: Merry Christmas! Can Guus Hiddink turn things around for Chelsea and himself? Arsenal's big money transfers are paying off. And Sunderland is stuck in a rut.


Hiddink returns for a shot at redemption

Guus Hiddink's return to Chelsea for a second spell as head coach is a chance for the club to turn its season around, and an opportunity for the Dutchman to repair his damaged reputation.

After a terrible first half of the season, Chelsea is well out of the running for the league championship. But there are a few goals left for the club as it hopes to salvage something from the season: Making progress in the Champions League and the FA Cup, and qualifying for European competition next season. If Hiddink helps Chelsea achieve those aims, he'll write a fitting final chapter to his legendary coaching career.

Things have changed since he last showed up at Stamford Bridge, in 2009, less than a year after he took an unfancied Russia to the Euro 2008 semifinals, and just a few years removed from becoming the most successful Dutch coach in history.

His career has nosedived since then, reaching a nadir in his most recent coaching gig. As Netherlands manager, he oversaw a disastrous European Championships qualifying campaign, and he was fired after just over a year in charge.  

As an exceptionally successful coach, Hiddink deserves a chance to end his 28-year managerial career on a high note, and joining Chelsea gives him that opportunity.
Arsenal's big money buys paying dividends

One of the biggest criticisms of Arsenal by its fans over the last decade has been the lack of big money signings. As the club spent years paying off the cost of its new stadium, it was outspent and overshadowed by its rivals: Chelsea and the Manchester clubs brought in world class players for huge fees and left the Gunners trailing in the dust.

Coach Arsène Wenger did fine on a comparatively small budget, developing young and moderately-priced players and molding them into a team. And despite financial limitations, the club always qualified for the Champions League.

But in the last couple of years, the tide has started to turn. In September 2013, with its debts substantially reduced, Arsenal spent ₤42.5 million bringing Mesut Özil from Real Madrid, smashing the club's previous record fee of ₤13 million. The transfer was a huge statement of intent and brought in one of the best creative midfielders in the world.

And with Özil now in arguably the best form of his career, racking up 15 assists in 16 games this season, it's really paying dividends. Özil is Arsenal's standout player, but he's not the only big money buy making a major contribution.

When Petr Čech joined Arsenal from Chelsea in July, he became one of the most expensive goalkeepers in football history. And he's quickly established himself, becoming a key factor in Arsenal's impressive defensive record this season.

With Čech and Özil as key players, Arsenal is sitting pretty in second place. And as the transfer window approaches, fans can take hope from Wenger's statement that he's searching for the "right quality" that will help Arsenal's efforts to win its first title since 2004.

Sunderland endures another winter of discontent

It's groundhog season for Sunderland. For the last four or five years, the club has been stuck in a rut; not good enough to make any headway in the Premier League, not bad enough to be relegated. Things were supposed to be different this season, they always are, but it all fell apart quickly.

Despite spending more than ₤23 million in the summer, Sunderland began badly losing heavily to Leicester and Norwich in the opening games. And without a win in the opening eight fixtures, coach Dick Advocaat resigned.

Things picked up a little under his replacement, Sam Allardyce, who led the team to three wins in the following eight games. But as well as the dearth of quality you'd expect from a squad that has lost 11 of 17 matches, attitude problems are becoming more apparent.

In recent weeks, Allardyce has questioned the mentality of some of his players. He's called for ex-England international Jack Rodwell to train harder and fined Jeremain Lens, the club's most expensive signing of the season, for refusing to take part in a running exercise.

With Allardyce's disillusionment with his players squad growing, he'll hope to make deals during the January transfer window. But things could get worse before they get better, especially as next up for Sunderland is a trip to Manchester City.

Email the author: 2477978701@qq.com


( The opinions expressed here do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Panview or CCTV.com. )



Panview offers a new window of understanding the world as well as China through the views, opinions, and analysis of experts. We also welcome outside submissions, so feel free to send in your own editorials to "globalopinion@vip.cntv.cn" for consideration.

Panview offers an alternative angle on China and the rest of the world through the analyses and opinions of experts. We also welcome outside submissions, so feel free to send in your own editorials to "globalopinion@vip.cntv.cn" for consideration.

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