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Manchester City is currently top of the Premier League report card but if you’re Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho, you may need to go for extra tuition
Here’s ESPN FC’s report card on the performances of the top clubs over the opening month of the season, in anticipation of this weekend’s fixtures.
Manchester City: A+
Manchester City hasn’t put a foot wrong and sits on the top of the table with four wins from as many matches. After last season’s sometimes lethargic campaign, Manuel Pellegrini’s side has come out with all guns blazing.
The seamless introduction of new signing Raheem Sterling from Liverpool — who opened his league scoring account against Watford before the international break — has been a huge plus for the 2013-2014 champions. He’s already developed a good understanding with striker Sergio Aguero.
Playmaker David Silva, talisman Yaya Toure and captain Vincent Kompany are all back to their best after looking off-colour at times last season.
Prediction: Crystal Palace 1-2 Man City
Manchester United: B
The Red Devils’ effortless progress into the group stages of the UEFA Champions League was followed by their first defeat of the season at unfashionable Swansea City. Despite his hat-trick against Club Brugge in the Champions League playoff, captain Wayne Rooney has gone ten domestic games without scoring, dating back to last season.
Though Louis van Gaal has spent extravagantly, there is still an imbalanced look to United’s squad. A surfeit of defensive midfielders stands in contrast to a lack of attractive options up front and in central defence, not to mention uncertainty about the goalkeeping situation.
The form of Luke Shaw and Chris Smalling has been encouraging but expect more grumpy media conferences from van Gaal in the lead-up to Christmas.
Prediction: Man Utd 2-1 Liverpool
After dazzling critics in preseason, the Gunners have made hard work of almost every game in their Premier League campaign so far. They lost at home to West Ham, were lucky to beat Crystal Palace, and huffed and puffed to a goalless draw with Liverpool before labouring to a 1-0 victory over a Newcastle side reduced to ten men for most of the match.
It’s the same old Arsenal — lovely passing and build-up play, but a lack of potency when it really counts.
They should be capable of securing their usual third or fourth place finish but what about the serious title challenge that was mooted a few weeks ago? That has already proven to be empty talk. Arsene Wenger’s squad remains a couple of world class players short of a championship-winning team.
Prediction: Arsenal 2-1 Stoke
It started so well for Brendan Rodgers’ side. Liverpool safely negotiated an unpleasant opening day trip to Stoke City before getting the job done against newly-promoted Bournemouth. The Week 3 draw at Arsenal was also acceptable.
But a feeble 0-3 home defeat to West Ham — its first to the Hammers since The Beatles’ “She Loves You” was top of the charts in 1963 — has put the Reds in a vulnerable position ahead of a series of hellish road trips to Manchester (twice), Chelsea and Tottenham.
The good news is, Mario Balotelli has gone to AC Milan.
Prediction: Man Utd 2-1 Liverpool
Jose Mourinho can talk all he wants about “fake results” but the reality is that the defending champions have started with just 4 points from a possible 12, despite a relatively easy fixture list so far.
John Terry and Gary Cahill have lost their mojo, Eden Hazard looks like 55-year-old former Chelsea midfielder Micky Hazard and Cesc Fabregas is competing with Wayne Rooney for the disappointment of the league season so far.
Nonetheless, though they are already 8 points behind City, there’s still time for the Blues to turn things around. The squad looks better now that emerging defender Kurt Zouma and on-loan striker Radamel Falcao add a different dimension.
Prediction: Everton 2-2 Chelsea
By Jason Dasey
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