‘Crazy’ good, so far……

When you punt on a guy like #MarioBalotelli most will probably concur that he’s just not worth all the ‘crazy’ that he brings along but today he showed that he might well just fit into this already talented and promising #Liverpool setup as he combined excellently (even though his scoring boots were left at home today) with the talents of #Sturridge #Sterling and gang as they dismantled a poor #Tottenham in an away game that many will lose this season. Their other new signing, left back #Moreno showed just why he’s considered one of the best young talents in the world as he scored one of the peachiest of solo goals you’ll see in a long time. Liverpool will be in the top 4 mix for certain – even in their loss to City last week, they played very well. The signs for the brilliant #Rodgers and his team are very good.

#Arsenal on the other hand have been nothing but lucky to have the points they have so far after yet another lucky escape in a 1-1 draw away at #Leicester, which could easily have been a 3-1 loss if their opponents had better striking quality, something the Gunners themselves are sorely lacking. #ArseneWenger has 28 hours in which to fix that and his holding midfielder needs but his post-match interview would suggest that he doesn’t think there’s value in the market – Umm Arsene, have you heard of an #EPL Club in London by the name of #Chelsea? #United and Arsenal would do well learning from the Blues how to conduct your summer business!

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Blue bonanza!

After yet another tepid performance by #ManchesterUnited in a 0-0 away draw at #Burnley (#DiMaria #RVP #Rooney and #Mata can’t conspire to score 1 goal) and the massive upset at  the Etihad as #ManchesterCity lost 1-0 to #Stoke (revenge for former manager #Hughes) was interspersed with yet another win for the impressive #Swansea and a fabulous 3-3 draw at #Newcastle with #CrystalPalace scoring right at the death thanks to the only guy on a Manchester United payroll who scored in weeks (#Zaha) and a big 3-01 win for #Southampton at #WestHam. But the day was lit up by the blues of #Everton and the blues of #Chelsea as they played a 9 goal humdinger at #GoodisonPark as Chelsea beat Everton 6-3 in a game that was impossible to be distracted from even for a second. While Everton should consider themselves unlucky based on the final scoreline (this was a very very close game) it was the lethal finish that this new Chelsea side have that make them favorites to win the #EPL (and the only credible threat to #RealMadrid and #BayernMunich in the #ChampionsLeague). In #DiegoCosta they finally have a guaranteed ‘Spanish’ goalscorer and with incredible support from that outstanding midfield, the future looks bright for #Mourinho and his men in blue!

Over in the #Bundesliga, an impressive #Schalke came from a goal behind to hold mighty Bayern 1-1 at home and #Juventus energized by their talisman #Vidal staying with them battled to a 1-0 win in their #SerieA opener. European football is now in full swing!

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A no-surprise UCL draw?

The draw for the #ChampionsLeague Group Stage is now out and unlike most years, there aren’t too many slippery groups or groups of death this time.

Group A: #Atletico #Juventus #Olympiakos #Malmö – The first 2 seem obvious choices to make it through.

Group B: #RealMadrid #Basel #Liverpool #Ludogorets – Unless Basel can upset Liverpool, it should be a Real and Liverpool 1-2 in this group.

Group C: #Benfica #Zenit #Leverkusen #Monaco – This might be a harder group to pick from. Leverkusen seem to have come into the group stages in style and are a much better team than they were last year. Monaco are a lot weaker this year and if #Falcao is sold/loaned by Monday, then they’ll be less likely to go through. Benfica and Zenit are hard to predict and picking the 2 is the hardest of all the groups.

Group D: #Arsenal #Dortmund #Galatasaray #Anderlecht – While Gala has the ability to surprise at times, it’s going to be a Dortmund Arsenal 1-2.

Group E: #Bayern #ManchesterCity #CSKAMoscow #Roma – On paper this comes closest to a ‘group of death’ but in reality, this is a terrible draw for both Roma and CSKA because both City and Bayern are just too darn powerful for these guys. Expect a topsy turvy run to which of the 2 get top spot. Historically it would be the Bavarians but this City side is far more mature now and shouldn’t be written off to top the group.

Group F: #Barcelona #Paris #Ajax #APOEL – Again, much like Group E, this will be a toss up between Barca and PSG for the top spot.

Group G: #Chelsea #Schalke #Sporting #Maribor – An easy top spot for Chelsea followed by an equally obvious 2nd for the Germans.

Group H: #Porto #Shakhtar #AthleticBilbao #BATE – Ordinarily this would be a 3-way toss up between Porto, Shakhtar and Bilbao but given the unrest in #Donetsk (many of their Brazilian stars have refused to return to the city) this one is going to be a Bilbao-Porto 1-2.

