Rants and musings from the magazine team
FourFourTwo.com's James Maw rates (and slates) the Premier League's 20 clubs on the basis of their performances this weekend...
TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 9(W 4-0, Liverpool H)Don’t let the two red cards fool you - Spurs won this game thanks to their own brilliance, rather than Liveprool’s indiscipline. Adebayor’s impact has been instantaneous, yet it was fellow new-boy Parker who caught the eye - not allowing the Reds a moment’s peace in the middle of the park.
BLACKBURN ROVERS 8.5(W 4-3, Arsenal H)While they enjoyed a substantial serving of good fortune in being on the right end of two own-goals, Rovers’ doggedness and willingness to throw players forward on the counter saw them worthy of a win. If Kean can continue to tease performances out of Yakubu, relegation will look far less of a certainty.
QUEENS PARK RANGERS 8(W 3-0, Wolves A)While it shouldn’t be a surprise to see Rangers reinvigorated after their late-summer splurge, the speed with which they have clicked into gear certainly raises eyebrows. A comprehensive win at a ground where Manchester United, Manchester City and Chelsea all lost last term suggests they are acclimatising well to life back in the top flight.
SWANSEA CITY 7.5(W 3-0, West Brom H)Premier League goals for Swansea City are evidently like London buses - although they probably don’t smell of pee-pee. Having gone four matches without netting, the Swans finally came good thrice over. Although there’ll be tougher challenges ahead, this win will give confidence that their patient approach is the right one.
NORWICH CITY 7.5(W 2-1, Bolton A)Having completed barely over 200 passes - the fourth-lowest for a winning side in the Premier League this season - and enjoyed just 40% possession, this was, if nothing else, an efficient win. And that’ll please Paul Lambert no end.
EVERTON 7(W 3-1, Wigan H)This routine victory proved there’s life for Everton after Mikel Arteta (and Jermaine Beckford...), with new boys Apostolos Vellios and Royston Drenthe both netting their first goals for the club. While there are big questions to be answered off the pitch, it appears the Toffees should have enough to remain competitive in the top half.
FULHAM 7(D 2-2, Man City H)While they may still be searching for that elusive first victory, the Cottagers will be buoyed by their comeback against a side in such form. With West Brom and QPR coming up, they will fancy their chances of getting off the mark sooner rather than later.
MANCHESTER UNITED 6.5(W 3-1, Chelsea H)A win, and a win against a likely title rival, but not a performance that convinced in the same way as the four preceding it. Sir Alex Ferguson will be concerned by the number of chances his side allowed their opponents in the first half, and their inability to kill off the game in the second.
SUNDERLAND 6.5(W 4-0, Stoke H)The Black Cats were far from unlucky in their victory over the travel-weary Potters. But that won't matter a jot to Steve Bruce, who will have been delighted to see his previously goal-shy side net four against a traditionally solid defensive unit.
NEWCASTLE UNITED 6.5(D 1-1, Aston Villa A)The Magpies’ steady start to the campaign continued with a solid draw at Villa Park, but they may feel they could have had more. Pardew’s men had 22 attempts at goal, though only six hit the mark - perhaps a sign the fans’ calls for strengthening their forward line were justified.
MANCHESTER CITY 5.5(D 2-2, Fulham A)City will likely endure worse results than this in the coming months, but the nature with which they dropped deeper and deeper into their defensive third and ultimately blew a two-goal lead suggests that, although technically on point, they perhaps lack the mentality of 'champions'. Not that we’re ruling them out just yet, of course.
CHELSEA 5.5(L 1-3, Man Utd A)There’ll be plenty of positives for Andre Villas-Boas to take from Sunday’s defeat - not least the performance of Fernando TorRes, despite THAT miss. Had luck, and the offside flag, gone in their favour, they could well have taken a point, which would have been just about right given their input to a compelling match.
ASTON VILLA 5.5(D 1-1, Newcastle H)There are unbeaten starts and there are unbeaten starts. Seven points from five matches against sides who finished outside last season’s top six is a fairly unspectacular version. Eight shots on target in their last three matches perhaps underline where the problem lies.
WIGAN ATHLETIC 4.5(L 1-3, Everton A)While Martinez will have been frustrated at having seen the game slip away in the dying minutes, perhaps a bigger blow was the injury suffered by star striker Hugo Rodallega, who looks set to be out until Christmas with a knee ligament injury.
BOLTON WANDERERS 4(L 1-2, Norwich H)Alarm bells will be ringing at the Reebok after a fourth straight league defeat. Losing to Manchester City, Liverpool and Manchester United is nothing to be ashamed of, but a home defeat to the newly-promoted Canaries exposed Wanderers as somewhat witless - Owen Coyle quickly needs to find a way of turning the tide.
WEST BROMWICH ALBION 4(L 0-3, Swansea A)Having tried playing well and losing (three times) and playing not-bad and winning, the Baggies opted to play terribly and get thumped in South Wales. And it worked a treat, with the visitors gifting the Swans a two goal lead.
WOLVERHAMPTON WANDERERS 4(L 0-3, QPR H)Having started the season so strongly, and made Molineux something of a fortress last term, few would’ve had Wolves down to lose two straight home ties, shipping five goals. The big test for Mick McCarthy will be picking up his troops so as to prevent this from becoming a false dawn.
LIVERPOOL 4(L 0-4, Tottenham A)Could it be that Kenny Dalglish’s conspiracy theorising backfired? Referee Mike Jones certainly didn’t have a problem booking the Scot’s players, who largely appeared to be frustrated.
STOKE CITY 3.5(L 0-4, Sunderland A)An uncharacteristically pathetic defensive performance saw the Potters comprehensively beaten on their return to these shores following their midweek jaunt to Ukraine. Their efforts were summed up by Peter Crouch’s botched attempt at goal from six yards in the dying minutes.
ARSENAL 3(L 3-4, Blackburn A)In a way, this result will have smarted more than the 8-2 mauling at Old Trafford. The farcical nature of the goals conceded perhaps sums up the Gunners' current malaise, and while Wenger will be pleased Arteta has hit the ground running, the lack of cohesion at the back means the nightmare's not over yet.
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