The Community Shield is not a game to learn things from (five or otherwise), but Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain being fit is a lovely thing. Now is the time to step into the light...
One major weakness has been identified and ruthlessly remedied. To complete the perfect summer, Spurs must forget those haunting memories of 2013...
A late goal gifted the big boys the chance to escape an upset and gain all three points. We are, of course, all aware of Lucas Ocampos' winner for Monaco against St Etienne. Also, apparently Manchester United played Sunderland and almost embarrassed themselves to death, Chelsea took care of Norwich City and Manchester City beat Everton.
Anyway, sometimes things just aren't exciting, and they proceed exactly as you imagine. There are some obvious examples: ITV is never worth watching, Dermot Murnaghan is always an illiterate disgrace, and Twitter is always the location for the gobshite. And then, there are some weekends that the Premier League just is. With that alluring introduction, get stuck into the excitement vacuum. It will make your head explode.
Sunderland vs Manchester United
This had the opportunity to be very, very funny until some savant child upstart ruined it for the neutral, and a fair few United fans who have taken against David Moyes. Fans who have correctly identified that the poor man's Alex McLeish is not the one to adequately replace the greatest manager of all time, after Phil Brown. Patrice Evra failed to track the opposition, as is the defensive tradition, Phil Jones failed to kick the ball out of the area, as is the defensive tradition, and Nemanja Vidic failed to be excellent, as is the universal tradition.
From then on, David Moyes continued with his experiment of trying to get Manchester United's players - who finished top last year - to adopt the style of his old Everton side - who finished sixth last year - with predictable consequences. Asking Nani, Evra and Rafael to aim balls at into the box, where an obviously injured Robin Van Persie and occasionally bothered Wayne Rooney sometimes lurked, didn't do much. Moyes has been given Hawksmoor steak, poured the bone marrow gravy down the sink, and elected to make corned beef.
What this doesn't take into account, though, is the presence of Adnan Januzaj. Now, as things stand, he might end up being wasted potential, but he also has the swagger and technique to suggest he is the real deal. There's enough ink printed already to suggest he's not necessarily interested in staying at United for much longer, and if he has to keep rescuing his side in the same way, he might not be blamed for going somewhere where he could just have fun, play attacking football, and do it in a good side instead of Moyes' United. Much of that sentence is the reason he won't be playing for England, either.
Norwich vs Chelsea
Over at Chelsea, Jose Mourinho, the moralist's guilty pleasure, played against a Norwich City side who are possibly about to treat Chris Hughton to a return to those he loves - the proletariat - down in the Championship. The only interesting thing about Chelsea scoring was that we got to learn that Oscar's first name is Emboaba. Emboaba.
Manchester City vs Everton
Given the talk from some particularly thick people last week, they would have you believe that Roberto Martinez would have been the superior choice to David Moyes. That, of course, is the same Martinez who thrilled Wigan fans into The Championship at the end of the last season.
Sadly, Gareth Barry was cast as a modern day Nelson Mandela, cruelly kept behind metaphorical bars by the loan agreement with City when Everton borrowed him for a year. Was this treatment worse than life in Robben Island? We can only speculate (while knowing that the answer is, indeed, yes. Boy George is writing his song now. Like Gareth Barry himself, its presence will only be truly appreciated once its absence is noted. Confused? No, us either - it's simple enough concept. Boy George is going to write a song about Gareth Barry).
West Bromwich Albion vs Arsenal
There are several things that football players are not meant to do. Enjoy a diet made up solely of the peppered rings around supermarket German salami. Only play with one foot (pay attention to that one, please, Antonio). Not smoke cigarettes unless they are Zinedine Zidane. Unfortunately for Jack Wilshere, he is not Zinedine Zidane. He is, if you've been paying attention, Jack Wilshere. Wilshere did the usual English player carry-on when he is under media pressure. He jogged around looking mardy, doing some shouting, and fighting his own newly found incompetence.
The English are a race that naturally turns to self-loathing in times of crisis, then express this through aggression aimed at other people. Wilshere, therefore, did his best to try to get sent off, failed, and eventually got so irritated that he kicked the ball at Jonas Olsson. It went in, and so he cheered up. In a phrase that matches him better than it would many other people, Wilshere had succeeded through sheer dumb luck, but it was a fair reward for a steady improvement throughout the game. Maybe Wilshere isn't going to be the new Steven Gerrard/Frank Lampard walking disappointment?
Alright - obviously he will be, but this was a nice upturn in fortunes before he regresses completely.
Tottenham Hotspur vs West Ham United
While notorious housewives' choice Sam Allardyce masterminded a surprising and yet thoroughly deserved victory over Spurs, the game ended with literally everyone remarking upon the quality of Ravel 'Ravel' Morrison's goal. It was a thing of rare beauty, combining technique, intelligence and instinct in a manner that demonstrates to the everyman that there really was never a chance of him making it as a footballer, despite the trials he had as a teenager.
Which brings us back to the first game (for any kids reading, editors love this kind of circularity). Ravel Morrison had to leave Manchester to make sure his life, never mind his career, didn't go off the rails. Paul Pogba and his agent decided that his career would benefit from seeing what would happen at Juventus, and the success he's had suggests he wasn't wrong to do so. And now Januzaj has rescued Manchester United from a state they should never find themselves in, but they continue with their debasement despite that.
Real Madrid, Manchester City and others are ready to give him an upwardly mobile club. In another universe, United gave Pep Guardiola the gig when Ferguson retired, and their midfield contains all three of these players. There is no alternate universe where this happens and the Glazers also took over the club. In the week he gave a flattering interview from Charlie Rose, we get to see the legacy that Manchester United were really given by Alex Ferguson. Whoops! Oh, Ferg! You dropped it!
Andi Thomas and Alexander Netherton