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Thierry Henry; Scorer of Sublime Goals

Thierry Henry enthralled many Gunners fans during his peak in the early 2000s for the red half of North London, as an Arsenal fan myself, he will always be synonymous with the Wenger glory days at Highbury along with the likes of Dennis Bergkamp and Patrick Vieira. Most fans are aware of some of his most famous goals, the sublime volley against Manchester United, THAT run versus Tottenham Hotspurs, and the wonderful solo efforts against Real Madrid & Liverpool. But it was the sheer array of goals that he scored that even got fans of rival teams standing up to applaud. With the new of his retirement from the game, here is a look at some of the variety of efforts he put away with relative ease.

The Pirouette

Games against Chelsea were always a big deal, and this FA Cup tie in 2003 ended in a thrilling 2-2 draw. But it was Henry’s goal to put Arsenal in front on the stroke of half time that stood out. After breaking the offside trap and being put clean through on goal. Henry decided to nonchalantly spin around the ball, rather then simply go for goal, totally confusing the onrushing Cudicini, and roll the ball into the empty net. It still stands out to me now, as I cant recall many goals since scored in this casual manner.

The Backheel

During the 2003/2004 seasons, Highbury was a fortress, and many teams would suffer convincing defeats. A routine 4-0 win at home to Charlton in 2004 had one particular gem from Henry. Receiving the ball on the edge of the 6 yard box, with his back to goal. and the close attention of the Charlton defender, the straight-forward option would have been to pass the ball to a better placed team mate, but Henry has the audacity to hit a backheel shot into the opposite corner of the goal. No one in opposition defence saw it coming, and I doubt nor did any of the fans watching.

The Piledriver

While the previous two goals above were about the delicate touches, this goal was pure power. Picking up the ball in the usual left hand side, the Frenchman strode towards the edge of the penalty box before launching an unstoppable thunderbolt into the top corner. Shots hit like that, just don’t get saved, and the celebration that followed just showed what he thought of his goal.

The Finesse 

Preseason friendlies don’t usually get much coverage, and not many fans outside their own clubs preseason will really be aware of what other teams may get up to. During Arsenal’s 2005 summer build up, Henry scored probably one of best goals no one has seen! Though the opposition in S.C Weiz (of Austria) were not the most challenging, it still cant take away from the sheer beauty of this strike.  In 3 simple touches, controlling the high pass from the back, flicking it over defender, and finishing with the most delicate of volleys.

The Clutch Shot

One of Henry’s great abilities was to deliver when it mattered the most, taking the one chance that comes your way. To borrow a term from NBA, being a ‘clutch’ player. One fine example of this was in the closing weeks 2005/06 season, Arsenal found themselves in a huge tussle with North London rivals for that 4th European spot. Finding themselves a goal down with 10 minutes to go, the Gunners needed a goal to put them back in the hunt for Europe. With the pressure on from the nervous home fans, Henry delivered. After some neat play on the wing for Adebayor, Henry made a smart run. Picking up the pass in one touch, then finishing with precision instantly with the second touch. A big goal in the context of their season!

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Gunners Relieved, Deja Vu for Chelsea & CIty

The draw for the last 16 of the Champions League was bound to throw up some tantalising ties, and it did not disappoint. With the English clubs having mixed  bag of fortunes on their fate.

Arsenal will be sighing with relief after avoiding one of the European heavyweights. After finishing 2nd in their group, the 3-0 capitulation against Anderlecht looked like it would be very costly, a possible draw with Bayern Munich for a third consecutive season was very much on the cards. But that was not the case, the Gunners were drawn with Arsene Wenger’s former club AS Monaco, who surprising topped their group. Monaco may have only scored 4 goals, but their resilient defence more than made up for their lack of attacking threat.  On paper, either Monaco or Porto would have been the best case scenario, and that is what they got. Monaco will be a challenging tie, but the Gunners will be looking to make the final 8 for the first time in several years.

