Only three games into the season and there is only one team left standing with a 100% record. Having lost their crown last season to Chelsea, Pellegrini’s side have certainly hit the ground running this term. With Watford travelling to the Etihad this weekend you cannot see past them continuing their current perfect start to the season. With news coming across the channel that the signing of Kevin De Bruyne will be confirmed in the next 24 hours already City are looking like the team to beat. I would still question their depth up front if Aguero gets injured as Bony would struggle to convince his car insurance provider that he was a professional footballer currently with the amount of game time he is experiencing. As much as Man City are ridiculed for their lavish spending, there is another growing problem in English football which Liverpool more than most are guilty of – bank rolling other football club’s seasons. If you pay in excess of £10m+ for a player, that player should surely be someone earmarked to be part of your first team squad at the very least. With news breaking that Lazar Markovic is going on a season long loan to Fenerbache and having just loaned out Balotelli to AC Milan for the same period, why are the owners allowing him to cover up such monumental transfer blunders? The club have got form for this behaviour in the past also. Players like Aquillani, Borini and Andy Carroll have all been loaned out in the past with the club loaning them paying none of their wages or taking advantage of the option to buy the players at the end of the loan period. For me, Liverpool’s current squad is short of depth of creativity and having sold Sterling surely a winger who you have paid £20m should be one of the last people you send off on loan. West Ham travel to Anfield this weekend and face a Liverpool team who have not conceded a goal this season. If they could start looking more with it at the other end of the pitch, it would be a great start to the season for Rodgers’ side.
The early kick off this weekend sees Newcastle take on Arsenal, the team so many tipped to challenge for the title before the season started. I thought at the time, considering it was pretty much the same squad as last season, this was a bold claim on the back of signing Petr Cech. Imagine my surprise when Arsenal still get opened up easier than a Poundland with a previous X-Factor contestant walking past coincidentally with a pair of oversized scissors capable of cutting big ribbons. Newcastle don’t seem to have made any improvement from John Carver’s struggling side last season under Steve McClaren and he will be desperately looking for a home win to appease the Toon faithful! Fortunately for McClaren, as the adage says there is always someone worse off than you, in this case Sunderland. Despite rescuing a point at home against Swansea last weekend, they are looking worryingly out of their depth this soon into the season. They will need to find some form to bag three points as they travel to Aston Villa. This game does not leap off the page to any real lover of the beautiful game as these are two teams struggling to find some kind of form. Meanwhile after a first ever win in the Premier League, Eddie Howe’s Bournemouth will host Leicester City. This should be a really interesting matchup with Ranieri’s side having made such a good start to the season themselves. Faltering Chelsea will need to step up the plate sooner or later before Jose Mourinho exhausts his book ‘101 reasons why your team didn’t play to their potential again’, a very thoughtful gift no doubt in the club’s ‘secret Santa’ last Christmas from Eva Carneiro. Crystal Palace are the visitors to Stamford Bridge this weekend.
It seems Tony Pullis may be very close to the signing of Jonny Evans from Manchester United. He will be hoping to sure up a Baggies defence which has leaked that many goals it sees them rooted to the bottom of the table. His side travel to the Britannia Stadium, a previous stomping ground of Pullis which will no doubt still hold some favour as a venue to the West Brom manager. I hope he gets a good reception after all he did making Stoke City a Premier League side and ensuring that they retained that status season on season. Winless Tottenham Hotspur host Roberto Martinez’s Everton at White Hart Lane in the evening kick off. While both teams went without wins last time out, Everton were enjoying one of their best starts to a Premier League season. Despite this a win for Pochettino’s Spurs would see the two sides exchange places in the league table. Spurs will be hoping that the £22m they have paid for Son will take some of the pressure off Harry Kane up top. This game comes too soon for the new signing with international clearance and work permits required before he can don the cockerel of Tottenham.
Elsewhere Ronald Koeman is suffering from that tricky second season after doing so well taking over the reins when Pochettino left for pastures new. This week saw them embarrassed by FC Midtjylland as they were dumped out of the Europa League before they could even get past the qualifying rounds. They will need to make a statement against Norwich at St Mary’s before the international break interrupts matters. Norwich are undefeated away from home under their new manager still and this will by no means be an easy fixture for Koeman. Swansea have made a solid start to their season and will feel disappointed by the conceding of a goal late on allowing Sunderland to share the points last week but they face a tricky fixture if they wish to bounce back to winning ways as Manchester United are the visitors to South Wales. Van Gaal has come out stating he wants his side to show how much they have improved since their defeat to the Swans in his first game in charge on the opening day of last season at Old Trafford. After a couple of wins against the might of the Belgian League, United fans seem to think their side are heading for big things this season. Personally, I think they should be focussing on their lack of creativity in the final third and their inability to break down Newcastle at home last weekend. At least 85% of the Premier League teams are significantly stronger than Club Brugge, that I can assure you. If they rely solely on Wayne Rooney and Javier Hernandez to fire them to the title, they are going to fall a long way short of the mark. Rooney has only posted in excess of 20 goals in a season twice in his career while Hernandez managed to look below average in a team of Galactico’s last season.
This is the last round of fixtures before the ‘time of the month’ for any Premier League football fan………an international break! This is a good and a bad thing for a lot of sides. There are teams out there who will want to right some wrongs before the enforced break as three points can make things look a lot better going into that, than another pointless weekend. There will players looking to put themselves in that final shop window before the closing of the transfer window which will be firmly shut tight by the end of the international break. There will be a lot of teams wanting that window to close sooner rather than later as they try hard to keep hold of their prized assets with the big vultures flying overhead, all of which should contribute to another hectic weekend of Premier League fixtures.