Chelsea vs. Arsenal (2-0): Arsne Wenger has never been able to best Jos Mourinho, whether it be in a war of words or in a battle of tactical know-how. It seems he at least feels he could physically intimidate his shorter Portuguese counterpart. Unfortunately it wasn’t so, with Mourinho as unfazed as ever when shoved by Wenger during last weekend’s match. It is becoming the subject of nightmares for any non-Chelsea fan to see Diego Costa and Eden Hazard play. Both players of supreme ability, together they seem nigh unstoppable. Add in the spectre of Cesc Fbregas playing with a point to prove, and you have a recipe for disaster for every opponent they face. Hazard’s cutting runs and almost magical touches at the young age of 23 leaves the mind boggled at how much better he could still become. His play to gain the penalty in the first half was breathtaking to the extreme. Fbregas delivered a lovely little bomb over the Arsenal defense to show his old team what they were missing, and Diego Costa’s little chip over Szczesny was beautiful, plain and simple. Costa is showing that he has a variety of skills with which to terrorize the defenders and goalkeepers all across the league and continent. But for all the criticism I offer, I agree that Arsenal showed considerable fire and spirit against Chelsea. This is in stark contrast to their attitude last season when they were mauled 6-0 by Chelsea.
Manchester United vs. Everton (2-1): Di Mara shows that he is still clearly at the height of his almost magical powers. The dribbling, the smart passes and the daring to take the shot even when there might be better options were all present. His first goal was a beautiful effort, and he was a constant attacking threat throughout the match. Steven Naismith’s 55th minute header was a thing of beauty and showed that his early season form is not just a flash in the pan, but rather a sign of things yet to come. All Everton’s pressure proved to be for naught in the end as Radamel Falcao, one of the most prolific strikers in the world, finally opened his United accounted, and simultaneously breathed a sigh of relief. Everyone was starting to get a little anxious for Falcao’s first goal, as he had begun his career at his other clubs in scintillating form. The scorer of 155 goals in 200 games in Europe soon put everyone’s mind, most especially his own, at ease. The man in-between the sticks for United, David de Gea, put in a master class performance to ensure that United kept the hard-fought lead. And his save to deny Leighton Baines from the penalty spot for the first time ever sent confidence surging back into the team. Slowly but surely the pieces of the puzzle are falling into place for United. And with the international break for the next two weeks, we can hope that United’s more astute defenders will work their way back to full fitness, and that the shambolic start will be put far behind us.
Real Madrid vs. Athletic Bilbao (5-0): CR7 is once more in sparkling form. He has now scored 22 hat-tricks in six seasons, drawing level with the 50-year-old La Liga Record held by Real Madrid great Alfredo Di Stefano and Atletico Madrid’s Telmo Zarra. Think about this for a second: Ronaldo has scored 13 goals in six appearances in the La Liga, and 17 goals in 11 games overall. This is an outstanding achievement. He is on a mission to prove himself without a doubt as the best player in the world, and as the only rightful winner of the Ballon D’or when voting begins. He has scored with his head, both feet and even his hip when needed. Along with scoring, Ronaldo has also provided assists. But with all the hype currently enshrouding Ronaldo, let us not forget that he has one of the best supporting casts in the world. Especially a certain Welshman called Gareth Bale, whose propensity for lung-bursting runs that end in pin-point accurate crosses can never be discounted.