Let the mid-week fun begin!

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Arsenal get lucky; Bilbao get awesome!

The #Gunners could have conceded 2 penalties, including one which would have left them with 10 men very early on in the game (#DeBuchy did get sent off later and #Wenger should have taken him off a while before) but they held on for a super lucky and nervy 1-0 win against #Besiktas at the #Emirates to book their customary passage into the group stages of the #UCL thanks to an #AlexisSanchez goal (a soft goal that the Turkish keeper should have stopped easily) but thanks largely to a MoM performance by #SantiCazorla (He was fabulous in attack and defense) and a much improved #JackWilshere.

#Arsenal have looked anything but convincing the 4 games they have played so far and have been very lucky in all of them. If Wenger can bring in #Carvalho and a top striker before 1st September rolls around, they should be able to ride this luck to a genuinely good season, especially with #Walcott and #Ramsey due back.

#Bilbao on the other hand had the much tougher draw with #Napoli (they played a 1-1 draw away in Italy) and went 0-1 down to an early #Hamsik goal but came back with 3 of their own to win 3-1 and march through to the group stages. This team will hurt some big teams through the group stages!

And finally, the 4th best Bundesliga team from #Leverkusen pulled off a convincing 4-0 (7-2 agg) against the Danes of #FCCopenhagen to round up the last of the big name qualifiers all awaiting the big draw in #Monaco tomorrow!

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You CAN fall off the floor!

If you haven’t heard of a Club called #MKDons it wouldn’t at all be surprising. They are a Division 3 side in the English League and as a reward for #ManchesterUnited finishing a stellar 7th place last season were awarded a super early #CarlingCup tie at MK Dons. Normally a team like United would never have to play this early in the draw but then these are different times at the once mighty United. That #LVG played his youth and some of his unwanted 1st teamers (that list is everyone except #RVP #Rooney #Mata and #DeGea I would imagine!) is a lame excuse for the humiliation that ensued as the hosts demolished United 4-0 (that’s right FOUR – ZERO) in a tie that will go down in United’s current history of failure, proving Murphy right – you CAN fall off the floor. Turns out that even the kids are not alright!

How Van Gaal and his new £60 mil shiny signing #DiMaria can lift them out of this ongoing poophole will be very interesting to see, given 90% of their problems are in their defense. (or complete lack thereof)

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The Giants of Manchester

A line often used for fallen giants #ManchesterUnited till 2013, now the standard way to describe the brilliance that is #ManchesterCity as they put in yet another complete performance to beat #Liverpool 3-1 at the #Etihad to put down a marker for the season. The only team that can push this team to the end is the new #Chelsea side – but they’ll have to work really really hard to break down a side as near perfect as you can get in just about every position. Great strikers (now they even have #Jovetic healthy and in form as his 2 superbly taken goals today will attest to and #Aguero who can come on with 20 minutes to go and score with his first touch of the ball); a fantastic midfield that’s run by #Silva and marshaled by #Yaya and then a defense that has #Zabaleta and #Clichy flying along the wings while the imperious #Kompany keeps everything under control in the center of defense.

To be fair to #Liverpool they played very well and at times looked the more creative side. But complete they are not. And City showed them exactly what happens when holes appear. The game-changing abilities of #Suarez were sorely missed today and there will be games this season where Liverpool will drop points because they don’t have the ridiculous abilities that their ex biter-in-chief possessed. They’ll still make top 4 though!

In the #LaLiga #RealMadrid started their campaign with a nervy 2-0 win at home over gritty #Cordoba thanks to goals by #Benzema and an off-color #Ronaldo (he’s been off-color for a while now hasn’t he?) while Champions #Atletico will start with battle against #Rayo.

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Mediocrity United

After a 4-0 blitz by #Tottenham over struggling #QPR to record their second win in a row, #LVG and his super average #ManchesterUnited stumbled to a 1-1 draw at the #StadiumofLight as #Sunderland came from behind after a #Mata goal to draw thanks to a combination of shoddy defending and a debut goal for #JackRodwell. It’s the minimum the #BlackCats deserved because they played well against a #RedDevil side that looks as poor as it ever has in the last 20 years. United’s 7 players behind #Rooney #RVP (didn’t help that both were off color today) are all rubbish and wouldn’t make just about any top 10 side in the #EPL as of today. #Fletcher passed the ball to a United player exactly 14 times less than he did to a Sunderland player; #Cleverley was terrible (as he is) and players like #AshleyYoung belong at teams like QPR or Leeds. The back 3 at United for today’s game would not make the starting 11 at most Championship sides and played exactly like that. If this team doesn’t get players like #Vidal #Blind #Benatia #DiMaria and as rumors suggest even *gasp* #DeJong then LVG or not, a top 10 spot will be a great end to the season.

