Premier League Preview Week 3


Review of Week 2

Well, it seems that last week’s prediction regarding a resolute defensive performance from Chelsea on the back of an unsteady start to the season was off the mark to the tune of a 3-0 loss to Manchester City. But fear not, Chelsea fans, Mourinho claimed it was a false result and so presumably they garnered more than the zero points the official league table suggests…

Manchester Utd picked up where they left off in the first week with a fairly uninspiring win against Aston Villa but as Utd fans would surely point out, six points from the six available isn’t to be sniffed at.

Crystal Palace managed to make a fool of the predictions from last week (another one…) by handing Arsenal the winning score via an own goal courtesy of centre back, Damian Delaney. They’ll be looking to right that when Aston Villa come a’ calling.

Saturday 22nd

15.00 Sunderland v Swansea

monkWhat is it about a club a like Sunderland? They have a huge and passionate following, they’re a club that can happily declare Niall Quinn to be a demi-god (they may be right about that), they have spent big money relative to what they’ve achieved and their shirt sponsor, a betting company, has them as favourites to get relegated just two games into the new season. That auspicious nod has arrived by virtue of two thonkings, the latter of which was delivered by newly-promoted Norwich (the Canaries also happened to be the visiting team).

Their perceived plight is such that a wag recalled how, in the aftermath of Sunderland’s defeat to Norwich, he noticed that some disgruntled fan had nailed their season ticket to a wooden post outside of the ground. Hardly believing his luck, the wag went up and grabbed it. One can never have enough nails.

Swansea have been garnering praise from many onlookers. Shelvey is beginning to look like the player many thought he would be if ever he could get a handle on the brain-farts, this column’s tip-to-surprise (watch as he immediately turns into season 2 Michu) Andre Ayew already has two goals to his name and Montero seems to finally have gained enough trust from his manager to string a run of games together and has duly repaid him by roasting any full-backs in his path.

The hope from the neutral observer is that Swansea perform well this season. They’re a relatively small team with few annoying qualities (unless you are a Cardiff fan) but their style is such that they never get damned with the patronizing ‘plucky’ tag. In Shelvey and Sigurdsson they have some rare maverick talent with which to complement tactical nous and acumen of manager Garry Monk

Sunderland may not be as close to death as their benefactors seem to believe but the chances of them winning this one seems slim. The Swansea win is up for grabs at 11/10 from a variety of the usual suspects such as, say, Betvictor.

Sunday 23rd

13.30 West Bromwich Albion v Chelsea

The summer transfer window can really be a drag for managers. Extending for a few weeks into the start of the new season, it lends a nearly illegitimate air to proceedings for fans but for managers and the sack load of uncertainties they face with regard to holding on to their best players, it must be like having their feet held against the crackling flames.

It’s hardly Tony Pulis’ fault that Spurs have only Harry Kane as a striker and yet it looks likely that he may have to pay the price for their parsimonious approach to purchases as the shark-shaped Spurs begin to circle the jewel in West Brom’s crown, Saido Berahino. Rumours are that the Baggies have rejected an initial offer from the London club but that was surely just the opening gambit. Ideally, such unrest should be settled before the season starts and every club begins knowing the hand they play from for the season. But such utopias rarely exist for clubs that exist lower down the food chain.

Whatever happens with regard to Berahino, he will probably still be a West Brom player tomorrow and will relish the chance at turning Terry and Cahill inside out. But wait. Will Captain, Leader, Legend (John Terry, of course) make the starting eleven? For the first time in all their years together, Mourinho decided to substitute his captain at half time in their defeat to Manchester City, ostensibly to bring more pace to a defence that was one down after 45 minutes. The full 90 minutes saw them heading back down south with a 3-0 defeat to mull over.

It is, of course, too early to extrapolate much in the way of conclusions and Chelsea may just be having a shaky start to their season but it seems like the beast is beginning to devour itself. It is widely accepted that, as a result of his adversarial approach to human life in general, Mourinho has a shorter shelf life than your average manager might (assuming they’re not fired early etc). Pre-season swipes at Wenger is predictably par for the course as were the barbs at Rafa Benitez (although the comments aimed at said manager’s wife were especially pathetic and classless) have merely preceded a madcap, scattergun approach to picking fights with everyone.

Traditionally, Mourinho has felt the need to keep a couple of cauldrons boiling away over the course of season (a splash of bile here, a pinch of paranoia there) to maintain an air of tension but already has an entire kitchen on the go and one wonders how long he can keep this form of madness going before he jumps or is pushed, especially given that some reports are suggesting that his relationship with Terry has broken down. Quite how that goes down with the Chelsea players remains to be seen but it seems that Season 3 of the Mourinho show is likely to hold many dark twists and turns.

West Brom come into this match having beaten Chelsea 3-0 in their last meeting at The Hawthorns and might fancy their chances in getting another three points here but surely Chelsea won’t let that happen again. Still, one wouldn’t be overly confident that Chelsea will win this one so a draw might be worth looking at. Best price there is 3/1 from Bet365.

16.00 Everton v Manchester City

AgueroLook who has snuck under the radar to become everyone’s favourite to win the league. In truth, it’s difficult to understand why some quarters were so dismissive with regard to City’s chances of reclaiming the title they lost to Chelsea last season. True, they were relatively lethargic last season but there can be no doubting the sheer quality of attacking quality they have in Aguero and Silva alone.

They have since added the not-inconsiderable talent of Raheem Sterling to proceedings and have been continuously linked with a monster money move for Kevin de Bruyne. In the last few days, they have purchased Argentine defender, Nicolas Otamendi, from Valencia for £32 million in a positive attempt to shore up their defence. All in all, their transfer policy appears to have been considered, appropriate and extremely expensive.

Everton are a club for whom transfers seem to matter little, both in and out of the club. In fairness, this time last year they had broken their transfer record to acquire the services of Lukaku but such largesse has, perhaps predictably, not materialized this year. However, that investment has at least secured them an excellent striker. Lukaku still has his detractors, of course, but if he can continue the form which saw him score two and link well with both Barkely and Kone in their 0-3 defeat of Southampton last week, Everton may yet view him as a bargain.

It’s difficult to see Everton getting in the way of the City machine this weekend although there are nice prices to be found for the optimists out there. More likely is that City will continue their winning ways. Paddypower and others seem to have it right with 8/11 the best price across the board.