August 23, 2016

The Manchester United of old is back

by Dan Bilicki In: Soccer

We’re just two games into the season, but I think it’s safe to say that Manchester United is back to being the powerhouse it once was.

After some lean years under David Moyes and Louis van Gaal after Sir Alex Ferguson retired, the Red Devils finally have a manager that knows how to win at their helm. Jose Mourinho’s ways may bother some, but the moves he has made to bring in players look to be paying off already.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic scored twice on Friday to bring his season total to three and Paul Pogba made his redebut.

With Wayne Rooney looking good in a role a bit behind the attack, this R.I.P. attack may be one of the best in the league.

he defending looks great as well and there has never been any doubt that David De Gea is one of the world’s best ’keepers.

United is tied for first with cross-town rivals Manchester City and this rivalry looks like it featured at the top of the table for the rest of the season.

SHATTERED CRYSTAL

The one team that I had tabbed to go down and is looking bit the role right now is Crystal Palace.

Alan Pardew’s squad hasn’t looked great and is the only team that hasn’t scored a goal yet this season. The worries should be adding up really quickly considering that the Eagles have collected just 11 points from 21 games in 2016.

Of course, this week it finally signed Christian Benteke from Liverpool after upping its off from 23-million pounds plus add-ons to 27-million. This could be the move that spurs the oft-forgotten London club to some success, but if the squad has truly tuned out Pardew – as it seems – there might be only one way to right the ship.

AROUND THE LEAGUE

Well, you can’t blame Alberto Moreno for those two goals, can you Liverpool fans? With the under-fire left back on the bench, Burnley hit the Reds on the counter twice to score an upset. The underdogs showed that if you can sit back and defend against Jurgen Klopp’s side, you’ll have those chances on the break … That’s two games in a row that Diego Costa should have been sent off and two games in a row when he has scored the late winner for Chelsea. He should’ve seen a second yellow for a dive against Watford and one day these indiscretions will catch up to him. If he keeps up this pace of a yellow per game, he’s going to see a lot of suspensions, too … Hull City is currently third in the league on goal differential after winning once again. Again, this is a club with a caretaker manager and barely enough players. We don’t think the Tigers will be able to keep this up for long though, with United, Arsenal, Liverpool and Chelsea on tap over their next five games … Hugo Lloris will miss four weeks for Spurs, so I guess it’s a good thing the international break is coming up shortly … You really have to feel for Nampalys Mendy, who looked to sprain his ankle pretty badly in his Leicester City debut. As the supposed replacement for N’Golo Kante, the Foxes will need him back quickly … The Foxes were robbed of a penalty when Hector Bellerin clearly took down Ahmed Musa in the box. It was a bad challenge and Leicester should’ve walked away with a win … It looks like Pep Guardiola is firmly backing Sergio Aguero in all aspects of his game. After Kun missed two penalties midweek in Champions League, Aguero was still called to step up to the spot against Stoke and rewarded his manager. City’s 4-1 win was a lot more indicative of this team’s talent than that 2-1 slog against Sunderland in the opener … Is Raheem Sterling back? He has looked impressive early this season … Speaking of Sterling, why was he the one marking the massive Ryan Shawcross on a corner when the Stoke defender drew a penalty? That was a bad tactical decision … Who saw this coming: Andy Carroll is already injured and will miss six weeks. The West Ham striker also said on Twitter that he’ll be back and that he’s still a “15-20 goal striker,” you know, despite having only scored 15 goals once in his career and that was with Newcastle while playing in the second tier … Will Sunderland be able stay up this season without its annual 4-6 points from beating rival Newcastle? That’s a burning question in Northeast England right now.

THE LAST WORD

This week we got our first taste of Friday Night Football in the Prem, when Manchester United beat Southampton. While on the surface, it’s just the league trying to space out its games a little bit, my question is if it is too much.

Most leagues in Europe have a Friday tilt most weeks while the EPL haven’t until now, so this isn’t exactly breaking ground. The big difference is that the Premier League also usually has a game on Monday.

With games on Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Monday, that’s just three days a week without English football. And then, when you figure in Cup dates – like there are this week – and European dates – Champions League on Tuesdays and Wednesdays plus Europa League on Thursdays – that’s a game to watch every day.

Is that too much? Time will tell, but I know some North American fans won’t be too happy about having to stream another game per week at work.

And don’t even get me started on the earlier deadline for fantasy each week…

Follow me on Twitter @danbilicki

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