It’s a huge weekend for…Arsenal, Brendan Rodgers, Tony Pulis and Mark Hughes
A start to the season more positive than Arsenal fans could have hoped for, but last week’s point against Manchester City was perhaps the most impressive, given Arsenal’s recent record against the big four in the Premier League.
Olivier Giroud is off the mark, Santi Cazorla and Lukas Podolski have settled instantly, and Abou Diaby, Carl Jenkinson and Aaron Ramsey look vastly improved. For now, all is right at the Emirates.
Next up is Chelsea, who are also unbeaten this season. Is this the yardstick of quite how much Arsenal can achieve this season? Win on Saturday lunchtime and Arsenal will move ahead of Manchester United into second place in the league. Another false dawn, or the sun rising on a new era of Arsenal success?
The new Liverpool manager will be pleased with his side’s recent performances, but the fact remains that plaudits are not equatable to points, and Liverpool are winless, positioned in the relegation zone above only QPR and Reading. Even during the Roy Hodgson debacle the club picked up three points more in their first five games.
With games against Manchester United, Manchester City and Arsenal out of the way, Rodgers now has the opportunity to respond with games against Norwich, Stoke and Reading coming before his first Merseyside derby. Unless seven points are taken, the knives may still be out for the Northern Irish manager.
Pulis has done a fantastic job in establishing Stoke as a Premier League club, but there is a point of view that suggests the Welshman has taken the club as far as he can, causing Stoke to tread water. Whether or not this strikes you as harsh, the fact remains that Stoke are winless in their last twelve games.
On Saturday they face Swansea City at the Britannia. So often a fortress, Stoke have now failed to win in six games at home and have won three of their last 15 on their own patch, against Swansea, Norwich and Wolves, not exactly the leading lights of the Premier League. Given that trips to Anfield and Old Trafford follow, there is a great deal of pressure on to redress these struggles.
When you are given the opportunity to spend money in order to increase performance, as a manager you invite pressure. When you buy experienced foreign players on significant wages like a nine-year-old on Football Manager, as Hughes has this summer, this pressure is intensified.
QPR’s only win in their last eight games was at home to Walsall in the Capital One Cup, and during this period they have lost games to Reading, Swansea, Spurs and Manchester City, conceding twelve goals in the process.
Monday Night Football visits Loftus Road for a London derby with West Ham. QPR will start the game as favourites, but there is a growing feeling that if Rangers lose, the club’s owners may lose patience with a manager that was permitted to sign nine internationals on permanent deals.