Monday, August 17, 2009

EPL Review: City Are Lazy, Wenger Knows Nothing, Spurs and Rafa...

After three months without a ball being kicked in anger, and no I'm not counting the Confederations Cup as a meaningful competition, the English Premier League roared back into action.

As we've grown a custom to, the early fixture wet our appetites for all that the EPL represents...

Hull came and saw, and threatened for a while before losing to a Chelsea side who just overpowered them in the end. 30-something shots on goal shows Chelsea's dominance over the Tigers.

The most hated figure at Stamford Bridge, Stephen Hunt, came back in the Tiger stripes and tucked away the opening goal in this year's league to give Hull a surprise lead.

The inevitable happened when Chelsea came back to win the game through two fortuitous goals by Didier Drogba.

Hull put in a lot of huff and puff, but they rarely threatened a Chelsea team that controlled the match from start to finish. And although the 2-1 winning margin was tight, the two teams should in all probability be separated by around 18 places come May.

Mark Hughes led out his new look Manchester City side as they took on Sam Allardyce's cavemen at Ewood Park.

The two City goals were almost separated by 90 minutes as Emmanuel Adebayor scored a nice breakaway goal after two minutes before Stephen Ireland continued from where he left off last year by finishing coolly in stoppage time.

This Blackburn team are one of the worst football sides ever to assail the Premiership, and the only thing worse than watching Blackburn in action must be actually playing for them. My heart goes out to any player that has to play under Big Sam.

One thing to look out for is October. All four of Blackburn's games will be televised, including a mouth-watering game with Burnley, so for football purists, you may want to check out La Liga or do some ironing in October.

In truth and as bad as Blackburn were, Manchester City were no great shakes. Carlos Tevez swapped the bench on the red side of Manchester only to find himself on the bench for the blue half as the new season kicked off.

One thing is for sure, if Manchester City keep with the midfield that started the game they will not do much as far as the Champions League is concerned. Robinho and Shaun Wright-Phillips were both lazy out wide, Adebayor has plenty of room to improve, and Craig Bellamy is a lost cause, while neither Stephen Ireland or Gareth Barry put in a tackle worth remembering.

In Birmingham, Roberto Martinez led his new look Wigan side into battle against predictable Aston Villa. Predictably, Wigan won 2-0, and Martin O'Neill and Villa were booed off the pitch.

Elsewhere, the Premiership new boys were welcomed into the EPL with open arms, and were then soundly ambushed.

West Ham travelled to Championship champions Wolves, and a beautiful goal from Mark Noble and another from defender Matthew Upson handed full points to Gianfranco Zola's happy hammers.

Steve Bruce's new look Sunderland made the long trek to Bolton, and Darren Bent marked his debut with the winning goal from Steed Malbranque's pinpoint cross, the old Tottenham duo combining to gift Sunderland the points.

With Steve Bruce at the helm, and after snapping up a couple of very good players in the off season, Sunderland will be one of the teams to look for this season, and they should in all probability finish towards the Europa League positions.

Roy Hodgson's Fulham continued their good work from last season by beating Portsmouth 1-0, thanks to Bobby Zamora's predatory strike.

Stoke battered Burnley, but not before a few frights and Arsenal made their way to Everton for the first fixture of a decidedly tricky first month.

Arsenal's season could be all over come September, or so we were led to believe. Away fixtures to Everton, Manchester City, and Manchester United were compounded by two Champions League qualifiers against Celtic. Lose them and the season wa over.

So Arsenal, with a ton of pressure on their shoulders went to Goodison, to take over David Moyes tough tackling Everton.

Well, they came, they saw, and they kicked some ass. And clocked up a highly impressive 6-1 win. So I guess that answers the question that we were all asking...Just how would Everton actually do with a centre forward?

Bring back Marouane Felliani, all is forgiven.

And as for the Arsenal question? Well, they had a very good day at the office, but they won't win the Premier League, and they are still too good to relinquish fourth place just yet. And I guess that all the questions that have hovered over Arsene over the summer have been answered...Arsenal are still a really good side...just not good enough.

A nice touch at the Arsenal game came around when Fabregas held the jersey of the recently deceased Espanyol player, Jarque, aloft for all to show their support for his family. It didn't need to be done, which made the moment all the better.

Incidentally, the fixture was the first EPL game ever covered by ESPN. So I guess that makes it an EPLESPN, if you can get your tongue around that.

The champions took on Birmingham City at Old Trafford and won 1-0, but it should have been more and in the final fixture of the weekend, Spurs faced Liverpool at White Hart Lane.

Liverpool went into the game as overwhelming favourites to win the game, but it was Spurs who surprised everyone by taking the game by the scruff of the neck and running out deserving winners.

The win has made many stand up and say that Spurs should challenge the top four's dominance, but that's pretty unlikely. They will have to make up 30 points on last season to do that, and frankly, that's impossible.

But that didn't stop Rafa moaning. After the match he blamed the referee for not giving them a debatable penalty, but it wasn't the referee who sold his best midfielder or who picked Lucas and Babel in the same team was it?

Another thing to note over this opening weekend is that there were no draws, and only four home teams won, which begs the question, do only good teams win at home?

What all this means on day one of the new season is anyone's guess, but here goes a few mad statements after one game:

1) Liverpool will not win the league. Their squad is not good enough and they miss Alonso.

2) Manchester City are lazy. SWP, Robinho, Craig Bellamy, and Adebayor are all brain dead lazy players, who get away with stuff that you wouldn't at Liverpool or United.

3) Hull...

4) Sam Allardyce's teams are brutal to watch.

5) Aston Villa will finish between 8th and 12th.

6) Spurs won't break the top four, but they should challenge City for 5th.

7) Arsenal won 6-1, but they won't win the league either.

8) Rafa will have a rant by the end of the month.

9) Sunderland and Fulham could surprise a lot of teams.

10) Mark Hughes at 5/1 is a great bet to be sacked before the season is out.

 Follow Premier League Report on Twitter: twitter / PremLgeReport