The Premier League is underway and the two main title protagonists have recorded emphatics wins coupled with extremely impressive performances. Chelsea’s 6-0 victory over West Brom was somewhat of a surprise given their lacklustre pre-season form and disappointing Community Shield display, but Didier Drogba has now declared Chelsea aren’t even ready for the season yet, an ominous warning to the rest of the Premier League.
Title rivals Manchester United though have already captured some silverware and in both competitive matches so far this season have produced two displays of hunger, fight and desire to win. This hunger was typified by Antonio Valencia and Javier ‘Chicharito’ Hernandez, both pressed high up the pitch against Newcastle winning the ball in the final third with both opportunities leading to goals for their side.
The team though is being led by evergreen Paul Scholes and a rejuvenated Dimitar Berbatov.
Scholes has undoubtedly been the catalyst for the victories over Chelsea and Newcastle; he exudes calm and patience before picking that killer pass. He controlled the Community Shield from start to finish finding acres of space in the centre of the pitch, Essien, Mikel and Lampard couldn’t get near him. Sir Alex Ferguson labelled him ‘special’ after the 3-0 victory over Newcastle in the Premier League and few would argue as at 35 years of age, he can still mix it with the best of them.
His age though will inevitably work against him in the long run; he can no longer be expected to play two games a week at the highest level. Despite starting the season brightly, it would be safe to say Sir Alex will be managing his game time to the minute making sure he is fit when it matters.
United’s other star performer has been Berbatov, the Bulgarian enigma. The moody, lethargic and sometime disinterested £30 million man has seemingly sprung to life scoring a delightful chip against Chelsea and a well taken chance against Newcastle. It has not only been his new found liking for goals, his general play has gone up a level, on the face of it he seems happy and enjoying his football but journalist Andy Mitten followed United on their pre-season tour and noted the Bulgarian’s off pitch attitude is still lacking.
Given this he controlled the final third of the pitch in both matches, dropping deep to collect the ball, moving wide to occupy the full-backs and drag the central defenders from their comfort zone, all this then sewn together by his undoubted touch and vision. His partnership with new signing Chicharito looks promising in addition to his link up play with the improved Nani.
Can this form be sustained? Possibly, as on the pitch Berbatov is playing with a smile on his face, the burden he was saddled – the huge transfer fee – seems to have been lifted somewhat. The belief and desire emanating from Old Trafford is clear to see and on early season form only it would be hard to see the title not making its way back to Manchester.