A lot of what we learned last weekend manifested itself again this week, from Manchester United’s slow start to Leicester City’s work ethic, patterns are already beginning to emerge. The first big game of the season provided goals and excitement last night, while one of last season’s most intriguing fixtures played out in a similarly entertaining draw, while the Premier League has an unlikely leader. Here are the Five Things We Learned From This Weekend’s Football…
1. That Jovetic Fella Is Okay
We predicted that this season was going to be a big one for Stevan Jovetic and so it’s proving, with the Montenegrin striker starting both of Manchester City’s opening Premier League fixtures. Considered a place-holder for their pocket-rocket striker Sergio Aguero as the Argentinian recovers from an injury hit spring/summer, the former Fiorentina man has risen to the task and made a place in his first team his own. Grabbing two poacher’s goals in City’s crucial 3-1 victory over Liverpool last night, it was Jovetic’s tireless running and unexpected turn of pace that have impressed the most. Pulling into the wide areas to support Edin Dzeko, Jovetic’s versatility and obvious eagerness point toward a very rewarding season for the forgotten striker.
2. QPR Need Points
When Mark Hughes was in charge of Queens Park Rangers it seemed as if his squad was too good to go down, and then by the time Harry Redknapp took charge it seemed almost impossible that they would tumble out of the Premier League, but tumble they did. Following a last grasp promotion from the Championship at the first attempt, you could have forgiven the West London club for smelling the roses over the summer, but they know better than that by now, don’t they? Apparently not. With two games and two defeats, QPR look as lost now as they did the last time they played in the Premier League. Spurs was never going to be easy for Redknapp’s journeyman team, but the way they crumbled at White Hart Lane should serve as a major cause for concern for Rs fans who can point to an incredible wage-bill and frightening lack of local talent as reasons for major changes at the top of the club.
3. Manchester United Badly Need a Win
Anonymous in Manchester United’s 1-2 home defeat to Swansea City, Juan Mata’s early goal on Sunday could have spelled the beginning of the end for the club’s 12 month David Moyes shaped nightmare, but another shaky defensive performance, particularly in the first half, and a general lack of invention, saw United slip to five points behind the league’s leaders and their worst start in 22 years. Angel di Maria is expected to be announced today and a League Cup second round clash against Milton Keynes Dons could provide the perfect stage to flex their muscles and build up some much-needed confidence, but with every point dropped the urgency for Manchester United and Louis van Gaal to turn things around grows. With £200million spent in 2014 and more signings expected over the next week, that top four spot is an absolute necessity.
4. Crystal Palace Need a Manager…Badly
Crystal Palace’s lack of identity is a major cause for concern at Selhurst Park as the Tony Pulis inspired team of 2013/14 feels a long time gone. Playing deep against an uninspired Arsenal side seemed to suggest that old habits die hard, but Keith Millen’s men were absolutely trounced by West Ham on Saturday in a game Pulis would have had marked down as a potential win. The controversy surrounding the top job is going to make the hunt for a new manager a difficult one, but Steve Parish can’t rely on another miracle-working Welshman to come in and save the day, and badly needs to get his man in place sooner rather than later.
5. 90 Minutes Isn’t Enough For Arsenal
Having high fitness levels, decent squad depth and an impressive focus to drive you through injury time is all well and good for Arsenal, but they can’t keep leaving it as late as they have against Crystal Palace and Everton. Even their Champions League qualifier on Wednesday requires them to do more work than is really necessary, having failed to get going in the first leg against Besiktas. It’s probably better for Arsene Wenger’s men that they not peak too early, but conceding two goals against Everton on another day should have spelled the end for the North London side and these are points they can’t afford to drop if they’re going to finish above their standard fourth place.