The season’s underway, so what have we learned so far?
We’re a couple of weeks into the new season and already we’re beginning to see how things are likely to pan out.
Manchester United are looking ominously good, and with the likely return of Swedish superstar Zlatan Ibrahimovic only a matter of days away, they’re looking like serious contenders this season. The prospect of a strike partnership between Ibrahimovic and Romelu Lukaku should send shivers down the spines of defenders throughout the Premier League.
My pick of Lukaku to finish top scorer will look even stronger as a result, too. With Zlatan occupying defenders and generally just being Zlatan, that will free up space for the big Belgian to get his fill of goals. I was confident of a big season before, but if Zlatan arrives expect 20+ goals for Lukaku this season.
Manchester City are going to be there or thereabouts, too. They’ve strengthened in the areas they needed most – in wide defensive areas – and in Sergio Aguero and Gabriel Jesus have some serious firepower up top. If Pep has them purring by the middle of September, expect them to run United close.
Defending champions Chelsea will always be strong, but with behind-the-scenes turmoil involving the exiled Diego Costa and uncertainty hanging over manager Antonio Conte, it’s possible the Blues’ off-field issues could undermine their on-field challenge. Right now, I’m not convinced they’ll outgun the two Manchester clubs over the full season.
Elsewhere in London, Tottenham look like they’ll be strong again but don’t seem quite strong enough defensively to go all the way, while Arsenal are, well, Arsenal. When they’re at their best Arsene Wenger’s side will play the prettiest football in the Premier League, as they often do. But they still lack the backbone needed to sustain a 38-game title challenge. Until that changes Champions League qualification will be the best Gunners fans can hope for in from their Premier League season.
Looking for home comforts
Elsewhere in football, my own team Gillingham have started terribly, and, so I’m told, currently have the worst shots to shots-on-target ratio in English football. Our current record doesn’t make for pretty reading. Four games played, one draw (on opening day) and three consecutive defeats. Goals scored: zero.
The Gills also have the unenviable stat of being the ONLY club in the English Football League not to score a goal so far this season.
A lack of quality up front and a complete absence of any creativity makes Gillingham a very handy team to follow if you’re a bettor on lower division English football.
Last weekend against MK Dons we managed one shot on target, a weak ‘pea-roller’ of an effort inside the first 45 seconds. But salvation was handed on a plate in the game’s dying moments when, with the Gills losing 1-0, they were awarded a last-gasp penalty kick…
Put simply, if you score against the Gills right now, you beat them. I hope that trend changes soon, as I’m at Gills v Southend on Saturday.
Traditionally Gillingham have always been strong at our Priestfield Stadium home, but with an attack looking as toothless as my 10-week-old daughter, I’m not convinced a turnaround is coming any time soon.
I hate to say it as it’s my own club, but back the away win this weekend.
[Photo Credit: Football.ua]