First (Round) Impressions [2] – The Rest ….. Of The BEST

 

 

Let’s get stuck right back into it, BUT for the benefit of those that are joining this series of PUN-ditry off the bench, with things already in play, please click RIGHT HERE to get the full intro to my First (Round) Impressions.

LIVERPOOL

Why the HYPE-horse had bolted

  • They came Ooooh so close to FINALLY ending their English top flight title drought last season, before letting it urrrm slip agonisingly in the final stages of their thrilling campaign.
  • There is an exciting core of young talented players (yes I am talking about you Coutinho, Henderson, Sterling, Sturridge) who came of age last season and are more than likely to continue their upward progression.
  • Liverpool are back in the Champions League which, beyond providing an opportunity for more special mid-week nights at Anfield, also gives them more clout to attract some(more) top-top
  • Super Mario is about to land. Ya I know this FACT could have been incorporated into the last point, BUT hey that is one blockbuster move that deserves to STAND ALONE.  A Proven goal scorer in the Premiership and in Europe, what’s not to like. What could possibly go wrong?
  • “Long live the SAS!!” …. That may have been a reflex chant from the chant from the Kop as Sturridge and Sterling combined to give Liverpool a winning start to their 2014/15 EPL campaign in what proved to be a trickier-than-most-anticipated-tie against Southampton (aka the LIVER-scouting-POOL).  Similar to last season it was another one goal margin win as, just like last season, Liverpool proved they could start a campaign on a winning note without Suarez.

 

Don’t believe the HYPE because …

  • THE SAS is DEAD!!” ….. Yup, as KING Luis exited stage left, along with his ridiculous goals per game ratio, he also broke up the EPL’s best strike partnership from last season. Liverpool are not only trying to make up for the goals lost, BUT they are also trying to replace their best player from last season…. Wait, make that the best player from the entire LEAGUE last season (as agreed upon by Luis’s fellow professionals and the media!! … oh how times have changed)
  • Super Mario is about to land.  It remains to be seen if Mr Balotelli can replicate Suarez’ goal scoring feats, BUT he may just eclipse him in the controversy arena.  And as much as Brendan Rodgers should be commended for most of the way he managed the Suarez shenanigans I am almost certain that his famous dossier is threadbare on solutions on how to dim Mario’s fireworks.  Liverpool may soon be asking Kenny Dalglish to order batch upon batch of T-shirts with the message “Why Always …… WE ??”
  • Liverpool are back in the Champions League which could present a tricky balancing act for Brendan and all his fellow UCL novices.  The EPL campaign may suffer as they adjust to a more demanding schedule.
  • They came Ooooooh so close to FINALLY ending their English top flight title drought last season.  Their cause last season may have benefited from some teams not always considering them to be genuine title contenders, as they waited for Liverpool to run out of steam sooner rather later. BUT how wrong they were as Liverpool chugged on consistently towards their promised land.  This time around though, I don’t believe they will have that advantage of surreptitiously going about their business.  Most teams will see them coming and play them with the respect they deserve.

So essentially, If you haven’t picked up on it already, Liverpool’s strengths could very well be their weaknesses.  A familiar one-goal-margin winning start may generate HYPE that normal last season transmission has been resumed, BUT if a depleted Southampton can give them such a scare then perhaps the manner of that victory is cause for circumspection.  Then again those very same troubled beginnings could once more help them fall back under the radar.  No certainty on which side the coin will land.

 