For the current league leaders, Chelsea once again face PSG. The two teams played out an enthralling quarter final tie last season. Where a late Demba Ba goal in the second leg at Stamford Bridge took the Blues through 3-3 on away goals. Once again, the two teams must once again face off, and it will for sure be another cracker. PSG will be looking for revenge, after failing to overcome Chelsea in the dying minutes last season. The French champions beat Barcelona earlier in the groups stages, and will want to see a similar level of performance here. Chelsea though look the more complete team, and with the advantage of playing the 2nd leg at home, Chelsea should be the slight favourites to edge this tie.

As with Chelsea, its the same again for current Premier League champions Manchester City. This time last season they were drawn to Barcelona at this stage, and lightning strikes twice, with another visit to the Camp Nou beckoning in 2015. Standing out as probably the tie of the round, City will want to make up for their failings here last season. Losing 4-2 in aggregate to the Catalans last time around. Manchester CIty have finally hit what you could say is something like their best form, clawing their way back into the title race, and looking like their usual self. But if they are to finally progress deep into the Champions League, they will have to start showing more of what they displayed in Rome in their final group match. With Barcelona’s devastating triforce of Messi, Neymar and Suarez.. City will have to be at their very best if they want a place in the final 8.

Among the other ties, defending champions Real Madrid will entertain Schalke, Dortmund will play Juventus, a tie which will actually make Arsenal fans somewhat delighted they actually avoided finishing top of their group. La Liga champions Atletico Madrid will host Bayer Leverkusen, and Bavarian giants Bayern Munich will take on the challenge of Shakhtar.

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The Champions League, Time to get serious

After 6 round of games, the group stages of this seasons Champions League is over, and we now have the final 16 line up, for the much anticipated knock out stages of Europe’s premier competition.

All the big guns have safety made it through the initial stages, and will be in action in the new year.  Defending champions Real Madrid made easy work of their group, 6 games, 6 wins. Finishing 11 points clear of 2nd place Basel. The favourites have been in ominous form this season. Bayern Munich made it through in top too, their only blemish being the defeat at the Etihad to an Ageuro inspired City side. Jose Mourinho’s quest for a 3rd European title has started off comfortably, topping their group, with some ease. For Barcelona, it came down to a last game showdown with fellow giants PSG on who would top the group, and get that much prized seeded draw for the Last 16. Though they fell behind to a Zlatan goal, but their holy trinity of Messi, Neymar and Suarez all found the net, to take the Catalans top.

Among the remaining teams, current Spanish champions Atletico Madrid took top spot from Juventus on the final day. The Italian league leaders just made it into 2nd after a tight draw with Atletico, Olympiacos just missed out. Borussia Dortmund are not in the best of states, lingering near the foot of the German league, but in a very tight finish, they just edged Arsenal to first place by goal difference.  The Gunners were left to rue their capitulation against Anderlecht, which would have taken them to the seeded pot. Monaco and Bayern Leverkusen took 1st and 2nd respectively in probably one of the weakest groups. Monaco scored just 4 goals on route to them winning their group. Manchester City pretty much stumbled across the line, into 2nd behind Munich, City may not have had the most comfortable of rides through their group, only winning 2 games. But in a final showdown at Roma, without the likes of Aguero and Yaya Toure, the team won 2-0, to go through. Chelsea stormed Group G, leaving Sporting and Schalke to battle it out for the 2nd place. A narrow 1-0 win for Schalke against Maribor just got them past the Portuguese team by a single point. In the final group, Porto took the honours, with Shakhtar in behind in 2nd. Shakhtar did produce one of the results of the group stages, producing a sensational 7-0 demolition of BATE Borisov.

For some though, it was an disappointing early exit, Liverpool, after their 5 year absence, would not have thought they would be looking at the Europa League in the New Year after their great work last season to get back onto the top table. But an underwhelming season, has been summed up, after losing out to Basel for 2nd spot. Basel continuing their mighty fine record against English clubs in recent years. Manchester United, Chelsea and Tottenham have all been on the receiving end of costly results to the Swiss side. Roma will be disappointed to have not made the final cut, the Italians would have wanted to kick on, after finishing runners up in the league last season. But after an initial impressive start to the group, including a well deserved draw to City, the team just lacked that final push across the line. For Benfica, the finalists of last seasons Europa League, and current champions of Portugal, finishing bottom means they wont even get a chance in the Europa League to end their infamous European finals’ curse.

