WOW, how much did you miss that?
Many of the opening weekend games had the intensity of mid-season.
Full on Premier League football at its best.
Mind you a couple of the hopeful top-four contenders looked a bit sluggish, with the science of preparation off a couple of notches, most noticeably Tottenham and Manchester City.
Pep Guardiola will be grateful for coming away with his first three points in England.
I still maintain that he’s going to find it a lot harder than expected.
Despite having almost unlimited financial backing and a wardrobe of honours, the Premier League is a very different place.
The attitude is different, as is the pace and type of opposition.
To imprint his method of football will take a lot of patience… Those cold midweek nights against over-enthusiastic lower-quality kicking sides allows little room for the pinpoint finesse of the continental game.
Even the slightly more robust Bundesliga can’t prepare him.
It’s going to cause frustration, it ain’t gonna be easy.
It was so noticeable on Saturday watching City, players looked nervous, stiff and almost embarrassed to express themselves in front of the maestro.
You only need follow Arsenal’s lack of REAL success over the last decade to appreciate how hard it’s gonna be.
Arsene Wenger has struggled to turn his Barca-mimicking pass and possession football into anything really tangible.
Mind you, as everyone in the world knows, except Wenger, three or four proper signings would put them streets ahead.
I mean look how awful they were against Liverpool on Sunday.
Couple of injuries and they looked like a reserve side.
It was only the Scousers’ equally appalling backline that saved a complete massacre.
I can’t bear the way the Emirates goes silent when the home team is losing, and as for leaving 25 minutes before the 90?? What a bunch of moaning w***ers.
And then of course there’s everyone’s title favourites.
Yep, most pundits of any clout have Manchester United running away with it this time around, as do the bookies.
Thankfully the manic rejuvenation and belief of the fans have sparked a trendy hate revival, yes, it’s in again!
FFS, the way they’ve been going on, you would have expected them to clap 10 past Bournemouth — with Zlatan on a double hattrick.
As it turned out, they did look decent, well, much better organised and you do feel that better times are likely.
However, barring a typical Zlatan kung-fu assist to Rooney – which he banged at the keeper – and his goal, which was a good’un, he was largely ineffective.
Yes, he’ll easily hit double figures if not 20 this season, but his worth really shines as a star and a leader, bringing back a bit of something that’s been glaringly absent at Old Trafford.
There were two players who really stuck out for me for two completely different reasons.
Luke Shaw, jeez, he’s really k**, isn’t he, properly second rate, definitely not United quality.
He’ll be roasted the whole season by decent wingers and will prove to be a liability. On the other hand, Eric Bailly… the Ivorian looks the absolute business.
He’ll turn out to be United’s best signing this year. Reminds me of Marcel Desailly but more elegant.
He looks a better footballer… A majestic figure, quick thinking, confident on the ball and loves to mix it up.
He’s the type of central defender Arsenal need, as do Chelsea! He’ll probably give a couple of rash penalties away.
But all in all, yes, big respect and I’ve only really seen him once, against a mid-table side, on the first day of the campaign!
You can just spot them, though, can’t you?
The same can be said for Sadio Mané, he was always a bright spark at Southampton, but given his performance against Arsenal, looks like a step up season for the Senegalese.
I’m frustrated at having to submit this column for print before Monday night football, but here’s my prediction.
By the time you read this, you’ll know that I’m busy celebrating Antonio “the Godfather” Conte’s first victory at the Bridge!
Woop Woop, gonna be a great season…