Who’s this? Played two; won nil; drawn one; lost one; goals for two, against five; and sent off, one! Aston Villa? No. Newcastle? No. Actually it’s champions Chelsea, and if a certain moody, morose manager doesn’t sort it out quickly, the unbelievable could happen, David Moyes-style. Yes, sure, Blues boys, only one nineteenth of the season has gone, but with a dangerous journey to The Hawthorns this Sunday, scene of one of last season’s few defeats, the storm clouds will be gathering in West London if the result goes badly for Mourinho’s men. Actually West Brom, like Chelsea have very un-Pulis-like stats and also have only one point to their name.
The Manchester mafia are doing well: City and United have both won their opening two fixtures – but there the resemblance ends. City look simply awesome with six thundering goals and no reply, whereas at Old Trafford the results appear efficient with a couple of one-nil wins. It has to be said though that currently Aston Villa and Spurs are by no means tests of the highest quality, as Louis van Gaal tinkers with his new team. The boring De Gea/Ramos saga appears over, albeit unsatisfactorily with everyone staying put, but that includes the muddle-headed Spanish keeper sitting on his backside, suited and booted, watching Romero between the posts. Early doors on Saturday, and keeping it modest opposition-wise, Newcastle come to Old Trafford. The Magpies’ new manager Steve McLaren used to be assistant to the great Alex Ferguson, but the Toon Army have only one point from two games: must improve, and soon.
Similarly winning ugly with two unconvincing one-nil victories are Liverpool. The Reds season started with a revenge win at Stoke, followed by a cruel wake-up call for Bournemouth at Anfield. A blatantly-offside-but-hugely-welcome opener from Benteke proved the winner as the Cherries had their hopefully-levelling goal ruled out for a foul. Luckless Bournemouth look initially like the Burnley of last season: spirited, guts-a-plenty, but you worry for them in the piranha-polluted Prem where every week the opposition is fierce.
THE NAME GAME
Question: – Who’s the Prem’s leading goalscorer so far? Aguero? Wrong. Kane? You’re joking. Lukaku? Nice try, but wrong again. It’s only Leicester City’s Algerian winger Riyad Mahrez with three goals in two games! OK, you Fox fanatics, this Forest fan hasn’t forgotten your unbeaten two wins on the spin from your lively lads who on Saturday soon sorted out winning-at-Arsenal West Ham two-nil, to stay up with the leaders At that King stadium the Leicester lads are loving life at the top – but can they keep it up? A testing visit to White Hart Lane on Saturday will tell us a lot.
Norwich v Stoke looks interesting, Alex Bruce’s Canaries are doing OK, the best of the newbies. Palace at home to Villa looks another belter, but Tim Sherwood must start winning or the whispers will start – again. Sunderland v Swansea: the swinging Swans have everything going for them and it’s just the opposite for Sunderland where nothing is going right. Mrs Advocaat must wish she’d had her way and her hubby had walked away in May, having saved the Black Cats from relegation (again) and with his reputation intact. The Sunderland defence is in tatters with experienced old hands Wes Brown and John O’Shea gone, and their replacements all over the place.
Super Sunday: if West Brom v Chelsea looks good for the early match, how about much-improved Everton later entertaining pulsating Man City? Stoning away bids from some moneybags outfit dahn sarf, Roberto Martinez’s boys are going well with Ross Barkley and Romelu Lukaku looking very sharp: the Toffees will give Pellegrini’s players a good test. Watford v Southampton is also fascinating, the Hornets have surprisingly started well – whereas the Saints haven’t.
Monday night sees another titanic clash as Arsenal visit Anfield, scene of one the Gunners greatest achievements as George Graham’s team took the title there in 1989. Both teams have big points to prove, both won last week, and neither will want to lose this one: game on!
Tuesday night saw the European glory days return to Old Trafford as Man United took on Bruges in the two-legged qualifying round of the Champions League. Unfortunately the Red Devils conceded an early own goal, but quickly Memphis Depay, the new United hero from Holland, started to pay back his £31m cost with two classy goals before half-time. With what looked like an inspired van Gaal substitution, Marouane Fellaini popped up with an injury time header to set United up nicely three-one for Wednesday’s second leg in Belgium. Sir Matt Busby would have been proud – his United are back in Europe!