The life of a Diarist is one of constant reflection and regret. We spend our lives wracked with self-doubt, forever questioning our own work. Was that joke at Olivier Giroud’s expense really justified? Was that swipe at John Terry’s dignity really acceptable? Could we really eat a twelfth squid ink arancino?
Obviously, in those three examples the answers are: yes, yes, and yes. But sometimes, dear readers, the answer is “no.” We get things wrong. Well, not “wrong;” we get things right, but then the universe lets us down. This is a world of infinite possibilities, after all, and sometimes the Great Dickie Dawkins In The Sky picks the wrong one.
Here, then, based on two weeks of the season so far, are a few things that we might have got wrong about this Premier League season. Might. There’s plenty of time left, after all, and if history shows us one thing, it’s that we’re always right in the end. Or at least, we’re always insisting that we’re right long past the point at which anybody else cares, and that’s the real quiz.
Leicester City might not be completely shafted
We don’t think we were alone in this one. Nigel Pearson, the Platonic form of the vindictive English PE teacher, gone. Esteban Cambiasso, delightful midfield presence, gone. And by way of a replacement for the former, charged with coping with the absence of the latter, only Claudio Ranieri! The Tinkerman! Last seen on these shores being smiled and backpatted out of the Chelsea job; last coming to the world’s attention after managing Greece to a defeat at the hands of the Faroe Islands.
Obviously, two games is a mere fraction of the season, even if they’ve resulted in two wins and six precious points. But what’s been noticeable about those wins is a continuation of the ‘defend doggedly, attack quickly’ policy that saw them stay up last season. It’s hard to imagine two more different people than Nigel Pearson and Claudio Ranieri: if the latter ever asks a journalist if he’s an ostrich, he’ll be doing so out of genuine curiosity. Or medical concern. But Leicester’s players ran and worked and won for Pearson, and they’re doing the same for Ranieri.
Now, as for Sunderland … oh dear.
Everton might not find themselves squeezed out of the mezzanine
If two weeks into the season is too early to be saying anything with much confidence, then it’s certainly too early to be sending a banner over a stadium. After all, with things still so unformed and unpredictable, you might end up sending your protest through the air at the same time as the team in question, in need of all those sweeping changes, is playing really well. And wouldn’t you look silly then, banner people? Well, sillier.
That said, it was easy to be worried about Everton this season. While those around it have been splashing their money on continental glamour — Andre Ayew! Xherdan Shaqiri! Yohan Cabaye! — Everton has been so circumspect that, frankly, it’s been a little embarrassing. What is the Premier League for, if not the willy-nilly distribution of television squillions to the poor, underfunded leagues of Europe? We don’t know the answer, but we’re fairly sure it’s not “picking up Tom Cleverley on a free.”
But The Brand was decent enough, Ross Barkley was great, and Romelu Lukaku was in one of those unplayable-to-the-point-that-Manchester-United-will-almost-certainly-try-to-buy-him-in-January moods.
This season is shaping up to be the one that answers the question of whether Roberto Martinez is actually any good, and on this evidence, it looks like that might be another “yes.” Such positivity on a Monday. You lucky people.
Chelsea might not canter to another league title
It’s worth remembering that Chelsea started last season looking, at least in defense, like a bit of a mess. It conceded to Burnley on the opening day — one of only 28 goals that the Clarets managed all season — then shipped three to Everton and two to Swansea in games three and four.
However, it also won all those games. This time around, it’s conceded five in two games (or six in three, if you count the Charity Shield, which nobody does, which is why it’s in brackets) and has picked up just one point. It’s only scored two goals, and one of those was an accident.
Early days, of course, and it’s impossible to tell whether this is down to something fundamentally wrong, or just one of those odd runs of poor form and bad luck. Perhaps the focus will return and the talent will assert itself. Perhaps it’ll be top by Christmas.
It is weird, though, and made all the weirder by Jose Mourinho’s decision to alter his personal brand from “mysterious master of mental manipulation” to “sad bellend.” (There will be those that argue that this happened a while ago. They might have a point.) Add to that the very amusing, apparently tactical decision that John Terry’s John Terryness wasn’t capable of handling Manchester City’s attack, and the ingredients are all in place for something explosive. If Mourinho were a volcano, then townsfolk would be throwing their possessions onto the back of a pick-up truck and desperately looking around for the family labrador.
Olivier Giroud might actually be quite good
HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA. Not a chance.