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All Things Footie | Monday, August 19 | Jordan

Business As Usual

Don't Saturday afternoons just feel right again? It has to have been the first Premiership weekend without a shock result that I can remember (unless you consider Fulham whipping Bolton a shock), but there was still plenty of action on offer.

Ole Gunnar Solkjær scored his 100th goal for Manchester United against a stubborn West Bromwich Albion side. To begin the new season with a point at home against a freshly promoted club would not have been acceptable for United and once again the Norwegian saved the Red Devil's blushes. Albion cannot be accused of trying to play football and United had to fight hard to break down their stubborn resistance. It's going to be a long and boring season for the Baggies if they carry on in this fashion and if a team score early against them it's going to be cricket scores.

Birmingham City however, cannot be accused of the same thing. They really played football against Arsenal yesterday, and despite losing 2-0 they had the better of the play for patches of the game. That said, Arsenal were a class apart when it came to making possession count. With Arsenal turning defence into attack in a matter of seconds, Birmingham were torn to pieces by the pace and power of Gilberto Silva, Vieira, Wiltord and Henry. Had it not been for some exemplary defending from youngster Darren Purse it could have been a much worse day for the Midlanders. Whatever Birmingham agreed to pay him over the summer it was worth it on this evidence.

The sending off of Blues' Senegalese midfielder Aliou Cisse was extremely unfortunate. Though he arrived late at Ashley Cole, he ran straight past the England defender, who caught him as he played the ball — definitely NOT a foul. It would be unfair to accuse Cole of diving (as he is getting a reputation for) as I'm sure the collision, however innocuous it looks on television, probably came quite sharp. It's difficult to really know and it's one of the problems I have with TV replays. It's easy to forget that a player who looks to simply brush past someone is actually the best part of 12 stones of muscle, running at high speed, making contact with someone stationary and unprepared. Cisse himself had this to say about the challenge that got him sent off;

“I am certain that there is no way that Ashley Cole dived to try to get me sent off. He jumped to avoid my challenge, that was all.

“I do not blame Cole. He was only trying to get out of my way.”

Last season's first Premiership goalscorer was Michael Ricketts in a 5-0 demolition of Leicester City at Filbert Street. You would have gotten good odds on him repeating his feat (as he did against Fulham on Saturday) but the outcome of the match couldn't have been more different. It was a battle of two midfields and the destructive power of Sylvain Legwinski and Steed Malbranque was simply too much for a Bolton midfield lacking in fitness and invention.

An amazing turnaround for Chelsea saw them snatch victory from the jaws of defeat at the Valley. It looked as though Charlton were going to keep up their excellent record against Claudio Ranieri's team but goals from Franco Zola, Carlton Cole and Frank Lampard ended Chelsea's run of poor results against Alan Curbishley's team. Zola looked as sharp as he ever has, and proves that age will never get the better of talent and Carlton Cole looked every bit a Premiership player.

Richard Wright carried on for Everton where he left off for Arsenal — at fault for the both of Spurs' goals — the young 'keeper's luck doesn't seem to have gotten any better at his new club. On a more positive note for Everton, 16-year-old Wayne Rooney's debut was a promising one. Though he didn't get on the score sheet he laid off a goal for Mark Pembridge and looked sharp and dangerous for the rest of the game. Another striker on his debut, Massimo Maccarone was less impressive for Middlesbrough missing a number of good chances, but like Steve McLaren I still have confidence that he will make a huge impact on the Premiership this year.

In the battle of ex-England managers it's good to see Kevin Keegan keeping a level head. Shaun Wright-Phillips is going to be an England regular, Nicolas Anelka is the best player he's ever worked with and Man City are going to qualify for Europe. Losing 3-0 to Leeds (which Kev thinks was ‘unfair’) on the opening day isn't a sign that he is going to get three out of three.

With one game still to go it would be unfair to detail the all things footie weekly awards just yet. I'm particularly looking forward to seeing the highly rated Portuguese star Hugo Viana in action for Newcastle against West Ham tonight. 8:00pm, Sky Sports 1.

Finally, good luck to George Best who has been re-admitted to hospital after picking up an infection following his liver transplant operation.

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