Wednesday, August 19, 2009

EPL Review: Chelsea Are a Machine, United Get Burned, Spurs & Rafa To Be Sacked

The opening weekend came up with its fair share of stories, and even though there were only six matches on show for the second fixture date, it could prove to be one of the most memorable in the EPL calender.

The game at Turf Moor had everything a Burnley fan could ever dream of...

Playing in the top flight for the first time in 33 years, Burnley's opening home game of the season was against last season's champions, Manchester United.

Burnley couldn't have asked for more different opponents after Saturday's defeat against Stoke. The Clarets are a good footballing side who will find the going difficult against the more "agricultural" sides in the EPL, but against footballing sides like United they have every chance.

It still took Alex Ferguson to completely underestimate them and he got his starting XI hopelessly wrong.

Saying that, Burnley well deserved their win. They gave as good as they got. Scored a screamer, saved a penalty, and then had to hold off the inevitable onslaught as Fergie brought on his star players.

For Fergie it was an uncharacteristic mistake that saw him pick the wrong team. He made too many changes. Squad rotation? They're hardly tired already!

Fergie should have left it a few weeks and scouted Burnley a little more before he made such changes. But United won't be the only team that Burnley beat this year.

Michael Owen missed an easy header while Carrick's penalty was awful. Would Ronaldo have done better? Probably.

Chelsea made the long journey to Steve Bruce's Sunderland, who took an early lead through the "Twittering" Darren Bent. The Pensioners then do what they do best and steam rolled the Black Cats. Three goals from Lampard, Deco, and Drogba securing the points.

Liverpool got back on track against Stoke, the team who denied them twice last year. There was to be no repeat this time around. The Reds crushed Stoke 4-0, and it could have been more.

One major thing of interest was that in the run up to the match many bookmakers suspended betting on Liverpool manager, Rafael Benitez, being the first EPL manager to be sacked this year.

His odds were slashed from 22/1 to 4/1 after heavy betting on Benitez.

For those who choose to remember these kind of things, this is the second time in less than one year that betting has been suspended on Benitez.

Earlier in the year the Liverpool manager had a very public spat with Chief Executive Rick Parry, and in the run in to the first leg of the Champions League match against Real Madrid there was a series of heavy bets placed on Benitez to move on.

What this means is any one's guess, but bookmakers are usually around the money. They would have moles on the inside of most clubs, and there is never smoke without fire.

Spurs got off to their best start in 14 years after they mullered Hull 5-1 at the KC Stadium. Tottenham have played well in their last two games, but they have also played against two teams who had nightmares, so I think it's a little early for anyone to declare Spurs as a contender for anything other than a Europa League position.

Jermaine Defoe scored a hat trick against a Hull team who have now only won once in 2009. Last year their early form kept them up, this year it won't. Hull are already in a battle and odds of 4/6 to be relegated mean they are in serious danger. They face Bolton at the KC on Saturday.

Elsewhere, the other two promoted sides got off the mark. Irish international Andy Keogh headed in for Wolves as they beat Wigan, while Birmingham had a mad bit of goalkeeping by David James to thank for their penalty which gave them all three points.

10 Statements after Day Two.

1) Rafa is on dangerous ground—someone at the club wants him out.

2) Spurs are going well, and have the same amount of points after two games that they had after 10 games last year.

3) Chelsea will be tough buggers to beat, they're like a machine.

4) Sunderland will continue to surprise people.

5) Hull almost look relegated now.

6) Portsmouth almost look relegated too.

7) Arsenal are a good bet at 13/1 for the Champions League.

8) Jolean Lescott (second choice behind Terry) will join City, and Dunne could move the other way.

9) Chelsea had a great start under that Brazilian guy last year, remember him?

10) Fergie needs another centre midfielder. Carrick and Anderson can only play in a five-man midfield, they need someone for a 4-4-2.

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