With the draw on Monday, Chelsea will probably be England’s best placed team to challenge for the grand prize. Finishing as group winners should give them a favourable draw for their push. Both City and Arsenal will be hoping to draw either one of Monaco or Porto, or face another early exit in the Last 16. But that’s all speculation, roll on Monday!

 

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The Puskas Award 2014

 

Among the yearly hype for the Ballon d’Or (this year to be contested by German World Cup winning Goalkeeper Manual Neuer, and the usual suspects Lionel Messi and Christiano Ronaldo), the Puskas award for the best goal of the year is usually relegated to the lower card. The award has been around since 2009, last year, a certain Zlatan Ibrahimovic won it with his ridiculous 40 yard overhead kick against England. You can see the 3 contenders for this years award below, and you can contribute and vote for your favourite goal via the FIFA site, click the following link to cast your vote! http://www.fifa.com/ballon-dor/puskas-award/index.html

1. James Rodriguez

We all remember this goal, the goal of the World Cup, the control, the awareness, the execution…..and off the underside of the crossbar for extra points!

 

2. Robin Van Persie

A superb diving header, probably one of the best in a long time! The Dutchmen is usually known for his volleys, but this was just as special!

 

3. Stephanie Roche

Among two goals scored at the World Cup, you have this stunner scored in the game with approximately 95 people in attendance! With 3 touches, Roche bewitches the defence before firing in a volley! A win for her among two giant of the game would cause a great surprise!

 

 

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A Visit to Benfica!

While on holiday in Lisbon last year, we took the chance to check out the football stadiums in the area. We had a quick look around the Sporting stadium, Estádio José Alvalade. But it was the magnificent Estádio da Luz, home to giants Benfica that we really wanted to see. We went for the stadium tour, and had a insightful walk throughout the stadium. The tour guide was great, and even had a little dig at myself, as they claim Arsenal stole their design! The sheer history of the club is vast, we got the see all the trophies that they have won, Benfica go beyond just football, such as Basketball. We also got to see the famous Benfica eagle, which preforms a ritual before every home game! So enjoy the photos that I took. :)

 

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USA v Colombia @ Craven Cottage

This Friday, Craven Cottage hosted a friendly between USA and Colombia. It was my first time going to the Fulham ground, and it was very different to the sleek Emirates Stadium that I usually go to. But the old school feel oft he ground gave it a very different feel than most modern stadiums. It was nice to go to a ground which retains its history. The Colombian fans dominated the ground, with just a few American fans scatted around in small groups among the vast sea of Yellow. Being among the Colombian fans was a totally new experience at a ground. The fans were chanting and making noise non stop! A great carnival atmosphere. It was USA who took the lead early on, Jozy Altidore converting a penalty after a handball from a corner. Colombia failed to break down a resolute American defence. The second half was all Colombia, a substitute Bacca made it 1-1 on the hour mark, rounding keeper Guzan and firing in from an angle. The momentum was all with the Colombians, and they got a late winner. Gutierrez  heading home a cross from James. The crowd went ballistic! The sheer noise was something I’ve never heard at a match before, rocking the stands. USA held firm for an hour, but were eventually broken down. Sending the large majority of the fans home delighted.

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Arsenal Rocking…..Confidence Dropping

At 1-0 during the game vs. Swansea, I switched over to see the Brazilian Grand Prix, when I changed back a few minutes later, it was 2-1 to Swansea. As an Arsenal fan, I wasn’t even shocked by this, it has fast become the norm. The team is struggling, and this has lead to dangerous rift among the Arsenal fans. Thought the team may be currently underwhelming most with some calamitous performance, it is the atmosphere around the Emirates that is forming a somewhat toxic cloud.

