So far so good.....

Published: Monday, 08 October 2018

So as we break for the second time this season, I think we’re beginning to get some idea of how the season is going to unfold.

It’s still very early, but we’re beginning to see some patterns emerge. Of course, there’s enough time yet for some real drama to unfold somewhere - and it will - but there’s some ‘shape’ about the PL now.

The three at the top have been terrific. I expected to see City and Liverpool there - it’s Chelsea that have surprised me. I thought it would take Maurizio Sarri a lot longer to get his team going, but they’ve flown out of the traps. There’s one very good reason why as well - Eden Hazard, who I reckon is the best player in Europe right now. I suppose that might also make him the best player in the world! If that’s the case, then he’s done exactly what Joe Cole told me and Andy he would when he came on our talkSPORT radio programme back in 2011. Joe was playing with Hazard at Lille and said to us ‘the kid will one day be the best player in the world’.

Hazard has been fantastic this season - playing where he always should’ve done - up top causing havoc with his pace and fast feet. Watch how quickly he manipulates a ball. How smartly he gets a shot off with so little effort. He’s clinical. Brilliant. And he’s one of those that you know WILL score when he gets in one-on-one. How Joe must wish he’d been given that role when he was at Chelsea - but Mourinho had him doing what he demanded of Hazard - getting up and down and putting a shift in defending. What a waste.

Anyway, we’ve got 3 unbeaten, with Arsenal and Spurs right on their heels. I’m still not sure what to make of The Gunners. Yes, they’re on a fantastic run, but let’s not forget, they lost their first two - against Chelsea and City - and they haven’t really had a test since. Look, Emery is obviously having an effect, but they still look soft centred to me. Let’s remain positive though - they played some wonderful stuff at Fulham and Ramsey’s goal was a joy - from back to front. His gesture on scoring was interesting. Did you see it? He opened his arms and looked totally puzzled. Was it a message to Emery? Almost certainly. What are Arsenal thinking letting this guy walk away for nothing at the end of the season? It’s madness. A committed, professional, one-club man is so rare these. In Ramsey, Arsenal have got one - and they don’t want to offer him a new deal? It’s crazy.

Spurs have made their best start to a PL season - but I still think they’ll end up being the ‘nearly’ men again. They haven’t got the numbers required to mount a serious challenge.

Despite the win Saturday, United are still in a desperate mess. You know my feelings on Mourinho. I’m so disappointed because I really thought he’d deliver at Old Trafford, but he’s done what he always does. The place is toxic and it’s all his fault. I had my say in my last blog, so let’s leave it there.

Bournemouth have been brilliant so far. What a job Eddie Howe has done. When will someone trust him with a big club I wonder? And Wolves - they’re a great watch right now. Both clubs should finish top half.

Leicester are in and out. So are Watford and Everton, but you can see signs of progress at Goodison. They still desperately need a front man though. As we know, Watford made a really bright start, but we might just have seen the shape of things to come at the weekend.

Burnley are better without the distraction of Europe. I know Sean Dyche said he wanted to have a go at the Europa League, but quietly I reckon he’s pleased to be out of the competition.

Brighton should be ok. Chris Hughton will have set a ‘point a game’ target and they’re spot on again. It was a ploy that served them well last season.

Palace need a result at home or I fear Roy Hodgson will come under the cosh. Mark Hughes will find himself under pressure as well if he doesn’t sort out Southampton’s home form. They were poor v Chelsea. There was no energy. No fight. No ambition. This isn’t all Mark’s fault - there’s been a ‘drift’ at St Mary’s now for quite some time. It is Hughes’ job to sort it out though.

The Hammers are interesting. When they’re at it they’re very good, but I still fear it’ll be a long season. Spending money doesn’t guarantee anything. I would add this - they’re much better with their skipper, Mark Noble, in the side. What a terrific leader he is. A ‘proper’ player as Graeme Souness might say! The problem is that he can’t get about anymore. I mentioned this early season - it means he can’t play alongside Jack Wilshere. He can’t run now either, so you can’t have them both in the same team. Jack’s injury must’ve come as something of a relief to Pellegrini, but what does he do when he’s fit again? I wouldn’t play him. Simple.

Fulham have got to be really careful after Sunday’s beating. Jokanovic needs to find a system that works in the PL. I get the feeling he’s still searching, but time is against him.

Cardiff are down. So are Huddersfield. And that leaves Newcastle. They won’t go down. I was pleased to see Benitez make that same statement this weekend. Fair play to him - they had a really good go at Old Trafford and who knows how it would’ve turned out had they been awarded the pen they were due at 0-2. It was a stick on. As we saw at Anfield - there are no guarantees from the spot, but I’ve said this so often, when you’re in the backyard of the big boys you simply want what you’re due. It was a pen. I’m sure 0-3 would’ve seen them win the game.

One last thing. Why on earth was Antony Taylor in charge at Old Trafford? He lives in Altrincham - 6 miles from the ground. Not for a minute am I suggesting that he was biased - but he’s open to the allegation of favouritism isn’t he? Why did the PGMOL made such a daft decision? There are plenty of other refs who could’ve done the game. I’m confused by the decision making. The PGMOL once stopped Graham Poll taking charge of a game at Arsenal because he lived in Tring - 30 miles away. What’s the policy guys? We all need to know.