What a way to start the English Premier League this season.
Against all expectations and predictions, it is the most prepared team, the one with the most promise of ending the season as champions, which forgets the opening lines of a well-scripted plot!
Arsenal FC have had their eyes so fixated on the EPL trophy that they forget they have to play well and win matches first to get it!
They have been jolted into reality by a determined, well-organised West Ham United side that made life so difficult in the first week of the league season that it did not look likely the Gunners could have scored a single goal even if their first match of the new season had gone on for a whole week!
Arsenal FC simply were bereft of any creative construction for most of the match leaving their fans all over the world with the horror of the possibility of all their pre-season smoke not producing any fire!
Arsenal looked so good heading into the new season that I recklessly stuck out my neck and predicted they would win the league with relative ease if they could get Karim Benzema to add the needed bite to their attack!
Well, Arsene Wenger still has not managed to secure the services of Benzema and the bluntness of his attack inherited from last season is now as clear as daylight to all observers. That has been the reason for Arsenal’s inconsistency in recent times.
When the team is expected to roast a weak opposition, it struggles! When it is expected to capitulate to the big teams it rises to the challenge and puts up a Champagne performance!
The long and short of it is that Arsenal’s loss before their beloved fans on the hallowed ground of the Emirates stadium to West Ham United last weekend has shaken the confidence of even their most loyal fans that they can still win the league. Their consolation is that the Gunners have not been doing well in recent times at the start of the season and that this defeat will serve as a psychological re-awakening that will put the team back on track to the 2015/2016 championship.
On that note, hoping that Benzema or another seasoned striker in that mold will be bought soon to provide the finishing power up front, I am still wagering that Arsenal will ‘wobble and fumble’ to the league trophy at the end of the season!
Beyond the Arsenal shock, there have been a few other results that make nonsense of the predictions of the ‘experts’ – Chelsea survived Swansea by the skin of their teeth in a match that was full of drama; Manchester United managed to win unconvincingly by a lone goal against an ordinary-looking Tottenham Hotspurs; Liverpool went to Stoke, played decently, and came away with three vital points; and Manchester City, also playing away from home, put up a master-class in mid-field play and defeated West Bromwich Albion easily!
One match into the season it is quite clear that the pre-season honeymoon is over, and that the EPL is, indeed, like the typical British weather where the morning never shows the prospect of
the rest of the day!
The season is still very open. Nothing spectacular has happened to completely alter the pre-season equation. Manchester City is the only team that played with the confidence and comfortability of champions, but, as my people will say, ‘it is not the first person that reports a matter to the police station that wins the case’.
So, my money is still on the Gunners to win the premiership despite their running into a brick wall in their first match! Unfortunately, the key to their success lies not in North London but in Madrid. Will Real Madrid let Karim Benzema go to Arsenal?
FC Barcelona, Messi and the 2016 Ballon D’or!
Elsewhere on Planet Football, many things are happening. FC Barcelona are back, still looking good and effective with their Tiki-Taka, scoring spectacular goals and winning!
They have just taken off from where they left off last season.
What a spectacular Super Cup that was to herald the start of the Spanish football season. The 9-goal thriller between Sevilla FC and FC Barcelona left everyone salivating for more. The match had everything and more – a massive audience, excellent attacking football, exceptional performances, skills, speed and power in full display, goals galore, indomitable fighting spirit and Lionel Messi!
Without question, the most influential player of the twenty-first Century so far is still at his mercurial best. Every time he touches the ball there is a buzz in the terraces, an expectation of something extraordinary about to happen. In the colours of FC Barcelona Messi hardly ever disappoints.
Surely he has done enough in the past year to earn his fifth Ballon d’Or award, an unprecedented feat in the history of football.
Still only 28, there is the prospect that he will continue to dominate world football for some years to come.
At the start of the La Liga, it appears this new season shall also belong to him and to my beloved Barca!
The challenge for managers all over Europe this season would be how to stop Barcelona’s rampaging frontline of Messi, Suarez and Neymar AGAIN!