Fans seem to be divided into two camps over manager Arsene Wenger,  on one side, you have the fans who support the manager, also known as the ‘Arsene Knows Brigade’, and on the opposing side, you have fans who firmly believe in the ‘Arsene Out’ method of action. The malaise at Arsenal had been simmering for the last few seasons, with discontent running high between fans. The FA Cup win had many thinking that Wenger may very well come good at the end of this tough period,  but an inconsistent campaign dogged with injuries and limp performances has had tension running at an all time high.

Wenger had a relatively good summer, in terms of transfers. the capture of Alexis Sanchez from Barcelona has proved to be a wonderful signing, the Chilean has hit the ground running, already notching up 11 goals this season. Debuchy was recruited from Newcastle to cover the departure of Bacary Sagna. Goalkeeper David Ospina was signed following an impressive World Cup, to provide competition to current number 1, Szczęsny. The shrewd transfer of Calum Chambers in defence has also proved to be a decent acquisition. Supporters of Wenger may have been impressed by these buys, but there were still some massive flaws left uncovered. Captain Thomas Vermealen was sold, and not replacement was signed. Any injuries in defence could leave the back 4 in trouble. The need for a defensive midfielder to reinforce the teams vulnerable centre was highlighted after several high profile defeats away to the Top 4.  Although Sami Khedira was touted, nothing was done in the end, which meant going into the season with an aging Arteta and Flamini as the only protection. The most fatal mistake was a massive gamble at the start of the summer to not sign Cesc Fabregas with their first option clause, a player of his calibre may have been surplus to the current team, but to let him go to a rival team,was playing with fire.

The season so far, has been incoherent. The team had been ravaged by injuries, only weeks into the season. Both Giroud and Debuchy were ruled out till 2015. Ozil soon followed. Several other squad member had been injured for weeks at a time, stretching the team to its limits so early into the season. Wenger could not have foreseen such a injury crisis (though some sceptical fans will say that this happens every year to Arsenal!). The defence have been affected the most, with Debuchy away for a few months, Chambers had been drafted into first team action sooner, rather than later. A long term Achille’s injury has ruled out centre back Koscielny for an unknown time. Leaving the likes of Monreal to cover. The sheer mess of this, has lead to the team leaking goals almost every game, a defence which has reached breaking point after losing a 3-0 and 1-0 lead in two successive games. Wenger’s decision to not buy a viable replacement for Vermealen has left many fans questioning that decision. The absence on an imposing defensive midfielder has left the team with such a vulnerable core, the team has no confidence in its defence. Several eye-catching displays, mainly by Alexis Sanchez have been left unrewarded. The sight of him trudging off shaking his head, has had many fans wondering will he even be here next season if this continues any longer! To top it off, not signing Fabregas now looks like a monumental mistake. The Spaniard has fitted in brilliantly at Chelsea,  picking up from where he left off with Arsenal. Wenger said he had plenty of options, but Aaron Ramsey has failed to replicate last seasons form, and Mesut Ozil has been struggling with injury. The gamble has backfired spectacularly.

After a promising summer, and a end to THAT trophy drought. It appeared that the future was taking a turn for the best. But the team is already a staggering 12 points of leaders Chelsea, and look set to finish 2nd in their Champions League group, which will inevitably lead to a tie aginst a missaive European giant. A mounting injury list, and the hectic Xmas period is not looking very promising right now! But whatever happens until now and January, when surely defensive cover will be drafted in. But the return of Theo Walcott will add some much needed potency in attack, and defence will eventually find its feet. The crowd must stick together, Wenger will not leave during the season, and the discontent gives sense of weakness, which opposition at the Emirates now feel, and take feed upon.

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Premier League Preview

We move onto Round 10 of the Premier League, here are our predictions for the games this weekend!

 

Man City v Man United

There is only one place to start, the weekends big game, the Manchester Derby on Sunday lunchtime. A few weeks ago, this would have looked like a routine home win for the Champions against their stuttering neighbours. But following back to back defeats in their last two outings, and their 2-0 surrender at Moscow previously. The Champions seem to have hit some poor form.  United will have taken great strength from their late comeback against Chelsea last week, and will be looking to get one over City, and escalate themselves back into the top 4 race. City  should though, have too much for this United team, and should bounce back to form in their biggest game of their season so far.

