Thursday 29 September 2016

The Good, the Bad and the X-Rated..an alternative review of the weekend’s Premier League action

Published 22/08/2016 | 09:57

Here is your alternative Independent.ie view on the weekend’s Premier League action, with heroes, villains and unlikely heroes aplenty under the spotlight.

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HERO OF THE HOUR - Zlatan Ibrahimovic

Friday Night football kicked-off with a bang as Manchester United’s revamped and star-studded line-up eased to a comfortable win against Southampton and one man in particular made the most of the spotlight shining down on him.

The evening started with Sky Sports trying to put a different slant on their generally immaculate coverage, as the lovely Rachel Riley was drafted in to add a little glamour and the not entirely credible Chris Kamara added some on-site madness as he staggered around the Old Trafford dressing rooms. It was a confused show that will need tweaking over the course of this season.

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On the field, Paul Pogba’s second debut at Manchester United following his world record £89m move from Juventus may have been the talking point prior of kick-off, but Zlatan Ibrahimovic is not the type to sit back and allow others to steal the limelight.

So it was no surprise when the veteran Swedish striker scored both of United’s goals in their 2-0 win, ensuring his odds to finish as the Premier League’s leading scorer were trimmed.

A brace for Manchester City’s Sergio Aguero in his side’s win at Stoke cemented his status as favourite in this list, yet Zlatan seems determined to get into the mix for the golden boot after scoring three goals in his first two Premier League games for United.

Updated top scorer odds

Sergio Aguero (Man City) 9/4

Zlatan Ibrahimovic (Man Utd) 4/1

Diego Costa (Chelsea) 10/1

Harry Kane (Tottenham) 12/1

WE’VE BEEN HERE BEFORE - Arsene Wenger

We may only be two games into the new Premier League season, but Arsenal fans have every right to turn on veteran manager Arsene Wenger after his side finished this weekend with just one point to their credit.

Already a full five points adrift of Manchester United, Chelsea and Manchester City, Arsenal’s title hopes for another season are already slipping way and not for the first time, Wenger has to take more than his fair share of the blame for their woes.

After another summer of dithering in the transfer market, Arsenal have headed into this season with a make-shift central defence featuring raw new-boy Rob Holding and a sense that the lack of direction from the man at the top is not harming their hopes of success.

As ever, the loud and brash folk people appear on the always entertaining Arsenal TV YouTube channel gave the most colourful view of the Gunners’ plight after their 0-0 stalemate at Leicester.

 

FALL FROM GRACE - Andre Gray

Burnley goal scorer Andre Gray must have floated off the pitch at Turf Moor after he helped his newly promoted side to a shock 2-0 win against Liverpool on Saturday - but his mood quickly turned dark as he was embroiled in a nasty Twitter spat.

Leicester striker Jamie Vardy was embarrassed by some of his less than articulate tweets from his days as a lower league striker and Gray suffered a similar fate this weekend, with his homophobic message from four years ago resurfacing on Twitter and forcing him into a hasty apology.

Twitter may have become a home for attention seeking nutters, but joining in with the deranged mob is not the best idea if you have any ideas of hitting the big time in sport any time soon.

 

With so many walking away from the troll-dominated Twitter right now, we would not be surprised to see Andre Gray's social media account deleted in the coming days.

PAYING THE PRICE AT THE OLYMPIC STADIUM

As West Ham broke new ground by opening the doors at London’s 2012 Olympic Stadium for their first Premier League match, the pretty dire action on the pitch their 1-0 win against Bournemouth far less interesting than the events off the field.

With West Ham only getting a fraction of the money generated by the sale of food and drink at their new rented home, prices for what appeared to be pretty basic pre-match meals cause a few visitors by surprise, with £7.20 for a sausage and chips and £8.50 for fish and chips adding to the cost of a trip to the revamped stadium.

— Andre Gray (@AndreGray7) August 20, 2016
 

The first £500,000 of revenue from catering at each game goes to the stadium owners, with West Ham on a 70/30 split of profits after that, so that might explain the extravagant prices.

Meanwhile, the empty seats in evidence for a high profile first match at their new home did not bode well for the club's boasts that they would sell out the stadium each and every week. It also seemed that some parts of the stadium were not even complete.

 

AND FINALLY….That team photo

All appeared to be well as a jubilant Middlesborough team posed for the now traditional dressing room photo after their fine 2-1 win against local rivals Sunderland at the Stadium of Light.

After a sparkling couple of goals from striker Cristhian Stuani, the Uruguayan forward excitedly tweeted a message to toast a breakthrough win for the newly promoted Boro.

What he missed in his initial tweet was the unfortunate pose taken up by Boro star Adam Clayton, who was struggling to keep all his assents under wraps in an image that was quickly retweeted time and again begore it was deleted by an embarrassed Stuani.

— Cristhian Stuani (@CristhianStuani) August 21, 2016  

TEAM OF THE WEEK

There were some unlikely heroes emerging from a weekend of unpredictable Premier League action and here is our Independent.ie team of the week, with an attack-minded 3-4-3 formation:

Eldin Jakupovic (Hull)

Ben Mee (Burnley)

John Stones (Man City)

Rob Holding (Arsenal)

Paul Pogba (Man Utd)

Tom Huddlestone (Hull)

Cesc Fabregas (Chelsea)

Raheem Sterling (Man City)

Sergio Aguero (Man City)

Zlatan Ibrahimovic (Man Utd)

Cristhian Stuani (Middlesbrough)

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