Kieran Davies looks back on a rip-roaring seven days in football.
For months football fans across the country have had that empty feeling without being able to fill their weekends with the roller coaster of emotions, passion and excitement that the football season brings. Well that wait is well and truly over with the kick off of the Premier League last weekend and it certainly didn’t disappoint. Many claim the Premier League to be the best league in the world and it would be hard to argue otherwise. To the true football fan, the result of their team can make or break their weekend, but we wouldn’t have it any other way. At 2.59pm in North London there were in excess of 50,000 Arsenal fans salivating at the thought of the season to come, by 4.20pm they had ‘The Samaritans’ on speed dial. This is football. It is amazing how comprehensive wins against Indonesia and Vietnam can cloud your judgement on your team’s potential.
The season kicked off with Liverpool’s game covered by new broadcaster BT Sport. To be honest Jake Humphries is refreshing from the usual offering of mundane hosts of football shows and their first live game didn’t disappoint. If it were a game of ‘Jeopardy’ the answer (or question depending how you look at it) would be………How have Stoke City managed to hold on to Asimir Begovic for 200. The keeper single-handedly kept his side only one goal behind and in the 88th minute his efforts were almost rewarded until Simon Mignolet decided his debut was to be more ‘Roy of the Rovers’ than the damp squib it had seemed destined for when the referee pointed to the spot. His debut had started with a real nervousness to his game but football loves nothing more than turning zeroes into heroes. The eruption of the Anfield faithful and players after Mignolet’s double save was reminiscent to those European nights their fans crave to have back. When I say European nights I don’t include the Europa League as I’m a strong believer you’re better off not in Europe. It’s like being told you’re being treated to a holiday in Europe and then you’re carted off to a hostel in the Isle of Man. Technically correct but very different to the image you had. This is the comparison of these two European competitions. But that’s just my opinion I am sure there are fans out there who love nothing more than travelling 3,000 miles to watch their favourite players pit their wits against some of Russia’s finest yak farmers.
David Moyes’ Man Utd team put in a good performance as they brushed aside Swansea City with ease with Robin Van Persie looking particularly dangerous. This was a potential banana skin for the defending champions as Swansea have been somewhat of a surprise package since their addition to the Premier League but they came through it with flying colours. Their rivals from the other side of Manchester followed suit by running riot over Newcastle with a comprehensive win but both these sides will be tested far more over the course of the season as both these games were very one sided affairs. I think both of the Manchester clubs will spend big before the end of the transfer window although it would seem to many that when everyone sat down at the Etihad to watch the rules on financial fair play someone sat on the remote control, hit play on the DVD and they all inadvertently watched the film Brewster’s Millions.
Jose’s second coming produced two wins for his new look Chelsea team but the lack of goals from his front men will be of concern to him, how he probably wishes he could shine a big D into the night sky and Didier Drogba appears to answer his problems up top. A better test of his side’s credentials lies ahead with his next game at Old Trafford. Will he running up that touchline once again? Some camps seem to think that Mourinho wanted to be offered the Man Utd job but he never would be a good fit for the longevity they were looking for with his reputation for often jumping ship. His being overlooked will give him drive to get one over on the champions.
Martin Jol’s Fulham seemed to address their away day blues with their first outing with an impressive win over Paulo Di Canio’s Sunderland. Jol has made some good signings this summer Scott Parker, Adel Taarabt, Mark Stekelenburg and Darren Bent will all make big contributions to the team and I fancy Fulham to have a good season. Southampton and West Ham had wins in games they would have fancied their chances, West Brom may struggle without the goals of Lukaku and haven’t been helped by Nicolas Anelka putting himself out to pasture. New boys Cardiff struggled to get their bearings in their new surroundings but can be forgiven for this stage fright. Crystal Palace lost to a changing Tottenham team in the absence of their talisman Bale. Palace’s team sheet seemed more fitting to being read over a P.A. system at Oakwell than Old Trafford. Bruce’s Hull City Tigers weren’t gggggrrrreeeeaaaattttt at Chelsea but never realistically expected anything out of this game.
Norwich and Everton played out an entertaining draw with the toffees young talent Ross Barkley being the talk of tabloids after this one. Both managers would probably settle for this result as this game could’ve swung either way and there wasn’t much between these teams. Roberto Martinez will no doubt have a ‘transfer-window calendar’ at the moment where he hopes to open the final door of the calendar and find Fellaini and Baines still there. This weekend throws up some more interesting fixtures, predicting the outcome is still tough until we’ve got through enough games to see any form in the teams. One thing’s for sure, whether you’re lucky enough to be sat in front of the T.V. watching Jeff Stelling and the boys or cheekily checking scores from the waiting room in New Look with the other half, two minutes can make or break your weekend. Whether you’re left with that empty feeling of a TV personality finding out ‘she looked older than she was’ or that elation of an Arsenal fan on hearing they’ve signed someone who cost more than their season ticket, it should be another rip roaring weekend of football.