Newcastle v Liverpool

Games between these 2 clubs have always been entertaining, 22 goals have been scored at St James Park in the last 5 occasions. That trend should continue on Saturday. Newcastle are on a revival, with 3 wins on the trot after a tough start for Pardew. Liverpool will be looking to recover from last weeks dire result against Hull, already this season, they have conceded too many goals, and dropped many points. So their is little margin for error.Liverpool should edge it this if they are too seriously contend for the title. A high scoring game in Liverpool’s favour!

Arsenal v Burnley

Arsenal have had a horribly inconsistent season so far, with only 3 wins recorded. Their shining star so far has been Alexis, who has scored 3 in his last two game (and 8 for the season)s. The Gunners should most likely be boosted by the return of Theo Walcott, after 10 months out. The explosive forward will surely help Arsenal take the pressure off Alexis. Burnley are rooted to the bottom, and are still looking for their first win of the season. If the Gunners don’t take 3 points here, serious doubts will be placed upon the team.

Chelsea v QPR

Its the West London Derby, and Chelsea will want to re-establish their dominance after their late slip up against United. So far, Chelsea have only dropped points in 2 games, and have looked formidable at home. With the expected return of star striker Diego Costa, the Blues will want to make light work of the Hoops. QPR though have finally got their season up and running, with a much needed victory on Monday. Their recent record against Chelsea has been relatively good, with most games decided by the single goal. They should make it tough for Chelsea, but I cannot see anything apart from a Home win here.

Everton v Swansea

The Swans have had an impressive season so far, and find themselves in 6th place. They travel to Merseyside to face a resurgent Everton side, after their slow start to the season. Gylfi Sigurddson and Wifried Bony have both been excellent for Swansea this season,  if they both start, they should give Everton a good game. The Toffees will look to Lukkaku and Samuel Eto’o to fire them back onto the Champions League track. A draw looks likely between 2 evenly matched teams.

Hull v Southampton

High flying Southampton take the journey north to play a Hull side who have taken points off both Arsenal and Liverpool in their last 2 games. The Saints have rightly been lauded for their fantastic start, and have captured some great talent in the form of Pelle and Tadic. If they are to seriously be contenders in the top 6, this is a game they should be looking to win. Hull have proved that they are a resilient team to break down, and Diame has provided them some much needed power in their midfield. Hull should have enough in their tank to hold off a surging Southampton team.

Leicester v West Brom

Since their remarkable victory against Manchester United in September, the Foxes have followed that up with a disappointing October, registering no wins, against teams they would have fancied to beat. They now find themselves back down in 17th place, the early season goals from Ulloa have dried up. They host a West Brom team firmly in mid table, and apart from Berahino, who has scored 8 goals already, the rest of the team has looked average. Leicester should be looking to revive their form, a tight home win is our guess!

Stoke v West Ham

The Hammers have been in mighty form this term, sitting cosy in 4th place. With 3 wins in a row in the league, Big Sam has relieved much of the pressure he was receiving from the fans. Enner Valencia, Sakho and Alex Song have all proved to be great buys, and the team currently finds itself in a good place. Stoke had had a very average start, and the team is a lot more open than in previous years, already leaking 10 goals. Having lost to Southampton twice in a week, Stoke will want to bounce back. Playing the match at the Britannia should be a huge benefit for them. Our prediction, a tight win for Stoke.

Aston Villa v Tottenham

Both of these teams find themselves in awkward positions, for Villa, it has been 5 losses on the bounce, not a single win since Lambert signed his new deal. For Spurs, they were hoping to make a big push for the Top 4, but so far, they are 11th, and look miles away from being a Champions League team. Both team require the 3 points for their own reasons, and fact neither have a solid defence, should make this a great match for the neutrals. Spurs should just about have enough to see off this poor Villa team.

