1. Luis Suarez might find that is low man on the totem pole after that penalty miss against Sunderland that is till heading ever higher. With crack penalty takers such as Charlie Adam, Dirk Kuyt and Steven Gerrard when he returns available to Liverpool it may take a while before his name rises to the top of the list again.
2. Teams who giveaway needless free kicks and corner kicks will do so at their peril against Liverpool this season. With Charlie Adam’s delivery and the threat (and decoy) offered by Andy Carroll Liverpool fans will expect a bucketful of goals from set plays this season.
3. You have to have a heart of stone not the feel pity for Kieron Dyer. He has been very well paid for playing very little over the last few years but nonetheless the seemingly never-ending run of injuries and rehabilitation must be almost unbearable. (I get annoyed when a niggle or two stops me for going for a run let alone eyeing weeks of treatment at a time).
Dyer lasted five minutes before going down during his debut for QPR against Bolton and looks to be out for at least three months.
4. On Friday’s Fox Soccer Report we talked of how Bolton might have to find a way to spread the scoring load this season. It is exactly what they did on opening day against QPR in a 4-0 win. An own goal along with one from a defender (Cahill), a midfielder (Muamba) and a forward (Klasnic) did the trick.
5. Quite a match for Maurice Edu on Saturday against Inverness Caley Thistle. He contributed a yellow card, a goal and another yellow card that got him sent off in Rangers 2-0 win.
6. Buried amongst the two controversial incidents involving Joey Barton (the stomp by Song on Barton and the incident leading to Gervinho being sent off) it is being widely overlooked that both Arsenal and Newcastle put on an anemic display. Little in the way of creativity and few genuine scoring chances created. Altogether a poor match.
7. What a year this is turning out to be for Mexico’s football teams. Winning the CONCACAF club and international tournament is not in any way exceptional but when you add a FIFA under 17 crown and now a semi final place at the FIFA Under-20s it is something pretty special.
8. Some talk before the season got underway about Andre Villas-Boas wanting his Chelsea side to play a quicker tempo. The game against Stoke was clear example of why he wants that to happen. While the first half was cagey stuff Chelsea visibly increased the pace of the game and speed of their passing at the start of the second half.
They dominated possession in the second 45 minutes and started to camp out in the Stoke half. Nonetheless Stoke defended resolutely and by the closing stages Chelsea was relegated to pumping high balls into the Stoke penalty area – that was easy pickings for the Stoke defence.
Stoke fans will be pleased with Woodgate’s debut and will hope desperately that he maintains his fitness. One other performance of note I thought was from Asmir Begovic.
He looked very composed in the Stoke goal and pulled off a terrific save from a Nicolas Anelka chip. By the time the 2012 season ends Begovic might well have developed into one of the Premier Leagues top five goalkeepers.
9. Last season it was new arrival Javier Hernandez who turned some draws into wins for Manchester United – particularly in the early going. In this season’s Premier League opener Ashley Young’s name may not appear on the score sheet (or it might depending on how the goals panel rules on United’s winner) but he was a key part of a United win that for much of the second half looked destined for an away draw.
Young was a constant threat down the left to both Steven Reid and Chris Brunt.
West Brom will probably feel a bit aggrieved at allowing a point to slip away. However, they did look well-organized and a team well positioned to avoid a relegation scrap.
10. Real Madrid and Barcelona set down their markers for each other and the rest of Europe on Sunday in the first league of Spanish Super Cup. Mourinho tried rope-a-dope tactics last season in the April el clasico series. However, on Sunday his tactics shifted 180 degrees and he went after Barcelona with power and speed.
The pressure applied by Real Madrid was relentless for long stretches of the match and although Barcelona fans will point to a number of players that were missing the Mourinho message was clear.
All-in-all it was a terrific game and more is in store at the Camp Nou on Wednesday.
1. Bolton kept a clean sheet away to newly promoted QPR. It was their first shut out away from home since the 2009/10 season – 26 games ago.
2. It was a bad opening day for home teams on Saturday in the Barclay’s Premier League – six games, no home wins, four draws and two losses. No better on Sunday with a draw and another win for the visitors.
3. Last season Newcastle and Arsenal played to a classic 4-4 draw – this season it was scoreless. How different were the games statistically?
Shots on target – 09/10 Newcastle 9, Arsenal 7; 10/11 Newcastle 1, Arsenal 2
Accurate passes – 09/10 Newcastle 274, Arsenal 319; 10/11 Newcastle 223, Arsenal 459
Passing completion rate – 09/10 Newcastle 73%, Arsenal 77%; 10/11 Newcastle 67%, Arsenal 81%
Fouls – 09/10 Newcastle 30, Arsenal 28; 10/11 Newcastle 21, Arsenal 21
Red Cards – 09/10 Newcastle 0, Arsenal 1; 10/11 Newcastle 0, Arsenal 1
Newcastle/Arsenal statistics courtesy of EPL Index
4. Portugal has made it to the last 4 of the FIFA Under-20s and has yet to concede a goal – they have also to yet score a goal from open play. Their single goal came from the penalty spot in the round of 16 against Guatemala.
5. Liverpool, Chelsea, Arsenal and Manchester United all matched the results in the corresponding fixtures last season against Sunderland, Stoke, Newcastle and West Brom respectively.
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