In his regular column Kieran Davies looks back on seven days of stunners, shocks and awaking from hibernation and hopes for more of the same in the days ahead.
So it’s Friday night, the working week has ended and you’ve got the usual challenge of trying to find something to amuse you to celebrate the end of the week. Well not tonight, Friday Night Football makes a rare appearance in the Premier League fixture list. Tim Sherwood’s new look Villa side take on Louis Van Gaal’s squad of central midfielders. Both teams managed wins in their opening day games, only one team can retain a 100% record at the end of this evening. As an outsider looking in, LVG’s United squad looks unbalanced and as a result he is playing players out of their natural positions. This may occasionally work with some players but for the money being forked out for the players now, I’m sure the club’s fans would expect to at the very least see players accomplished in the position they are intended to play. Pressure is also on Wayne Rooney to provide the goals this season with a distinct lack of back up options in that position after the sale of RVP. LVG’s £230m ‘work in progress’ (sic) should have enough to see off Sherwood’s men.
The early kick off on Saturday takes place at St Mary’s where Koeman’s side face Everton. Ronald will be hoping that this is a routine victory for his side and that there is no need for him to be up and down out of his Recaro seat as the Dutchman will be on crutches after recent surgery on an Achilles tendon. The Toffees do not have a good record at this ground and have not won in their last six outings. They will need to defend better than they did in their recent match versus Watford. Both Sunderland and Norwich got off to the sort of start last week that had ‘struggle’ written all over their season. With a full house at the Stadium of Light the Sunderland faithful will be hoping to see their team notch their first win of the season against the Premier League newcomers. Swansea surprised everyone at Stamford Bridge when they held the champions to a draw and should have possibly won after Chelsea were reduced to ten men. Had you offered Gary Monk a ‘Desmond’ (a 2-2 draw) at the start of the day I am sure he would have snapped your arm off. The Swans now have a home game against Newcastle under the guidance of new manager Steve McClaren. From what I saw of their draw last week, my tip of the day is have a punt on Mitrovic being sent off. His debut introduction to the fans last week began with a horrendous two footed tackle and with the player being known as a bit of a hot head at previous clubs, you can kind of rationalise why no big club went in for him.
Tottenham will feel they were hard done by last week with defeat at Old Trafford being magnified by the only and deciding goal being a Kyle Walker own goal. In large parts of the game they outplayed their opponents on their own turf but did not take their chances. It’s early days in the season, fans will hope these teething problems get erased soon. This week Spurs host Stoke City with new signing Shaqiri. Thoughts are split on this landmark signing, while playing for Switzerland the player looks world class but why did he spend only 6 months at Inter Milan and why were they happy to see him leave? Hughes’ side didn’t create much in their first outing at home against Liverpool in what was a very drab match settled by a Coutinho stunner. He will be hoping Afellay and Shaqiri can provide the opportunities to fire his side up the league table. Pochettino will be hoping for a much needed win to bounce back after defeat at Old Trafford and inspire the North London fans that the season has something to hold for them. Poor home form cost Spurs last season.
Newly promoted Watford will be buoyed by their performance at Goodison Park on the opening day and the point they picked up although they will be disappointed to have not got all the spoils. Tony Pullis’ West Brom are the visitors and after being well beaten by Man City on Monday, expect the Baggies to be difficult to break down as they will no doubt have had training drills coming out of their ears this week. His sides have always been built on a tight defence so the Man City defeat will have hurt him. One of the big surprises in the opening weekend and the proverbial ‘performance of the week’ award has to go to West Ham. Their 2-0 win at The Emirates nobody foresaw, not even the West Ham faithful. They will be looking to build on this with a win over Ranieri’s Leicester. This will be a tough game for ‘The Tinkerman’ as Leicester struggled on the road in their first season in the league. The Hammers will be hoping to make The Boleyn Ground a fortress in their final season in their much loved ground.
Alan Pardew faces a wounded Arsenal at Selhurst Park on Sunday in the early game with Palace fans hoping for a derby win to add to their three points on the road last time out. Cabaye seems to have slotted into that familiar role we saw of him at Newcastle already with the Frenchman pivotal in last week’s win. This is not the game Arsene will have wanted after his side were left wanting at home last week. Remarkably there was lots of talk of an Arsenal title challenge prior to the season kick off, a bold claim when they haven’t really added much to the side from last season who were way off the pace. Cech everyone thought was the answer but there are plenty more things Wenger needs to address before they are at the title hopefuls stage for me. This game just wets the appetite for the main event of Super Sunday……..Man City versus Chelsea. A chance for Pellegrini to kick a rival when they are down. After dropping points at home, a defeat in Manchester would put a five point gap in between the two sides after only two games. It will be an interesting match up to see how these two big title heavyweights have improved on their squads for last season. Sterling will be looking to win over the home fans as he makes his Etihad debut. Has the beast that is Yaya Toure awoken from his footballing hibernation after his performance at The Hawthorns?
Brendan Rodgers Liverpool will look to maintain their 100% start with a game against Premier League newbies Bournemouth. Liverpool like many teams need to really turn things around at home this season. Anfield was a place sides like Bournemouth used to fear when looking at the fixture list and the Northern Irishman has had enough time and money to start making that a reality again. Defensively things looked slightly better last week with Gomez and Clyne putting in good shifts and even the much maligned Dejan Lovren being praised by fans for his solid display. Reds fans will be hoping Roberto Firmino makes the starting line up on his home debut. Christian Benteke will be looking to win over the home fans as he makes his first outing at Anfield in a Liverpool top. With James Milner pulling the strings in the centre this should be a convincing Liverpool win if they have any aspirations of being in those top four places come the end of the season. Titles are never won early in the season but the start you make now dictates what you can achieve when it comes to the business end of the season so hopeful fans up and down the country will be hoping their side makes a Saturday evening with Gary Lineker and the BBC’s very own Right Said Fred tribute act (Shearer and Murphy) pleasurable. For those who don’t I feel your pain in making the disappointing Saturday evening ritual…… TV Guide > Planner > Scheduled > Match of the Day > Delete