Crystal Palace v Sunderland

The final game of the week, is already a relegation 6 pointer! Both teams find themselves near the foot of the table. But it is Sunderland who look to be in real trouble. After their 8-0 demolition at Southampton, followed by some shocking defending against Arsenal. The pressure really is on Gus Poyet to turn things around. Palace managed to lose a 2-0 lead last week at Albian in the dying embers of the match. The Eagles have been stumbling along the season, and are only a single point better off. Palace should be favourites to win, epecially as they are playing at home, and against a Sunderland team utterly low on morale.

 

 

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El Clasico : Preview

After his 4 month ban for biting Giorgio Chiellini, and all the drama that followed, its not surprising that the Uruguayan star could possibly make his first competitive appearance for Barcelona in probably the biggest club game in the world. This Saturday evening, it will be Madrid hosting their eternal rivals in one of the most anticipated El Classico’s for a long time.

After a summer of huge spending for both teams, both contenders are now brimming with a devastating attack. Following a disappointing season by their high standards, the Catalans last season lost both La Liga and the Champions League to Madrid (Atletico and Real respectively). So it was inevitable some huge transfers would be bought in. Barcelona had finally landed Luis Suarez from Liverpool for a reported £65m deal. The talented Ivan Rakitić was also drafted in after an impressive season for Seville. Among the several other deals, Arsenal defender Thomas Vermealen was signed to provided some defensive cover.

The Los Blancos meanwhile had gone on another hectic summer spending spree, in order to reinforce their grip on the Champions League that they spent so long craving. Following some wonderful displays at this summers World Cup for Colombia. James Rodriguez had finally arrived on the big stage. Real Madrid did not wait around to capture his services, and signed the playmaker for a fee of £63m. Toni Kroos, was long hinting a move away from Munich last season, and after his World Cup victory, It was announced that the powerful midfielder had moved to the Spanish capital for £24m. Javier Hernandez and Costa Rican keeper Kaylor Navas had also been transferred in.

On paper, the attacks on both sides had fans across the world excited. Lionel Messi, Neymar and Suarez right now is probably the most brutal front 3 on the planet. Whereas Madrid now have Rodriguez to join Gareth Bale, Karim Benzema and the current player of the year, Cristiano Ronaldo. The inevitable showdown between the sides would surely bring fireworks.

So far domestically, it has been Barcelona who have hit the ground running. They are currently top of the league, having not lost a game. The team has looked so impressive, that they have not conceded a single goal in 8 league games, and in turn, scoring 22. Their only blot so far being a 0-0 draw away to Malaga. The South American duo of Neymar and Messi have started in blistering fashion, the Brazilian just beating the Argentinian with his 10 goals to Messi’s 9. With the defence in formidable form, and the imminent return of Luis Suarez, things look very bright for Barcelona.
Real Madrid on the other hand, stuttered in their opening few matches. After an opening day win, they followed it with back to back defeats. Losing to current title holders Atletico at home, and an astonishing match against Sociedad. where they had an early 2-0 lead wiped out, and lost 4-2. Since then though, the team has appeared to have gelled, and have won the next 5 matches. In those 5 games, the team has scored an amazing 25 goals, Ronaldo is way out in front, already on 19 goals for the season. They may be firing on all cylinders at the moment, but their defence is still a concern, having already conceded 9 times, and the form of Iker Cassilas still in doubt.

With 4 points between the leaders, and Real in 3rd (Seville in 2nd after a very impressive start for the team!). Barcelona will still be top of the pile, regardless of the result on Saturday, but they will want to keep hold of their unbeaten start, and even better, keep another clean sheet to go with their previous 8. But Real Madrid have simply been on fire recently, with Ronaldo on another level at the moment. It shall be another memorable chapter of the El Claisso saga this weekend!

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Premier League: The Winners & Losers So Far

With 7 games of the season complete, that’s roughly 20% of the season already over! With the upcoming international break, this would be a convenient time to see the big winners and losers of the season so far.

