Sorry for the late report. Woke up with the sort of hangover you can only get from a bender with Greaves and Best at the height of their powers. Not that I had one of those. Too many footballers on orange juice these days. But I’m older now and the kebab was still moving when I left the shop, which may have played a part.
Anyway, partying like it’s the 1960s, Spurs players enjoyed a sober glass of mineral water or two to mark their winning start to the season. They laboured to their away win against West Ham, but three out of three is their best start since the won the double, and this early in the season their fans can dream big. Sitting unexpectedly top of the table, young idiot hacks have even started researching the greats of the game that once took points home to White Hart Lane by right.
Their closest rivals for the title, as it were, are now Chelsea, who for the third time this season were well worth their unspectacular win. Drogba and Anelka seem to work well together after far too long being wasted in poor formations. Their two goals sunk Fulham, and although like Spurs bigger tests remain, Chelsea are the only regular contender at this stage who look secure right across the park.
Similarly untested, Arsenal have won two games, a week apart, against woeful opposition in the form of Portsmouth. Their side strolled to an easy four goals, and survived a scare when everyone expected a foul on the keeper that never happened. They remain flowing, elegant and fast. But there is still some way to go before the Gunners’ thin squad proves itself twice a week amid the normal run of injuries.
United have not yet impressed in the defence of their title, and for half the game against Wigan both sides could have scored three. Only in the second half did the Red devils finally look like a top side, hitting the back of the net five times, twice through Rooney.
And if Rooney’s side are contenders, then the team they were beaten by in midweek can, at least on points, contend too. Burnley won at home 1-0 again, repeating against Everton the professional victory they claimed over the champions. Everton lacked invention and belief, and have been abject early on the in the campaign. Even Saha barely looked like he wanted the penalty that he wastefully hooked wide.
Monday night saw the end of Liverpool’s role as a leading light in the title race. Before the campaign started we all knew that injuries to Torres and Gerrard would leave them woefully short against organised sides. As it turns out, even with both of them fit and healthy they have been taken apart by Spurs and now Villa. Martin O’Neil’s side was hardly impressive as they required a penalty and an own goal from a free-kick to seal the deal. But that was more than enough for an Anfield away win.
Elsewhere, and largely towards the wrong end of the table, Birmingham drew a dismal game against Stoke, Sunderland defeated Blackburn, and Hull beat Bolton.
And finally, with an outside shot at the title that now looks less ‘outside’ than Liverpool’s, Manchester City should have filled their boots against Wolves. Some profligate shooting and far too much showboating meant that in the end they relied on near misses from the Premier League’s newcomers to secure a 1-0 win.
Of course winning when you don’t perform is no bad thing, so long as it isn’t a habit. And with none of the top sides fully tested, their fans can all still dream, all be it only fancifully in most cases.