Last weekend the Premier League was back in full force and it had everything you could have wished for – spectacular goals and as ever, controversy. The two Manchester clubs showed they meant business and Chelsea have demonstrated that they will be a force to be reckoned with. On the flip side, the three promoted clubs all failed to get any points on the board (or goals for that matter!), suggesting they could really struggle this season.
However, I feel it is wrong to draw conclusions about any of the clubs so early into the season. At the end of the upcoming weekend once all of the sides have played both home and away, we will have a greater idea of how the season is going to pan out. Here are a few of key things I am looking out for this weekend:
- Everton – After missing out on three points away at Norwich, Roberto Martinez will be looking to notch up his first win as Everton manager, this weekend at home to West Brom. On paper you’d think that Everton would dominate West Brom, however it remains to be seen how the Toffees will react to the uncertainty surrounding their star men – Leighton Baines and Maroune Fellaini.
- Fulham v Arsenal – Fulham have done some great business recently, recruiting Darren Bent, Scott Parker and Adel Taarabt. I will be intrigued to see how Martin Jol deploys these new signings. Arsenal will have regained some confidence following their win in Turkey during the week, however two league losses on the trot would put Arsene Wenger under intense pressure. It will be interesting to see how both sides match up and how attacking each manager is willing to be.
- Paulo Di Canio – Sunderland’s season couldn’t have got off to a worse start after losing at home to Fulham last weekend. As Mark Lawrenson stated in his predictions for the upcoming weekend, whilst talking about Di Canio, “I cannot work out if he is a genius or a complete idiot”. Whilst perhaps this is a little strong, Di Canio will certainly be feeling the pressure and he needs to pick up something at Southampton this weekend in order to get the critics off his back.
- David Moyes – without doubt this is the biggest game of David Moyes’ managerial career. He passed his first test with flying colors against Swansea last weekend, yet Chelsea on Monday night will be a different proposition altogether. I am particularly interested in how Moyes will approach the game. I believe there are two routes he could go down tactically – the cautious route or the bold one. I feel he will opt for the safety first approach. Neither side will want to lose, especially Moyes in his first competitive match at Old Trafford, and therefore I am expecting a cagey affair. I expect Moyes to pack the midfield to try and limit the space for Chelsea’s creative players – Hazard, Mata, Oscar et al. As Alan Hansen tends to say, “you can’t win the title in the first half of the season, but you can certainly lose it”. Both sides would love to gain a psychological advantage ahead of their rivals so early in the season, yet I feel the fear factor of falling behind will perhaps prevent the public being treated to a truly entertaining spectacle, in the first Moyes v Mourinho battle of the season.