THE ARSENAL

Why the HYPE-horse had bolted

  • They FINALLY ended that trophy drought, and are now on a bit of a trophy collection run after they convincingly added the Community Shield (yes it is a trophy….. coz as Monsieur Wenger pointed out, we would have castigated them had THEY failed to win it.  When it comes to The Arsenal and trophies, different Ts & Cs apply).  So with that gorilla off their back they should be right up there on the confidence rankings.
  • They have World Cup Winning pedigree, and quite a bit of it. Which should give their confidence a bit more of an arrogance swagger boost.  And if the whole Khedira saga ends with him being added to their ranks, #COYG could soon realistically mean Come On You Geeerrrrmans!!  Hey it worked for Barcelona when Spain were conquering the world.  Or was it the other way round?  No worries either way a strong German contingent can’t hurt at this moment in time.
  • They led the EPL for longer than any other club last season (128 days).  That is almost half of the entire season, at roughly just over 4 months.  Even Manchester City haven’t been on top for that long, since they were crowned Champions!
  • They have built on, and freshened up last season’s squad by adding decent quality in the form of Sanchez, Debuchy & Chambers.
  • They haven’t suffered from any significant departures.  It seems the curse of the captain’s armband has been kind this time around, as they were not too reluctant, or emotional when releasing Tommy-V to Barca, Sagna to Citeh and ho-ho-ho St Nic Bendtner (whom Wenger probably should have “marked as being for sale” with the armband a loooooong while back.
  • As seen on TV recently in their season opening win over Palace AARON RAMSEY is back!!  Injury put paid to phenomenal personal start to last season that, had it been maintained, would have seen him rivaling Suarez for the season ending gongs (probably edging  it due to his British credentials)…. and who knows, maybe even being the tonic that finally exorcised the demon that surfaces every season to unleash March Madness on The Arsenal.  So, if he stays fit and picks up from where he left off last time out, Wenger may well use AARON as a first option rather than as a bail-out package.  #GetMeRAMBO!!

Don’t believe the HYPE because …

  • They still have Olivier Giroud at the vanguard of their attack.  No disrespect here, but I don’t see Olly-G being anywhere near as prolific as The Gunners need him to be to mount a title challenge.
  • They “only” have Sanogo as back-up to call on when Olly goes on annual fatigue leave.
  • Even though they can afford any player they want, or so we are made to believe, they still have Wojciech Szczęsny as goal-minder in chief.

Not too many holes can be poked at The Arsenal’s title aspirations, but they still don’t immediately come to mind when you consider who, as a neutral, you would easily put your money on to win the title.  But nothing that they cant throw some good at to solve.

 

MANCHESTER CITY

Why the HYPE-horse had bolted

  • Citeh are the present Champions of English footy.
  • They haven’t rested on their laurels, or let the whole If it ain’t broken don’t try and fix it mantra stop them from making improvements.  Granted there wasn’t much wrong with their title winning squad to start with but they will seemingly, and very wisely, fix a dent or scratch before anything gets broken.  And should anything get broken, they will have loads of genuine spares to cover.
  • They have continued to do most of their transfer business early, which always helps with gelling a squad.
  • They have extended the contracts of most of their star players well in advance.  That will help with stability, as you can’t afford any distraction when you are trying to go back-2-back.  This also signals a club that is now comfortable in its own skin, and has settled on a style/philosophy that they are willing to tie critical components down to.  One of the scariest things about watching their title march last season wasn’t their phenomenal goal-scoring blitz, but rather that as they were earned their second Title in three seasons they looked UNITED!  Not too many bad apples now exist, and if they can only remember Yaya Toure’s Birthday this time around, there really shouldn’t be too much upheaval.
  • Most of these elements combined well in their opening win over Newcastle.  Edin Dzeko played like a man who knew that he finally had some job security and was free to express himself.  And even a still out of sorts Agueroooooooooooo got onto the score sheet.

Don’t believe the HYPE because …

  • It is just sooooooo hard to win the English title back-2-back.  Every season, every team is strengthening significantly, and the league is becoming more competitive.  Last season the Title lead changed at least 25 times!! and in the end Citeh emerged victorious, BUT they hardly ran away with it, which suggests that for all their strengths they were not that far ahead of the competition.  Their last attempt did not go so well, and the CITY slickers surrendered their title to trail by a COUNTRY mile.
  • They have more money than The Arsenal, and yet still have Joe Hart as their leading contender for goal-minder in chief.  It really makes you scratch your head, (and not cause of dandruff as Hart would never be caught dead with it anywhere near him), why with all the moolah at their disposal, and all the goalkeeping talent that was on display at the recent FIFA World Cup, Citeh would settle for Willy Caballero as an alternative in goals.
  • The Champions League may get in the way.  If they progress further in Europe this season, I am not sure whether they will have the wherewithal to contain the pressure, keep it all together and collect major accolades on all fronts.
  • Even though they beat Newcastle, they didn’t necessarily thrash them, which with all due respect to the Magpies, was a justifiable expectation considering the apparent gulf in class.

The Champions will most probably appear on most people’s shortlists of Title contenders. They have so much at their disposal going for them, and many variations of mounting a genuine assault that even when the inevitable wobbles emerge, it’s difficult not to bet on them bouncing back almost instantly.

