Tuesday, 23 August 2011

Premier League 2011/12 Review - Week#2 - Tuesday 23rd August

Week 2 of the Premier League will be remembered as one where the wheels came off at Arsenal, and the two Manchester clubs laid down markers for the season.

Firstly, lets start with the bad news at the Emirates.  Arsenal lost 2-0 at home to a cohesive Liverpool side, admittedly it took the needless sending off of Frimpong (two in two for Arsenal on that front) and the introduction of Luis Suarez to inject something into the rain-soaked affair.  Suarez's intervention led to Aaron Ramsey putting through his own net, though a clearance ricocheting off his chest over the stranded Sczezeny can be construed as unlucky, and then Suarez tapped in the sealer in injury time.  
    Before that Arsenal looked limp in attack - devoid of creation and impetus.  The encouraging aspect was that Frimpong was the best player before his dismissal, but the constant ill discipline (81 players sent off in the Wenger era) coupled with absentism through injury of vital players such as Wilshere, means that Arsenal have started the season with no continuity and no formula for success.  Along with the uncomfortable saga of Samir Nasri's move to Man.City and you have an anguished Wenger on the sidelines cluthcing at straws putting a team together as best he can. 
    And all this before a vital Champions League play-off game on Wednesday night in Italy against Udinese, where Arsenal hold a tentative one-nil lead - though Udinese showed enough combative effort to make sure that the second leg will not be easy.  Arsenal may well score, but the lack of Wilshere travelling means Wenger may force City's bluff and play Nasri rendering him cup-tied for the season in that competition.

Man.City kept up there 100% record beating Bolton 3-2 at the Reebok thanks to goals from David Silva, Gareth Barry and Edin Dzeko. 
   Silva was inspirational, whilst Agureo looked a little off the pace in his first start - later to be substituted by Tevez in a like for like situation.  Dzeko led the front well and relishes the prospect of having two people behind him feeding balls to him, and he took the third goal well.
    However, it is in defence where the questions will be asked.  Kompany and Lescott could not handle the imposing presence of Kevin Davies, who scored Bolton's second with a header simply by outjumping Lescott.
    If Mancini, has the belief that they can outscore every team then they probably are capable but teams will ask more questions of their defence than Bolton did, and last year's incarnation of City would probably have dropped points.

As for Man.Utd, they joined their neighbours and Wolves as the only teams who are perfect.  United continued their impressive PL record at home against Spurs, not losing at home to them since 1989 when Gary Lineker scored a winner.  Gazza did not cry until 1990, now he cries all the time, thats how long ago Spurs last won at Old Trafford.
   Spurs, playing there first league game of the season, following the postponement of their home game to Everton following the civil unrest in the area looked a bit of the pace by the end of the game, but for an hour more than held their own against the Champions.  Good in possession, creating chances and with Van der Vaart employing a shoot on sight policy against the ropey David de Gea, Tottenham looked good for a point.  Until the hour mark when a cross from the ever stable Tom Cleverley was met by the head of Danny Welbeck who again started with Rooney. 
    After that, the wind fell out of Tottenham and the fight left them and United with the lead and the superiority and a typical boisterous crowd roaring them on, had the wind in their sails.  And it was scary at how good United looked, the last half hour was a passage of irresistible passing and movement, never more apparent than the second goal when Welbeck in a one-two with scorer, Anderson, backheeled to the Brazilian who had an easy task of scoring past Brad Friedel, who was impressive in goal on his Spurs' debut and was blameless for any of the goals. 
   Jermain Defoe hit the post on 88 minutes, and that might have made it interesting but the introduction of a trifecta subs of Hernandez, Park and youngster Giggs meant United could keep possession of the ball and Giggs duly teed up Rooney for the third with a well-placed header.

City may be going to plan at the moment, but United worryingly look a better side at this stage with a stronger squad this season compared to last year's Champions League finalists.  With Vidic and Ferdinand injured, Phil Jones and Jonny Evans did an admirable job and maintained a clean sheet, no matter how many times De Gea fumbled the ball - Cleverley is growing slowly in stature, Ashley Young is offering something different on the wing and Welbeck's loan spell at Sunderland has paid dividends as he looks stronger and hungry to impress up front this season.  And Fergie has Chicarito and Berbatov available on the bench, and he could still add to the squad with nine days left of the transfer window.

United were my prediction for the title and so far (apart from that worrying keeper) they remain the favourites in that degree.

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