A few weeks in, how are the big 4……ish looking? I say 4ish because the days of “the big 4” are long gone. How much easier was it when it was United, Chelsea, Arsenal and Liverpool in whatever order you wanted? Nowadays we have several teams that could potentially finish in the top 4, but I suppose that’s what makes the premier league so interesting.
Five games into this season and we can already draw some conclusions.
Big spending Chelsea are top of the table and they deserve to be. Unlike last season they are going down a surprising path, they are actually trying to play football. Long term Chelsea fans; all 10 of them, have been shocked by actual passing and attacking football. Such is my surprise that I actually consider them title challengers. Winning the champions League was a crime to football but it brought in much needed funds to improve their squad. Eden Hazard looks like a brilliant signing, Oscar too, but they still have a dark shadow hanging over their heads. This shadow is John Terry, their loveable captain who is about as easy to like as a case of the measles. Captain Fantastic just landed himself a four-game ban for racially abusing Anton Ferdinand, along with a hefty £220,000 fine. Is there anyone out there who bears a shred of sympathy for him? As a lover of football and as a human being I hope not.
Manchester United have had a shaky start to their quest to retain the title. Van Persie was arguably the summer’s biggest signing and he hasn’t disappointed. He is top of the goal scoring charts with 5 goals including a game saving hat-trick against Southampton. All seems to be going well in camp Fergie, even Michael Carrick is sort of playing football which is a novelty. What is the thorn in their side? It’s Nani, never has a man with so little ability been given so much time in a title challenging side. Transfer rumours surrounding Nani were greeted with triumphant joys and celebrations in the streets. Ok I may be exaggerating but you have no idea how frustrating it is to watch a brilliant string of passes only to see Nani blast his shot 12 miles wide. I’m convinced he thinks the corner flag and the goal are synonymous. That being said, they have won their last five on the trot in all competitions. Tough to call.
Arsenal are unbeaten in their opening six games but have picked up three draws already which sums up Arsenal in a nutshell. Podolski has certainly been an early success for Wenger but then there is Giroud, how that man scored so many goals in France I will never know because I’m not entirely sure he knows where to find the goal. I’m being overly harsh, he is new to the English game, but seriously, he needs a goal or two in the league soon or else questions will be raised. Arsenal’s midfield is incredible, Cazorla and Arteta are brilliant at pulling the strings and while I don’t believe they will be challenging at the business end of the season, a top 4 finish is very doable for them.
They say money doesn’t buy you happiness but for Manchester City it bought them a league title. Their victory against Queens Park Rangers in the last five minutes of the league last year was some of the most exciting football I’ve ever watched. This year I must be honest, they have looked…..average. Well not average but certainly not world beaters. They are in 7th position and yes, I know it is only five games in but the cracks are there for all to see. Ballotelli is unhappy which means something inevitably will go wrong. Their very own prodigal son, Carlos Tevez is back and in good form and Yaya Touré is proving once again why he is the league’s highest paid player. The once impenetrable goal of Joe Harte has been rattled far too often for Mancini’s liking. Having suffered an embarrassing 4-2 loss at home to Villa in the Capital One Cup, they now have one less trophy to worry about. Perhaps this year we won’t be seeing the swagger of Liam Gallagher in the streets of Manchester? God knows I hope to never see that again.
At the start of this piece I said I would talk about the big 4….ish. So bringing up Liverpool seems a bit redundant but since their support in Ireland is so strong, I’ll digress. King Kenny was toppled from his throne and in came Brendan Rogers. He made Swansea play like Barcelona and he figured he could do that to Liverpool. How wrong can one man be? Liverpool have never and will never play like Barcelona. Hell, Liverpool will never even play like Swansea. Failures in the transfer market have left them without a goal scorer other than Suarez and Im sorry but if you expect him to score goals and stay out of trouble you are insane. At time of writing they lie in 18th position with 2 points and while I don’t expect a relegation battle involving Liverpool, I wouldn’t be at all surprised if they finish in the bottom half of the table. Its never good as a ‘title challenger’ when a triangle has more points than you after five games. As the overused cliché goes, the bigger they are, the harder they fall.
I’ll briefly mention a few surprises so far this year. Everton have had their best start in years and talk has started about them potentially challenging for a top 4 spot. To be honest I’d be very surprised if they did that well but I would put my house on them finishing above of Liverpool again, at the end of the day is all that matters in your local Merseyside pub. Another surprise package has been Steven Fletcher. Since his arrival at Sunderland from Wolves he has been a revelation, scoring all around him and making the outlandish 15 million paid for him look more and more reasonable every day.
This year’s Premier League Season is setting itself up to be another screamer, will it ever live up to last season’s finish? Nothing would surprise me in football anymore.