1. This season is impossible to call
MANY PREDICTED THAT it would be the one of most open title races in Premier League history and one glance at the weekend’s results will confirm that.
While Arsenal continued their fine unbeaten run since the opening day loss to Aston Villa and London rivals Spurs and Chelsea played out an entertaining draw, what looked liked fairly routine games for the Manchester clubs ended in surprising defeats.
The top four currently reads: Arsenal, Liverpool, Tottenham, Chelsea. Granted, we’re just six matches into the campaign but with dozens of twists and turns still to come and the new managers of the traditional heavyweights struggling to find their feet, it’s anyone’s guess who will be top come next May.
2. Manchester two stutter
The two accumulator-busters of the weekend came at Old Trafford and Villa Park where West Brom and Aston Villa recorded unlikely scalps. Under David Moyes, Man United’s start has been anything but convincing but after the Capital One Cup win over Liverpool, few would have envisaged them getting turned over by the Baggies.
We’re told that it is a long-term project and Moyes will no doubt be given time to get his house in order but you would have to worry for the Scot when he is claiming they could do with signing some more world-class players less than a month after the transfer window closed.
Across town, recent performances suggested that Manuel Pellegrini had discovered a winning formula but, with the chance to go top, they conceded twice in the final 20 minutes.
3. Ramsey and Gunners storm ahead
Aaron Ramsey just can’t scoring at the moment. His eighth goal of the season helped table-topping Arsenal to their ninth consecutive win in all competitions against Swansea. The 22-year-old midfielder is playing the best football of his relatively short career, which is pleasing to see considering the horrific leg break he suffered back in 2010.
When you think back to the ill-feeling aimed at Arsene Wenger during the summer and in the aftermath of their opening day defeat to Aston Villa, the shift over the past month has been quite remarkable. At this moment, they’re the most consistent team around but let’s hope they avoid injuries to important players.
This week also throws up a massive test in the shape of Rafa Benitez’s Napoli.
Positives for Chelsea to take from Spurs clash
While it would be easy to derive negative connotations from Chelsea’s point of view, given that the man who helped rescue them — Juan Mata — was initially shunned by Jose Mourinho, there were plenty of reasons for their fans to be optimistic.
Mata’s second-half performance, of course, was chief among the positives, with the Spanish midfielder setting up the equaliser and vindicating those who had lamented his initial absence from the side, ostensibly showing that he is proficient under a Mourinho-managed team contrary to certain critics’ views.
Moreover, those who were concerned by the team’s supposed deficiency in attack will have been buoyed by Fernando Torres’ performance before his sending off. The striker, more so than anyone else, inspired their comeback, as he was as the heart of most of the visitors’ best moments.
Yet perhaps most importantly of all was the character shown throughout by Mourinho’s side. After being easily second best for the opening 20 minutes, they became increasingly dominant until Torres’ late red card obliged them to reluctantly settle for the draw.
5. Reds glad to have Suarez back
The summer of uncertainty has passed, the 10-game ban is over, and Luis Suarez was this week back in a Liverpool shirt. He may not have been able to prevent Man United sending the Reds out of the league cup after 157 days without competitive club football but the Stadium of Light witnessed his real comeback this afternoon.
The arm of Daniel Sturridge controversially put the visitors in front before the English striker turned provider for his strike partner Suarez. Simon Mignolet was unable to enjoy a cleansheet against his old club but it matter little thanks to a third goal of real class.
The Belgian stopper began a counter attack by throwing the ball out to his Uruguayan team-mate, who found Sturridge out wide and continued his run. When the ball was pulled back across the goal line, Suarez had the simple task of tapping in from close range
Now second behind Arsenal, Brendan Rodgers must be relieved to have his talisman back as he will be crucial to their success.
Additional reporting from Paul Fennessy