Saturday, 10 September 2011

Football – lots of debuts today

So we're back with top-level domestic football after a break for Euro 2012 qualifiers, and it's the first set of matches after the close of the transfer window. This means several players will be making a first appearance for their new club. Arsenal might well be giving four players their debut, although don't rule out late injuries that the club say will just put the player out of action for a week but actually end up sidelining them a month or two. What do they train on at Arsenal, gravel?

Everton-Aston Villa is likely to have the first appearance in English football of Royston Drenthe, tipped for big things when he joined Real Madrid four years ago but arguably not fulfilled those expectations yet. I reckon he's just the kind of player that a strapped for cash club like Everton could do with; potentially fantastic and with something to prove.

Liverpool's trip to Stoke City should also be an interesting one, with Peter Crouch in line to make his Stoke debut against one of his former clubs and Craig Bellamy returning to Liverpool (although it looks like he'll only be a sub). Stoke have done amazingly well since they got into the Premier League in 2008. Their squad is strong, with a few very talented players (like Everton, mainly players who've perhaps not lived up to the hype earlier in their career), and I think they could challenge for seventh place this season.

Finally, I'd love to see Bolton give Man Utd a real fight in today's evening kick-off. Owen Coyle is my tip to be the next-but-one England manager; after Harry Redknapp charms and schmoozes his way to the job but gets shown up as not really very hot tactically. Bolton have done well with their signings and I love Coyle's approach to interviews. He gives real answers, isn't afraid of telling it how it is and doesn't just talk in cliches.

And the great thing is that all these games are taking place on the same day! In fact, Arsenal, Man City, Liverpool, Chelsea and Spurs all play at 3pm. I wonder when that last happened...

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