Monday, August 22, 2011

The Premiership Weekend, what have we learned?

It is obviously early days in the new season but the weekend has thrown up some interesting points, some recurring and some new ones.

Whilst watching Arsenal, what struck this blog wasn't the poor performance (there have been many by Arsenal in recent seasons) but more the entire lack of quality which is not something you would usually associate with that team. When looking through their side there are very few players who you sense that the opposition would respect or fear.

It seems to many ludicrous to call for Wenger to go but the reality is that under him Arsenal are in serious decline and are a million miles away from the likes of Adams, Henry, Bergkamp, Vieira, Keown, Pires, Seaman the list goes on. He cut a forlorn figure in the pouring rain recalling the misery of McLaren at the end of his England reign under that now famous umbrella-ella-ella.

People keep calling for time and patience when it comes to nurturing young players but the reality is after six trophy-less seasons they are further away from the Premiership or the Champions League than ever. Ferguson has consistently brought through young players and still remained successful whereas Arsenal it appears are merely grooming them for others.

There is a much romanticised view of Arsene Wenger and he has indeed done a vast amount of good for Arsenal. Many years ago however, Nottingham Forest fans would have never envisaged a scenario where the great Brian Clough became a hindrance to the club in the way he was toward the end. To compete for the top players, it is top four or nothing these days and Arsenal's seat at the Champions League table looks in great peril. Should they go out to Udinese - we suspect they will qualify comfortably however - then the vultures will truly be circling.

Liverpool look much improved from twelve months ago but they still lack the genuine quality to challenge for the title. In the likes of Suarez and Reina and the soon to return Gerrard they have genuine class and there is much hope that the new arrivals of Carroll, Adam and Downing can enhance their performances further, certainly Carroll does not yet look up to full speed. If Liverpool can achieve a Champions League berth they can build further on this improvement but having the resources to win the league in the next few seasons may still be beyond them.

Even with the purchases of Torres and Luiz, Chelsea are a team in decline and unless further creative and energetic reinforcements are found they can finish no higher than third. They were atrocious against West Brom in the first half with seemingly no idea how to break down a well organised side. Juan Mata will provide some impetus but if he is signed at the expensive of also purchasing Modric then the big trophies will elude them this season.

For West Brom, opening fixtures against ManYoo and Chelsea have unsurprisingly yielded no points but there is plenty to take heart from. They look well organised and appear to have found a striker that can score goals at the highest level which is a valuable commodity in the Premiership, they should have a good season.
Manchester City look a side with a purpose this season. They have a squad that only Barcelona and Real Madrid can match and they have glittering options in attack. One of the most interesting features has been that Edin Dzeko has started to find his feet and he may provide a huge bonus alongside the more obvious talents of Aguero and Tevez. If Mancini can tighten up the defence and keep the peace amongst a dressing room that has proven toxic so often they can provide a serious argument for the title.

Everton should have two managers, anyone else you could think of up until Christmas and then Davie Moyes come January. Their traditional poor start seems to be happening again and with a threadbare squad it will be another hard season.

Not too much should be read into Aston Villa's performance, bright though that it was. Agbonlahor frequently starts a season well before fading and Heskey should now be rested for the remainder of the campaign as he has now scored his quota for the season. Blackburn provided truly dire opposition but nevertheless it will be a welcome start for Big Eck in the Villa Park hot seat.

Wolves bought well over the Summer and have achieved back to back wins to open their Premiership account. If they can keep some level of momentum then mid table could be a realistic target for the Molineux men although there is much hard work ahead.

The Tyne Wear derby was its usual self, ferocious and short on quality but with a result that may have surprised many given the relative Summer transfer activity for the two sides. Newcastle have had an excellent start to their campaign whilst Sunderland again flatter to deceive.

ManYoo welcome Spurs tonight to Old Trafford in a clash that should lead to Ferguson's men obtaining maximum points from their opening two fixtures. Much focus will be on the performance of David De Gea in goal as another nervy performance will only increase the focus on the young keeper. Should De Gea settle in then the signs for the pretenders to their crown are already ominous. For Spurs, it will be interesting to see if Luca Modric plays. If he does he should stay for this season, if he does not he may well be on his way to Stamford Bridge.

For those expected to be at the bottom of the table, Norwich threw away a precious three points and Swansea and Wigan failed to excite anyone in Wales. At QPR, much of the opening day doom has been lifted with a fine away win and a new owner installed. Warnock however, like Keegan, Brian Robson, Coppell and Mick McCarthy remains a fine Championship manager but a mediocre Premiership one and reinforcements are still required - No Nonsense.