In his weekly Cutter column Kieran Davies looks at a £60m rose, a car full of concrete, and the ginger Pirlo.
As we creep closer and closer to transfer deadline day, teams up and down the country try to make the final changes to their squad to help them fulfil their season’s goals. No sooner were MK Dons players waking a little fuzzy headed after celebrations for their 4-0 Carling Cup win over Man Utd, Angel Di Maria was finalising a £60m transfer to the team with Wednesday nights to themselves. Di Maria is a world class player which will no doubt make him stand out like a rose amongst thorns judging by the remnants of the Fergie era. Winless in the league this season, their home ground dishing out three points to visitors quicker than a poorly calibrated speed camera and a new manager hell-bent on playing a formation he doesn’t have the players for, things are quite testing for the Old Trafford faithful. This is the reality that has to be accepted at some point that the Fergie era was something which it will takes years if not decades to replicate. The same as Liverpool chase another Paisley/Shankly era, these times of dominance and success are rare and rebuilding not only takes patience from the owners as they have to invest time into one manager but also from the fans. United’s owners seem to be ploughing money into the problem with the Man City approach to asserting yourself amongst the honours. It’s a risky business model that can backfire as easily as it can work.
Liverpool seem to be taking time to mimic the raw attacking play of last season to which most attribute to needing time to let the new signings settle in. I don’t support this mindset as I just think that the same problems are still there, the defence. For 30 odd minutes at Man City, Liverpool controlled the game and didn’t look in any danger at all. Poor defending gifted City the lead and both other goals were rather sloppy defending. Something is not working on the training ground. Personally I think Martin Skrtel brings an air of madness to the defence and it’s time for him to move on. An international yes, but often his positional play and marking are what you’d expect from a drug addled festival goer who you’ve enlisted into a makeshift side of people he’s never met before. With a trip to White Hart Lane this weekend it shows how there is no time in the Premier League to let up and Liverpool need to win this game to impress upon the fans after last weekend’s defeat. Mario Balotelli and Adam Lallana will both be available for the trip to a side who’ve won both of their opening games. Liverpool fans will be worried about awaking to Sky Sports News and hearing that Balotelli has filled Raheem Sterling’s car full of concrete, with him in it and as a result he is out for three weeks while they chisel him out of his car.
It’s too early to even look at who has a 100% record as the fixture list dictates until about 10 games in but only four teams boast that record currently. Spurs will be looking to make that three on the spin against a team who tore them apart in their own backyard last season. It will be their first test of the season against one of the ‘big 6’ sides but they will be keen on revenge for last season. That result aside, White Hart Lane is never an easy place to go (and listen to Southampton songs). Arsenal showed some fight against Everton coming back from two goals down to earn a hard fought point in a tricky fixture. Helped by Everton seemingly hitting the wall at 80 minutes, Wenger’s team really took advantage with goals from Ramsey and Giroud. Everton will need to play for the full 90 minutes if they hope to take anything from Chelsea this weekend. Having added Samuel Eto’o to their ranks it would be rather fitting for the Cameroonian to shine or maybe summer acquisition Romelu Lukaku also from the bridge. Whether Diego Costa plays may play a big part too as he recovers from a muscle strain but should he be injured it will only show Chelsea’s lack of depth in this position. With Torres apparently off to AC Milan on a two year loan deal Jose’s only alternative is to play Schurrle up top. They have won their first two games with ease but when watching them against Leicester last weekend, in midfield and attack they look scaringly good but Leicester were still able to create a handful of good chances for themselves showing Chelsea’s defensive frailties. Hope for the rest of the league. Man City managed to beat Liverpool without even shifting out of second gear but even so Sergio Aguero showed his worth to the team and continued his immense goal return. With Aguero in the side, any team in Europe would find City a difficult proposition. Again though, they were made to look very ordinary by Liverpool for 30 minutes which should give opponents hope but it is a tall order for Mark Hughes’ Stoke side this weekend. He will need his star proposition Bojan firing on all cylinders to even have a glimmer of hope.
Swansea have a real chance of continuing their 100% record with a home game against West Brom. Considering their opening game was away to Man Utd most Swans fans would have laughed if you told them they would have an unbeaten record come week four, Monk will be delighted. Both Burnley and Leicester host glamour teams this weekend and this is what getting to the Premier League is all about for them. Man Utd will take Angel Di Maria to Burnley for a debut while Arsenal will hope they can cope with the absence of Giroud at the King Power Stadium. Neil Warnock takes his Palace team to St James’ Park this weekend with both teams hoping for a first win of the season. The loser in this game will find the table depressing reading even this early in the season. Sam Allardyce will be under pressure to get his West Ham team performing in front of their own fans against Koeman’s Southampton. They looked impressive in defeat at Anfield but found West Brom hard to break down at home themselves. A win for either team could act as a springboard to their season.
QPR were described as a team of individuals by Redknapp in defeat against Spurs last week so they will need to address things pretty quickly at home to Poyet’s Sunderland. Big things were expected second time around in the Premier League, well safety with ease for sure but so far it has been a baptism of fire. Paul Lambert will be looking to continue their impressive start to the season as they entertain Hull City at home. Hull seem to be taking a while to find the right answers in vacant positions since selling players but will be hoping to click sooner rather than later. With an international break where England fans can look forward to such dwivel as Woy Hodgson trying to persuade them all is wosy as he’s found the ginger Pirlo in Jack Colback, fans will be keen that this weekend is full of goals and action and for teams who don’t achieve three points, have a while to dwell on those first few games before the next.