Except, it seems, for Manchester United, who- much as they did last season- looked largely unremarkable and yet triumphed by virtue of a spectacular contribution by Robin Van Persie. David Moyes has demonstrated all the elan of Derek Trotter in this summer's transfer market, leaving the club almost entirely unimproved following an impossible pursuit of Cesc Fabregas, whilst seemingly allowing the prodigiously gifted Thiago Alcantara to join Bayern Munich without a fight.
Despite their loss, the Swans will feel little shame in being undone by Van Persie- who is less a mere striker than a post-Van Basten force of nature at present- however, the defence will take some time to live down conceding two goals to Danny Welbeck. "House Party" equaled his entire goal tally for last season with a brace- which may never be seen again in the Premier League- and makes Swansea City early season candidates for "The Stuart Hall Award" for footballing shame. The imaginatively nicknamed "Welbz" completed the 4-1 win with what appeared to be an insouciant lob of keeper Michel Worm, but was in fact a misplaced cross to no one in particular at the back post. Otherwise, signings or not, business looks like it will continue very much as usual at Old Trafford.
|On the slide|
|Wizard of Oz|
Across North London, things have entered "Football Manager" mode as Spurs, so renowned for their "cautious" approach to spending have released the purse strings in spectacular fashion. They took a hard-earned one-nil win over newly promoted Palace whose manager, Ian Holloway, went "full Ian Holloway" in his first post-match interview, and was then charged by the FA for criticisms levelled at the referee for awarding an obvious penalty. Spurs have already bought well this summer, and only the possibility of Daniel Levy turning Gareth Bale's outgoing transfer into the sort of dick-swinging contest he favours when it comes to selling prized assets could scupper Spurs' Champions League ambitions. But with Bale set to leave for a record fee and both Willian and Lamela earmarked as replacements, for the first time since the Premier League began, Tottenham may not be far away from the title itself.
Elsewhere in London, Sam Allardyce, despite spending freely, displayed typical daring in starting exactly none of his new signings. Although, this side were comfortable victors over newly promoted Cardiff who, having cleared a £60m debt, have begun accumulating a new one with several marquee signings, in what could be the most expensive relegation battle in history.
Manchester City, as expected, took their billion dollar team to Newcastle and eviscerated poor Alan Pardew's flaky French side. The storm-clouds have been gathering over St. James Park for over 18 months now, and were not improved when Arsenal's bid for the improbably highly rated Yohan Cabaye- or "Kebab" as he was christened by cockney Jonah, Joe Kinnear- unsettled the player sufficiently that he was left out of the side. It's unlikely he would have improved the result, however, and the vultures are already circling in the North East prior to what will inevitably be a messy demise.
|Yohan Cabaye et frites|
The Respectful One landed back in West London to be greeted with the sort of reverie that would have befitted a medieval Pope. Chelsea continued their pre-season against Hull City, whom they had beaten midway through the first half, and kicked back on their sun-loungers for the remainder of the game. The match was notable for a "bending" free kick from OPTA king Frank Lampard, who continues to demonstrate that a long career at the top level is possible for any man willing to hit the ball as hard and as often as he can at the opposition goal.
|"Good luck, Rafa."|
Yes, football is back, roll on the summer.