Ten Things the Premier League taught us this week…

We bring you the ten things the Premier League taught us this week as round two gets underway:

1. Arsenal desperately need a goal scorer. Two 0-0 draws in a row isn’t exactly a crisis, but the murmurs of discontent are slowly starting to come to the surface again at the Emirates.

2. Their North London rivals aren’t faring too much better either. AVB needs to draw a line under the Luka Modric saga, invest in his Tottenham side and get their campaign underway.

3. Eden Hazard is proving those doubters wrong pretty quickly. Looked superb again against Newcastle and seems like he might be the man to get the best out of Fernando Torres as well.

4. Leaving Wayne Rooney on the bench was a big statement of intent from Sir Alex Ferguson. Now he’s injured, the talisman needs to work hard and prove he’s still number one at Old Trafford.

5. For such traditionally bad starters, David Moyes’s men seemed to have discovered a new brand of Weetabix. Sensational from the Toffees and in Marouane Fellaini, they have the star performer of the season so far.

6. Michael Laudrup’s boys are certainly raising a few eyebrows at the top of the Premier League. His brand of football is even more eye-catching than Brendan Rodgers.

7. Arise Raheem Sterling. Liverpool have unleashed their new superstar on the Premier League and to what effect! The hype surrounding the 17-year-old will be enormous now, but Rodgers needs to manage him effectively to help him develop.

8. Manchester City are seemingly incapable of playing out a boring game. The defence is at sixes and sevens and Mancini needs to strengthen his squad before the deadline shuts. Carlos Tevez looks back on his game though.

9. Wigan have made a bright start to the season and for once in their history, two of their strikers scored in the same game! Perhaps Martinez and his men could avoid the perennial ‘must win all our games in the last three months to survive’ routine this time around.

10. Norwich are looking likely candidates for the second syndrome award under Chris Hughton. Short on quality, this year could be a long haul for them.

Ten Things we learnt from the Premier League this week…

The Premier League season is back with a bang thanks a cracking round of opening games (with Manchester United and Everton still to come). A couple of 5-0 routs made the opening Match of the Day an enjoyable experience, while Liverpool’s woes continue even under Brendan Rodgers. We recommence our ten things we’ve learnt to bring you the most important parts of this week’s action:

1. Different manager, same result. If you thought Liverpool were bad last season under Kenny Dalglish, then watch Brendan Rodgers’s first game in charge. It’s only early doors, but Kenny must be sat somewhere wondering what on earth he did wrong…

2. QPR’s defence looks less watertight than the Titanic’s hull with a great ruddy hole in it. Mark Hughes has some serious work to do, shipping five goals at home.

3. So Olivier Giroud and Lukas Podolski will replace Robin Van Persie adequately with their goals will they? Not on this evidence. It was same old Arsenal, 70% possession with no finishing touch. How RVP will be missed.

4. Michael Laudrup could have pulled out the best bargain of the summer in paying £2 million quid for Michu. Two fantastic goals added to a classy performance. Just shows you don’t have to spend big to find the right man.

5. Who needs Clint Dempsey? Fulham leave out their top scorer and manage to bag five anyway! Let him leave if he’s going to be a disruptive influence.

6. Alan Pardew, temper, temper! If that was a player, the whole world would be in uproar. In fact, Paolo Di Canio almost got shot for something similar years and years ago.

7. Expect to see plenty of 1-0 wins for West Ham this season. Nitty, gritty is exactly how Sam Allardyce likes it.

8. There’s going to be goals watching Manchester City. Defensively, they don’t look with it, but that frontline has an astonishing array of talents. And the whole club breathed a sigh of relief after learning Sergio Aguero is OK.

9. Eden Hazard made the perfect start to his Premier League career. Can’t ask for any more than two assists in six minutes. Need plenty more of them to justify that price tag.

10. Reading fans better hope Adam Federici has got his Premier League blunder out of the way for the year. Goalkeeping like that will definitely ruin the Royals’ chances of staying up this season.

10 things we learnt from England vs. Italy

1. There are two things that are certain in life. One is that you will die. The other is that England will lose on penalties.

2. Let’s face it, England deserved to go home. The Italians completely outclassed them and had three times as many chances. How they didn’t seal it before the final whistle is beyond belief.

