While Manchester City and Arsenal have started this season strongly just like they did in the last campaign there are already early season worries for two heavyweight clubs. Chelsea who have spent close to £900m in 3 transfer windows including over £300m in this one alone have 1 point after two games. Granted we are only two games in but having faced Liverpool at home and West Ham away, Mr. Todd Boehly with his array of stars, Mauricio Pochettino in the dugout and a slightly lighter wallet may have expected four points at the very least by now. Instead Chelsea were beaten 3-1 by West Ham, a club who have spent the summer with arguments behind the scenes, transfer worries, losing Declan Rice and David Moyes job has been under threat, but here we are, welcome to the reality.
What reality is that? Well it's one where we have a solid if unremarkable side, but one that is going to be picking up points especially at home and one that is ready to battle. The other side in Chelsea is one where we have a project thrown together and it is expected to work straight away. It is at least for Pochettino, because as has been proved managers have limited time to impress in their jobs. There is of course quality in this Chelsea team and for the first half of the game they were well in it, but like last season it's all pass, pass and pass and possession football without an end product. It's a bit like watching the great Barcelona team, minus the confidence, minus the Andreas Iniesta, Xavi and Lionel Messi and with Raheem Sterling up front, who since parting ways with Manchester City and Pep Guardiola has looked like a floating cork in an ocean- directionless. Boehly and Pochettino will be hoping for results soon, surely the game plan should be simple, buy quality, spend millions and start winning games, but as we witnessed last season with the Blues that isn't a given. Will history repeat itself so soon after? Chelsea are already 21.00 to win the Premier League despite the millions spent and despite now having in Moises Caicedo the British transfer record….
Manchester United are the other team who need a shake up and while the club did have some ups and downs in Erik ten Hag's first season progress was made. This season was supposed to build on that and bring back a winning mentality to the club however United are lucky to have 3 points on the board. Everyone knows how lucky they were not to have given a penalty away at home in the last minutes of that game against Wolves. Such was the poor choice from VAR that day the team was suspended for a week. But then they lost easily this past weekend going down 2-0 and looking much like in the first game, toothless. Fingers have been pointed at Casemiro, the golden midfielder of last season but should Bruno Fernandes really escape again? Fernandes seems to have credit in the bank after all he is arguably the clubs best signing since Cristiano Ronaldo first came to the club but he has looked a shadow of the player he once was for a good 18 months now. The Red Devils are much like Chelsea's price to win the league with even some markets drifting out to 26.00. A top 4 finish at 2.25 doesn't even look like great value presently but we should remember that United started slowly this time last season. What we are noticing is that by every passing year the Premier League takes no fools and if you are not fully switched on you will lose games.
You've got to be worried if you're an Everton fan. Each season promised a flicker of hope and progress but coming into this one with the lack of new personnel Everton fans could well have predicted this would be a struggle. Despite the club having a lack of quality throughout the team you need a goalscorer, that goalscorer is currently playing at Tottenham, not getting 90 minutes week in and week out and looks frustrated. Everton need Richarlison and it seems that Tottenham do not. Richarlison is everything for Everton but for Tottenham looks like another forward on a conveyor belt. So Everton are stuck with Dominic Calvert-Lewin who on his day can score goals and be a handful for a lot of defences. The problem is he has rare days like that and keeps getting injured. He came back for the Aston Villa game but lasted 38 minutes, this time it's a facial injury, it isn't said to be serious but when Calvert-Lewin gets injured he usually doesn't come back quickly. Neal Maupay has been poor for the club with just 1 goal from almost 30 league games and as a team after the 4-0 drubbing by Villa who themselves were coming off of a 5-1 thrashing by Newcastle Everton have scored zilch and conceded 5 goals after two games. Everton are bottom of the league and this doesn't look good. However like Chelsea and Manchester United there has to be some benefit of the doubt, it is only two games, a lot can change. Still Everton have looked relegation contenders for the last two seasons in all seriousness and have flirted with the second tier for the past 30, surely their final season at Goodison Park won't end with relegation will it?
Everton top 4 finish: 501.00, Everton to be relegated: 2.75
Two players who have been in the news recently for the wrong reasons are Mason Greenwood and Lucas Paqueta. Greenwood was cleared of alledged rape charges because of a lack of evidence and the case soon fell apart however that doesn't mean he is not guilty and Manchester United have decided to terminate his contract although they will help him move on. Greenwood is a decent player and before the case against him he looked like he could become one of United's key players but controversy is going to follow him around. A court couldn't hold him but anyone can listen to the audio of his alleged crimes and it doesn't make for easy listening. You get the sense that sections of fans are going to protest at whoever he ends up at.
Lucas Paqueta looked on the verge of joining Manchester City, but good news, bad news. City have pulled out after the FA have charged him with alleged gambling on games, specifically getting himself booked. So he won't be going to the champions but that doesn't mean that West Ham can be happy. Look at the case of Brentford's Ivan Toney who is serving an 8 month ban for betting, surely Paqueta if found guilty is going to receive the same kind of ban, and that will help no club at all.
Finally congratulations to Spain for winning the Women's World Cup. Though the event is not as grand as the men's World Cup final there is no denying the popularity now when 80,000 seater stadiums are sold out. The women's game has never been stronger. It was ironic though that the Spanish side replicated the men's team in their tika taka passing which was just too much for England in the end. Many will say that the men's game offers more, what it doesn't always offer is the gamesmanship once the final whistle has been blown and we can learn from both sides about compassion and respect, something that at times can be missing in the men's game.