by Steven S

North London has held the key to this summer’s biggest transfer news and first to lose their star player was Arsenal, finally conceding defeat in retaining RVP with the Dutchman signing for Manchester United in a four year deal. A lot has been written about his potential dream partnership with Rooney yet how it impacts on the United squad, in particular the other strikers, also offers an interesting context.

Danny Welbeck was due to complete the negotiations on a new contract reportedly agreeing a £75k a week deal. After scoring one of the goals of the tournament at the Euro’s to cap an impressive first full season leading the United attack, he now finds himself as the third choice striker behind the golden boys. Javier Hernández will also find time on the pitch hard to come by should RVP not pick up several injuries and although he still appears to be a fresh boy learning the game, the 24-year-old Mexican will have one eye on the next World Cup. Dimitar Berbatov may as well stay in bed.

It goes without saying that strength in depth is needed to challenge for the title but keeping a star studded stable happy for more than a season is a fine line to walk. Manchester City have had to loan out strikers not happy with their role on the bench, now left with Santa Cruz and Adebayor as financial burdens, Eden Dzeko becoming increasingly agitated and possible unrest from Balotelli who after a stunning Euro’s will believe first choice status should be his. Let us not forget that Alex Ferguson’s success has been built off the back of his ability to manage a large squad and will work beyond the grave to keep United above City.

At the top end of the week Jack Rodwell was surprisingly plucked from the Everton squad by Manchester City in a £12m deal. His development seems to have stalled over the past couple of seasons, something that can only change with consistent minutes on the pitch. For one reason or another he missed a large portion of last season’s games and breaking through to the Manchester City first eleven outside of the CO and FA Cup will prove difficult.

Footballer’s laziest player, Stuart Taylor, has finally been released from City following three years at the club and two pre season appearances on American tours. Wiki figures tells us he has racked up an impressive 91 appearances in 15 years as a professional, never quite managing to reach his dizzy heights at Arsenal again, where he was between the sticks 30 times in 8 years. Reading are believed to be favourites to sign him for a year as back up following a trial last month, which would make them his 9th club at the age of 31. “I may be one of the worst buys in the history of the Premiership but I don’t care”. At least Winston Bogarde was honest.

Newcastle have signed  Vurnon Anita from Ajax to help bolster the centre of their midfield as they head into Europe once more. Ba and Cisse have both distanced themselves from transfer early in the summer and the Barcodes will remain a threat to the top four this season. Staying in the North East Louis Saha has signed up with Sunderland for one season where his success will depend on what is left in his 34-year-old legs after years of injuries.

Kyle Bartley left Arsenal to join Swansea after a year on loan with Rangers whilst the Welsh club are hoping to bring in Valencia’s Pablo Hernandez before the transfer curfew. It was believed Southampton were about to sign Gaston Ramirez from Bologna for around €15m although club resident Albano Guaraldi insists he will not released for less than €20m. Blackpool winger Matt Phillips has been heavily linked with a £6m move to the Saints, Ian Holloway insisting that his player has been tapped up.

Over in West London Joey Barton has lost his squad number for the season ahead with rumours linking him with an odd loan move to Marseille. QPR continue to raise the stakes investing heavily in wages on squad players from the Premiership, bringing in Jose Bosingwa from rivals Chelsea. There should be enough quality in the squad to stay in the league which must again be the minimum requirement to avoid complete financial disaster should they be relegated. Oussama Assaidi has signed from Heerenveen and heads to Liverpool to help solve the width problem within the squad, Brendan Rodgers promising one or two more signings to follow.

One of which could have been Clint Dempsey last month and despite Rodgers admittance in their interest the deal has not progressed much to Martin Jol’s disgust. Dempsey has refused to play for the club and has subsequently been find, so with 12 days to go until the end of the window, he remains a prime target waiting to be snapped up.

In glorious Technicolor sunshine the Premiership kicked off yesterday, seven games hoping to reinvigorate a country still pining after the dreamlike Olympics. With Fulham and Arsenal both minus their top goal scorers from last season, it was the Cottagers (that always make me smirk) who appear to be adapting to their new set up. Croatian Mladen Petrić bagged two goals on his debut , his second a wonderful strike into the top corner. This was between goals from Damien Duff and Alexander Kacaniklic before Sidwell completed the 5-0 rout at home to Norwich from the spot.

The spine of the Arsenal team has changed once again and it showed during their 0-0 battle at home against a traditionally deep lying Sunderland. Diaby, Cazorla and Podolski have had next to no time to acclimatise to each other, the Gunners looking very blunt at the head of their usual competent passing game. Frustration was growing amongst the home supporters as the game wore on and Sunderland will be happy with a well deserved point.

Last season it took QPR a while to piece together some points after the influx of players during the January transfer window, which may prove to be the case once again at the start of this campaign. Swansea continued where they left of last season hammering home five goals without reply from Nathan Dyer, Rangel and bargain signing of the summer Michu also scoring a brace.

Roy Hodgson may receive a phone call tonight for advice on how to lose games in Liverpool and stay alive. Brendan Rodgers letter writing skills are second to none but he will need a banner in front of the bench if there are any more performances like this. To call his first match a disaster would be a compliment, conceding three goals, two penalties and Daniel Agger to a red card. Lukaku now has breathing space away from the Drogba tag and scored a Drogba-like goal on his debut for the Baggies, Zoltan Gera smashed home the first and Odemwingie scored from the spot. An impressive start for Steve Clarke who will need to make the most of their home ties.

It was a case of welcome back to the Premiership for Reading who entertained Stoke, defending poorly and concededing an untidy goal to Michael Kightly in the first half. The Royals dominated possession, battling hard as it appeared they would leave the game with nothing, until Stoke’s Dean Whitehead fouled Noel Hunt to concede a penalty. The central defender was sent off before Adam Le Fondre stepped up to convert and secure a valuable point for the home side.

In the battle of the clarets in East London, Sam Allardyce returned to the Prem with West Ham welcoming Paul Lambert and his team.  Kevin Nolan is also a man with a point to prove as he returned to the top flight and started his season with a goal from close range giving the Hammers their first three points of the season.

Tottenham went down to a late penalty at Newcastle, as Ben Arfa was caught between challenges from Lennon and van der Vaart before he stepped up to convert. Demba Ba opened the scoring early in the second half, curling in a delightful right footed shot past Friedel, hoping that he will not fall under the shadow of Cisse once again. Defoe grabbed the initial Tottenham equaliser, a result of one of the many chances created by Tottenham who will desperately need two more strikers in before the 31st.

The two Manchester clubs, Chelsea, Wigan, Southampton and Everton all play their first games today and tomorrow, with huge anticipation on the new RVP and Rooney partnership. There is also one isolated fixture during the week with Reading travelling to Stamford Bridge.

With things clicking into place in the transfer market, expect more moves to take place this week as deadwood is shifted on and welcomed with open arms elsewhere. Monday will herald the start of the bleating amongst work colleagues, so get your hard hat on and get ready for another nine months of battle. We out like the sun. Peace.