A good picture, they say, is worth a thousand words. Well, that might be so, but in the case of the English Premier League, we have noticed that a few (and sometimes, even a lot of) words by a player or a manager can speak volumes. And if you were wondering what happened in the third weekend of the EPL, well, look no more than the following quotes to find out:
“Many people in this moment are disappointed in this result. People love Chelsea to lose a game. The performance was not dramatic, not bad but obviously four points in three matches is not enough. It’s our first step, three points.”
– Jose Mourinho, Chelsea’s manager and self-professed Special One, building up the familiar “the world is against us” siege mentality, even as his players picked up the first win of the season against a very spirited West Bromwich Albion, which fought all the way before going down 2-3. Although he did not comment on it, Mourinho’s biggest headache must be his skipper John Terry, who looks woefully out of sorts and was sent off for a reckless tackle.
“Man City will take some stopping this year….champions elect???”
– Former England defender Rio Ferdinand’s tweet after City swept Everton aside 2-0, with Raheem Sterling and David Silva running amok, sums up the sentiment in some quarters of the Premiership. The Blues from Manchester have played three, won three, scored eight and conceded zero, and are already pulling away from the field three weeks.
“It was an outstanding goal and Riyad Mahrez is a very good player… It is important to maintain our place in the Premier League. Seven points, 33 less, that is important for us.”
– Leicester City’s dream start to the EPL continues, with the club that many had put down as relegation candidates in second place behind Manchester City, but team boss Claudio “the Tinkerman” Ranieri has no illusions about his priority – forty points, that many consider to be the Rubicon teams have to cross to stay in the EPL. But even he could not help conceding the brilliance of the amazing Riyad Mahrez whose stunning goal helped Leicester hold Tottenham Hotspur to a 1-1 draw.
“The performance was one of the best in my period but we don’t reward ourselves and there was only one club that wanted to win and that was us.”
– No, Steve Jobs was not the only one with a Reality Distortion Field that seemed to change reality around him to suit his requirements (and more often, his products). Manchester United boss Louis van Gaal seemed to be in a zone of his own as he praised his players’ efforts after a laboured goalless draw against a Newcastle team that had been playing poorly since the outset of the season and did not exactly shine this time around either. Van Gaal feels the Reds were “unlucky” (they did have twenty shots on goal), but the fact is that it was Newcastle who came closest to scoring with Mitrovic’s header hit the bar.
“This guy has come in to score goals.”
– Crystal Palace boss Alan Pardew pays tribute to the power of Bakary Sako, whose 87th minute winner helped Palace edge out Aston Villa 2-1. Villa manager, Tim Sherwood, was not too pleased with the error by Jordan Amavi that gifted Sako the goal, but stoically hoped that he would “learn from it.”
“I can still live with a 1-1 as Swansea are a good side…We still need two or three other players.”
-His team might still be rock bottom after three weeks of the Premiership, but Sunderland’s Dick Advocaat seemed more than content with the spirit shown by his team in earning a 1-1 draw with Swansea. It at least got the club – and key player. Jermain Defoe – off the mark. The canny Dutch manager did not miss the chance to appeal for more players (read “funds to get more players”). He is going to need them with his team having just one point from three matches.
“You can see that he will be a key player for us.”
– Stoke City boss Mark Hughes was not totally pleased with the 1-1 draw with Norwich, but was delighted with perhaps the most awaited debut of the season, Xherdan Shaqiri. The Swiss star dropped an inch-perfect free-kick on to the head of teammate Diouf to put Stoke ahead in the 11th minute, but seemed to fade as the match went on. But his class was very much in evidence.
“It was a really strange game. We were in cruise control in the first half but that seemed to go out of the window after half-time when we made some strange decisions.”
– Bournemouth manager Eddie Howe sums up perhaps the most topsy-turvy game of the weekend, which saw Bournemouth register their first win of the season, by beating West Ham 4-3, thanks to a hat-trick from Callum Wilson. Bournemouth seemed to be running away with the game, being 2-0 up within half an hour, only for the Hammers to equalise things by the 53rd minute. Bournemouth smashed in two more to go 4-2 by the 79th minute, but West Ham pulled one more back in the 82nd leading to a hectic finish.
“We have started very average I must concede…”
– Arsene Wenger, the Arsenal manager, minces no words on his team’s lukewarm start to the EPL campaign – the Gunners are barely in the top ten after starting as one of the title favourites, and the 0-0 draw with Liverpool did not help. Will the arrival of Karim Benzema (if he does come) change things?
“Never liked goalkeepers, they get in the bloody way, but these two have been tremendous”
– Always the goal poacher, England legend Gary Linekar pays tribute to Simon Mignolet and Petr Cech on Twitter. The two were in stunning form, ensuring that the Arsenal-Liverpool match finished goalless and on even terms. It was a particularly brilliant performance from Cech, who had been pillories for his poor display in the season opener against West Ham. “Great goalkeepers bounce back from their occasional mistakes,” Linekar had tweeted as Cech made a point blank save from Liverpool’s Benteke. He would fingertip-push a Coutinho shot on to the woodwork later in arguably one of the best goalkeeping displays of the season. For his part, Mignolet kept his team alive with a great one-handed save from Olivier Giroud.