Review of Week 1
That was quite an entertaining opening weekend, wasn’t it? As this column rightly guessed last week, Mourinho is indeed in a sulk and his listless team were lucky to escape with a 2-2 draw against a very impressive Swansea (as also noted last week, Andre Ayew is well worth keeping an eye on for goals during games as well as for fantasy football teams). Mourinho was quick to aim his ire at Chelsea’s medical team for having the temerity to acknowledge the referee’s summon to treat one of their stricken players.
For shame… It’s excessively early in the season for Mourinho to already be looking for scapegoats which seems to indicate that the reservoir of unease and paranoia which resides just below the surface may become quite eruptive. This column wouldn’t be surprised if he walked/got sacked before the season is out.
Manchester Utd, on the other hand, managed to get three points courtesy of some lovely finishing from Spurs’ defender, Kyle Walker, without playing anything like a team tipped by many to win the league this year. The more things change, the more things stay the same.
Liverpool were also fortunate to come away with three points from their encounter with Stoke but performance aside, they’ll be happy to get that particular primate off their back.
Kyle Walker with a tidy finish for MUFC
19.45 Aston Villa v Manchester Utd
Tactics Tim and Villa are off to a great start this season having seen off everyone’s new pet team, Bournemouth. For a team who narrowly avoided the drop last season to lose their two best players before the start of the new season, all is not bleak at Villa Park.
For a start, they may have managed one of the transfer coups of the season in Rudy Gestede, a player that this column believes will have a good chance of filling the Benteke-sized hole up front after the big Belgian left for Liverpool. It was his goal which grabbed the three points for the Villans and due to his, ahem, assertive nature, most defences will find him to be a menacing handful.
Chris Smalling was one of the few stand-out players for Utd last week and it will be interesting to see if his assuredness in defence against the speed and silk of Kane and Chadli will fare as well against Gestede’s burly presence. The other impressive performer was debutant left-back Darmian, who will surely make that position his own. Not that he has a great amount of competition, mind. It must be a worry for Utd fans to have seen Rooney blowing hard in the most post-match interview.
While most people chuckled at the comedy nature of Walker’s own goal last week, Rooney’s snail-like approach to taking a shot seems to have been largely overlooked. He is their main striker, the man who needs to lead the line and he looks far from fit, even by his early season standards.
Despite the spending splurge, Utd still don’t look confident or much beyond competent. However, it is early in the season and they likely will get going soon but it mightn’t be quick enough to expect an easy three points from Villa, a team they usually beat with some regularity. This column reckons that Villa might just sneak it. You can get Villa to win at 51/10 from 888sport.com.
13.30 Crystal Palace v Arsenal
It is still hard to believe that Crystal Palace managed to secure the services of Cabaye ahead of the likes of Roma but secure him they did and after last season’s mighty run from Christmas to May, things are looking rosy for Alan Pardew and his charges. It was the Frenchman’s late goal that put the cherry on the cake for Palace’s away win at Norwich last week and the mind boggles as to why ostensibly bigger teams like Spurs or even Arsenal didn’t take a punt on him but their loss is Pardew’s gain.
And, arguably, the league. To have a player with the quality of Cabaye playing in a team outside of the established ‘big’ clubs (albeit his previous stint in England was with a poor Newcastle side where his skills were head and shoulders above everyone else) is sure to add value to the football on display this season.
Arsenal, on the other hand, are sure to add comedy to the football on display this season. One game in and their new goalkeeper Petr Cech, a man tipped to add 10-15 points to Arsenal’s end of season tally by John Terry, is already Arsenal through and through by virtue of his calamitous attempts at i) commanding his area, and ii)staying awake; as a result of which, his witless Arsenal team managed to lose 0-2. How terribly Arsenal.
There is now way that Palace will doubt that the three points are there for the taking and no way that Arsenal don’t already have that familiar, sinking feeling. For that reason, Palace might be worth a shout for the win here. Betvictor is offering 17/4 for said result.
16.00 Manchester City v Chelsea
An early season encounter between the top two teams of last year. Despite it only being round 2, you can be sure that whatever the result of this match, fluke win or dull draw, reams of articles will be written about the deeper ramifications for the title race, the mental edge manager ‘x’ now has etc.
In truth, it’s still too early to definitively say anything authoritative regarding the outcome of the title race but put it like this, if Chelsea lose, you can put your money on a some type of explosion on the Mourinho-Scale.
The papers have been full of the controversy and ensuing fall-out from Medi-gate as Mourinho reached into his black magic bag of leftfield scapegoats and hurled his medical team at the boys in the press and those given to very sincere moral outrage. The real story, of course, is that Chelsea looked as leggy as they did toward the end of the season and as a result of a largely ineffective transfer window, they might find it hard to replicate last season’s race from the blocks; a spell which effectively allowed them slow to a jog as the season ended.
A quiet confidence has been emanating from the City end of Manchester over the summer. They’ve secured the services of Raheem Sterling and obviously gave Yaya Toure his birthday cake over the summer as he looks like a happy marauder. In Sergio Aguero, they possess one of the best strikers in the world and he will relish running at Chelsea’s astute but relatively slow central defence.
Mourinho, of course, is well aware of his teams shortcomings at the moment and will most likely set up for a draw. City are good but are they good enough to break through a Chelsea team that can effortlessly revert to defensive type? This column reckons a draw, just, is the most likely outcome. 5/3 from Betfred for that.