Established top class strikers are still yet to make their mark
It’s been a very slow start for most of the forwards of last year’s top teams. The likes of Christian Benteke, Sergio Agüero, Olivier Giroud, and Diego Costa have all only managed one goal each this season, despite playing for teams that finished in the top 6 last season.
However, the greatest cause for concern can be found in the English duo of Wayne Rooney and Harry Kane. The latter was touted as the next big thing to happen to English football last year, but his goal drought at the start of this campaign has raised questions as to whether he could be a bit of a one-season wonder, particularly following a squandered one-on-one chance against Everton in their stalemate last weekend.
Rooney meanwhile has looked similarly absent in front of goal all season in the Premier League, despite a hat-trick against Club Brugge in his team’s Champions League qualifier which would seem to suggest a return to form might not be far away.
Both managed to find the net in England’s recent European victory against San Marino, but they will need to prove themselves on a more prestigious level to highlight their potential class in front of goal.
Instead, the greatest goalscoring prowess has come from Swansea’s Bafetimbi Gomis, who has scored a goal every game so far this season. Bournemouth’s Callum Wilson has also shone, registering the first hat-trick of the campaign in his side’s match away against West Ham before recording an early goal of the season contender with a superb bicycle kick against Leicester. Only a matter of time until a rushed call-up to England’s senior team…
Manchester City could have the new Invincibles on their hands
Played 4, Won 4, Scored 10, Conceded 0. Pretty much the perfect start for Pellegrini’s side so far, who have already claimed the scalp of title holders Chelsea in a comprehensive 3-0 victory – a score that does not do them justice due largely to a number of fine saves from stand-in keeper Asmir Begovic.
It’s apparent that the attacking potency of Toure, Silva, Aguero and company seem to be blending harmoniously with the revitalised Vincent Kompany and Eliaquim Mangala at the back. If this balance between attack and defence maintains itself, you can’t see any team being capable of defeating Man City in the league.
City should now be aiming to launch their first significant Champions League challenge, especially with the most expensive signing of the transfer window in Kevin De Bruyne to join up with the squad – surely they can slot him in somewhere….
Giant killings aplenty already – just ask West Ham & Swansea
The Premier League has come under plenty of criticism in recent years, with English clubs failing to make any real impact in Europe and top players of the league such as Gareth Bale and Luis Suarez leaving to embrace pastures new in Spain’s La Liga.
Meanwhile we still adamantly maintain that this is the best league in the world, and perhaps the greatest piece of evidence that can be used to support this is epitomised by West Ham’s opening 4 fixtures.
A couple of disappointing home defeats to Leicester and Bournemouth were overshadowed by commanding away performances at Arsenal and Liverpool, with the Hammers claiming 2-0 and 3-0 victories respectively, perfectly highlighting the unpredictable nature of the Premier League.
They weren’t the only ones – already this season we’ve seen Crystal Palace and Swansea claim points from champions Chelsea, with the latter also defeating Manchester United in the first month of the competition. In typical Premier League style predictable results have been hard to come by, particularly seeing as there has been a noticeable lack in home victories so far this season, setting up the country nicely for the many twists and turns yet to come.
Wide men given the chance to shine
While forwards have, on the whole, struggled in front of goal this season, the greatest performances in the Premier League through August have come from midfield.
Leicester’s Riyad Mahrez has proven himself well worthy of consideration for the Player of the Month award, having scored 4 goals to equal the tallies of Wilson and Gomis, while Swansea’s Jefferson Montero has spent the opening month terrorising defenders with his blistering pace. While not yet registering a goal, Montero has already caused plenty of problems for full-backs down the left flank, completely dominating the experienced Branislav Ivanovic on the opening weekend as well as making Newcastle’s Daryl Janmaat see red early on the following week.
Meanwhile, Raheem Sterling’s introduction to the Man City team has already clearly reaped its rewards, with the young Englishman claiming a goal and an assist in his team’s early title surge. It’s still early stages yet, but this could be a season where that added bit of pace makes the difference in the race for the title and survival.
It’s difficult to see clear relegation candidates
In a season filled with uncertainty, many went into the 2015-16 campaign asserting that the three recently promoted sides were favourites to go straight back down to the Championship, with Leicester also thrown into the mix following the loss of their manager Nigel Pearson over the summer.
Fast forward a month later and Leicester are sitting comfortably in the Premier League’s top 4, with Bournemouth, Watford, and Norwich all currently outside the relegation zone. Instead the only team in true jeopardy so far has been Sunderland, who, following 4-2 and 3-1 defeats to supposed relegation candidates Leicester and Norwich, were forced to hold crisis talks only a couple of games into the season. Though currently sitting at the bottom of the table, things are still looking on the up for the north-east side, due largely in part to the introduction of Dutch midfielder Jeremain Lens to the side, who has already registered a goal and 3 assists in the first month.
Goals have not been difficult to come by for Sunderland though, but the first team to concede 10 times will need to shore up their defence if they are to remain in the top flight, or else stage the customary Sunderland fight-back at the end of the season.
Phil Smith – Sports Team