The Premier League Review: Returning To Type

by | Aug 29, 2016

Three games in, then, and the Premier League is reverting to type following its year off. Manchester City, Manchester United and Chelsea lead the table with maximum points, there’s already been a storm concerning tweets that a player (once) sent, and the possibility of a suspension now hangs over the head of a stand-out player ahead of the Manchester derby in a couple of weeks time. All we need now is for Arsenal supporters to start taking banners to matches demanding the immediate impeachment of Arsene Wenger, and we’ll have a full house.

Aguero’s elbow made contact with Winston Reid’s neck/throat during Sunday’s match between Manchester City and West Ham United, and within five minutes the internet had already decided whether Aguero should definitely be banned for the derby match on the tenth of September. Referee Andre Marriner will confirm whether he saw the incident or not to the Premier League today, and this revelation will likely confirm whether this suspension comes to pass or not. If he didn’t, the likelihood of a ban will come into play and there will be much yowling from the sky blue side of Manchester. If he confirms that he did see it, however, the caterwauling will come from other side of the city’s divide. It’s a no-win situation, in a way, but isn’t everything in the Premier League, these days?

Manchester City’s win was enough to take them back to the top of the table – to the extent to such things can be considered of any importance whatsoever – completing a folie a trois that had also taken in Chelsea and Manchester United over the previous twenty-five hours or so. Chelsea had gone top of the table at five to five on Saturday afternoon after swatting Burnley aside in the manner of an elephant dealing with a particularly inconvenient fly, but their stay at the top of the table lasted barely a couple of hours before the plucky underdogs of Manchester United warmed the cockles of the entire nation with a last minute Rarcus Mashford winner at previously high-flying Hull City.

The weekend had started at a White Hart Lane with a hole in the middle with Tottenham Hotspur and Liverpool playing out their ongoing imperfections in front of an audience of millions. Had a fraction either way offside call not gone in Spurs’ favour with the score at one-nil to the visitors, we’d most likely be nudging them towards the tray marked  “ARRRRGH! CRISIS!”, but Liverpool’s failure to kill the game off means that Mauricio Pochettino is off the hook for now, though several members of his team still seem to be carrying hangovers from the end of last season and their summer exertions. Liverpool, meanwhile, remain – depending on your point of view – either a work in progress or maddeningly inconsistent. Or perhaps both. Both clubs need significant work done if they’re to challenge the galactic overlords at the very top of the table, though. That much seems pretty certain, even after only three games of the season have been completed.

One team that does seem to headed in an upwardly direction is Arsenal, whose win at Watford was marred only by the eyeball-straining decision to play in a navy blue and YELLOW away kit at Watford, who, of course play their home matches in yellow and black. What part of Arsenal’s traditional red and white home kit clashed with this is a mystery that only a marketing person can likely answer, so we’ll suffice to say that, three days after the match, we can still make out the outline of Granit Xhaka every time we close our eyes. Perhaps literally burning the image of players is part of a new marketing ploy on the part of the Premier League. It wouldn’t be that surprising, would it? Still, it was a first win of the season for Arsenal following their traumatic opening weekend match against Liverpool and… reaches deep into recesses of long-forgotten memories… their goalless snoozefest at Leicester last weekend.

The rest of the the Saturday afternoon kick-offs seemed to further reinforce the idea that three o’clock in the afternoon might not necessarily be the optimum time to play or watch football after all. Everton supporters may well be forgiven for nor caring too much about the quality of football on display so long as their team keeps on winning, and whilst their one-nil win against Stoke City might not have been terribly easy on the eyes, their fourth place position in the league table at the of the weekend surely is, to supporters. Stoke City, meanwhile, sit at the foot of the table with one point from their first three matches.

At Selhurst Park, meanwhile, the first Relegation Six Pointer (© 1992  The Premier League, all rights reserved, probably) of the season ended with just the two points being handed out, with a Scott Dann header three minutes into stoppage-time at the end of Crystal Palace’s match against Bournemouth rescuing a point for the home side after Josh King had given Bournemouth an early lead. Despite this, however, the pressure remains high on Palace manager and noted robot dancer Alan Pardew following a winless start to the new season which follows on seamlessly from his team’s abject second half to last season. Elsewhere, Leicester City seem to be finally moving up through the gears, with a two-one win against Swansea City that featured inclement weather conditions, Jamie Vardy’s first goal of the season, a missed penalty from Riyad Mahrez, and an injury to the Leicester goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel. So, the most eventful match of the day by some distance, then.

And finally, we turn our attention to whichever live TV scheduler it was who believed that subjecting us to West Bromwich Albion vs Middlesbrough would be a good idea. Now, obviously there are quotas for each team in the Premier League that need to be hit, and perhaps said scheduler thought that it might be a good idea to get this one out of the way on the Sunday of a Bank Holiday weekend while the weather was still pleasant. Still, though. A goalless draw suited Middlesbrough better than Albion, who remain in something of a state of flux with new investors, a manager who is starting to decrease in popularity with supporters, and the transfer window due to slam shut in just over twenty-four hours time. These behind the scenes shenanigans have been more appealing than what has taken place on the pitch across much of the Premier League so far this season. Perhaps things will liven up once the nights start properly drawing in.

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