Petric makes the PL look easy
We previewed every Premier League side ahead of the weekends fixtures. See who we backed here and point out where we went wrong: Premier League Previews
We have United taking the title with last season’s top two scorers working in tandem giving them the edge over City. In terms of relegation we’ve gone for Norwich, Stoke and West Ham to go down, with Arsenal and Chelsea completing the top four.
Our full table prediction can be found on our Premier League 2012/2013 page
Fulham’s first signing this summer, and possibly their most prudent, was the signing of Croatia forward Mladen Petric on a free transfer after his contract at Hamburg SV expired. Like Pavel Pogrebnyak in the January window, the 31-year-old delivered on his full Fulham debut with two goals and an excellent assist. Croatia have an abundance of lethal strikers; Olic, Eduardo, Mandukzic, Kalinic, Klasnic and Jelavic so Petric’s record of 12 strikes in 44 caps is impressive and makes you wonder why other clubs weren’t interested in the free-signing. Martin Jol is utilising his experience of the European leagues, and although the signing of Petric was no real risk (with a goal record of 1 strike every 2 games), few would have predicted his and Fulham’s start to the season.
2. Is Suarez the ‘striker’ Liverpool need?
Liverpool picked up where they left off from last summer, after dominating the first half and spurning several scoring opportunities against West Brom, they contrived to lose the match after some sloppy defending. Suarez missed a header from three yards out in the first half and then missed a further two sitters in the second half, albeit when the damage had been done by Agger and Skrtel. Andy Carroll watched on as Fabio Borini and Luis Suarez interchanged positions but neither of them could make the breakthrough or finish off the rare Liverpool passing move. Glen Johnson is great going forward and Agger can clearly play, but Skrtel and Kelly seem uncomfortable playing out from the back. Carragher was past it two years ago, perhaps Uruguay’s Sebastian Coates is the solution?
3. Demba Ba-nished
Demba Ba scored only his second goal for Newcastle since the arrival of Papiss Cisse in their narrow 2-1 win over Spurs and Alan Pardew is still struggling to accommodate both the strikers into a coherent system. Pardew spent most of his summer soothing Ba’s ego, stating that he wouldn’t be deployed on the left of a fluid 4-3-3 formation, but after a flat first half performance with 4-4-2 the manager reverted back to the old system. Granted, Demba Ba did score a incredible goal from his wide role but Pardew will struggle to get the striker to play out wide for the benefit of Cisse. One of the strikers will have to play out of position, as a more traditional 4-4-2 doesn’t seem to gel for Newcastle when Ben Arfa is one of the wide midfielders. Alan Pardew needs to earn his salary solving this conundrum.
4. Penalty parody
The return of the Premier League brought some fascinating games, bucketfuls of goals and some sublime skill, but it also featured two of the worst penalties I can remember for a long time. Shane Long led the way on Saturday with a tame effort that may have reached the goal, before David Silva matched him for incompetence from 12 yards yesterday. Thankfully the misses didn’t cost their team the win, but I suspect it will be a while before either player steps up from 12 yards.
5. Macho Michu
Swansea went into their game with QPR hotly tipped by pundits to return to the Championship, but after an exhilarating 5-0 away win they sit joint top of the Premier League. The £2 million signing of Michu, from Rayo Vallecano, could be one of the deals of the summer after the number 9 scored two on his debut. He has to essentially cover the departure of Joe Allen and Glyfi Sigurdsson, Swansea’s best offensive players last year, but early signs indicate he can step up. The top-scoring midfielder in La Liga last season, looks an integral part of Laudrup’s side and after announcing himself on Saturday fans will be racing to include him in their Fantasy Football teams (£6.5 million before Saturday)