3. England’s defenders can be proud of themselves. Terry and Lescott stood firm and blocked anything that came towards them. And Glen Johnson has dispelled all myths that he is allergic to defending.

4. Closing down. Two words I’m fairly sure weren’t mentioned in the England team talk before or during the game. If they were, the players failed to understand them. Letting Andrea Pirlo play in his smoking jacket was possibly the worst tactical move ever.

5. Speaking of Pirlo, it’s interesting to note that England have exactly the same sort of player sat at home who dominates games and sprays passes across the pitch left, right and centre. He may be a couple of years older than Pirlo but who’s to say he couldn’t have produced the same effect. Yep, I’m sure Paul Scholes would have suited England’s plans perfectly this tournament.

6. Wayne Rooney and Ashley Young were both woefully off colour. Never seen the pair of them give the ball away so much in my life. When two thirds of your attacking thrust performs like that, what chance do you have?

7. Andy Carroll gets an admiring nod in his direction. Won his headers and looked a genuine threat when he came on. Hopefully for him, this will kick start his Liverpool career as well.

8. Credit must go to Steven Gerrard. He may have spent most of the game chasing Italian shadows in midfield, but he’s answered those critics that say he doesn’t perform at major tournaments.

9. England are genuinely a quarter final team. They are not in the same calibre internationally as the likes of the Italians, the Germans or the Spanish. It’s sad to admit, but obvious to see.

10. All in all, the tournament can be regarded as a success. England were given little hope coming into Euro 2012 and Hodgson has fostered a good team spirit that can only improve. The likes of Oxlade-Chamberlain and Jack Wilshere will soon be established in England’s midfield so the future is also bright. It’s hard to feel disheartened unlike previous years. Bring on Brazil.

10 things we learnt from England vs. Ukraine

1. Two yards or twenty yards, they all count and Rooney’s header looks mighty pretty at the moment from where I’m sitting.

2. Who needs goal line technology…?

3. Steven Gerrard is Captain Magnificent. Three assists in three games and producing arguably his best form in an England shirt since that famous night in Munich.

4. England need Rooney to show far more next Sunday than he did tonight. By his standards, his finishing was fairly woeful and his link-up play poor. But he scored the winner, so forgive and forget eh!

5. In the respective matches, the French were the better side, the Swedes were the better side and the Ukrainians were the better side. Yet England ended up as group winners. Go fathom.

6. For all his huffing and puffing, James Milner just hasn’t performed to a level required for international football. England have Walcott or Oxlade-Chamberlain chomping at the bit on the bench offering far better attacking options. Unleash!

7. The England defence looked far more stretched than at any other point in the tournament. Joe Hart made a couple of terrific stops to keep the Three Lions in the game.

8. If England give Andrea Pirlo as much time and space in midfield as the Ukrainians got, he will pick them apart. Shut them down higher up the pitch, not just outside the penalty area.

9. You can criticise John Terry all you like, but he is the master of last-ditch defending. Defines the phrase ‘body on the line.’

10. The Italians are certainly beatable. For the first time in the tournament, BELIEVE!

10 Things we learnt from England vs. Sweden

1. Boring, predictable and conservative. Three words used to describe Roy Hodgson’s first three games in charge. Who’s saying that now?

2. Major tournament after major tournament we hear about how our national team has no bottle. Well, this outfit has more bottle than Charlie Sheen’s liquor cabinet.

3. Theo Walcott, take a bow. I’m sure you’ll go back to the anonymous headless chicken we’re all so used to in the next match, but what a splendid cameo.

4. Danny Welbeck is rapidly maturing into a striker of some quality. Always offers a threat to the opposition defence and that finish showed a touch of class as well. Given Hodgson a serious selection headache.

5. The defence looked assured for the vast majority of the game but any time a cross came into the box we looked suspect. Better organisation needed from set pieces.

6. Fair play to Andy Carroll, he got his chance and took it with both hands. For a man who’s suffered as much criticism as him this season, he’s done well to bounce back. Price tag is still ridiculous but there won’t be many questioning his squad inclusion this morning. Credit where credit’s due.

