What a week it’s been already. We’ve only just started the new season and the blues have taken silverware, made a new signing and sent a message to the rest of the Premier League that they have no intention of giving up their title without a fight.
Wembley Winner Again
Last Sunday, the blues travelled to Wembley for the 15th time since 2011 to face Liverpool in the traditional season curtain raiser. As if anyone needed reminding, the blues finished one point ahead of the Merseysiders to take the Premier League title, much to the dismay of some pundits and media, who wanted more than anything to see Liverpool crowned champions.
Thankfully, it wasn’t to be and the blues winning the treble set up a showdown which people predicted would set the tone for the season. And they could be correct.
The blues put in their usual type of performance in the first half, scoring one and missing a few others, while losing Leroy Sane in the process. The blues conceded an equaliser and Kyle Walker’s last minute goal-line clearance ensured the match went to penalties, which the blues won.
The first half performance was there, but the loss of Sane was a huge blow for the blues. The German had been looked with a move to Bayern Munich, but now it looks highly unlikely that any move will go through until next summer, unless Sane signs a new contract.
But the one thing that stood out was Raheem Sterling. The former Liverpool winger scored his first goal against his old club as he took on the striker’s role, but it was his actions after the match that really caught they eye. After the numerous times Liverpool fans have barracked and booed the City man, Sterling posed for photos and signed autographs with the reds travelling fans.
It was the perfect example of Sterling’s growing maturity, with the winger growing week in, week out, and any youngsters watching will see the perfect role model in front of them.
With the transfer window about to close, City made their long anticipated move for Joao Cancelo from Juventus. It meant Brazilian defender Danilo going in the opposite direction, but City finally got their man. But the Portuguese defender is going to have to dislodge Kyle Walker in that City defence which, after his last two performances, is going to take some doing.
His clearance from Mo Salah’s header saw Walker use exceptional speed, something which City fans haven’t seen before, and that speed would be used again just a week later. Cancelo had a good reputation in Italy and can also play at left back or down the wing, so he will be vital in the coming none months.
Blues Thump Hammers Again
I really feel sorry for West Ham. I like them as a team, I like the total loyalty of their supporters. They are where we were 10-15 years ago; loyal fans but low investment in the team. They have a great manager in Manuel Pellegrini and the board need to give him funds. A team like the Hammers can’t get by playing a full team of home grown players week in, week out and they need the experience. Having said that, the funds spent on this transfer window have been spent wisely, and I don’t think the Hammers will be in the same position as they were last season. It was just a pity they faced the blues on the opening day. Whether the supporters like West Ham or not, the players had a job to do, and they did it in some style.
Liverpool showed a real statement of intent on Friday by thrashing a newly promoted side, a victory that fully underlined their title credentials. A victory that saw them go 4-0 up by half time, yet finish the match by winning 4-1. A real statement of intent! Just give them the trophy now. The blues on the other hand failed to get out of first gear in the first half at London Stadium as West Ham made all the running,. But the home side were undone by the speed of Kyle Walker, outpacing the left back and crossing for Gabriel Jesus to knock home.
The blues coasted in the second half as the Hammer capitulated, despite VAR’s attempt to scupper City’s momentum. A disallowed goal due to Sterling’s shoulder being offside only spurred the blues on further. At 2-0, there was a chance City would say job done, but after that goal was cancelled out, City hit accelerate and blew the Hammers away, with Sterling again leading the way with a hat-trick. The winger missed out on Player of the Year last season. If he continues this form for the next eight months, surely that title will be his come April.
When Is Offside Not Offside?
The rule on offside is clear – you’re either on or you’re off. Well I’m glad that cleared it up. Isn’t that how it’s always been? But after Sterling was flagged offside because his arm was beyond the last defender, it’s obvious that rule need a little more clarity.
When a player is running, or about to start running, the arms are the first to react. You see it all the time in athletics – a split second before the legs move, the arm come up, which is what happened with Sterling. He was anticipating the pass and his arm instinctively went out to start his run, yet the rest of his body was onside.
The call was correct, but the rule is so ridiculously wrong. His arm being a few inches beyond the defender did not give him an advantage in any way and if that’s the tone that VAR will set for the season, we’re going to be talking less about the match and the players and more about VAR. Already people are talking about it and it’s probably only going to get worse.
It’s going to be a long season!
Until next week