Everton display some early promise as Man United suffer Goodison defeat
Alex Sharp looks back at an entertaining opening weekend in the Premier League, as Everton stun Manchester United
Forget a debatable Premier League power shift in Manchester; the real noisy neighbours are Everton.
For some strange reason Everton in recent seasons, under the masterful watch of David Moyes, have started their campaigns slowly, but one way or another plug their way back up the league to contend the European places.
However, on Monday night they deservedly took a lead against Manchester United and hung on with some magnificent defending from Sylvain Distin and Phil Jagielka in particular.
Surely Jagielka has earned the Three Lions on his chest for the forthcoming England World Cup qualifiers instead of a floundering Joleon Lescott or rickety Rio Ferdinand?
But back to Merseyside, and the relentless work-rate and effort from Everton is always expected but a result of such magnitude really does propel them into early European contention and perhaps more importantly above Liverpool.
Moyes sometimes doesn’t receive the credit he deserves for improving Everton year in, year out on a relative shoe-string and making astute signings such as the inspirational Nekica Jelavic or Marouane Fellaini.
Everton have genuine quality but might lack the depth if a few injuries creep in throughout the season, they must build on this result and it’s a certainty Moyes won’t ease up.
On the other hand, their nearby rivals Liverpool have the cash, have the depth in the squad but were absolutely hopeless on Saturday as they spurned numerous chances and defensively capitulated at West Bromwich. The differences in the performances couldn’t have been of a starker contrast.
Once again Liverpool have baffled in the transfer market by paying over the odds for another British talent. True, Joe Allen had a decent season for Swansea last time out but will he claw Liverpool into the Champions League spots?
Brendan Rodgers has a vast task ahead as Saturday displayed no characteristics that were on show at Goodison Park last night.
Away from Mersyside, the Premier League has returned with a strange symmetry this weekend as Manchester City rallied from behind to dramatically win 3-2, just like the absorbing final day drama of last season.
One could argue that the comeback was an illustration of their title credentials, that winning ugly sometimes is essential to bag the top slot.
After the game Roberto Mancini didn’t seem too sure, he knew City had escaped against a spirited Southampton, who impressed on their return to the big time but ultimately lack a Premier League-standard back-line.
City looked vulnerable at the back and must sort their new formation of three in defence before more serious tests surface.
As for United, the alarm bells will not be ringing just yet. The defeat already gives City an edge but there were a host of big names missing from the starting 11 last night, including four missing centre backs.
It’s a certain bet United will quickly recover, that City and Chelsea will continue to prosper – but can Everton utilise this win and contend for Champions League qualification? It would be an outstanding achievement and certainly brand them the new noisy neighbours in the league.