Last season, 2012-13, Manchester United ran away with the League like Usain Bolt and left the “also ran” far behind. This year the opening games signify that we are in for a long, competitive season and the struggle for the top four will be particularly grueling.
Arsenal vs Fulham
In inclement weather, Arsenal easily defeated the revamped Fulham. Arsenal is yet to make any formidable trades yet the miserly Wenger can point to improvement of particular players in yesteryear squad. Mertesaker who in his first year looked clumsy and ineffective has become the key man in defense. If Kieran Gibbs can remain healthy, he will be an attacking threat to opposing teams.
The Arsenal surprise thus far is Ramsey who seems to have recovered his old confidence. Wilshire is developing into a first class midfield player and Walcott on his day has become an unstoppable force.
The yesteryear trades have come of age. Cazorla is more at ease this season and Podolski just had a hell of a game against Fulham. And Giroud doesn’t have the technique of Van Persie but he has his own method of scoring.
Tottenham vs Swansea
Despite the team improvement, it will be a great struggle for Arsenal to qualify to play in the Champion’s League at the end of the season. Other clubs have bolstered their ranks with new acquisitions. In Tottenham’s case, Bale is expected to sign with Real Madrid and although the club’s coffers will be more than replenished, it may be too late to purchase an impact player to replace the departing Bale.
Tottenham has played two games in the EPL and yet to score from open play. Their two 1-0 victories have come from the penalty spot.
Liverpool vs Aston Villa
Liverpool played a strange game against Aston Villa. They eked out a 1-0 victory from a terrific goal from Sturridge. They were impressive in the first half and, like a flower, wilted in the second half.
Aston Villa who were mesmerized in the first half, outplayed Liverpool in the second half. They failed to score but deserved to have gotten at least a draw. Aston Villa against Chelsea and Liverpool has served notice that they are no longer just a team of immature cubs but a team of young lions with a fierce will to be contenders.
Manchester City vs Cardiff
Manchester City who looked invincible in their first game looked vulnerable against the newly promoted Cardiff soccer club. With Kompany out with a groin pull and Kolo Toure at Liverpool, the normally deep Manchester City has no replacement for their fallen skipper. Before the trading deadline closes, they had better procure a reputable center back. So early in the season, they have fallen among the vanquished. Kompany’s injury shows that durability is an important factor in ensuring a top four place.
Manchester United vs Chelsea
Moyes debut at Old Trafford ended in a scoreless draw. Manchester United looked fluid and Rooney was at his best but Terry kept Van Persie in his pocket.
Mourinho started the game with his specialist strikers on the bench. Ba and Mata have been invisible men in the second coming of Mourinho to Chelsea. Mata was missed as last year he was the straw that stirred the drink. Chelsea had half chances but were in desperate need of a playmaker.
The Mourinho experiment will continue and David Moyes will fight to step out of Sir Alex Ferguson’s shadow.