 

CHELSEA

Why the HYPE-horse had bolted

  • Because Jose’ is not faffing about and he has come out several times to tell anyone who cares to listen that he believes this season Chelsea will be contenders.  Which is pretty much in line with his general track record, which he again has HYPED to anyone who dares to listen and contradict the evidence, that suggests that most of Mourinho’s projects start to bear fruit in the second year.  Well this is that 2nd year (of the 2nd coming).
  • John Terry is saying so!  As he sings unapologetically, and in tune with his gaffer, from the same hymn book.  There is obviously no shortage of brazen ambition in their quarters and the chorus of verbalised support looks set to rise to a crescendo beyond the Bridge.  See what I did there…?
  • The squad is solid and appears well balanced and capable to deliver a much sought after trophy, and there are not many teams (if at all any) that can match their overall strength in depth when considering both sheer quantity and quality.  SPECIAL mention has to go to Jose’ here because for all his previous well earned reputation as a shameless sugar-daddy’s money spender, he has led an impressively frugal conducting of squad transformation that has a net-spend as close to zero as you can get.
  • They played a devastating 30 minutes of uncharacteristically aesthetically pleasing football, when they pummeled poor Burnely (who had dared to take the lead against them in what then transpired to be their only bright, and brief, spark in attempting an audacious First Impression to announce their return to the top-flight).
  • The magnitude and, more specifically, the manner of that victory, (which was capped off by THAT PASS by Cesc) is what had a lot of people drooling rabidly.  It was good to see a team that is waaay better than its opposition on paper, and everything else, translating those advantages where it matters most, and not shying away from flexing their muscles, and baring their teeth.
  • Last season’s campaign was barren, BUT Jose’  and his boys goes into this season holding a psychological advantage over all of last season’s top clubs, because none of them managed to take maximum points off them.  Their real undoing came at the hands of the minnows, so if the Burnley performance is a precursor to how they will deal with them this season, then there will be no worries.

Don’t believe the HYPE because …

  • It was Burnley FC for crying out loud!! I wont even say “with all due respect” because lets face it, based on the overall classifications of English football last season they were a whole 19 places adrift of Chelsea.  As competitive as the EPL is, with the guaranteed surprises, sometimes the form book is followed, and it does go according to script, and David gets his behind whooped by Goliath (okay so that’s another script, but you do catch my drift surely)
  • Fabregas had blinder of an EPL debut as a Blue, but that is no guarantee that he will dominate all and sundry in the same manner as the season develops.  Let one Mesut Ozil’s debut EPL season serve as a cautionary tale.
  • As much of a terrifyingly BEAST MODE squad they have, they are still relatively light up front.  Okay you can stop making that face now.  Think about it, the only cover they have for Diego Costa (whom I back to do the business) is an aging Didier Drogba (let’s not get all romantic about this, he could still be effective but I doubt that he will be the constant threat that he was before left for pension strengthening reasons), and …… waaaaaait for it TORRES!!  So if anything were to happen to Costa that renders incapacitated for any length of time they have very slim pickings as alternatives.  And it still remains to be seen if their midfielders can be as prolific as the recently departed Frank Lampard.

So The Bridge seemingly is now more secure over less troubled waters.  They still have several team members who know how to win a league title, and specifically the EPL (Sorry Cesc), and the majority of them have done so fairly recently wherever they were.  They are bullish, and seemingly with good reason.

 

And there you have it, my First Impressions on the headline grabbers of English football.  Whether these impressions last I cannot guarantee, because there is just so much that can still happen in the short term to sway things and , many of them could even change this weekend.  The last days of the transfer window activities can decidedly alter the chances of any of these and other teams.  And it is for that reason that I won’t even bother to predict who will crowned champions, or even who will make the top four.
Others may hazard a guess but it’s too soon to tell, one swallow doesn’t make a summer.  I will do my utmost to keep you informed of my opinions as the season progresses.  I hope you will stick around for that, even if you may not always, if ever at all, agree with me.  All I ask is that you freely share your views with me too and occasionally PUNt-back a response.  Much thanks to all who continue to follow my ramblings, especially those that …… #pardonthePUN-dit.

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One Comment on “First (Round) Impressions [2] – The Rest ….. Of The BEST”

  1. chiporegina Says:

    Reblogged this on LoveBlessedOvercomer and commented:
    Good read..as the Stivie G go slipping on and on and on!!


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