Editor’s Note: Guy Bailey will write columns for The Yanks Are Coming throughout the Barclay’s Premier League season where he discusses the happenings overseas in the world’s most popular sports league. Guy offers a unique perspective on the league as a Brit who lived for a long while in the United States before moving back to Teeside in the past year. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and you can follow him on Twitter all EPL season at @guyrbailey.
Did you miss the enforced 90 days layoff before the return of the greatest show on Earth?
Like a glamorous daytime soap opera, we’ve got unrequited love plots, scheming double deals, returning matinee idol heartthrobs, new up and comers, ageing patriarchs trying to hold their clans together, villainous villains plotting and preening, naked greed and avarice rewarded not punished and oh yes, some football is going to be played to,
So what did the first week of the EPL show us?
The tide may be beginning to turn at Arsenal with a critical mass of the crowd now reaching restless status. Like a reformed alcoholic who can’t stop telling you how sober they are and how great sober life is, Arsene Wenger has spent the summer proclaiming how he’s changed his ways and will be spending like a scratchcard winner from a trailer park right up until the season ticket deadline passed then all of a sudden, the team with more gaping holes than the side of the USS Indianapolis is good enough to win the championship and doesn’t need any expensive adornments. 90 minutes in the company of a hungry, muscular Christian Benteke put paid to that gossamer thin theory as the first audible dissent began at the equalizer and had enveloped the whole ground by the end of play. A 3-0 win at Fenerbahce in the Champions League has bought Wenger some time to bolster the squad and his dwindling imperial guard of loyalist supporters but judgment is being reserved until we see what he comes back from the store with.
Southampton striker Ricky Lambert completed the Lifetime Movie week of his life – seeing his first child born the previous weekend, scoring the winner for England against Scotland on his international debut in midweek and scoring a last minute winner from the penalty spot at West Brom to cap it all off. Right now the guy could walk into a WalMart fresh meat section and come out with something edible, that’s how much his luck is at this moment.
Liverpool began their thrilling chase for seventh with a cagey 1-0 win against Stoke, relying on a last minute penalty save from debutant goalkeeper Simone Mignolet, whose line-bouncing, crossbar grabbing pre-kick routine is oddly familiar to any parent with a toddler who has ever got onto their bed at 7am on a weekend morning.
Jose returned to The Bridge to enthrall and charm everyone including the referees as they dispatched Hull City and a more tenacious Aston Villa in consecutive home matches, the latter punctuated with the kind of bad calls you usually don’t see outside of a Braves Wild Card playoff (the worst MLB call I’ve ever seen and in my top 10 all sports, all time egregious errors too).
Manchester United gave David Moyes a dream start winning 4-1 at a dangerous Swansea City. Such plaudits on his managerial skill should be withheld for now because, he’s managing Manchester United FFS. It’s like a 12 year old taking them on in Football Manager, winning the league and thinking he’s a great manager. Similarly the slick looking Manchester City, managed by equally slick looking Manuel Pellegrini, dismantled sportswriter’s dream team Newcastle United 4-0 on Monday Night. To use a much overwrought footballing cliche, they really were lucky to get nil.
Their rivals in the comedy club stakes this season could actually be their closest ones too as Sunderland tamely lost 0-1 to Fulham, the EPL’s perennial car sick kids. Starting five debutants including a bulked-up free Safety sized Jozy Altidore, they enjoyed the majority of possession but no real cutting edge or incision. All Fulham had to do was sit back, soak up the pressure then strike when they got the chance. In my exclusive TYAC prediction, Sunderland will either click, catch fire and come 8th or disintegrate in a show of bitter public acrimony, mainly aimed at the manger who himself is coming across more and more as a Dollar Store Mourinho. Being a Boro fan, I’ve got my popcorn and lawn chair pulled up already.
Poor Ian Holloway found himself on a disrepute charge for stating the bleedin’ obvious that big teams get the best calls, after Crystal Palace lost 0-1 at home to Spurs thanks to a very harsh penalty awarded against them.
The two stand-out fixtures this week are Spurs entertaining Swansea on Sunday in a real treat for the purists followed by the first Classico of the season on Bank Holiday Monday night – Chelsea v Man Utd. Mourinho v Moyes; Vivienne Westwood v Men’s Wearhouse; North v South; Billionaires v Millionaires.
It’s a week before Labor Day but enjoy the fireworks.
As noted, Guy Bailey writes on the Barclay’s Premier League for The Yanks Are Coming. Want more Guy Bailey? We highly recommend his new book, Blessay From America, a collection of writings made while living in America, where he married a southern belle and saw his son born, which you can purchase here.