As the dust from the opening weekend of the Barclays Premier League settles, it’s very much a case of ‘different season, same old story’ as champions Chelsea and last season’s runners-up Manchester United got their campaigns off to a flyer.
The Blues smashed five (twice), seven (twice) and eight in matches on their way to scoring 100 plus goals last season. Coincidently, they never hit six. Well there’s another box ticked as records continue to tumble at Stamford Bridge.
Chelsea well and truly laid down the gauntlet, and you could forgive their rivals if they were left feeling slightly rattled. However, Manchester United, likely to be Chelsea’s main rivals once again, were left unnerved and produced a similar display of class and attacking quality, albeit with fewer goals, against newly-promoted Newcastle.
Whilst the Blues’ and the Red Devils won with insurmountable ease, the rest of their so called ‘rivals’ looked pretenders to their throne as Spurs and Manchester City and then Liverpool and Arsenal could only play out draws.
By doing so, they mirror the last campaign and find themselves playing catch-up already.
Gone are the years where a team could start the season slowly, afford to drop points and still harbour hopes of mounting a title challenge come Christmas, despite being far behind the leaders, with Manchester United proving this many times after memorably chasing down Newcastle and then Arsenal in the late ‘90s.
The Premier League has changed however, especially post Arsenal’s ‘Invincibles’ in 2004 and then Mourinho’s class of 2005 and 2006 at Chelsea. This resulted in Sir Alex Ferguson himself having to raise his game, and the rest is history as United wrapped up the title three years in a row.
It may be early yet, but Chelsea and United have both sent out powerful messages of intent to the rest and it’s clear that both sides are going to take some beating this season.
The power, strength-in-depth and ultimate experience of the aforementioned duo, after having shared the last six Premier League titles, may just pay homage to the often used cliché ‘the cream always rises to the top’.
The views in this article are that of the writer and may not replicate those of the Professional Footballers' Association.
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