International Break. A time when fans of domestic leagues sit – twiddling their thumbs – patiently waiting for the return of their favourite stars from their exploits with their respective countries to don the colours of their club. It can be a frustrating time for the fans and club managers alike considering the fact that teams in La Liga and Serie A have barely had time to rev up their engines having played just one game each.
Meanwhile, the cloud of suspense seems to have lifted a little in England; after three game days, we can claim to have a better understanding to the frequently asked questions during preseason (Will Chelsea be able to perform to the same standards with a core of 30-somethings? Can Mancini’s squad of multi-millionaires gel together? Will Rooney EVER score again? Can Tottenham, yet again, leapfrog Liverpool and its woes or will Roy Hodgson finally build a squad healthy and strong to challenge for titles? Etc. Etc.)
Pre-season favourites Chelsea, have marched on to three impressive victories, amassing a total goal scored tally of 14 without allowing the opposition to breach their defence. 6-0, 6-0 victories (scorecards usually seen only on a tennis court) was capped off by a 2-0 victory against Stoke. What is more frightening is that the goals for Chelsea are being contributed from more than one source. The likes of Drogba, Lampard, Malouda, Anelka, Kalou and Benayoun have all had their name on the score sheet, with the last four all netting against Wigan, a team with such defensive frailties that it appears that they are missing the ‘prowess’ of Titus Bramble. However, to their credit, they managed to get collect three points against Tottenham, a team, who without a doubt are still a little hung-over from their exploits in the Champions League qualifiers. Nevertheless, I still think that Spurs have the capabilities to see off the likes of Liverpool and finish in the Promise Land or the Top 4. Their case seems to be strengthened by the last minute signing of Van der Vaart.
Elsewhere, Manchester United recovered from the hiccup against Fulham and managed a routine victory over against West Ham (a team appearing to be in direct competition with Wigan to be on the top of the Goal’s conceded table). Paul Scholes appeared to have discovered the Elixir of Youth; his all-action performances, like that of his counterparts at Chelsea, belie his age.
Cross town rival’s Manchester City’s beginning to the season, has been bitter-sweet. A convincing victory against Liverpool was sandwiched between a draw, and more-glaringly, a loss against Sunderland. Money has seen City purchase a plethora of talent overnight, however, time is something that might not be afforded Mancini. He needs to act fast in building any sort of team identity, lest he fall flat in a similar fashion to his predecessor Mark Hughes.
The Premier League circus will be back in town this weekend after the return of its’ stars. It sure is an exciting time of the season as the boiler, i.e. the Premier League, finally starts to heat up.