So the season is back with a bang and no one could say they are sorry to have witnessed that – well everyone bar Arsenal fans that is. Given the club’s abysmal performance on the opening day of their season, being booed off looked pretty tame. God only knows what Mourinho would have quipped had he seen that. After all this is the manager who noted shock when winning his first title and seeing runners up Manchester United get applauded at Old Trafford, claiming: “in my country you would get bottles thrown at you for doing that.” Going down 3-1 at home to a candidate for relegation is another matter entirely and Arsenal have to act now.
The Gunners to one side, the other four ‘contenders’ for the title all opened their campaigns with victory and pretty decent ones at that, each showing something had changed from last season. Perhaps not the ones who will win the title, but by their performance on Sunday, Spurs could well bag fourth place this term.
Not only have the club made some very shrewd acquisitions in the likes of Nacer Chadli who added some much needed flair to the side, and Etienne Capoue who despite coming on as a sub, made more than a passing claim for a place in the starting eleven, they have added Roberto Soldado, a proven goal scorer who is already off the mark this season.
Despite going 1-0 up from the aforementioned Soldado, last season Spurs would have slipped up during the last ten minutes and recorded a 1-1 draw – and dropped two vital points that add up throughout the course of a season and equal fifth place. Not anymore, and even without Gareth Bale, Andre Villas Boas’ men looked more than capable of producing the flair and grinding it out if necessary.
Defending Champions Manchester United begun against a Swansea side who will have no problem finishing in the top ten this season if their unlucky performance against the Red Devils was anything to go by, where the manager may have changed but the star factor for United certainly has not. Wayne Rooney can get as angry as he wants, but one look at Robin Van Persie’s performance should abate any confusion. The Dutchman is the star man and will be the difference for David Moyes side this term in the tight games and the one to break the deadlock and potentially win them the title.
That opening day victory was all important and the manner in which it came went a way to silencing the critics of Moyes who seems to be getting it in the neck rather early into his reign at Old Trafford. A win against Swansea is one thing, but beating Jose Mourinho’s Chelsea on Monday night will be the real early test of the former Everton manager’s credentials.
During their opening game, we saw a Chelsea side who were spurred on by the obvious emotion of the Special One and his homecoming. The stadium announcer summed it up pretty well when introducing Mourinho 2.0 noting:”I am looking forward to introducing this manager much more than the last one,” and how the Stamford Bridge faithful loved that.
Mourinho aside – if that can ever really happen – Chelsea looked assured in the first half and whilst Sky pundit Graham Souness may have gushed slightly too far about Chelsea playing like Barcelona (literally being so enthusiastic viewers must have half expected a spontaneous rendition of ‘Jose Mourinho’ from the pundit) the midfield looked sensational at times with everything good going through Eden Hazard and new boy Kevin De Bruyne looking like he had played with the team all his life. This is without the likes of Juan Mata who did not even feature. The second half was more the Mourinho we knew last time around, and Chelsea showed yet again that they are able to grind a game out and soak up the pressure, not even looking like conceding a chance let alone a goal to the opposition.
One thing that Mourinho is still chasing is that elusive forward and given the display by Flopando sorry Fernando Torres, the club are in dire need of one to negotiate the more difficult games, especially in Europe.
A club who are not in need of a forward – or anything for that matter- is Manchester City who may have been the last to begin their title challenge but were certainly worth the wait. Yes, the Joe Kinnear project looked simply woeful, with Geordie fans hoping that speed dial is used and fast to bring in some players this summer, but City for their part looked a very strong threat.
With quality in all positions in the field and a squad that was only strengthened this summer with the likes of Alvaro Negredo and Fernandinho, manager Manuel Pellegrini has perhaps the best and most settled squad of his career at his disposal. Pellgrini is more than capable of making big things happen with them. The capture of Jesus Navas is looking like being a huge factor this season and especially in Europe, the winger will shine. Come the end of the season, City fans will rejoice the Spanish International finally managed to overcome his intense homesickness for that move that is for sure.
Keeping Edin Dzeko and allowing the top scorer of last season to flourish looks like another top decision and playing Dezko effectively and showing confidence in the forward makes all the difference -Roberto are you reading this? The forward was a contender for man of the match against Newcastle.
This week Gerard Pique made a reference to the fact that people call La Liga a two horse race, yet out of the last ten seasons, the Premier League has been just as bad – given his side’s demolition of Levante, being 6-0 up before half time and Real Madrid getting three points to boot, Pique may want to reconsider that comment. La Liga will once again be won by Real Madrid or most likely Barcelona. The Premier League however is anyone’s guess and judging by the opening weekend, will be a tight and enthralling race at that.