DEFEAT ADDS GREATER URGENCY TO CITY’S KANE PURSUIT
Tottenham Hotspur thoroughly deserved their 1-0 win over a toothless Manchester City on Sunday. The bad news for Tottenham is that City are now much more likely to stop at nothing to sign their striker and talisman Harry Kane.
City won the title last season often without a recognised striker on the pitch and said an emotional farewell to record scorer Sergio Aguero at the end of the campaign.
They dominated possession against Tottenham but managed only four attempts on target, their build-up play often over-complicated and laboured.
At their best City’s plethora of creative talents, now boosted by England’s Jack Grealish, means the lack of a traditional frontman does not matter.
But on days like Sunday with Ferran Torres not looking comfortable in a central attacking role, they were crying out for a striker of Kane’s quality.
City will have to break the British transfer record again to sign Kane, but to have the best chance of retaining their title, they may have no choice.
CHELSEA ADD GOALS TO DOMINANCE AND AWAIT LUKAKU
Chelsea played in a party atmosphere against Crystal Palace as fans celebrated their Champions League and European Super Cup triumphs and their slick 3-0 win suggested a Premier League title could follow.
Thomas Tuchel’s side were as organised and dominant as they were in the latter half of last season, barely allowing Palace a sniff of their goal.
But the big change was an extra ruthlessness down the other end, which bodes well for their title push, especially as Romelu Lukaku will add yet more firepower when he makes his second debut next week at Arsenal.
FAMILIAR FACES ECLIPSE MAN UNITED NEW BOYS
Less than half an hour before their 5-1 thrashing of old foes Leeds United on Saturday, Manchester United unexpectedly confirmed the signing of Raphael Varane, with the France international paraded on the pitch to much fanfare.
Jadon Sancho also received a hero’s welcome as he took his place on the bench, but on the pitch, it was familiar faces doing the business for United.
Bruno Fernandes, last season’s top scorer, plundered his first hattrick in English football as Leeds were put to the sword, while Paul Pogba registered an incredible four assists.
Varane and Sancho’s arrivals have rightly caused much excitement, but if a sustained title challenge is to materialise, the existing crop of talent seems just as pivotal to the United cause.
ENCOURAGING SIGNS THAT VAR TWEAKS ARE WORKING
The opening weekend of the season proved to be a humdinger as goals rained down, stadiums rocked and VAR controversies were conspicuous by their absence.
After praise for the officiating at Euro 2020, the Premier League appears to have got the message.
Last season was plagued by fractional decisions being decided by VAR rather than the technology being used to remedy clear and obvious errors.
The Professional Game Match Officials Ltd – who preside over rule tweaks and changes – have told officials to raise the threshold for what is deemed a foul or penalty after a record 125 spot-kicks were awarded last season.
They have also acted to give the benefit of doubt to attacking players in marginal offsides after last season saw goals being ruled for “armpits” being offside.
This weekend’s games were notable for their free-flowing nature as referees showed leniency and there were few VAR controversies.
Long may it continue.