Sharman’s 3 thoughts: A crazy start to the Premier League season

James Sharman and Craig Forrest get you set for a full slate of week three Premier League action, including a marquee tilt with Liverpool hosting Arsenal, who are struggling out of the gate this season.

Ahead of every weekend this season I will give you my three thoughts on what’s going on in the Premier League. These might not always be the biggest stories, but rather my personal observations as the games approach each Saturday.

The Champions League draw provided its usual high drama this week, amidst the usual dose of Euro trash reveling. The highlight for me was, without question, the great Gianluigi Buffon sitting between Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo. It reminded me of the numerous times my Dad would sit between my sister and I, rather than endure another bout of sibling rivalry. 

Here’s what makes me somewhat intrigued ahead of Matchday 3.

A marquee showdown at Anfield

I did spare a thought for Arsenal during the draw; it struck me as a little odd not to see the Gunners involved, as for two decades they were a Champions League fixture. I imagine Friday morning was a major case of European blues for the Gooner faithful, as they were thrown into the far less prestigious Europa League draw. BATE, Red Star and Cologne will await Arsenal in the group stage. 

At least the Gunners have a marquee tilt this Sunday against Liverpool.  Both clubs have a player who has been linked with a move away for weeks (months even) and have not taken part in any meaningful action so far this season due to “injury.” Arsenal’s Alexis Sanchez is now available, while Liverpool’s Phillipe Coutinho is not.  Both clubs will be among those to watch ahead of the August 31 transfer deadline, but will that overshadow what is one of the must-watch fixtures of the season? 

Watch five games from the Premier League this weekend live on Sportsnet, including Manchester City vs. Stoke City and Watford vs. Arsenal. Coverage begins Saturday at 9:30 a.m. ET.

The belief is back at Everton

Chelsea entertain Everton on Sunday, and given the Toffees’ start to the season, including last week’s draw against Manchester City, this does have the feel of a marquee tilt, too. Much credit goes to Everton for what it has accomplished this off-season. There is a real belief back inside and outside the club, reinforced by this week’s advancement into the Europa League proper following a 1-1 draw with Hadjuk Split.  

If you haven’t seen the highlights yet, do yourself a favour and find them. Gylfi Sigurdsson scored the greatest debut goal in the history of debut goals. I love this signing, and cannot wait to see how he fits into Sunday’s team. By the way, Everton played eight English players against Man City. Let that sink in.

A crazy start to the campaign

I am not entirely sure when is the right time to begin taking note of the standings, but because two matches into the season, Huddersfield, West Brom and Watford are in the top four, I think I’ll start this weekend. If we look at the bottom of the table, we will note that five clubs are searching for their first wins, and five teams are still searching for their first goals of the season. 

West Ham have found a couple of goals, but are still pointless, as are their opponents Newcastle, who are also searching for their first goal. Bilic vs. Rafa, who will break first?  Which of these two will be the first to lose their job?  Will either one lose their job?  As cruel as it is, this is part of what makes the Premier League so compelling – just three matches into the season, and this without doubt a huge match for both clubs

Sportsnet's Soccer Central podcast (featuring James Sharman, Thomas Dobby, Brendan Dunlop, and John Molinaro) takes an in-depth look at the beautiful game and offers timely and thoughtful analysis on the sport's biggest issues.