What we knowRonaldo's three game ban definitely is the story of the week thus far. As is Bolton's struggles with Sammy Lee, who certainly appears to be headed out the door before the season really got underway.
1. Manchester United is in trouble. As Steven Gerrard so elegantly in his Scouse accent stated on the Prem preview show, you can't win the league in August, but you can lose it. In two games, Manchester United has dropped four points and already chase Chelsea.
It would easy to say this isn't a big deal and its no reason to panic, but consider United has already lost Wayne Rooney for two months and now loses Cristiano Ronaldo to suspension for retaliating late in the game with a headbutt. Guess he didn't mind messing up his much lauded locks, eh?
Of the two draws from United the opening day 0-0 vs. Reading is probably more concerning. For whatever reason the team has its problems at Fratton Park against Portsmouth.
You just wonder, on paper United looked capable of setting all sorts of goal-scoring records and through two games they've netted one. At least Carlos Tevez made an impact.
Looking ahead the next couple weeks don't get easier for United, beginning with Sunday's trip to the City of Manchester Stadium. After that it's: v. Tottenham; v. Sunderland (Roy Keane alert); at Everton; v. Chelsea (could be a must-win); at Birmingham. Then it gets much easier in October: v. Wigan; at Villa; v. Middlesbrough.
Does SAF have one more ace up his sleeve in the transfer market?
2. City probably won't get relegated, as I guessed. Sven's men have already grabbed six points from two games. What that means, assuming 40 points assures safety that the boys in sky blue are 15 percent of the way home. If they nick anything from United this weekend, I may even eat my hat. Though, let's not start doing back-flips over a 1-0 win over promoted Derby County.
3. Sunderland 2007/08 is not Sunderland 2005/06. Two years ago the Black Cats tallied 15 points on the whole season, after two game this year they've got four.
4. Lower league buys paying dividends. Two games in and buys from the Championship David Healy (Fulham from Leeds) and Michael Chopra (Sunderland from Cardiff City) have netted twice. Also scoring in each game are everyone's favorite bald Frenchman Antoine Sibierski, Zimbabwe zensation Benjani and Everton's Leon Osman.
5. Parity? Through two games we have three teams to win both -- Everton, Chelsea and Man City and three winless clubs -- Middlesbrough, Bolton and Tottenham(mered). Likely by the end of October we'll have some separation, but perhaps the league is more balanced that I give it credit for.
6. Chelsea are going to miss Michael Essien at the African Cup of Nations (duh). Without the Ghanaian bulldog, the Blues were pretty pedestrian in the first half vs. Reading. Credit Jose Mourinho for seeing this early and tinkering with his lineup, bringing on Claudio Pizarro and Jon Obi Mikel at halftime for Paulo 'Portuguese for pitiful' Ferreira and Steve Sidwell, thus ending his homecoming. I guess credit goes the Chelsea's main two goal scorers, Frank Lampard and Didier Drogba for rescueing the team from its snooze at the Madejski. Typical, ruthless, efficient Chelsea. (And I'll say it again, who the hell chose the Chelsea away shirts? Did they sign a contract with Boby Glove or something? Dreadful!)
7. Reading is going to be a team no one wants to play. Two red cards in two games against arguably the league's top two contenders. Credit Steve Coppell's men for being organized and intelligent. They get tri-leaders Everton Saturday.
8. One nice thing about Bolton.
The new black Reebok away shirts look pretty good. (Yank alert, Carlos Bocanegra booked again in the 90th minute of Fulham's 2-1 win at Craven Cottage.)
What we don't know
1. Is Daniel Alves going to Chelsea? Protracted deals are nothing new, but this one might not happen. The Brasilian right back, even if he is reckless getting forward, should slot in perfectly in West London.
2. Can I keep my guessing rate up? Not to pat myself on the back (who am I kidding?) of the three games I guessed correctly, I got the score right in each game, bringing my season total to 8-8.
3. Can Man City keep this up and conversely can Tottenham continue to stink up the joint? We'll see.
4. Can Sammy Lee survive until Christmas? With, let's call it, an eclectic group of talent the ship might sink rather quickly in Trotters territory.
Nothing to crazy in the final leg of Champions League qualifying aside from Ajax dropping 0-1 at home to Slavia Prague. Meanwhile, at the Czech capital Alexsandr Hleb and Cesc Fabregas ensued Sparta Prague is in a heap of trouble. Liverpool took care of business against Tolouse, winning 1-0 on a goal from Andriy Voronin. The boys in Green, Celtic got a first half goal from Paul Hartley and drew Spartak Moscow 1-1.
Return legs are Aug. 29.
Thursday, August 16, 2007
Tuesday/Wednesday Wrap Up...
From the blog Thatsonpoint: