by Daisy Cutter
We’re only three weeks into a thirty-eight week season and if this was indeed the marathon that campaigns are so often compared to then each runner is still waving to the crowds with not even a hint of sweat on their brow.
So it would be pretty foolhardy to form any conclusions at this point right?
Here at Cutter towers however we scoff at such logic, toss caution to the winds of future ridicule and claim there are actually some things that can be deduced even at this early juncture. Here are our top ten…..
Michu is mustard
Already a candidate for signing of the season and we’ve barely got underway. The £2m steal from Rayo Vallecano has looked a sensation in the second striker role and has been instrumental in Swansea’s storming start. That’s a lot of S’s and here’s a few more – it’s scary to think he’s not even had a sniff of a Spanish cap.
Already revered in the Valleys Michu has pit away four in three and showed at the weekend that he’s pretty useful in the air too.
Man City defensive stronghold has weakened
With Kompany imperious, Lescott back to his Everton self and a team that equated the conceding of a goal to spitting on the baby Jesus Manchester City were positively miserly at the back last year. Throughout the entire campaign they let in only 29 (with approximately 30% of those coming from Savic howlers) which was an astonishing 20 less than third placed Arsenal.
Yet only three games in Mancini’s men have already shipped in five and the impenetrable foundation that the title was built upon is looking decidedly shaky.
It’s not just the numbers that concerns but the bewildering amount of times Kompany and co are being horrible exposed – at times outnumbered – by straightforward breakaways. They’re missing Barry and perhaps it’s only in his absence that the maligned midfielder’s worth is finally being recognised.
Rickie Lambert is this season’s Grant Holt
The 30 year old scouser has done the rounds, as they say, giving fine service to Macclesfield, Stockport, Rochdale and Bristol Rovers before becoming a totemic figure on the south coast banging in 27 goals last season to help take the Saints into heaven. Unfortunately the inherent snobbery within football means that taking such a long detour to the top is rarely rewarded and the fear was that a few poor displays would result in Lambert being considered Championship standard; that the glitz and glamour of the Premier League was a ‘step too far’.
That perception has already been shattered with goals against both Manchester clubs and a continuation of the devastation he can wreck on any defence in any league at any time.
He is destined to become this season’s Grant Holt and let us be the first to say ‘Lambert for England’.
Brendan Rodgers will not be given time
The Cutter’s Kieran Davies suggested in his fantastic piece on August 24th that Rodger’s tiki-taka revolution at Anfield will sort the Kop men out from the boys. Those who appreciate the scale of the task ahead of him will overlook initial poor performances and results aware that it will take time to implement his philosophy. Others will bay for his blood at the first signs of struggle and look for yet another short-term answer to a long-term problem.
The amount of #rodgersout I witnessed on Twitter on Saturday evening intimates that there are an awful lot of junior season ticket holders on the Kop at present.
The media are out for Spurs. The fans are not.
Boos may have rang out at the Lane after another disappointing late dropping of points but individually Spurs fans seem more morose than maddened. They appreciate this is a significant period of transition from Redknapp’s ‘go again boys’ approach to AVB’s meticulous methods and there will be darkness before the dawn.
‘Arry’s cronies in the media meanwhile are already sensing blood and limbering up for round two after a knock out in the first when the Portuguese boss was at Chelsea.
This time though it’s personal as anyone who succeeds Redknapp automatically becomes an enemy of the hacks who adore him.
If Villas-Boas is to be successful at Spurs it will be against a backdrop of press ridicule and pre-emptive screams of ‘crisis’.
Arsenal have found a back-bone
With three clean sheets on the trot (one of which was pertinently at Stoke, a place of previous bullyings) the Gunners are evidently benefiting from the tutelage of new assistant boss Steve Bould. The great Arsenal teams of recent times were all built on a sound defensive ethos and should it return it follows that the departure of RvP will be minimised and a trophy of some form could finally be paraded at the Emirates.
With four assists and a series of twists, turns and high-paced trickery the spirit of Eden has already blown a creative gale through a Chelsea side that could be accused of being too reliant on athleticism last term. The lad is a class apart.
West Ham will be the Prem powerhouses
Any doubt that Sam Allardyce would pack his team with powerful athletes and favour the more direct approach this season swiftly evaporated the moment Andy Carroll signed up for a campaign of aerial bombardment. In the Hammers previous two games keeper Jaaskelainen had lumped it long a total of 24 times. Against Fulham on Saturday he equalled that depressing tally.
Seeing Carroll – who to be fair beasted the Fulham back line throughout – hobble off and be replaced by Carlton Cole was less a substitution and more a tag wrestling switch.
Steve Clarke is a number one
The new Baggies gaffer has been one of the best assistants in Britain for some time, the unsung calm in Mourinho’s Chelsea hurricane, helping Zola guide the Hammers to 9th, and the sage in King Kenny’s court at Anfield. But the common consensus is that it’s extremely difficult to make the step up into the manager’s hot seat, a line of thinking that Clarke has quickly dispelled with a number of shrewd summer signings and a bright start for the Brom. Will it continue? Who knows, but already he has established himself a fine communicator and tactician and the future looks promising for one of the under-rated good guys of football.
Adam Johnson revitalised
In just ninety minutes against Swansea Johnson showed he is now freed of the shackles that Mancini placed upon him. He took players on for fun, crossed with precision and pace and even – and I had to rub my eyes at the sight – tracked back and tackled. Fellow debutant Steven Fletcher may have grabbed the headlines for his goal brace but it’s the skinny Wearsider who will illuminate the Stadium of Light in the months ahead.