Raheem Sterling scored his first goal in a blue shirt Saturday to lead City past Watford, and keep up the team’s perfect start in the league. Watford, who did not manage a shot on goal in the match, had set out to park the bus and frustrate, but Sterling’s pace undid that effort after the half. Sterling was the man of the match, but also credit Manuel Pellegrini for tactical flexibility: his removal of the ineffective Jesus Navas at the half and the shift of Sterling down the gut with David Silva out wide paid immediate dividends. The rich are getting richer, as Kevin de Bruyne is expected to join this weekend from Wolfsburg. As this City side already looks frighteningly good, their rivals should be terrified.
Getty ImagesTony Marshall
Liverpool undone by a wretched defense
The Beatles’ “She Loves You” was top of the charts the last time the Hammers won a league match at Anfield, a drought of 52 years snapped Saturday by a clinical counter-attacking performance to win 3-0. Manuel Lanzini, an unheralded loan signing from UAE side Al Jazira sparkled on his debut, scoring the first and setting up the second goal of the day. But as impressive as the Hammers were on the counter, Liverpool were as miserable in the back. Dejan Lovren and Martin Skrtel both made huge gaffes that made Brendan Rodgers’ pre-match praise of the men look very silly. It gets worse: Liverpool will now face arch-rivals Manchester United after the break without the suspended Philippe Coutinho. Rodgers now will be under huge pressure. Fact is, he has spent a fortune…and has little to show for it at Anfield.
Getty ImagesClive Mason
Arsenal desperately need a top-class striker
There are many teams in the Premier League that look thin up top, but that need is particularly glaring in London. Arsenal have depth everywhere else on the field, but lack a killer instinct. Theo Walcott does not look comfortable as a center-forward; Olivier Giroud lacks both skill and discipline, and anyone holding out hope for Danny Welbeck is sadly misguided. With the mooted Karim Benzema transfer apparently dead, the Gunners now face a nervy three days in which to find a credible replacement – and they must. If Arsenal are unable to secure some sort of reinforcement, they will struggle mightily this season.
Getty ImagesDean Mouhtaropoulos
Manchester United: Expensive and ineffective
Louis van Gaal has almost completely overhauled the side he inherited from David Moyes, so it was a bit rich that on Sunday, when he needed a late goal, he turned to a maligned Moyes man: Marouane Fellaini. That sums up the dire straits at United: despite a staggering $360m in outlays, this is not a solid team. Sergio Romero is not a top-class keeper; Wayne Rooney looks past it as a top striker; and United’s vaunted midfield too often looks slow and predictable.a Some of the big signings -- Memphis Depay, Ander Herrera, Bastian Schweinsteiger -- simply disappear. More money is likely to be shoveled out before Tuesday night. But to what end? United look no more capable of competing for the title than they did under Moyes. That’s damning.
Getty ImagesMichael Regan
Is Chelsea’s title defense over…in August?
Chelsea have just four points from as many games, and are a full eight points off the top of the table. Chelsea have coughed up nine goals in four games and Branislav Ivanovic has been particularly poor. And the kicker is that Chelsea, as a unit, look tired and out of ideas. Is Mourinho’s act wearing thin? Maybe – but it is looking like the manager’s recent antics were an attempt to distract people from the real issues at his team. Fact is, Chelsea are vulnerable and combustible, with two reds in four games and a spiky and frustrated crew that seems perpetually on edge. Mourinho conceded that reinforcements are unlikely, and that may mean Chelsea’s title defense is already in real trouble with a long way yet to go.