Kieran Davies on a week of dream starts, free scoring, and threats of strike.
We’ve seen Jose let his horses run free, like some cantankerous gypsy with no care for the safety of others. Diego Costa is now playing on the dirt pitches of Brazil while collecting about £185k per week from Chelsea. Phillipe Coutinho has suddenly become patient zero since Barcelona declared interest in him and is now on the roller coaster of a string of ‘ailments’ that prevent him from playing for Liverpool. With Alexis Sanchez having gone missing from Arsenal first team affairs like Mesut Ozil in a big game, Wenger’s side are also seeing a player make their intentions known in wanting to move clubs. Football is a crazy world, the beautiful game ruined by football agents and players alike. Holding clubs to ransom that they are contractually tied to for three or four years. For football fans this is painful to see. Now your clubs in the main contain a load of renegade footballers who think no more of your club than you do of your employer. While you passionately support everything your club do, from the transfer market to the pitch on matchday, these players see your club as nothing more than a meal ticket to a lavish lifestyle, bank rolled by your love for the game.
The only player who has conducted himself in any sort of acceptable manner is Riyad Mahrez. Having handed in a transfer request earlier in the summer, he has not complained, threatened to go on strike or do anything that would warrant him not justifying the wage he is receiving. More so, he is still lighting up games for Leicester and winning them matches. It is about time football clubs started to hold their players into account in these situations. With Barcelona seemingly close to completing a £135m deal for Ousmane Dembele, transfer fees are now just at astronomic proportions. A largely unproven young prospect is now the second most expensive player in world football. This has led to the football gossip escalating from the sublime to the purely fairytale. Any club known to have any sort financial clout will be linked with every player known to man, whereas in the main there is as much truth to these rumours as asking your child where the sweets have gone that you happened to leave on the worktop.
With the silly season still to continue until 31st August, at least this weekend we can concentrate on all matters football. The Man Utd paddock will be full of foxes this weekend as Leicester visit Old Trafford. The form team in the Premier League will fancy their chances of continuing their 100% start to the season against Shakespeare’s side. Their ‘noisy neighbours’ kick off in the early game facing Eddie Howe’s Bournemouth. One of five teams who have lost both of their opening fixtures, City will be looking to add to the gloom on the South Coast. Having salvaged a point at home against Everton last time out, Pep will feel the need to come away with all three points. Palace face Swansea City this weekend with both sides looking for a first win of the season. Clement’s side still seem to have a gaping hole in their team after the departure of Gylfi Sigurdsson and with Fernando Lorente still sidelined, it is a worry for Swansea fans as to where the goals are going to come from. De Boer is learning that life in the Premier League is a tricky one as they have been left wanting so far this season. The gravitas of these three points is already massive this early into the season.
David Wagner’s Huddersfield have had a dream start to their maiden top-flight campaign. With unbeaten Southampton the visitors, the German will be hoping home advantage will be like a twelfth man to his team. On paper this should be a win for The Saints but often this league doesn’t work out like that. The Terriers could almost find themselves almost a quarter of the way towards what has to be their primary target this season, the forty-point mark. Both West Ham and Newcastle have had poor starts to the season with two defeats. Benitez has been bemoaning his lack of transfer activity due to the club not investing through the summer. West Ham on the other hand have spent money and brought some big-name signings into the club. If we have a winner in this one, the opposing manager will be feeling concerned Saturday evening and may want to avoid Match of the Day.
Fellow new boys Brighton have also found it hard to come by points in their opening few games. A trip to Watford will be the test for Hughton and his team this weekend. The Hornets have made a good start to the season with four points from a possible six. Having scored freely against Klopp’s Liverpool at home, Watford will be hoping to edge this one. Tony Pulis will be looking to get one over on his old side Stoke City. The Baggies have started the season with a perfect record and should have a good chance of keeping this run going as Stoke tend to struggle on the road. Having beaten Arsenal last time out, Hughes will be hoping that his side can use this a springboard for a run of good results. Having lost their first game at their temporary home, Wembley, Tottenham will be looking to try and address their poor win ratio there. Burnley travel there hoping to utilise the fear and doubt within the ‘home’ dressing room and cause an upset against Pochettino’s side.
Chelsea entertain Everton at Stamford Bridge looking to put their opening day defeat at the hands of Burnley well and truly behind them. Koeman’s side are unbeaten this season so far and strengthened heavily in the summer. They were unlucky not to take all three points away to Man City on Monday night but will have taken positives with how they took the game to Pep’s team. The pick of this weekend’s fixtures has to be the game at Anfield where Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool take on Arsenal. After confirming their Champions League qualification with a win over Hoffenheim, The Reds will be in confident mood for the visit of Wenger’s men. Whether Sanchez will play or not may prove to be irrelevant if Liverpool attack with the pace and ferocity seen in the opening twenty minutes against their German opponents. With an international break looming after this round of fixtures, there will be time for reflection on the start teams have made to the campaign. One single goal, one penalty decision, one dodgy offside call and the break can seem like a prison sentence as you relive points dropped over and over again.