Struggling to adapt?
The main event of Sky Sports' Super Sunday was a contest between two teams trying to adapt to new systems, with somewhat mixed results. Liverpool are busy attempting to implement the passing and possession game that Brendan Rodgers believes in, while Roberto Mancini continues to experiment with a back three at Manchester City. Liverpool are perhaps adapting the better of the two: they controlled large parts of possession, and thus the game; Joe Allen was named man of the pitch, showing that they were particularly strong in midfield. Both of their conceded goals, however, came as a result of defensive mistakes. Perhaps they wouldn't have happened if they were simply prepared to hoof the ball clear, as opposed to playing it out from the back. For Man City, the biggest problem was arguably not the playing of a back three, but the chosen personnel, as young Raheem Sterling troubled Kolo Toure all afternoon. Their zonal marking system also left a lot to be desired, as shown by Martin Skrtel's goal. When changing a system, you have to be prepared for it to take time and accept mistakes will be made. That's something Liverpool can maybe afford, but something City certainly can't.
Everton for fourth?
It sounds crazy, but David Moyes' men could well mount a serious challenge for a Champions League spot. It's obviously far too early to be writing teams off, but Arsenal and Tottenham - the two most likely contenders for fourth place - have both shown early signs of struggling, and both need further improvements, in particular Spurs, who have sold Luka Modric. Newcastle and Liverpool will no doubt feel they can mount challenges, but it is Everton of all these sides who have started the best. They've shown they have different ways of playing in their two victories so far, and may - for once - just have enough strength in depth. They're very much outsiders at this stage, but I wouldn't be too surprised to see them up there as the season approaches the finishing line.
Villa in trouble
While Everton are looking good, the side they beat on Saturday - Aston Villa - continue to look worse each day. It could be argued that Randy Lerner should be applauded for his attempts at balancing the books, especially after the spendthrift days under Martin O'Neill. However, it's quite clear that reinforcements are needed, and that cheque book will have to be pulled out. Darren Bent will get goals, but beyond that there's very little for Villa fans to be optimistic about. If Lerner doesn't spend any money, it could well be a long, hard season for the Villains.
Man United may not miss Rooney
Since the departure of Cristiano Ronaldo, the suggestion that United wouldn't miss Wayne Rooney would normally be ridiculed. However, that may no longer be the case. While Rooney's world-class ability isn't in question, the Red Devils started without him on Saturday and looked a better side than they had against Everton (when he did start). More pertinently, it was Robin van Persie and Shinji Kagawa - players with whom Rooney may well be fighting for a place - who got two of their three goals. With Rooney now injured, there's every chance United - and that pair in particular - could have continued success in a side and system without Rooney, who had been looking off the pace anyway. While he'll no doubt come back into the side once fit, this could be the wake-up call he needed to get back into shape and fight for his place, something he's never had to do before. And he certainly won't be as big a miss as he would have been in previous years.
Hazard the real deal
While there was an undoubted buzz of excitement surrounding the arrival of Eden Hazard, not just to Chelsea but the Premier League, I'm not sure anyone would have predicted so big an impact straightaway. The Belgian has been involved in almost all of Chelsea's goals this season, and his general play has been excellent. He has been at the heart of all that's been good about the football played by Roberto di Matteo's men, adapting to the Premier League quicker than most. They may have paid over £30m for him, but right now that's looking as if it could be a bargain.
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