The 2008-2009 campaign kicked off yesterday with a few surprises. Here are five observations from the Premiership pitch:
1. Torres delivers.
After Spain’s dramatic Euro 2008 Championship, the always confident Fernando Torres looked into Sky Sports’ camera and declared that he would help Liverpool to this season’s title. He backed up those words with action by scoring a dramatic winner in the 83rd minute at Sunderland’s Stadium of Light. Sunderland’s squad, bolstered by Keane’s summer signings, played with passion against the Big Four club and deserved to take a point from the match.
2. Geovanni, with increased playing time, will also deliver.
Due to injuries and practice inconsistencies, the 28-year-old attacking midfielder rarely saw the starting XI with Manchester City last season. When he did find his way onto the pitch, he often delivered. City fans will never forgot his goal in the first derby match with United last season. The Brazilian will not disappoint if given a proper amount of playing time.
3. It took the Potters 23 years to return to the top flight.
A good bit has changed since the mid-80s and Stoke City looked lost for long stretches during the club’s first Premiership match. If Bolton can put 3 on the board (and it should have been 4 or 5 goals scored), Stoke is going to be in serious trouble when the face the top clubs. How many will the Rooney and company score when United hosts Stoke? I say at least five.
4. Is Dean Ashton finally healthy?
West Ham played against the MLS All-Stars in Toronto this past July. One player who stood out for West Ham was forward Dean Ashton. The 24-year-old has battled a list of injuries over the years, but he finally looked healthy clearly evidenced by his brace against Wigan in the first half. As the second half began, disaster once again found Ashton and he limped off with an apparent calf injury. Will he ever be healthy enough to showcase his skills for club and country?
5. David Wheater has arrived.
Middlesbrough’s David Wheater is yet another English centre back to praise. The defender kept Tottenham’s attack under control for long stretches yesterday. He also turned into an opportunist scoring his club’s first goal after a series of crosses and deflections. Keep a close eye on him this season.