Premier League review – Moaning and Mane

The Premier League was back this weekend just gone and it seems that some things just never change. Mourinho was moaning about incorrect decisions and missed cards after his first Manchester derby ended in a 2-1 home defeat. A handball decision and a challenge by Bravo on Rooney. Whilst Bravo touched the ball, some will look at his initial feet being both off the ground when he went charging. On the other hand some could say if United had started better and not allowed City the space, the result again could have been different. It was probably not something United fans might have expected under Mourinho that being tactically out done by the opposition at Old Trafford, but there we were.

Tottenham maintained their unbeaten start to the Premier League with a 4-0 pasting against Stoke City. The North London club seem to enjoy their trips to Stoke and made easy work of Mark Hughes team. They have only conceded two goals which is one of the tightest defences in the Premier League.

Arsenal left it late to grab a win against Southampton. WInless Saints had gone ahead after an unfortunate own goal from Cech, but with Koscielny equalising the Saints looked to take a third point of the season. Southampton hearts were broken deep into injury time with a Santi Corzola penalty winner.

Watford came back from 2-0 to win 4-2 and open their win account. Having gone 2-0 down after 33 minutes, it seemed that Watford might be in for a beating but two goals in four minutes brought the visitors level. Second half seemed no better for the home side as a Watford side now with a buzz, grabbed two in ten to secure the three points and hand another defeat for the struggling Hammers.

Another team knocking four in the back of the net were Liverpool. The Reds were finally getting to play at Anfield for the first time since last season. With the main stand now expanded, Anfield was now at a capacity of 54,000. Anfield was a sellout as Liverpool hosted the defending Champions Leicester. It was a strong attacking performance from the home side although the defence still had a few iffy moments, such as Lucas giving the ball away for Leicester to pull on back. That as as good as it got for the visitors as Mane and Firmino did the damage.

Bournemouth and Palace secured wins in their matches to win their first league games of the season.

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The Ins and Outs – Transfer news

The domestic action may have a break, but it doesn’t stop the transfer comings and goings. Barely had the domestic season finished and clubs were lining up players to sign. Some clubs splashing the cash and others being careful and wise. Whilst transfers wouldn’t be official until 1st July, clubs were lining up players as soon as the domestic season was over.

Liverpool kicked off the transfers as they signed Joel Matip on a Bosman free transfer. The central defender joined from Shalke 04. Klopp had been quiet in the January window but the coming months would allow him to shape his line up for the coming season. Across Stanley Park, Everton were saying goodbye to one of their finest servants as Tim Howard departed to his home nation and to Colorado Rapids. West Ham brought a Norwegian back to London. Harvard Nordveit had previously joined Arsenal in 2007 but had not made a first team appearance.

Crystal Palace were doing a Chas and Dave and heading to Margate for one of their signings. They brought Freddie Ladapo for an undisclosed fee. Having done well in the lower leagues it will be interesting to see if they can get the youngster continuing the goalscoring in London albeit likely through the development squad.

German clubs seemed to be the flavour for English Premier clubs during the months May and June Klopp was back in the transfer hunt and was back in Germany to sign Loris Karius for just under £5 million. The German youngster will provide ample competition for Simon Mignolet. Talented youngster Danny Ward would be on his way on loan to get more experience having signed a new contract. Also in Germany were Man City who signed Gundogan from Borussia Dortmund. Arsenal were snapping up German club talent themselves. They nabbed Granit Xhaka from Borussia Moenchengladbach. Wenger though was shelling out on this signing, he was splashing the cash with a fee of around £34 million. It will be interesting to see how he fairs in the Premier League. Champions Leicester City were on the Germany transfer bandwagon as they signed keeper Ron – Robert Zieler from Hannover 96. Manchester United fans may have remembered Zieler from his brief time at the club. He’ll provide back up for Kasper Schmeichel.

Manchester United made three signings so far an notably the Swedish legend that is Zlatan Ibrahimovic. Having ended his time at PSG on a high, less could be said about the end of his international career. Fans at Old Trafford will be hoping that he continues the goalscoring at United. Whilst he maybe on a free, some fans may wonder why sign a 34 year old striker. They had previously signed Eric Bailly for around £30 million. The Ivory Coast international joined from Villareal and had left a number of fans puzzled with the signing. Many hadnt heard of him previously, so to gamble on a big money deal would be interesting. United joined the German club raiding as they snapped up Henrikh Mkhitaryan from Borussia Dortmund for a fee of around £26 million.

