Two weeks into the Premier League and you could almost forget that there was a World Cup in between Manchester City dominating England and Manchester City looking like they will still dominate England. No matter how much access the club gave Amazon, no matter how many times they had to reshoot Peppy G doing an emphatic speech for the cameras, City look like a class above once more.
But hey, we don’t want to talk about a team doing well, do we? What would be the point of that?
It was a good thing Manchester United were playing away at Brighton because it meant they had the bus ready and waiting. For what, you might ask? So Jose could throw the players under it. Brighton, having looked like a team nailed on for relegation when losing to Watford last week, suddenly looked like a team full of flair and attacking intent when they led United at half-time on Sunday. Glenn Murray did what Glenn Murray does and scored in the six-yard box having outpaced a woeful Victor Lindelof over two paces before the world learned that Shane Duffy actually does have feet as he turned in a poorly-cleared corner for a Seagull second. And what about Eric Bailly, eh? Can you actually blame Jose Mourinho for demanding that United sign at least one new central defender in the transfer window?
Still, it was nice to see Romelu Lukaku become the first Manchester United player EVER to score a Premier League goal against Brighton. I mean, those records are made for breaking, right?
We move on to two clubs who felt that change was needed over the summer, Chelsea and Arsenal. One of them gave their new boss an entire summer to get his feet under the table, the other let the guy they hadn’t actually sacked yet take the first few preseason sessions.
Unai Emery should not be judged off the back of his opening 180 minutes of competitive Arsenal football, but he will be. Especially here. Because he was brought in to change Arsenal Football Club and, to my very untrained eye, it looks like it is exactly the same as it always was.
Defending seems to be very 2017/18 and Chelsea, despite being 2-0 up, relied heavily on the specially placed divots in their own area meaning Arsenal smashed three clear chances over the bar. That tactic, however, could not work forever and eventually, Arsenal scored twice meaning the already penned Emery obituaries were ready to be torn up.
Surely, the mentality to fight back from 2-0 down would show that this was a new Arsenal? Not a bit of it. Not a single bit of it. In the dying moments of an exhilarating game, the man who cannot really defend at left-back but can cause havoc going forwards, Marcos Alonso, scored the winning goal meaning Maurizio Sarri has two wins from two and his opposite number is in danger of losing the fans before he really had them in the first place. Sokratis is not looking like the signing people hoped and the idea to build a team round a teenage Frenchman in midfield only really works if that teenage Frenchman is Patrick Vieira. Still, it’s a long old season and maybe next time they meet Jorginho might be put under a little more pressure when he has the ball?
Chelsea’s weekend got even better when Eden Hazard announced that he isn’t going to leave right now and would quite like Sarri to start putting him in the starting eleven sometime soon.
Hang on a moment, can some get the calendar for me? Yes, I thought so. August. It’s definitely August. Yet it says here Harry Kane scored in the Premier League. That cannot be right, surely? You’re telling me that it actually doesn’t matter what month it is and Harry Kane doesn’t suffer from Augustitis after all? Things must be changing for Tottenham after all. Who needs a new stadium when you can beat a team that bought an entire starting XI more than you did in the window? Who needs a new stadium when Wembley is finally starting to feel like home? Tottenham have two wins from two even if they have had a gentle start to the season.
Oh, look! Another team that felt the need for a change in the summer. Hello, West Ham! Regular readers will know that I am all over the West Ham seasonal blueprint of (a) changing the manager and (b) making some signings that look great on paper but rarely become a team on the pitch. Now, losing 4-0 at Anfield is one thing considering Liverpool are a half-decent outfit nowadays. Losing 2-1 at home to Bournemouth having been in the lead is another thing entirely and I think we can safely say that the Pellegrini honeymoon period is definitely over. Still, at least Jack Wilshere is getting minutes, no?
In Cardiff, Kenedy went down as if he had been shot and isn’t the first person of that name to do so. Seconds later, Kenedy looked like the least likely man to score a penalty in the history of football and Rafa’s chance of getting his first W of the season. It won’t be that disappointing for Benitez though, I hear he gets 50% off at House of Fraser now.
I suppose we should mention the champions City in a little more detail. I suggested Peppy G’s brigade would beat Huddersfield 5-0 and I was close (for once). City brushed Wagner’s poorly composed symphony away 6-1 at the Etihad and Sergio Aguero helped himself to three. The biggest takeaway from the match for me was the learning that David Silva’s beautiful little boy, a matter of months old, has more hair than he does.
I’m not sure that when Burnley got themselves into Europe they dreamed of Aberdeen and then Turkey as their destinations considering one is, incredibly, a more gloomy place than Lancashire on a rainy day and the other is a popular holiday destination for many a sunseeker. And, if they get relegated, will it be worth it? Joe Hart had managed to keep the ball out his net for three whole matches in a row before the Watford match but it’s not the first time he has made a promising start and fallen off a log, especially in claret. Watford sit joint-top of the league after their 3-1 win and this is not something we will be saying every week. Could Watford be doing their usual routine of avoiding relegation by November before failing to win another match all season? Quite possibly, we’ve seen this before.
Southampton were not obliged to keep Mark Hughes after he was airlifted in to keep them in the Premier League last season. And, I firmly believe, he will not be there by the time they get relegated at the end of this season. Everton saw them off with yet another goal from that complete waste of money Richarlison and Theo Walcott also reminded people there is a bit of life in the old dog yet. Everton have made a decent start under Marco Silva which is what Marco Silva does. Like Watford, let’s see how he is doing in December.
Benfica Wolves FC are quickly learning that it is not enough to have a squad of Portuguese players if none of them are Ronaldo. Wolves, having been promoted, came into this new season full of hope and even some crazy talk of a push into European contention. Instead, they have a single point after two games and lost to ten-man Leicester City at the King Power. They’ll have to get their head around this new division quickly or tell Raul Jiminez he is CR7 in time for next weekend.