MICHAEL OWEN vs THE £10,000,000 COLOSSUS
MICHAEL OWEN vs THE £10,000,000 COLOSSUS
MAN CITY were the clear winners in the transfer window – and that spells bad news for those who don’t want this season’s Premier League to turn into a runaway success for Manuel Pellegrini’s side.
That may sound a touch overly-dramatic after only four games.
But given the start that they have made and the level of players they acquired in the window – Kevin De Bruyne and Nicolas Otamendi recently joining Raheem Sterling in the squad – and the signings their main rivals failed to get over the line last week, it is little wonder that some bookmakers now make City as short as 4-9 for the title.
Arsenal are now second favourites in most books after a fair, if unconvincing, start to the campaign, but I don’t think many of their supporters were happy with the fact that Arsene Wenger’s only new signing was Petr Cech, and a top-level striker wasn’t secured.
I have a lot of time for Giroud but, with Welbeck on the sidelines, there isn’t a great deal of back-up if the Frenchman picks up an injury. And even with him in the side, the goals have hardly been flowing for the Gunners so far.
But they have probably done the right thing by not paying silly money for a striker, for all the frustration that conservatism brings for fans, and I think they will have enough to secure three points at home to Stoke.
It may not be as straightforward as their 3-0 win in this fixture last season, even if their opponents haven’t started the season well, and 1-0 is my main fancy. But I will also include 2-0 and 2-1.
I don’t anticipate many bigger shocks this season than Crystal Palace’s 2-1 win at Stamford Bridge last month and Man City may be given their biggest test yet when they travel to Selhurst Park.
Clearly, Pardew has his side playing great football, with Cabaye the exciting new addition, and I wouldn’t rule out Palace getting something from the game. And they did win this fixture 2-1 last season.
But this looks a different City side now, in attitude and confidence more than anything, and you have to favour them to take the three points. They may concede in doing so though – Palace have scored in all of their games this season – and my main fancy is 2-1. But I will include 1-0 and 1-1.
It is not often that you will see me predicting a goalless draw at Old Trafford, but I can easily envisage that score line this weekend.
If Arsenal fans may be aggrieved about their side not signing a striker, I think Man Utd fans could be forgiven for feeling equally bemused by how they could end up paying over £50m+ for a largely unproven talent in Anthony Martial.
He may well be a tremendous prospect but to pay so much for a 19-year-old is ill-judged, in my opinion. As was the farcical situation that saw David De Gea’s transfer to Real Madrid fall through in somewhat bizarre, and confusing, circumstances.
Certainly, Van Gaal, whose side have only scored three times in their opening four league matches which included a 0-0 draw at home to Newcastle, has his work cut out to kick-start their season.
Of course, it does help that they are playing an equally goal-shy Liverpool with only two goals to their name this season – and who come here on the back a 3-0 home defeat to West Ham – but this does not promise to be pretty from all the available evidence.
I go 0-0 and 1-1, though if there is to be a winner I take Utd 1-0.
Atletico Madrid and Barcelona, who have both won their opening two games, is another potentially tough one to call.
Barca won all four of their meetings last season, including this fixture 1-0, but Atletico are a tough side to beat in the Vicente Calderon – they won 14 and only lost two of 19 home games last season – and this could be tight. I go 1-1 and 1-0 Barca.
With no win and three draws from their opening games, I think Tottenham missed a trick by not signing Berahino in the transfer window to give Kane some support.
Of course, you never know what goes on in these negotiations and how much West Brom were asking, but Tottenham have looked a bit light up front so far.
Sunderland have no problems scoring it seems, but the issue is their defence. They have let in 10 goals in four games, as well as three in a Capital One Cup game at home to Exeter, so you’d be very surprised if this ended goalless. I’ll go 1-1.
Goals are also on the agenda in the Leicester v Aston Villa match. To be honest, I haven’t got much of an opinion on this one, though Leicester have fared far better than I thought they would so far. I see a scoring draw, either Any Other Draw (AOD) or 1-1.
West Ham have proved something of a Jekyll and Hyde team this season, losing at home to Bournemouth and Leicester but somehow managing to beat Arsenal and Liverpool on the road without conceding.
Newcastle haven’t scored since the opening day of the season, so I go West Ham 2-0 and 2-1. It is about time they turned it on in front of their own fans.