Southampton fans might be left what to wonder for the coming season. Having seen Koeman leave to manage Everton, they were beginning to see some of the players depart too. Victor Wanyama headed to Spurs for £11 milion, Sadio Mane continued the Southampton to Liverpool movement with a £34 million deal. He bagged 11 goals last as did Grazio Pelle, who moved to China. There was  little good news as heading to St Marys were Nathan Redmond from Norwich City for £11 milion and Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg. It wil be interesting to see if they sell or add as well as how they wil fair in the Premier League in the coming season.

Chelsea have made a couple of signings but more noticeably, they seem to be upto the usual habits of sending players out on loan. As of today (29th July) Chelsea have sent 13 players out on loan. The majority of whom will probably never see first team football at the Bridge. I have no objections to teams sending players out on loan to get game time and experience, if they are going to have a future at the original club. Sadly it doesnt seem that way with Chelsea.

With all the transfers so far, it wonder how things will go on Transfer Deadline Day. It could certainly be interesting.

It’s not all bad is it? When its good in football there has to be bad?

When it comes to the England national team of recent, there has been much justifiable criticism of the squad. Believe it or not though England are top of their European Championship Qualifying group. Whilst they may have maximum points, it would seem many of their performances would make watching paint dry as a more popular alternative. England under Roy Hodgson is a tiresome affair, but to be fair the question is “Are things really that bad?” Would we rather see England play dynamic entertaining football and make a Steve McLaren era pigs ear of it all, or would we rather see results ground out and qualification claimed and a trip to the competition finals. Ultimately in a dream world, we ould like to see both but of course we know that isn’t going to happen anytime soon especially with Roy Hodgson in charge.

Some people might say that England should be top and unbeaten, given the other nations in the group. If that were the case, Portugal would not have lost at home to Albania, Poland would not have scored a 2-0 win over Germany, Spain would not have lost to Slovakia, Iceland would not have beaten the Netherlands and Liechtenstein and the Faroe Isles would not have scored victories. This is the thing England may not be steamrolling the opposition in every game, but that is not how it works. It is though England and as England fans, we expect the team to deliver.

Of course it’s not just the international scene that sees disappointment and under achievement. Club level is very much the same. Unless you are a Chelsea or a Southampton fan, the season has probably not been so brilliant. If you are an Arsenal, Man United or Liverpool fan, you are probably thinking that the season really needs to start otherwise its a long haul to May. Saying that though, yet again the words Manchester City and manager sack threat are being aired in the media. The defending Premier League champions may not be firing on all cylinders just yet, but they could be doing far worse than they are. For Man United it was the great new era and the Mighty Reds were meant to be all-conquering under the management of Louis Van Gaal. After a mass spend of £150 million, they have yet to set the world a light. It is true that they have suffered a number of injuries, but it seems a far cry from when United could just replace like for like and it would be business as usual.

Liverpool’s post Suarez and summer spending season seems to have gone not quite according to plan. After last seasons better than expected finish, things looked promising but as some players try to gel, Daniel Sturridge is being hit with injury after injury in what looks like keeping him out till the new year. After the slow and disappointing start, there has been talk from some fans of wanting Rodgers out. Even the Press have printed stories linking with the return of Rafa Benitez to Anfield, purely on what seems because he wants to be closer to his family who still remain in Liverpool. The current owners dont appear to those that will make knee jerk decisions just like that. I guess it must be a relief to many that chairman and club owners were not as ruthless back in the 80’s as they are now, otherwise Sir Alex Ferguson may never have led United to the success he did as well as receiving the knighthood.

Then of course you have Arsenal, they surprised everyone by buying early in the summer. It seemed that the Gunners might be one of the front runners in the title challenge but their season has started slowly and some what disappointingly. We have though become used to Arsenal’s slow starts to the season, but I think that this season will not be the same as previous.

Whatever happens this season, in the words of Jimmy Greaves “It’s a funny old game”.