Abhinav’s note: After having spent a year-long hiatus from BFZ (oh yeah, writing funny stuff is unbelievably tough) lovelorn, flirting with scorn, footballing porn & popcorn, the ‘inner child in me’ a.k.a. the Cynical Jerk makes a less-than-pompous return trying to make sense of things like no one else does…
So, the Premier League is indeed back after a summer of Euros being played & spent while we tried figuring out the rules of every other event in the Olympics, no matter how yawn-evoking it was. Quite a goal-ful first week it was, with QPR receiving their customary first-day spanking (okay, it was just the second year in a row, but we all loved it, no?) at home to Swansea while Fulham demolished Chris Hughton’s return to top flight football as manager, besides do-they-deserve-to-be-part-of-BFZ Liverpool attempting to emulate ‘Swansealona’ under new manager Brendan Rodgers.
Oh yes, I’m not gonna mention Manchester United’s defeat to that tall guy with the Afro hair… Bloody bullfighter.
And now the title may suggest, I’m here to do my customary High Fives of the week, Wilson-izing what bloody obvious things we could learn from the Premier League action this weekend:
1. Can we have a Chelsea without Biscuits, please?
After a summer spending spree brought the likes of Eden Hazard, Oscar, Marko Marin & whoever money can buy to Stamford Bridge, what was expected was that Barcelona-like free-flowing football would start flowing freely under Roberto ‘Park-the-Bus’ Di Matteo. Yes, we have had glimpses of what we might be treated to in the coming months and I tell you, it looks pretty good too. But like my pink-loving friend Nickspinkboots said on Twitter not very long back, can we please not be treated to the penalty-seeking legacy of Didier Drogba, now that he has left to savour frog’s legs in Shanghai? 4 penalties in the last 3 games is too good to be true.
Aye, Fernando Torres has scored in the last two games & is the best striker in the Premier League again. And I’m starring as the Hulk in the Avengers sequel. (Have Chelsea bought him yet?)
You’ve probably been living under a rock if you didn’t get the reference to Biscuits.
2. Same ol’ Red Devils. Bring Evans back
I know the second part of the above line must make Ducky smirk in disdain, but given Michael Carrick is not Manchester United’s most viable option at centre back as the guy with the Afro hair demonstrated last Monday, even those most skeptical of Jonny boy’s abilities are praying for his swift return. Apart from that, the match on Saturday at Old Trafford was a game of two halves – United racing to a 3-1 lead in the first half after falling behind early to a Damian Duff goal. It was a day of the new recruits – Robin van Persie scored his first goal as a United player and so did Shinji Kagawa. An absolute peach of a finish from the Dutchman it was, sidefooting a cross from Evra past Mark Schwarzer into the corner of the net. Just like Piers-ing a nail right into the heads of Arsenal fans.
However, the same fallibility of last season was exposed once again in the second half when Fulham pulled one back through a bizarre own goal by Vidic, De Gea horribly thrown out of position in the mix of things. Somehow, United managed to hold on & put their first win on the board. Lord Ferg will have noticed that every time Fulham went forward in the second half, they looked likely to score & hence expect players to go back to their normal positions at Southampton.
Do United fans still feel van Persie is an unnecessary addition, now that Rooney is possibly out of action for more than a month?
3. Arsenal need Batman, they got no Robin
Another game, another goal-less draw. Though Stoke City are no pushovers when it comes to playing at the Britannia, the lack of attacking verve from both sides meant everyone was yawning already at the stroke of the hour. Although Arsenal had the greater share of possession, they failed to create any clear-cut chances to score for the majority of the game. Lukas Podolski, the German striker with a hundred int’l caps (how he got to that number is a big mystery), played in his favourite left forward position but faded miserably in the second half. Olivier Giroud gave a good account of himself & came close to scoring a late winner when he audaciously chipped the ball over Stoke keeper Asmir Begovic (who was standing some distance away from the goal line) only for the ball to land on the roof of the net.
Spanish midfield general Mikel Arteta shone while Santi Cazorla had a decent outing but there was still this lack of imagination evident, as Wenger described it as ‘something missing’. Le Professeur might buy himself & his team some time citing valid reasons such as needing adequate time to gel, but the signs haven’t been encouraging. Not yet.
4. Skrtel proves half-time hero, full-time zero
Possibly the most exciting game of this weekend, Liverpool were held to a 2-2 draw by defending champions Manchester City at Anfield. Reeling from an embarrassing opening day defeat to West Brom, Liverpool’s display had plenty to cheer about. After City dominated the opening exchanges, the Reds suddenly turned the tide of the game with some delightful, quick-passing football as Fabio Borini played cheerleader & encouraged the Kop to loud cheers, both hands raised up like the Roman gladiator he isn’t. It finally bore fruit when Martin Skrtel made a mockery of Mancini’s zonal marking tactics by rushing into the box between two City defenders & powering Gerrard’s corner into the top of the net with a marvellous header.
Yaya Toure stayed on his feet to pull one back for the visitors on the hour but Luis Suarez’s brilliant free kick from just outside the box three minutes later put the home side ahead once again. And just when it seemed that Liverpool would nick their first league win under Brendan Rodgers, Skrtel turned from hero to villain when he did a Gerrard & misplaced a back pass to the goalkeeper only to be intercepted by Carlos Tevez, who showed enough composure to slot in the equalizer.
Nevertheless, Liverpool will take plenty of positives from this game, while Bobby Manc will continue to whine about the lack of new signings.
5. AVB praying for the ghosts of ‘Arry to leave White Hart Lane
Andre Villas-Boas might feel like the unluckiest Premier League manager so far. For no fault of his, two transfer sagas have been allowed to drag on throughout the summer. Whereas Spurs’ best player Luka Modric has finally made his way to joining Real Madrid this afternoon after master Mourinho & protégé AVB decided to exchange pleasantries for the sake of Daniel Levy, striker Emmanuel Adebayor also arrived on a permanent move following a tug-of-war with Manchester City. Add to that the imminent exits of Michael Dawson & Tom Huddlestone to Stoke plus the possible arrivals of Shaktar Donetsk winger Willian & Internacional striker Leandro Damiao, you have all the ingredients for an unsettled squad.
Villas-Boas, unlike his predecessor Harry Redknapp, will be praying that the club’s transfer dealings will be concluded well before the August 31 deadline, so that his team looks in better shape to try & register its first win of the season against Norwich City come Saturday.
Cuss all you want.