The international break has provided football fans with an opportunity to reflect on the opening seven weeks of the Premier League. With England’s Top Flight set to return to action this weekend, perhaps some of the talking points and other perplexities will begin to unravel.
Will Everton be able to turn their fortunes around?
At the start of the season, positivity was oozing out of Goodison Park. This was not just down to Roberto Martinez’s infectious nature, but also that they appeared as well equipped as they ever have been for a Premier League campaign. Youngsters Ross Barkley and John Stones had penned new deals over the summer, and they had signed Romelu Lukaku on a permanent deal – the Belgian becoming the Toffees’ record signing.
However things didn’t quite go according to plan. Everton are currently 17th, their only victory coming against West Brom. This was also the only game Lukaku has managed to find the net as the striker has struggled to make an impact. Evertonians can take some comfort from the fact that this may just be the symptoms of a difficult start, having faced Manchester United, Chelsea, Arsenal and Liverpool in their opening fixtures. They can also look forward to the return of Ross Barkley, who was instrumental for the side last season with his driving runs from midfield who has recently returned to training. Unfortunately Everton do still have injury worries, with Kevin Mirallas and John Stones suffering long term injuries in recent weeks. With a seemingly easier run of games coming up and key players set to regain match fitness, they might just have enough in the locker to start climbing the league table.
Can anybody stop Chelsea?
Thanks largely to the additions of Cesc Fabregas and Diego Costa to his side, Jose Mourinho’s Chelsea are currently sitting at the top of the table. With six wins from seven games, the London club have only dropped points during a 1-1 draw with Manchester City, who appear to be their closest rivals for the title. Boasting tremendous strength in depth (any side that can afford to keep Petr Cech and Andre Schurrle on the bench must be doing something right) there appears to be no chink in Chelsea’s armour. With tough games against Manchester United and Liverpool on the horizon, we may be about to see what the Stamford Bridge outfit are really made of.
Can Swansea and Southampton keep up their fantastic start?
With the departure of Mauricio Pochettino, there were a few murmurs going around that Southampton could be relegation candidates. Suffering from the departures of Luke Shaw, Adam Lallana and Rickie Lambert, the Saints appeared to have a considerably weaker lineup than the one gracing St Mary’s last season. Despite this, new manager Ronald Koeman has led his side to third in the league, his decision to stand firm and prevent Morgan Schneiderlin from heading to Arsenal proving to be instrumental.
Swansea City have also managed to exceed all expectations, currently sitting in fifth place. When looking for their new manager last season they chose to promote from within, somewhat of an oddity in this day and age, and their former captain Garry Monk took the helm. He has gone on to take the start of this season in his stride, aided by the return of Gylfi Sigurdsson to the Liberty Stadium, an inspired purchase.