After Four Games, Changes Afoot in the EPL
Wait a minute—maybe we are in for some surprises this year.
With Wigan and Man City looking down at the teams below them—instead of looking up as many predicted—I don't think we're facing the sort of monotonous, Chelsea- and Man U-dominated campaign we had last year.
Take the first weekend of the season, where Chelsea fought to beat Birmingham City 3-2, Reading earned a hard-fought point at Old Trafford, and Arsenal were losing to Fulham for the majority of the game.
If nothing else, those seem to be early signs of what promises to be a very lively Premiership season—especially if teams like Everton, Tottenham Hotspur, Blackburn Rovers, and Portsmouth can disrupt the Top Four's pursuit of the title.
Everton in particular have spent well, bringing in Baines from Wigan and Yakubu from Middlesborough while keeping the majority of their squad from last season—i.e. Lescott, Arteta (one to watch this year), and Johnson.
Despite their underachieving start, Spurs will inevitably come around. A team full of stars like Berbatov, Lennon, Keane, and King is bound to be knocking on the door of the Champions League before too long—and that will be a great day for English football.
Blackburn Rovers haven't made many moves, but the ones they have made could prove critical. Roque Santa Cruz is showing that he can cut it in the Premiership—and remember Benni McCarthy last season? If those two gel up front, and if Pedersen, Bentley, and even David Dunn play up to their ability in the midfield, Blackburn will be tough to beat.
And finally, Portsmouth. The breaking news of the day is that Harry wants to sell David Nugent, who finally scored his first goal for the club, and bring in Nicloas "le Sulk" Anelka.
That's the sort of move that's likely to mess with morale in the dressing room.
Nugent is an up-and-coming Premiership striker (with a goal to his name for his country, don't forget) who'd welcome the chance to play at Derby—but will he score goals there? What's more, why would Harry buy Anelka when he already has so many strikers to choose from—Benjani, Kanu, Nugent and Utaka.
Portsmouth have got something going on along the south coast, and Harry would be a fool to sell on one of his major assets just two months after buying him. I'll stop before I get going on Derby's selling Earnshaw already...(!!!)
On the bright side, Harry has retained a great number of players from last year, and turned some of his loan deals into permanent ones—i.e. Arnold Mvuemba from Rennes, who looks to have been a good signing.
The likes of Sulley Muntari, Pedro Mendes, and Sean Davis add steel to the Portsmouth midfield, and the ever-likeable Matt Taylor bring a little personality to the club. The defence isn't half-bad either, with Sol Campbell and the newly-arrived Sylvain Distin providing a sound base and David James showing he can still do it at the ripe age of 37 (which is young for a goalkeeper nowadays, isn't it?).
Clubs like Everton, Tottenham, Blackburn, and Portsmouth give hope to teams in the "league" below them. If they can turn it around this season, there's no reason the Middlesborough's, Bolton's, and Man City's of the world can't do the same thing next year.
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