Still one match left to go and we still haven't seen Spurs play. That aside, here are some observations from a weekend where I got to watch a pretty serious amount of footie. Here we go...
Mo Rules - As we mentioned over the summer, buying road players is a dodgy proposition. Exhibit A from this weekend is Manchester City. Sure, Silva and Dzeko did well but Aguero, Richards, Hart, Yaya, and a bunch of others did pretty much nothing. Not exactly your best use of money. Exhibit B is John Arne Riise. A popular pick last weekend as a cheap defender - here's the thing, Fulham don't get many road clean sheets. Throw in a yellow card for Riise in a match Wolves could have won by more and you get the idea.
Aguero Up/Dzeko Meh - Despite the fact that their fantasy performances wouldn't lead you to those conclusions, those are the ones I reached after watching City today. Aguero should have scored early but went just high - aside from that he was on the ball a lot and looked as impressive as one can without scoring or even really contributing to a goal. Dzeko on the other hand scored a nice goal but didn't do much else. You could argue that that is enough for a forward but my guess is that there will be far more matches where he doesn't get a goal and contributes almost nothing.
Klasnic Rising - Color me shocked at the revelation that Klasnic has scored 9 goals in his last 13 Premier League matches dating back to last season. His strike against City was excellent. Maybe things aren't as dire as we all thought at the Reebok. They could certainly use some depth but if he can keep scoring at half that rate they'll be OK.
Everton Malaise - Are things just getting stale for Everton? You look at the roster and you see players who have contributed to solid top-half teams in the past and are theoretically still in their primes. Then you watch them on the field and you wonder how they can drop a home match to QPR who were hardly exceptional. Could it be that the combination of the players and the manager is just getting stale? Is it their typical early season slump? Seems like a team in need of a shake-up.
Chris Jones is Smiling - 2 weeks, 2 wins for Wolves. I saw the first half of this week's match and they looked like a legitimate top half of the table team. You get the feeling that they'll need to buy some more quality depth in January to make it to the top half over the full season but unless there are some catastrophic injuries, it could be a fun season.
Confusing Messages at the Emirates - As a Gooner, I'm trying to keep a good attitude and remember that Wenger has been an exceptional manager over a long period of time. At some level I get his comments that you don't want to buy to just buy but with fringe players (Eboue, Denilson, Vela, and eventually Bendtner) leaving and Rosicky and Diaby perpetually crocked you have to who he is talking about when he says "we only want to buy when it improves on what we have" (or words to that effect). I wrote on Friday that Frimpong was in deep trouble if he got an early yellow and, low and behold, he did and he was. I think you'll all agree that no one is likely to sign me to manage their real life team anytime soon.
If I saw this coming, how does Wenger not see the same thing and buy some solid squad players? I just don't get it. Is money that tight? Are there not three or four solid holding midfielders at Real who would love to get some playing time for a Champions League team? The outcome of the match was frustrating but the more frustrating thing is that it was lost before it started because the manager put himself in an unnecessarily bad situation and now Arsenal are facing having 1 point from their first three matches after their trip to Old Trafford next weekend.
Rovers Dire - Maybe the new signings that are rumored to be coming in soon will help improve things but it is looking pretty ugly at Ewood Park. Granted none of the newly promoted teams look like world beaters but Rovers appear poised to challenge for a relegation spot all season. It just doesn't look good.
Swans Goals? - I've liked what I've seen from Swansea a lot. Vorm is a stud as a keeper (3rd among Yahoo players in points/match after 2 weeks despite no wins and 4 goals allowed). He did his best to keep City out in week one only to succumb to one of the best substitute appearances any of us have ever seen. This week? He followed up by saving a PK. The passing game is solid, they know how to keep possession. The problem is that they don't seem to have any cutting edge. No Charlie Adam or Chris Brunt like character to make teammates better. No Odemwingie or Doyle to bang home a needed goal. It would be a shame if they don't figure something out in this regard because they seem to have the other requisite ingredients to be solid Premier League citizens.
Barkley? No, not that one - One of the nice surprises over the weekend was the play of Ross Barkley. He played an advanced midfield role and he brought some energy and audacity to the mix for an otherwise stale Everton team. He only registered 5.5 fantasy points in the Yahoo format but it certainly SEEMED like it should have been more. He was everywhere, took a lot of shots, and generally did the sorts of things that you want from an attacking midfielder. I don't know if he'll keep playing but he's certainly worth monitoring.
Pilkington - Another guy who looked more lively than his fantasy stats would lead you to believe. I only saw part of the Norwich/Stoke match but he looked good during the part I did see. 4.5 points with no major actions isn't great but not bad either. Mostly just a note to myself (and you) to keep watching him to see if his performance was an outlier or the beginning of a trend.
Ugly Chelsea - It worked out at home against WBA but I can't say I'm buying the AVB era at Chelsea so far. Maybe Mata will be the answer (a 2nd natural wing player would be helpful since Kalou isn't the answer). For me, the real issue is that Frank Lampard continues to look like a shadow of his former self. Even Mikel had more of a positive impact on Saturday's match than Lamps and that isn't a good thing to be saying about yourself. You can see why they're going hard after Modric. I'm sure Chelsea will be fine with Lamps as their main central midfielder for one more season but I don't think they can mount a legitimate title challenge until they make a change at that spot. You watch Silva or Rooney pulling the strings for City and United and then you watch Lamps and you just can't see Chelsea as in the same league.
RTay - It's a bummer that
Ben Watson, Quietly Effective - Yes, he missed a PK and his team was shut out against a newly promoted team (Swansea) but he STILL managed 4 points which is pretty solid. With a home match with QPR coming up, well, seems pretty obvious what happens next here.
Funny Feeling Friday - Gotta hand it to Never Manage Alone partner NCNB for pulling Gabby Agbonlahor out of the bag this past Friday. He only made it 45 minutes before hurting himself but what a 45 minutes it was. 17.5 points was a great haul that left us wanting for a full 90. Solid opportunity for Albrighton next weekend if Agbonlahor is out - worth keeping Gabby around for another home match (vs. Wolves) at his price from last week if he turns out to be healthy.
Thanks to those who were around for the chat.