After the excessive self-congratulation of the Olympics, it was comforting to be able to return to a sport where cheating, widespread drug abuse and commercial censorship isn’t the norm. Unfortunately, for a weekend overflowing with goals and strange results, we didn’t learn very much.
1. Wayne Rooney isn’t as good as he thinks he is
The saviour of Manchester United and England’s hero is, whisper it, a little bit shit at the moment. The temptation to drop deep to collect the ball is understandable when playing in front of Anderson, but if all you’re going to do is take a leaden first touch and then knock it out of play you might as well let him do it himself. Last season Rooney showed that he was a good goalscorer, rather than a scorer of good goals, and he might be doing the team a favour if he was to limit his play to a bit higher up the pitch. Of course, the worry then is that England’s new hero Danny Welbeck turns out to be better at it than him, in which case many United fans might get their wish and see him benched for a few games.
2. It’s easy to look good in a poor team if you’re an attacking midfielder
Think about it. Nobody really expects you to do that much defending, if you play a couple of through balls and hit at least one shot that can be described as “looking dangerous” you’re pretty much sorted. There are loads of examples of this: Compare Blackpool’s Charlie Adam to the Liverpool version. Swansea’s Gylfi Sigurdsson to the Tottenham iteration (yes I’m making judgements from one game. Problem?). Think of all the good players from the weekend: Michu, Fellaini, Gera, (Cazorla) and that one from Fulham whose name is spelt nothing like Kaka. All of them forward thinking midfielders in teams who aren’t really all that. Obviously Kagawa played really well, but we can expect him to fall into Ashley Young-like obscurity when United get their defence back, probably.
3. Newcastle are really, really, really good
The joy of having two brilliant finishers is that you only need one of them to play well to win most games. I’m calling a top 5 finish now.
4. Tottenham could be in a bit of trouble
Jermain Defoe as your only first team striker is disastrous. Buying Sigurdsson is great if you don’t already have van der Vaart playing in the same position. Playing Jake Livermore and Sandro together ensures your midfield will do nothing but collect yellow cards. Tottenham with Adebayor could have beaten Newcastle reasonably easily. Without him they looked toothless.
5. Arsenal are worse without van Persie and Song
Hahahahahaha. They’re crap. Cazorla probably feels like Jonny Greenwood playing in a McFly cover band. Unless they do some more business in the next week they will have the same problem that afflicts United, namely not having anyone to get the ball for their wonderful playmaker (I’m watching you Kagawa. Closely) in midfield.
6. Everything you think you know about Liverpool is true
Shit finishing? Check. Excessive reaction to one defeat? Check. Brendan Rodgers will have a job on getting this lot to play as well as Swansea? Check.
This shouldn’t have told you anything you don’t already know, except the parts that’re made up solely to push it past 500 words.