Football. Soccer. Whatever your kicks, NewsWhistle sums up the best of the English Premier League, keeping you up-to-date with a fortnightly dose of antics and anecdotes, both on and off the pitch.
SUMMARY OF WEEKS 1 &2 (August 17th – August 30th)
— First weekend results included last year’s champions, Manchester United (Man Utd.), winning 4-1; Manchester City (Man City, City) winning 4-0; Arsenal losing 3-1 at home; and Chelsea winning 2-0. Liverpool and Tottenham also won 1-0 each.
— Second week/weekend results included Chelsea scraping a 2-1 win against Aston Villa (Villa); Arsenal winning 3-1 against Fulham; Manchester City losing 3-2; and Chelsea and Man Utd drawing 0-0.
— Manchester City, the richest club in the world, was easily the stand out performers on the first weekend. The old timers played how they should have played for the whole of last season and the new additions to their already phenomenally good squad look overjoyed to be there (which may be from the extra money in their bank accounts).
However, the English Premier League excels at giving fans a shock – and this was proven once more when Cardiff came from 1-0 down to beat City 3-2 in the biggest upset of the season so far.
It has raised four crucial questions:
How vulnerable is City’s defense?; Is new coach Manuel Pellegrini really the man for the job?; Was the team really good in its first showing, or was Newcastle just really bad; And why the hell wasn’t this game being shown live on NBC Sports in the U.S.
— Manager Jose Mourinho’s return to Chelsea had Premier League fans, who like a little sugar and spice, drooling, and his first match against Hull City didn’t disappoint.
Winking and nodding at passers-by during his live interviews, backslapping Hull‘s manager Steve Bruce and the backroom staff, and teasing the fourth official when Branislav Ivanovic’s header was adjudged not to have crossed the line, Mourhino, arguably the best and most colorful manager in the world, reminded us what we’d been missing.
One might question though whether Mourhino’s self-proclaimed ‘happy’ demeanor might diminish his competitive streak – a fortunate 2-1 win against Villa was concerning, but a 0-0 draw against Manchester United and some ‘controversial’ team decisions (Juan Mata and Fernando Torres on the bench and Demba Ba left in London) satisfy those concerns for the time being.
— During Arsenal’s defeat to Villa, a great photograph on the back pages has Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger looking rueful on the touchline with a fan in the background thrusting a ‘spend, spend, spend’ banner towards him. Buyer’s remorse isn’t commonplace at the Emirates stadium and there’s no doubt the team smiles knowingly when reminiscing on Andriy Shevchenko, Fernando Torres and Robinho — expensive players who were bought by other clubs but didn’t produce. Still, look for Arsenal to listen to fan demands and open up their war chest – a little. This is a cautious organization, after all.
— Manchester United are nobody’s tips to win the title this season. Manager Alex Ferguson has resigned, current manager David Moyes has never won a thing and forward Wayne Rooney (whose brand easily outperforms the player) is unsettled. They are also set to play Liverpool and Manchester City in two of their next four games. They’re obviously no pushover though and their performance against Swansea proved it…but it was only Swansea…and although they looked more capable against Chelsea some convincing remains.
— Some prayers have been answered with the introduction of goal-line technology to review “close call” shots. But what about off-sides, fouls, diving and off-the-ball shenanigans? And how about introducing sin bins (cooling-off penalty boxes) and ending the game when the ball goes out of play like in rugby games? And what about splitting the game into quarters? And what on earth happened to the sudden-death ‘golden goal’ in extra time? Ok, ok…settle down, settle down…
— There’s been a lot of talk, and little walk, when it comes to big money transfers AKA trades. At the time of writing, Luis Suarez (Liverpool) stays, Rooney stays, Gareth Bale (Tottenham) stays. Still, rumor’s heating up about Bale . . . so stayed tune . . .
— Big games to look forward to in the next two weeks include Liverpool v. Manchester United and Arsenal v. Tottenham on the weekend of August 31st; the weekend of September 14th however will hopefully prove more exciting than it is on paper.
— If you live in the United States, the big news is that NBC Sports now shows all the Premier League games . . . well, almost all of them.
— Bigger news is that NewsWhistle will be back in two weeks with another fortnightly round-up.
Charlie Serocold is a fiction, sports and travel writer. Originally from London, he now calls New York home. Charlie can be reached at Charlie@NewsWhistle.com.
Lead-In Image – AHMAD FAIZAL YAHYA / Shutterstock.com
Man City – www.mcfc.com
Jose Mourhino – Rnoid / Shutterstock.com
Arsene Wenger – www.standard.co.uk
Art – docstockphoto / Shutterstock.com