Premier League: week two promises to sizzle after exciting start

2010-08-20 00:00

ROUND one was a humdinger. Blackpool went top of the Premier League log (for a while, anyway), Chelsea looked immaculate and Anfield provided what, for me, was the most entertaining of the 10 matches.

This weekend promises to be just as exciting, but we will have to wait until Monday evening for what is certainly the highlight of week two when Manchester City host Liverpool. Both of these sides came out of the opening round’s fixtures with credible draws. Ten-man Liverpool took the lead against Arsenal before a Pepe Reina own goal cost the Reds what would have been a fantastic start to the Roy Hodgson era.

City were lucky against Tottenham and they have England’s new first choice goalkeeper, Joe Hart, to thank for their opening point.

Though it wasn’t a bad result for City, credible draws simply don’t cut it in Manchester anymore, and Sheikh Mansour, City’s wealthy owner, will surely be expecting more from Roberto Mancini after the ridiculous amounts of money he has spent (R1,4 billion) on his endeavour to take City to the top.

Manchester United boss Sir Alex Ferguson recently referred to Mancini’s and City’s activity in the transfer market as “kamikaze spending”, adding that money cannot buy a player’s loyalty to a club. Mancini hit back, saying that United have employed the same transfer strategy in the past and spent a lot of many to ensure success.

Mancini may have a point: Dimitar Berbatov’s R340 million move to Old Trafford in 2008 proves that. Antonio Valencia and Michael Carrick never came cheap either.

Ferguson believes that City lack players like Darren Fletcher, Wes Brown, Gary Neville, Ryan Giggs and Paul Scholes — players who have been a part of the club for their entire professional careers and helped make it a success.

Whether you agree with Ferguson’s thinking or not, Mancini certainly has a lot to prove. With the money that he has at his disposal comes the pressure to produce not only results, but silverware. He will not have it easy on Monday night either. Liverpool look like a rejuvenated side.

And if Mancini is reacting to Ferguson’s “kamikaze” statement after a single game, one can only imagine what he will be thinking if he finds himself without a win after two. City will always have the class; you can buy that. But team chemistry and the ability to play as a cohesive unit are things that come with time. And City don’t have a lot of that if they want to be challenging for league honours come the end of the season.

We are one game in and it is already tight at the top. Chelsea and United will know that dropping points against lesser opposition, even at this stage of the season, could have catastrophic effects.

Both clubs have the depth, both clubs have the class. The stand-out difference between red and blue at the moment is in the strikers’ department. Chelsea have a firing Drogba where United have an out-of-form Rooney. What impact this will have remains to be seen, but I expect it to be significant.

Rooney needs to find form if United are to keep up with Chelsea. Either that or the R340 million that Ferguson spent on Berbatov back in 2008 needs to bear some fruit. And by fruit, I mean goals — lots of them.

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