Arsenal fans, I know the anger vented on Saturday has been building for a loooooong time and I know it seems dark and depressing right now but don’t panic. Yes, you guys may have had a very quiet summer; yes, it’s disappointing no money has spent; everyone seems to be injured and now we have Lady Nina Bracewell-Smith expressing regret about selling her shares to Kroenke. Oh, and there is a tricky CL qualifier away at Fenerbache and everyone seems to be injured. But don’t panic, seasons are long, one bad result in the first game of the season shouldn’t be the blow that brings down the Wenger empire. It’ll get better, players will be brought in, injuries will heal and Arsenal will likely be in the CL groups. Learn lessons from this summers inertia and don’t panic!
2) Aston Villa’s Attack
It’s only one game, it’s only one game, it’s only one game……….but, I quite liked the shape of Villa’s attacking setup on Saturday. Benteke offers the muscularity through the middle, Weimann is the intelligent schemer who buzzes in the inside right channel and Agbonlahor offers blistering pace. Those three players looked plenty capable of causing opposition defenses problems with their counter attacking play. This is a young Villa team who will suffer through some defensive issues throughout the season. It’s also a Villa team who will be fun to watch if only due to that attacking trident.
3) Muscle Memory
It’s only one game, but Man United looked characteristically efficient during their 1-4 away win in Swansea. Infact, it looked like Ferguson was still in charge of Man United and that should be placed into the credit column for Moyes. We should also credit the players for that performance for it seemed like the United players were acting on some kind of muscle memory in terms of calmness, discipline and patience. This is a very experienced group of United players who also have many seasons worth of experience playing together in a tactical scheme that was created by one of the best tacticians we have known. These United players will not have forgotten Ferguson’s teachings, they will not have forgotten the amazing tactical magic that he instilled in this group. Moyes may not change a whole lot at United, and on Sunday it appeared that this United team was playing purely from memory, and those memories were created by that weird voodoo magician they called Fergie.
I love writing about Sunderland. It all stems for from focusing on Sunderland’s early struggles by the underlying numbers in 2012/13. A short recap: Sunderland were terrible all season, but they were unusually, frighteninglyterrible in the first dozen games or so. Now Sunderland have Di Canio at the helm they are likely to be just as interesting a team to write about in 2013/14 as they were in 2012/13, but likely for different reasons. Sunderland should be slightly better this year with the investments they have made, but I was still mightily intrigued to see how Sunderland started the season. They lost, going down 0-1 at home to Fulham. The result was disappointing but that wasn’t what shocked me. The fact that Sunderland out-shot an opponent was shocking.Sunderland out-shot Fulham by a total of 21 to 5 and 3 to 1 in shots on target. Were score effects an issue? Sunderland out-shot Fulham 12-4 at Tied game state. Has Paolo Di Canio turned this Sunderland team into one who is capable of out-shooting an opponent? It’s only one game
5) Mourinho V2.0
A grown man. Half and half scarf. I was as impressed as it’s possible to be with Chelsea’s home victory against a newly promoted side. Yes, Hull were there for the taking but Chelsea played some very nice stuff in the first 30 minutes. Quick, pressure passing and smart movement form Chelsea’s attacking wizards. And Mourinho looked relaxed! Once into the second half Chelsea sat back as is their wont. Now, I saw quite a few tweets which stated that Chelsea were outplayed in the second half by Hull. I counter that opinion by merely saying that this was Chelsea ‘shelling’ and this means Chelsea purposefully sat back, tightened up their defensive shape and focused less on expending any tactical currency on searching for a third goal. This ‘shelling’ is a tactic that every team employ. It was a tactic that Chelsea particularly struggled with last term. Yesterday against Hull, Chelsea went into the ‘shell’, maybe it was a deliberate practice as Ted suggested, maybe it was default Mourinho. Either way, when ‘shelling’ it appears as if the team is being outplayed, you tend to get out-shot by the opposition, but those shots will be from poorer positions on the pitch, those shots will be blocked at a higher rate and this means those shots are unlikely to result in goals against. It’s only one game, but I’d lean towards the 2nd half being a competitive practice session and the 1st half being more indicative of Mourinho v2.0 – quick passing, all movement and attacking intent.
6) New Strikers
Hey, it wasn’t a bad weekend for the new striker recruits was it? Bony scored, Wolfie scored, Soldado scored. If a team spends a lot of money at the sharp end of the field it’s always nice for the club to get an early return and for the player to get off the mark early. No striker wants to do a Forlan. Anyone want to create an over/under line on when Neymar’s first league goal will arrive?
7) Best PL Debuts From A Striker
Now, I haven’t researched this too much but of the top of my head I remember hat-tricks from Ravanelli and Shearer(x2). Klinsmann had a pretty good debut in his first Spurs spell and that debut game is where the ‘dive’ celebration was born. A personal favourite was watching the debut of George Weah for Man City, it was farcical that a player of such stature and skill was debuting for a newly promoted side under the management of Joe Royle. $$$! But one particluar debut game sticks in my head and that performance came from a complete unknown. He was leggy, highly skilled and Man United just couldn’t live with him that day. Wanchope was a bolt from the blue, a shock of lightning. Any readers have any suggestions of great PL debuts?
8) Man City v Newcastle
Whilst we are on the topic of good debuts from strikers, I wonder what price one could get for Jovetic or Negredo scoring at home to Newcastle? That’s not the ony question that arises from the Monday night fixture: How will City’s new signings appear at first blush? Just how dominant will a Fernandinho/Yaya pairing be? Can Pellegrini get off to a winning start and ape the satisfying opening day wins of Moyes and Mourinho? And what of Newcastle and Pardew? Will they be better and healthier this year? Will we find out exactly who the hell they are?
9) Goal Of The Week
The lack of usable highlight video is already bothering me and we are just 2 days into the new season. Why is there not a Premier league youtube channel with highlights/goals videos from each game every week? Robin van Persie – the 2nd goal…….wooof!
10) Don’t Panic Or Get Too Excited
If your team had a good opening day result – United, Southampton & Chelsea – it may be best to not get to excited or draw any conclusions that are too concerete about the quality of your team. If you are an Arsenal fan, or a fan of one of the promoted clubs, then don’t be too downhearted. You know, shit happens in a one off game, shit happens at the start of the season. We are many, many weeks and games away from being able to make any serious predictions about how the season may shape up.