First off, I haven’t been hiding — I’ve been contributing over at FourFiveTwo. My recent posts there (where soccer meets what we call comedy) includes a primer on how to insult fans of all 20 EPL teams, a musing on reports that Cristiano Ronaldo wouldn’t celebrate a milestone goal in a Real Madrid home game because he was “sad,” and a celebration of a goalie’s set piece bicycle kick to tie up a crucial (well, maybe not that crucial) Danish second division game.
So, the first three weeks of the EPL are in the books, and already, it’s looking like a season just as joyfully, awesomely as weird as last season. Some initial thoughts on where we’re at:
* We really shouldn’t be surprised that Chelsea’s at the top of the table — Hazard was a spectacular pickup, and they’ve made some other smart moves (read: Oscar) to bolster an already loaded lineup. Still, though, Torres as the main striker option is just waiting to bite them at some point in the season, and Hulk — despite the rumors that he’d be ending up in blue — is instead set to experience well-paid exile in Russia. But apparently Drogba might be looking for a team with the Shanghai situation not being as promised? Could he return to Chelsea? Could it be staged like a surprise pro wrestling comeback if he does? Pretty please?
* After two and 1/3 games in which Arsenal seemingly forgot how to score, Podolski and Cazorla look like awesome pickups, and Giroud looks like he’ll score eventually. And no goals scored on Arsenal in three games! The only team in the EPL with three clean sheets thus far! And two of those with Vito Mannone in goal! (Still, though, their only deadline day pickup being a 17-year-old Macedonian goalkeeper made me all kinds of sad, especially when coupled with …
* Dempsey is a Spur! Dempsey is a SPUR. That came out of nowhere. And after all the swirling Liverpool rumors (which didn’t entirely make sense, given Liverpool’s increasing remoteness from the Champions League football that Dempsey said he wanted to play, but we’ll get to them in a moment), Spurs swoop in and get a fantastic player for a very reasonable price, and in the process, pick up a fantastic young goalkeeper in Lloris. (But then, oops, start a goalkeeper controversy in the process. And, since France is involved, an international incident to boot. The good times with AVB continue.)
* Oh, poor Liverpool. If the season were to end today, Liverpool would be (gasping at the practically unthinkable here) relegated along with QPR and Southampton. Certainly, it’s not that dire at Anfield, and it seems that they’ll eventually figure out how to score goals and not blunder horribly like they did in the game against Man City, which they could have won and stemmed much of the “What’s wrong with Liverpool?” talk. Yep, it’s going to be a fascinating documentary for sure.
* Southampton is in as bad a position as they could be after three weeks, but they’re one of the EPL teams that don’t look as bad as their position would indicate. If not for some insane late-game heroics (fueled by the ginger magic of Paul Scholes, and the very real possibility that RVP really CAN score when he wants — except for on a muffed PK), ManU would have fallen to Southampton in dramatic fashion, in what might be one of the most entertaining games of the young season. If only somehow the whistle could have been blown around the 83-minute mark …
* Everton looks incredible. Swansea looks better than I’m sure everyone expected them to be — who knew that Michu would currently be one of the best players in the Premiership so far. Somehow, West Ham is 7th and has a rejuvenated (though now nicked) Andy Carroll, and Aston Villa is 17th (despite moves that should have nudged them away from the relegation zone and into mid-table-ville).
EPL, thank you for being so dramatic and amazing. We’ll at least hang on to this if rainy 0-0 slogs in November are looming.