As pundit Alan Hansen said, this past Sunday revealed to us that there isn’t that much difference between the big four sides in the Premiership. And how refreshing is that.
But what’s apparent so far this season is that the pack of sides beneath the “big four” have improved.
Everton, Aston Villa, Portsmouth and Middlesbrough, for example, have astounded many with their results. Boro scalping Chelsea and drawing Arsenal were huge results for the Teeside club, while Portsmouth has been on fire. It is interesting to note, however, that the fixture list has been kind to Pompey. They’ve played Man City (awful so far this season), Boro (fell apart at the Riverside Stadium), Charlton (my relegation candidate), Wigan (desperately missing Jimmy Bullard) and Blackburn (most inconsistent side).
Despite Pompey’s easier fixture list, the team is undoubtedly playing a fantastic brand of football.
Another team to be graced by the football fixture gods is Manchester United. Matches against Fulham, Charlton, Watford and a beleagured Spurs has helped United get a good start to the season. But United now have to face a stern challenge against Reading (away) and Newcastle (home) for the remainder of September.
But what about the frustrating performances from Liverpool and Tottenham Hotspur? The Reds can’t seem to buy a goal after losing 1-0 to Chelsea, drawing PSV Eindhoven 0-0 and being thrashed 3-0 by Everton. But in all three matches, Liverpool was agonizingly close to scoring. Kuyt hit the crossbar against Chelsea. Gerrard hit the post against PSV (and Everton). Luis Garcia also hit the post against Everton. Despite coming close so many times, the Liverpool side desperately needs to start winning to regain its confidence.
Setanta viewers will have a chance to see if Liverpool can accomplish that twice this week. First at home against Newcastle on Wednesday (3pm ET) and then on Saturday (7:45am ET) versus, gulp, Spurs.
What is ailing Spurs this season? Many blame the departure of Michael Carrick, but I believe the problem is more deep-rooted than that. The entire Spurs squad seems to lack the killer instinct that they had last season, but I wonder whether there’s a bigger problem… namely Edgar Davids.
It was Davids, of course, that had the scuffle with fellow midfielder Didier Zokora. And I wonder whether this is just the tip of the iceberg. Davids performance on field has been below average, and he could be having a negative impact on the rest of the team.
What’s bizarre about Tottenham is that they had a fantastic pre-season beating several big clubs and Defoe scored a handful of goals.
We’ll see what develops this Saturday for the match against Liverpool. Whatever happens, please don’t let it end up a nil-nil draw!