If ever there was a weekend that defined the current state of English football, this is it. It's fairly safe for me to say that I would gladly place my entire sum of tuition fees on the top four including Man City, Man United, Liverpool and Chelsea. In which order? I'm not that careless with my money.
There is a case for saying that the weekend's results benefited Liverpool the most. With a comfortable 3-1 win over Bolton giving Dalgish some vindication for the signings of Henderson and Adam, the Anfield hype machine could have gone into overdrive, and the media could have been swept away with the belief that the title was their's for the taking. Thanks to the twin Manchester blitzes of yesterday though, Liverpool can continue to improve under the radar somewhat, and will remain probably the rank outsiders of my new aformentioned big 4.
Chelsea also recorded a 3-1 win, against newly promoted Norwich City. While Villas-Boas hasn't got off to the swashbuckling start many predicted back in May, let's not forget he is working with largely the same squad that was deemed too old for title success by many pundits. They will definitely put up a strong challenge again this year, and I will be shocked if they do not add some new blood before Wednesday night to bolster this.
However, I will be even more shocked if Arsene Wenger does not add more to his Arsenal squad than Park Chu-Young. It would be a greater shock than if I handled a live wire while sitting in an electric chair. For if Wenger does not take drastic action, he may find himself in the same position Roy Hodgson found himself last season - a sitting duck, waiting to be put out of his misery. Teams are no longer scared of Arsenal. It has got to the point where I am wondering whether a 0-0 draw for my own Newcastle on the opening day was as good a result as I had previously thought. If I was Wenger I would do all that was in my power to hyjack Tottenham's move to sign Scott Parker. How hard can it be? The current deal is being done between two fellow London clubs.
Scott Parker would not neccesarily solve Arsenal's problems on his own. But it is more likely to have an effect than doing absolutely nothing. The 8-2 defeat at Old Trafford was the end result of several months of stagnation. A few injuries and suspensions leads you to playing a 19 year-old at right-back, and his inexperience and frustration getting him sent off. And don't get me started on their bench....
For Manchester United, two free-kicks and a penalty for Rooney gave him his sixth hat-trick in red colours. He probably won't get a simpler one. In fact, United will probably never get an easier 8-2 win. I have a sneaky suspicion Sir Alex will be more concerned by the two goals his side let in than the eight scored, as there will be far stiffer tests to come. It was also a welcome sight to see him back on BBC cameras, as he switches the target of his anger from the BBC to the FA...
As for the noisy neighbours of Man City, they gave an arguably even more impressive performance against Spurs, who were admittedly quite flat and lacking in inspiration. Edin Dzeko will be right up thee challenging for the golden boot this year, and he showed Peter Crouch how to play the target man role with a bit of guile and finesse. The City midfield is beginning to ressemble a fantasy football line-up, and the addition of Nasri and Aguero to last season's impressively functional line-up will surely add the style that was lacking. The Manchester derbys are already ones to circle in the calendar..
I would like to also give a special mention to Wigan Athletic. Their football against QPR (I know, I know...) was of a quality that will surely see them finish relatively securely in mid-table... that's if they an add a more consistent cutting edge. Di Santo certainly provided that this week!