Winners

Chelsea (1st)
Though the season may be still young, the preseason favourites have already started in blistering fashion. 6 wins and 1 draw (against fellow title rivals City) is an excellent opening for the team. With both their big summer signings (Costa and Fabregas) hitting the ground running, Chelsea are already 5 points clear of second place City. If they can keep this up, it looks ominous for the rest. Chelsea have been much maligned for their seemingly boring method of playing, but with 21 goals recorded already, this Chelsea team appear to be a new breed from the previous squads.

Southampton (3rd)
The summer exile on the south coast at St Marys was very well documented, after losing several first team players, many assumed Southampton would struggle to even leave the bottom half of the table. If anything, the team is even stronger. Ronald Koeman has done a sterling job is steadying the ship. With 4 wins so far, they find themselves in 3rd heading into the break. Graziano Pellè has proven to be a shrewd signing, hitting 5 goals already. Morgan Schneiderlin has not let his summer of discontent affect his game, and players such as Nathanial Clyne have stepped up hugely. This early season form may not last, but their opening to the new season has been immense.

Leicester City (12th)
The winners of the Championship last season have already shown that they will not be a pushover. It has not been the easiest of starts for the club. Having to face Chelsea, United, Arsenal and Everton in their opening 7 games. But they have shocked all, and would not have been expecting to have a return of 5 points from those 4 games. The King Power stadium has proven to be a stronghold. Both Arsenal and Everton were held to a draw, and United were on the receiving end of one of the great matches of recent times, coming back from 3-1 down to win 5-3. Leicester paid £8m for Leonardo Ulloa, many would have raised an eyebrow to see that kind of money being spent on a striker from the Championship. But with 5 goals already, the Argentine has already become well known to all Premier League fans.

Losers

Newcastle United (18th)
The Magpies may not be rock bottom of the league (QPR beat them to that honour by goal difference), but it has not been a great few weeks for Newcastle. The team has not recorded a single win this season, but more importantly, the atmosphere among the home fans in the stadium is setting a very poisonous mood. Alan Pardew is under huge pressure from many parts of the fans, and then there is also the long standing issue between the owner Mike Ashley and the fans. Papiss Cisse has rescued the manager twice, with 2 goals in games vs Hull and Swansea. Unfortunately, this has only extended briefly what appears to be the end of Pardew.

Everton (17th)
Everton had a great 2013-14, pushing Arsenal so close to that elusive Champions League spot, only for them to stumble over in the final few weeks. Martinez had seemed to give Everton a new identify, with loan players such as Lukaku and Barry shining, and the likes of Ross Barkley emerging. With Lukaku and Barry now permanent, the Toffees would have been looking to make a serious challenge for the top 4. So far though, they find themselves 17th, with a single win registered so far. It could be argued that their fixtures have been rather tough, having faced Chelsea, Liverpool, Arsenal and United already. It may be a tad early to start ringing the alarm bells, but the Toffees will have to start picking up soon, or pay the price for a shocking start.

Manchester United (4th)

The Red Devils may be sitting high in 4th, but that’s only half the story. With only 1 point separating them from 10th place Aston Villa, United would have hoped to be far more ahead of the pack by this stage of the season. After their huge summer spending, and faced with a relatively easy run of games, including all 3 promoted clubs, fans would have been expecting to be close to the top by this stage. But their start has been very hit and miss, opening day defeat was followed by 2 draws. Then there was the astonishing defeat at Leicester, after being 3-1 up. Though they have recovered well in their recent games, they already find themselves 8 points behind leaders Chelsea.

Arsenal & Liverpool (8th & 9th)

Both teams could be put together so far this season. Both clubs would have been looking to make a serious challenge for the title this year, especially after some heavy investment over the Summer. So far though, both clubs are down in mid table, a huge 9 point gulf between them and the leaders Chelsea. Its been an inconsistent opening for the clubs. Arsenal have lost only once, but have dropped points to City and Leicester (where they were leading both games) and in a stale performance vs. Spurs. Whereas the Reds have already lost to West Ham, Villa and City. There is still loads of time to get back into the title race, but their flat start to the season has already ensured that they cannot afford to make any more mistakes over the coming months.