The second round of Premier League games brought few surprises yesterday, although there are some enthralling encounters to come. The most explosive game was the late kick-off between Everton and Arsenal, which looked to be settled by half-time. Everton surged into a 2-0 lead with goals from Coleman and Naismith, the latter in controversial circumstances, however Arsenal showed all of the resilience that is usually missing as they finished strongly with a goal from star player Aaron Ramsey, and a surprising contribution from substitute Giroud in the last minute, the Frenchman is so often targeted as being the reason that Arsenal can’t seriously challenge for the title – that, and their reluctance to replace him.
While Wenger will see that as a great point at one of the toughest places to go in the League, Sam Allardyce and his West Ham side will have been delighted to take all three against Crystal Palace in a game which comes as the Eagles are in the middle of perhaps one of their most difficult moments in recent history. Managerless and toothless, Palace were about to appoint Malky Mackay before his ex-chairman published a dossier of private texts between him and a close associate which are undeniably strewn with racial, sexist, anti-semitic and homophobic undertones.
Palace withdrew their offer, Mackay may never work in football again, and Vincent Tan – one of the most unpopular men ever to enter the Premier League will undoubtedly be chuckling to himself. Palace lost 3-1, and they already look destined for a return to the Championship.
The same can also be said of Burnley who slumped to their second defeat in as many games, although they were against Chelsea, and away at a resplendent Swansea, but still, until you get a point on the board, it is a terrible place to be.
Villa and Newcastle played out a tiring 0-0, as did Southampton and West Brom, all four teams look destined for mid-table shenanigans this season, while Premier League favourites Chelsea semi-laboured to a 2-0 win over an impressive Leicester City, who look the most likely to stay up out of the three promoted sides. Fabregas was again instrumental for Jose Mourinho’s side, and his countryman, and fellow new signing Diego Costa notched his second in as many games. It is these two Spaniards that will definitely make the difference for Chelsea this year as they look to challenge on all fronts.
Sunday & Monday Preview
The game of the day on Sunday is Sunderland in their entertaining of Manchester United. Louis van Gaal faces up to a long list of injuries, including Ander Herrera, however he will be delighted to welcome back Robin van Persie, and ahead of Angel di Maria’s imminent arrival from Real Madrid, United are perhaps a fraction away from being serious contenders. They must stay in touch until they get Rojo’s work permit, and a few other players back, but once they do, Chelsea and Man City will be looking over their shoulders for sure.
The two early games on Sunday see Harry Redknapp return to Tottenham with QPR, in what should be an entertaining encounter, while Hull and Stoke face off in what could be a slightly less exciting encounter.
The game of round 2 of the Premier League, however, is Manchester City against Liverpool. With Balotelli set to sign on Monday, he won’t feature against his old side, but Liverpool certainly have reason to go into the City match with some optimism. They won this fixture last season, and, despite capitulating at the end, they certainly have nothing to fear from the oil-rich vanity project. Although the FIFA Financial Fair Play Rules are hanging over the big spenders, City ploughed on through the summer regardless, bringing in six new players. But it will be extremely difficult for Pellegrini to keep his start studded group happy, the squad is notoriously full of egos – although Balotelli’s now requires feeding over at Anfield – it will be a challenging season for City, particularly if they once again fail in the Champions League.
Hull City 2 -0 Stoke City
Tottenham 2 – 2 QPR
Sunderland 0 – 2 Manchester United
Manchester City 3 -2 Liverpool