If you are a #RedDevil fan and aren’t worried as much as you’ve ever been for this team, you should start selling whatever you are smoking!

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Chelsea look complete…..

For the first time in quite a few seasons of heavy spending, #Chelsea finally look like the most balanced team in not just the #EPL but possibly all of #Europe. They have 1.5-2 absolutely top players in almost every position that #Mourinho likes to structure his formations in and after another deserved victory (over a very impressive #Leicester) are showing that they are going to be the side to beat (alongside #City) this season. #Costa continues to score (can you remember the last time you heard that about an expensive Chelsea striker??) #Hazard is back to his very best and a midfield that also boasts #Fabregas #Willian #Oscar #Ramirez #Matic #Schurrle just continues to purr along. And #Courtois continues to show why he is the best keeper in the world currently. If #Mourinho doesn’t win silverware this season, he’ll have to be the very #Unspecial one indeed!

On the other hand, #Arsenal look like a team that has little chance of competing with Chelsea and City for the title after a desperate and last minute 2-2 draw with #Everton at #GoodisonPark, if they do not get their heads out of their ‘need to keep buying attacking midfielders’ (just because they are available) and quickly close deals for a top striker (playing #Sanchez as a striker today was oh-so-unproductive and if #Giroud hadn’t come on, this result would have been different) and a good solid defensive midfielder. (Just look at how many attacks #Matic was able to scuttle for Chelsea in the Leicester game.)

The start to the #Bundesliga turned out to be disastrous for high-flying #Dortmund after a shock 0-2 home defeat to #Leverkusen – for some reason this #BVB side just can’t stay focused enough to put away the lesser teams whilst easily beating the mighty #Bayern. #Klopp has work to do on his side if they are to challenge the monopoly of the Bavarians!

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Spain’s big boys – with the small pockets!

Underdogs and current Champions of Spain, #AtleticoMadrid have followed up their #LaLiga 2014 win with an in-control #SpanishSuperCup win over big-spending-superstar-laden #RealMadrid who were completely ‘managed’ by the hard work, organization and technical abilities of the oh-so-impressive #DiegoSimeone ‘s men in red and white. Atleti aren’t going to hand over their La Liga crown easily to either of Real or a #Barcelona side that now has a lot more bite with #Suarez on board now. The 3-horse race in Spain continues with Madrid’s working class team working with class!

#BayernMunich started their #Bundesliga season with a nervy undeserved 2-1 win over #Wolfsburg and as talented as this side is, #Pep’s Bayern just don’t look as lethal and complete as they did under treble-winner #JuppHeynckes 2 seasons ago. It’s early stages though and if they add the likes of #Khedira and/or #Benatia to their ranks before 1st September, they’ll likely be back to being mighty Bayern again. For now though, the yellow and blacks of #Dortmund must think they have a chance at winning the title back if they can stay intact – and healthy.

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Battlers?

No, not in the case of #Arsenal who weren’t able to get an away goal against (relatively) easy #Besiktas and were lucky that they didn’t come away with a 2-3 goal deficit as another insipid performance means they must keep Besiktas at bay in the return leg at the #Emirates (the away goal rule is a bitch). #Sanchez showed flashes of brilliance, young #CallumChambers did a great job containing #DembaBa and the often mediocre #WojciechSzczęsny pulled off 2 or 3 good saves to keep the Gunners in the tie. Hopefully for them, form comes soon when Besiktas head to the Emirates for the return leg, else they’ll be spending the year enjoying the joys of no European Football nights alongside their good mates over at #OldTrafford!

Yes absolutely, in the case of the battlers from #AtleticoMadrid as #DiegoSimeone and his warriors not just held the superstars of #RealMadrid (in the 1st leg of the Spanish Super Cup) to a draw at the #SantiagoBernabeu they managed a 1-1 away goal after new ‘superstar’ Haa-mays #Rodriguez scored his debut goal for the #LosBlancos, which is invaluable given just how much of a fortress their #VicenteCalderon stadium has been in recent years. This was a team that lost their on-loan keeper #Courtois, defender #FelipeLuis and their giant goalscorer #DiegoCosta (all to #Chelsea) but with purchases of #Mandzukic #Griesmann and goalkeeper #Moya Simeone has a new set of battlers all ready to attempt a defense of their #LaLiga title against #Barcelona and Real.

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