7. Glen Johnson has been England’s player of the tournament. That crucial late tackle on Rasmus Elm shows how much he’s developed defensively. More of the same please.

8. England look a much better outfit when Steven Gerrard gets on the ball and takes control. The skipper showed signs of grabbing the game by the scruff of the neck in a similar fashion to what he does for Liverpool. And that’s two superb assists to his name as well now.

9. Ashley Young has been a tad disappointing. Considering he went into the tournament as England’s in form player, the weight of expectation may be too much. Yet to deliver.

10. Why can’t England ever defend a lead at a major tournament? Every other country seems capable of shutting out games in a calming fashion. It’s never an easy ride watching the Three Lions.

10 Things we learnt from England vs. France

1. Despite the obvious disappointment of conceding an equaliser, let’s be honest, who wouldn’t have taken a 1-1 draw before kick off…

2. Drawing with France means England are undoubtedly going to win the competition now? Isn’t that what a journalist is meant to say?

3. England look superbly organised at the back. The French showed no signs of really tearing them apart and resorted to shots from range. Which worked instead of course.

4. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain showed superb composure for a man (or should I say child) of his age. Glimpses in attack, but held his defensive position extremely well also.

5. The Welbeck and Young combination had a few ‘nearly’ moments. Promising signs for the next couple of weeks.

6. The two best players for the respective sides came on the right flanks. Glen Johnson was excellent, silencing the critics who question his defensive abilities while France’s Mathieu Debuchy was easily the best player on the pitch.

7. We spent all season complaining about foreign refs who blow up at the slightest bit of contact and now we complain when one doesn’t. Wish it had been the same for both sides though.

8. To blame Joe Hart for that goal is slightly unfair. It came through a crowd of players and it seems he was unsighted. We’re just used to his exceptionally high standards. We always have Rob Green in reserve of course…

9. Although Gerrard and Parker ran themselves into the ground, they’re just playing too deep. England need Gerrard bursting through the middle. He’s far less effective as a deep-lying playmaker.

10. In conclusion, this was just a typical opening game. Cagey, pretty dull and a perfectly acceptable result. Bring on Sweden.

Ten Things We Learnt from England vs. Belgium…

  1. Hope you’ve got cups of tea and night blankets ready for watching the Three Lions this summer. It’s going to be one almighty snoozefest.
  1. Defensively, England look superb. We have the best left back in the world, one of the best goalkeepers and the other three appear none too shabby either. Whether this will last from Glen Johnson, who knows…
  1. England really are going to miss Gareth Barry. (Can’t believe I’ve just written that!) Having him in there would free up Steven Gerrard who is spending too much time tackling back and protecting the back four with Scott Parker. Let him loose Roy!
  1. Andy Carroll or Danny Welbeck? Two months ago this would have been a ridiculous question, but Carroll looks in decent touch and for the style England are going to play, Carroll could suit the role down to the ground. Welbeck did his chances no harm either though, what a lovely finish!
  1. Why, oh why did Rooney have to kick someone in Montenegro? England are a completely different outfit with him on the field. Obviously. Let’s hope we’re still in with a chance when it comes to the Ukraine game.
  1. We need to utilise the wide men more. Whoever plays out there (except Stewart Downing) offers pace, width and the ability to frighten defenders, be it Oxlade-Chamberlain, Walcott or Young. Get them running at people.
  1. Ashley Young is key to England’s chances this summer. For a man fighting for a first team spot at Old Trafford, he’s been superb in the colours of his country. His link-up play with the midfield and strikers is spot on and he’s also our best chance of grabbing a goal.
  1. At least Hodgson has a set game plan that gives us a chance of winning games. That’s one step ahead of Capello in South Africa. We may criticise it now, but if it wins us the Euros, who’ll be complaining then!
  1. Just one thing though. We’re not bloody Greece. Stop talking about the bloody Greeks. We should be ashamed to compare ourselves to them as the ‘surprise package.’ Our odds are 16-1, not 150-1. And the competition is significantly stronger in 2012 than 2004.
  1. For the record, Eden Hazard is over-rated. That’s one seriously expensive ego Chelsea are buying. Have a worrying feeling this one may come back to bite them on the bum.