Despite a relatively unspectacular start to the season in terms of action on the pitch, there has no doubt been plenty off it.
Starting off with Arsenal, it really hasn’t been a fairytale start to the season for Wenger’s men.
With Man City breaking into the top four and Liverpool strengthening, when us fans were looking for who was most likely to be the next ‘big four club’ to drop out, most concluded at Arsenal.
Wenger’s lack of silverware and problems at the back have been well documented over recent seasons, and are about as obvious as Fabregas’ move to Barcelona has been for the past year. That brings me onto another worry for the Gunners.
The faithful’s motto ‘In Arsene We Trust’ is being severely put to the test, and a home defeat to Liverpool, the first since 2000, didn’t do that old motto any favours.
Liverpool themselves weren’t great by any means. Dalglish’s summer has been quite the opposite to Wenger’s, in the respect that he’s spent pretty much every penny available to him, whether his players are value for money is questionable.
Dalglish took the surprise choice of leaving Luis Suarez on the bench, preferring to support Andy Carroll with Jordan Henderson as the ‘hole player’.
Watching the game on Sky, I wandered if either had seen a football before in their lives.
I think everyone can agree that £55million for the pair is very steep, and has provided the North East with more income since the industrial revolution.
Carroll looked lost on his own up front, his first touch was heavier than your average scouse bouncer and the less said about his lack of movement the better. I’ve seen double decker buses with better mobility than he showed at the Emirates.
Henderson looked nervous and struggled to have a great impact on the game, providing little support for a striker who definitely needed it. Of course, both are under severe scrutiny due to their excessive transfer fees. But that’s the same for all players that command a high fee, take Rooney, Drogba, Torres, Tevez…
Needless to say, the game changed totally when Suarez was introduced along with Raul Meireles.
Both were instrumental in Liverpool’s two late goals and provided a fluidity and goal threat up top that Liverpool had been missing. The Red’s course was aided by Emmanuel Frimpong’s sending off, this being Arsenal’s second red card in as many games, it drew much media attention and added to Wenger’s problems.
Arsenal aren’t in a great situation at the moment, and if Nasri leaves, their midfield is lacking even more creativity, which is very unlike an Arsenal side. In hindsight, Wenger will wish he’d got the highest fees possible for Fabregas and Nasri early in the summer and used the money to improve his squad with a centre half and at least two midfield players, and a full back to replace the underrated Clichy…
At the other end of the scale is Clichy’s new club Manchester City. Buzzing after a sumptuous performance against new boys Swansea, Mancini’s boys travelled to Bolton in search of another three points.
An early top of the table clash involved five goals and an incredibly open game. In contrast to Arsenal’s lack of creativity in midfield, Man City had plenty, with David Silva running the show.
Considering Jordan Henderson cost Liverpool £20million, Silva looks a snip at £25million; consistently brilliant and classy, the diminutive playmaker has shown everyone why he can step into Tevez’s shoes as City’s star man.
Man of the Match two weeks running, Silva scored the opener with a drive from 25 yards, Jussi Jaaskelainen was caught out by the unpredictable movement of the ball, queue old Bolton traditionalists moaning about ‘these bloody modern balls’.
Surprisingly impressive Gareth Barry hit a screamer of a second from a well worked corner, City’s play going forward was blistering and unplayable at times. The aforementioned Silva had Aguero and Dzeko, both impressive, ahead of him making clever runs and creating chances. Aguero missed two great opportunities and would have expected to score both, Dzeko meanwhile did score his chance in the second half.
His clever run in behind Zat Knight after he drew the defender towards the ball was terrific, when he was found by James Milner’s flick and his persistence led to a goal as he fired across goal and past Jaaskelainen.
City’s fluidity up front should have meant a 5-0 victory, but Bolton fought their way back into the game, seizing on defensive errors to pull themselves back into the game.
Ivan Klasnic fired past Joe Hart with a left foot volley from a Martin Petrov cross for 2-1; in the second half Kevin Davies made it 3-2 with a perfectly placed header from another Petrov cross.
Undoubtedly the game of the weekend, City went top with a brilliant attacking performance. Carlos Tevez even entered proceedings fashionably late and despite not being at his best, looked sharp in his cameo appearance. The equally controversial Mario Balotelli was a sulky figure on the City bench, and with Nasri seemingly on his way, it could become a familiar site.
The only sulky figures at the Liberty Stadium were the Latics fans who were disappointed not to grab all three points after hitting the woodwork twice and missing a penalty in the second half.
Wigan now have the glamorous honour of being the first English Premier League team to play a game outside of England. Thankfully, it wasn’t due to the Premier League’s old solely money making 39th game plan, it was due to Swansea’s promotion.
Swansea, like Norwich, were fuelled on the momentum that promotion brought and attacked strongly in the first half, they seemed to lack a final ball in the attacking third. With Wayne Routledge as their hole player, is anyone surprised?
Latics upped their game in the second half and former Swan Jordi Gomez hit the post with a delicate lob over Michel Vorm. This was evidence of Gomez’s technical side, yet his lack of physical presence and pace for a player Martinez started wide right let him down.
A player who lacks no pace is Victor Moses, as mentioned last week, he is a key player for us and nearly provided the breakthrough when his shot came back off the bar. From the rebound, Jordi Gomez was felled for a penalty.
Considering Ben Watson’s accomplished penalty last week against Norwich, Wiganers could have been forgiven for expecting him to score again. Yet this is Wigan we’re talking about, the typically inevitable does seem to happen quite often, and so it proved as Vorm saved well to his right.
A goalless draw wasn’t quite what either side had hoped for, but Martinez will be happy not to lose on his return to Swansea, although he might be annoyed at yet another goalless performance from Franco Di Santo. I know what you’re thinking: bring back Boselli.
Goal of the Week: Ex-Wiganer Ryan Taylor showed that he can score free kicks for Newcastle as well as against them, Sunderland 0-1 Newcastle.
Arjan De Zeeuw of the Week: It has to be David Silva for his outstanding display at the Reebok, although Heskey’s return to the score sheet means it’s a tight run thing.
Daniel De Ridder of the Week: Aaron Ramsey’s own goal was more unlucky then terrible at the Emirates, so it has to go to Howard Webb for failing to spot a clear handball on the line by Seb Larsson in the Tyne-Wear derby.
Comment of the Week: “Every Swansea game this season is a sell out, except for today of course because Wigan haven’t sold out their allocation” Steve Wilson can’t resist a cheap shot at Wigan during his Match of the Day commentary.