It’s the first round of games after the summer transfer window so now is when the real competition begins. Teams have strengthened and managers can now focus on the players they have and find a system that works for everyone.
The Manchester Derby is arguably the biggest fixture in the whole of Europe this weekend (but I bet Scotland fans will disagree with me with the Old Firm derby on the cards too).
The narrative is Jose Mourinho and Pep Guardiola are complete opposites. But, although they’re never likely to admit it, the two are similar in a lot of ways.
Both are perfectionists. Both hate losing. And both are willing to spend big at their respective clubs in order to build formidable sides. And spend have both Managers this summer to improve their new teams. Both managers unarguably had the most eye-catching and successful summer transfer purchases and it’s no surprise they have gone onto record maximum points in their first three games of the season.
Something has to give on Saturday though as both Manchester teams clash. Agueros’s suspension shouldn’t be the blow that many people have made it. Yes the Spaniard gives the team a cutting edge when fit but it’s not like the team crumbles into defeats when he’s not available. City have able deputies for the Argentine and more importantly, they have one of the best tactical minds in Guardiola to find a way around Aguero’s unavailability.
United on the other hand go into this game with doubts over certain key players like Shaw, Miktayran and Valencia who will only arrive Manchester on Friday. In essence, no team has any serious advantage over the other.
I think City will have an edge over United. Mourinho’s men have not been tested so far. And the pressure will be more on Mourinho not to lose – especially at home.
Arsenal had a decent transfer window buying in three key positions they needed reinforcements. But are they good enough to win the title? No. I really don’t think they have the staying power to last the distance. They host Southampton this weekend looking to get back to winning in front of their fans after the embarrassing opening day defeat at home to Liverpool. This should be a straightforward win for the Gunners as Southampton have shown so far this season that they are not ready. Claude Puel’s experiment with Redmond as a centre – forward is laughable.
Liverpool and Champions Leceister lock horns at Anfield. The Reds were one of two teams who beat Leceister last season. Have they got an encore in them? I think so. The Champions have looked naive in defence so far and Mahrez hasn’t turned up this season yet.
Chelsea look complete with the arrival of Luiz and Alonso. And they will look to make it four wins in as many games when they travel to Swansea. The Welsh team have looked out of ideas so far this season and a long season awaits them.
David Moyes has got a herculean job on his hands at Sunderland. They lack Premier League quality and without Defoe, it’s difficult to see where they will get goals especially now that Borini is injured. Did anyone mention Anichebe? Oh please! The Black Cats definitely have a relegation battle on their hands and their Scottish manager must ensure that they are not too far behind before January arrives – when they can get bodies in.
Ronald Koeman and Everton on the other hand aren’t too pleased with themselves after an average summer of signings. Twice they were gazumped by other teams on their targets. But Williams and Gueye have improved them so far. Keeping Lukaku was a good bit of business too and Bolasie can get some goals and assists when he gels with the team.
Slaven Bilic needed that international break to get some of his many injured players fit. And they will come up against Watford with more confidence with news of few key players back to fitness. Walter Mazzari on the other hand won’t have such confidence in his side after a disappointing start to the season. It’s been a reality check for the Italian so far and it won’t get any easier in this fixture.
Hull City finally signed players in the days leading up to the close of the transfer window. Ryan Mason and Mbokani are the headline acts but it really doesn’t matter cos they have shown so far that their spirit and togetherness can cover for their lack of quality. They travel to face Burnley this weekend and even four weeks into the season, it appears like a six-pointer already.
Middlesbrough will put their unbeaten start to the season on the line when they host Palace this weekend. They have shown they will be difficult to beat and under-pressure Alan Pardew has a tough task on his table. Loic Remy and Benteke should get the required goals for the team over the course of the season but Flamini (even on a free transfer) signing makes no sense to me.
Tottenham have looked sluggish so far this season and their start to the season is exemplified in the form of key players like Harry Kane, Eriksen and Ali. They needed to win at Stoke last season to stay in touch with eventual Champions Leceister and they went onto put four goals past their hapless hosts. But I doubt they can repeat such success especially on current form.
Bournemouth have some gem on their hands in Jack Wilshere IF (and that’s a big if) he stays fit and gets a run if games. He’ll bring quality and experience to the team and Eddie Howe must be really pleased. On the other hand, Tony Pulis is not happy. He has the oldest squad in the league and they are lacking some invention. There has been whispers of discontent and I will be surprised if Pulis last the whole season at the Hawthorns.