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Tuesday, August 18, 2009

EPL Week 1: Winners and Losers


Didier Drogba: The Ivorian has carried a question mark on his back over the past two years: Suffering a decline in form, struggling to cope with managerial inconsistency at Chelsea, and consistently being linked with moves away from the Bridge.  However, Drogba is keen to rebuild his image in West London, indicating so when he signed a contract extension with the Blues two weeks ago.  And to confirm his written commitment, Drogba led his club to a victory with two superb goals in a 2-1 defeat of Hull City.

Arsenal: The Gunners have been the subject of repeated criticism this summer and many have tipped them to fall out of England’s Big Four at the expense of Manchester City.  How to respond?  A 6-1 shellacking of a normally-competent Everton side would do.  After a summer of selling, Arsene Wenger is determined to build his club from within.  If this weekend was a precursor of things to come, the Frenchman looks as if he is doing quite a good job with the North London club.

Roberto Martinez: What a start for the new Wigan manager.  With only two years of managerial experience under his belt, Martinez takes his new club to Villa Park and dismantles one of England’s top clubs in Aston Villa.  This, not to mention that Martinez’s side played a quite attractive brand of football on Saturday, has Wigan off to the best start they could imagine this season.

Club Newbies: The 2009-10 Premier League opening weekend was highlighted by goals coming from club debutants all across the board.  Thomas Vermaelen (Arsenal), Sebastian Bassong (Tottenham), Stephen Hunt (Reading), Emmanuel Adebayor (Manchester City), and Hugo Rodallega (Wigan) all scored while wearing their new colors for the first time.  Congratulations.



Everton: Consistently finishing in the top third of the table, Everton have a reputation as one of England’s strongest non-Big Four clubs, potentially even a challenger for a top four spot.  But giving up six goals in a loss to Arsenal on your own field is no way to compete for status in England.  David Moyes has some serious re-thinking to do after his club’s dismal performance on Saturday.

Liverpool: In recent years for Liverpool supporters, next year seems to always be the year.  This time around, it was Fernando Torres who declared the Reds were fit to win a Premier League title in 2009-10.  Torres also remarked that his club’s season opener at White Hart Line was a “must-win” if Liverpool were to really challenge for the English crown.  After falling to Tottenham 2-1 on Saturday, the Reds find their title race off to the start that Torres hadn’t exactly imagined.

Aston Villa: After giving the Big Four a run-for-their-money the past two years, Villa entered the season with similar expectations.  But with a 2-nil loss to Wigan on home grass, Martin O’Neill finds himself questioning where his club stands at the moment.  Clearly missing summer exports Gareth Barry and Martin Laursen, Villa need reinforcement down the middle, as well as better decision making from Ashley Young, who is now expected to be the star for his club.

Paul Hart: Only one game into the season, in post-game interviews, the Portsmouth manager had a look of utter defeat on his face.  His club, currently a mess after a summer of selling, are tipped by many to be relegated from the Premier League this year.  Even in a game that may well have deserved a draw, Portsmouth received no luck, losing 1-0 on a deflected goal at home to Fulham.  Unfortunately for Hart, despite his best efforts, this may just be the way things go all year for Pompey.

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