Kieran Davies looks back on seven days of unsung heroes and football karma.
David Moyes tried for over ten years to get Everton into a higher league position than Man Utd, he has finally achieved this. With back to back league defeats, his Man Utd team sit in 12th position in the table with the quips of social media this week stating that Man Utd have announced they are changing their nickname from Red Devils and will now been known as Port Talbot as they sit in between Cardiff and Swansea, the pressure is mounting on the Scot. The reality is it will take time for him to shape the squad and how the club works towards his visions. Utd fans have been spoilt during the Fergie years while their competitors have been through many managers is search of the one to take their clubs forward. Rivals of the Old Trafford outfit would look upon this as ‘football karma’ and will revel in watching the struggle. Sunderland has never been a bigger game for players, fans and manager alike but a win will only paper over the cracks surely judgements should be made on the start of his tenure at the end of the season.
The real surprise for me so far is how Arsenal had a squad a week into the season who wasn’t good enough to even contemplate a top four finish, were condemned for not going on a ‘Brewster’s Millions’ spending spree in the summer and people felt the axe was imminent for Monsieur Wenger. Now six games in, they sit two points clear at the top and the only real addition to the squad is Mesut Ozil. Or was he? Many people overlooked the resigning of Mathieu Flamini and those who did notice the transfer ostracised it as more penny pinching and signing a player who the club means nothing to. The fact of the matter is he has added a battling quality to the Gunners midfield and breaks the play of the opponent’s midfield. This is an unfashionable position. Makele brought it to the limelight but there are many ‘unsung heroes’ who play this position. Lucas Leiva is a perfect example of this. He is probably the most unbrazilian player but every team needs someone who can put in this shift in their midfield. Back to our friends at the Emirates Stadium. I still think their squad does have frailties and inconsistent players but their fans should be allowed to enjoy the moment. The journey to The Hawthorns will seem a little more of a challenge after their result last week so this too should be an interesting encounter.
AVB spent big in the summer with club fully aware they could offset the splurge with the sale of Gareth Bale, as things stand it seems money wisely invested. With a late winner breaking Cardiff hearts, followed by a hard fought draw against Chelsea, a London derby at home against Sam Allardyce’s Hammers who haven’t won since the opening day of the season will appeal to all at the Lane. It could be a quiet day for the likes of the Spurs back four with Andy ‘Mr Glass’ Carroll still being rebuilt in some Texas research facility where they used to work on Steve Austin and Robocop the Hammers are somewhat lacking in the strikers department, that is unless strikers who don’t score are your bag. Whatever happens, be sure not to mention ‘the Y word’ and to thank the police for their censorship on your way out of the ground!
The early kick off pits Man City against Everton, with Roberto Martinez’s men having had an unbeaten start to the season, it should make for great viewing. During the week City showed Premier League titles come nicely with big investment but European pedigree will take time. They were played off the park by Pepe Guardiola’s men and with Everton having had a good record at the City of Manchester Stadium of late this will be a tough test for Pellegrini’s men. What Alvaro Negredo has to do to get a starting berth only their manager will know but every time he comes off the bench he looks impressive. Everton have got the inform Lukaku to trouble the City back line who seems capable of playing well anywhere but Stamford Bridge where he then becomes as useful as a British plug on the continent.
High flying Liverpool host Crystal Palace not the trip the struggling Londoners would have fancied. Last time out at Anfield, Southampton managed to sneak a 1-0 win, capitalising on Liverpool not being clinical with their chances, although you could argue at 0-0 Liverpool should have had a stone-wall penalty where Daniel Sturridge was penalised for trying to stay on his feet. The return of Luis Suarez will bolster the reds front line in the absence of Coutinho. Palace’s team sheet still looks like its full of the calibre of player who would struggle to get you a playoff spot in the Championship so I can’t see them keeping the home side at bay much in this match up. As usual the press churn out yawn-worthy stories speculating about Suarez’s future with the transfer window a mere 3 months away! Maybe we should have a ‘football gossip window’ too. The fact of the matter is Suarez would’ve cost Madrid £55m in the summer, January windows are notoriously more expensive so it would surely take a Bale-esque sized fee to prize him away whether he likes it or not. It’s amazing how Madrid a team from the cash strapped country of Spain spend so heavily despite bailouts from Herr Merkel, the Bernabau outfit have spent enough money that they could have built Spain another Gibraltar!!
Another big name visits South Wales, this time in the shape of Alan Pardew’s unpredictable Newcastle. The man with a contract so long its rumoured to be measured in light years, really can’t seem to put his finger on why his team can play like a top half team one week then look like they were a team thrown together by ‘The Make a Wish Foundation’ the next will be hoping its c’est magnifique this time around. Cardiff on the other hand have had a solid start to their season and will fancy putting in a good shift in front of their own fans. Craig Bellamy will face one of his former clubs and his pace will trouble Newcastle no doubt. I think the game will hinge on how quiet Ben Arfa and Cabaye are kept by the Cardiff team. Martin Jol is a man under pressure after watching his Fulham team lose to an industrious Cardiff team last time out and he will need to get a win against Mark Hughes’ Stoke to prolong his stay in West London. It will be a test of how much these players want to win for Jol with players like Berbatov, Bent and Taarabt not turning up enough on game day this season.
Hull face Aston Villa and will fancy adding to their points tally at home to Villa. Benteke is out injured and although they had a fantastic win against Man City last time out, I think Bruce will be targeting this as a winnable game. Southampton’s manager on the back of a win at Anfield has proclaimed he’s not interested in Europa League qualification but Champions League qualification, optimistic words indeed but you don’t sit at the chef’s table on the back of one service. They entertain Swansea this weekend, let’s hope the game is as entertaining as Pochettino’s ambitions. Elsewhere, the ‘not as special as he was before’ one, will take his Chelsea team to Norwich this weekend. They have struggled so far this season with some of their new signings taking time to acclimatise to their new surroundings. Based on last weekend’s results anything could happen and I think the Premier League is a better league for this. Who knows maybe every game will be decided by the science that is goal-line technology, maybe a referee will come out and apologise for a glaring mistake or maybe Arsene Wenger will sport a coat that doesn’t make him look like he’s REALLY concerned about rising sea levels……….either way more goals, more action and more magical moments please!