Kieren Davies emerges blinking into the light after seven long days to relish the prospect of the most watched match ofthe football calender and anticipate a darkening of the mood for Villans.
International football interrupts our love affair with the Premier League and our clubs who mean so much to us just like Mother Nature’s monthly gift to all women interrupts all thoughts of a romantic weekend away with the other half. Well, the longest seven days of any man’s month has ended and the league is back with a bang! With news that David De Gea, the man who wanted to be anywhere other than Old Trafford signing a new four year deal, the mockery of player’s commitment is all too clear to be seen. Agents starting rumours of moves just to manufacture new deals. Players who are financial renegades and will pledge their allegiance to whoever is the highest bidder. The days of local players who dreamt of playing for their local team and would play for free just to pull that shirt on, are long and distant memories from a bygone era.
Contracts mean nothing nowadays other than whether clubs get what they deem as the true financial value of their assets. This may just be a case of Man Utd not wanting to let another Paul Pogba walk away for nothing. It will be interesting whether he walks back into the number one spot for this weekend’s fixture with Liverpool. Yes that’s right, the league returns with THE most watched match in the footballing calendar. Last March’s encounter was watched by a worldwide audience of an estimated 700 million, while the Barcelona versus Real Madrid match up in the same month only drew a mere 400-500 million estimated viewers. The Champions League final last season, the pinnacle of the season’s calendar was only viewed by an estimated 180 million viewers. This one will be as heated a contest as ever with both managers feeling pressure after defeats in their last games.
There are a lot of similarities between LVG and Brendan Rodgers currently. They both manage clubs who expect to see Champions League qualification obtained. They have both spent a lot of money on assembling their current squads. They are both at the helm of the two most decorated clubs in English football and neither sets of fans have seen the abundance of trophies they were once accustomed to of late. Defeat for either side could also spell the owners of the club to start searching for their replacements. Passion means everything in these games and these factors contribute what could be quite a spectacle for us all but one thing is for certain, the losers will feel it and for some time to come. The pain doesn’t stop until you can right the wrongs which requires another matchup between the pair.
The early kick off sees Everton host Jose Mourinho’s Chelsea. Fresh from a home defeat to Crystal Palace, things have taken a further nosedive for Chelsea fans with news that their shot stopper Courtois will be out for some time as he requires a knee operation. As good as he was at Stoke, things haven’t started as Begovic would have liked and despite a decent performance against Man City he still conceded three goals in that game, not something Chelsea keepers are used to. Martinez’s side will feel this wounded lion is there for the taking and will fancy their chances of adding more misery to the stuttering start to the season the champions have made.
Pardew’s Palace will still be basking in the limelight of their win at Stamford Bridge but they cannot take their eye off the ball as Man City are the visitors to Selhurst Park this weekend. As Palace start competing with the bigger teams and beating them more consistently there will be a different kind of pressure on the team than what they are used to and no doubt Alan Pardew will try and deflect this attention away from his players. City have a 100% record to maintain after all.
Arsenal have been slammed by their fans for not spending in the transfer window, then announcing the long term injury of Danny Welbeck after the window closed. They will feel the need to hit the ground running against a Stoke City team who have not found this a happy hunting ground for them historically. The side have created a plethora of chances in the four games they’ve played so far without converting chances, something that needs to change. Two of the new boys to the league meet at Carrow Road as Bournemouth look to build on their impressive start to life in the big time. Both teams have a return of four points from their opening four games but Eddie Howe’s side will fancy themselves more than the hosts after a crushing 3-0 defeat last time out. The other newly promoted team Watford entertain Swansea City who have had a great start to the campaign. Sitting pretty in fourth place so early on, they will feel this is a game they need to stamp their authority on if they are going to push on as a club to the next level.
Tony Pullis will welcome the distraction of a home game against Southampton as he has spent the last week or so speaking about one topic and one topic only, their want away striker Berahino. It will be interesting to see how the player deals with the issues he faces at The Hawthorns as I am sure the reception he will receive from his own fans will not be a welcome one in the midst of his comments at the end of the transfer window. Sunderland and Spurs meet at the Stadium of Light and no two teams could be more desperate for their first win of the season. Advocaat’s side will feel buoyed by the manner of the point they earnt at Villa Park last time out after finding themselves 2-0 down while Pochettino will feel the pressure of the fans expectation firmly on his shoulders. Surely given the need for both sides to pick up three points, knowing how these things pan out, this has a Jermain Defoe winner written all over it! The late kick off on Sunday sees a Midlands derby as in form Leicester face arch rivals Aston Villa in front of their own fans. Ranieri could not have hoped for a better start to his reign and probably wouldn’t have dared to have dreamt that they would be in third place in the table after four games. They will really fancy worsening the mood of Villa fans by the end of this one.
Monday night football sees Bilic’s West Ham looking to build on their emphatic win at Anfield as they face host Newcastle at Upton Park. Ironically this is their last season at their iconic home ground before their move to the new stadium and they are finding it hard to pick up points in front of the Hammers faithful. As if his tenure at local rivals Middlesbrough didn’t make his arrival at St James Park difficult enough, finding themselves already in the bottom three is making matters so much harder for Steve McClaren. Whoever wants this more will no doubt take the spoils but you really could flip a coin to decide who that is going to be. It is still early enough in the season that three points and the right results elsewhere can see you turn your league position on its head but in the most competitive league in Europe, that’s still no easy feat.