Since the last time a ball was kicked in the Premier League, Gareth Bale has completed his much anticipated dream move to Real Madrid, while German International Mesut Ozil has headed in the other direction to Spurs’ North London rivals Arsenal. Manchester United have secured the services of Marouane Fellaini and have had to suffer the disappointment of missing out on Athletic Bilbao playmaker Ander Herrera.
On the International front, Cristiano Ronaldo has finally scored his first hattrick for Portugal, England showed grit and determination to hold Ukraine to a goalless draw, leaving them in pole position to secure WC qualification, and for those who care, Afghanistan have stunned India to lift the SAFF Championships. Now all the talking can begin to cease as the Premier League moves into a very crucial phase with the Champions League and the Capital One Cup also on the horizon over the next few weeks.
Here are six reasons to look forward to this weekend’s action in the English Premier League.
1. Mesut Ozil makes his much awaited debut for Arsenal
For Arsenal fans who have had to meekly accept the departures of several top players over the last few summers- Thierry Henry, Alexander Hleb, Cesc Fabregas, Robin Van Persie among many others, it was a delightful sight to see that their club was able to attract a truly world-class player in the form of Mesut Ozil. And a much welcome sight too. I mean, when was the last time Arsene Wenger splashed that kind of money on a player?! Arsenal are away at Sunderland this week and have a home game against Stoke and an away trip to Swansea to follow. They don’t play any of the big teams until Liverpool in November, so theoretically they could find find themselves in a relatively strong position by that time with Ozil settled in nicely at the club.
The question that however remains is, Did Arsenal really need to strengthen in midfield? They haven’t brought in a forward to ease the burden on Giroud’s shoulders, neither have they strengthened defensively. However, Arsene Wenger would be expecting a strong display from his boys at the Stadium of Light.
2. United look to kickstart their season
It’s been a difficult start to the season for David Moyes’ men, who were held to a goalless draw by Chelsea at Old Trafford before going down by the odd goal at Anfield. And United fans haven’t had a lot to shout about too with United missing out on several key targets in the transfer window. At least the signing of Marouane Fellaini will ease some of the nerves at the club, particularly because apart from Michael Carrick, the other two midfielders at their disposal- Tom Cleverley and Anderson have failed to produce a run of consistent performances. There’s no reason for Fellaini not to fit into United’s style of play – he’s a threat going forward, he’s a big, strong lad who is terrific at set-pieces – both in attack and defence.
His versatility can be key for United, and will afford David Moyes the opportunity to employ him as the CF in the absence of Wayne Rooney. And he has the big game temperament to back up his abilities. And with United at home to Palace this weekend and up against Leverkusen midweek, it could just be the best way for Fellaini to blend into the United culture, before the big derby day clash with Manchester City.
3. Everton look to add substance with style
So it hasn’t been the best start to the season for Everton Football Club. Three draws from as many games sees them languishing in the 15th place, but there is reason for Roberto Martinez to feel upbeat about a turnaround. They have managed to hold on to their most valuable asset Leighton Baines, and the likely departure of Marouane Fellaini has been compensated with the arrivals of James McCarthy and Gareth Barry. Moreover with Romelu Lukaku brought in on a loan deal from Chelsea, Everton possess all the ingredients to have another solid season at the top-flight. Next up for Martinez’ men? Jose Mourinho’s Chelsea.
4. Hull and Cardiff lock horns at the big stage
Cardiff City’s start to the season has made us all take note. Yes, they did get whacked by West Ham on the opening day, but the resolve and character they displayed against Manchester City bodes well for the future. Frazer Campbell and Co. rode their luck a little bit against a wasteful Everton side, but held on for a vital point. Hull City did impress in their away games against Chelsea and Manchester City, but produced precious little in the attacking third to trouble the scorers and their only win so far has come against Norwich at the KC Stadium. They are expected to welcome Sone Aluko to the starting line up after the striker limped off against Manchester City, while Steve Bruce will also be able to add Abdoulaye Faye to the squad after the defender successfully came through two reserve team run-outs in the past week.
Check out our Preview of the Match here
5. Time for Tottenham’s signings to take centre stage
Tottenham spent the most of any English club in the transfer window, and with the Bale saga well and truly sorted out, Andre Villas Boas can now turn his attentions to Norwich City’s visit on Saturday. Roberto Soldado has shown signs he is getting to grips with the English game, and Eric Lamela’s cameo performance against Arsenal has Spurs fans craving for more. Cristian Eriksen and Nacer Chadli’s acquisition has ensured a competition for places within the ranks, something which Spurs lacked last season.
Andre Villas Boas’ side have quality in depth and he may very well have to rely on the depth of his squad to mount a strong challenge for a Champions League spot. But their brightest spark this season has undoubtedly been Andros Townsend, who can be a tricky customer for defenders to deal with, as he doesn’t shy away from going down the outside and crossing with his right foot, and can also cut in on his left and exploit the space.
6. Liverpool look to extend their winning start
For Liverpool fans who have had little to ride home about over the last few years, the current Premier League Table is a pleasant sight to the eye. Three wins from three games, including a win over Manchester United prior to the International break, sees Liverpool firmly perched at the Premier League summit. Defensive organization, Steven Gerrard linking the back four and attack with Coutinho as the creative playmaker, and Sturridge producing scintillating form have lent Brendan Rodgers’ side the cutting edge to see off their opponents. An away trip to Swansea City could prove to be a daunting task for Gerrard and Co. as they look to continue from where they left off.
By Pratik Sarkar