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Chamberlin: A dazzling start

Only in the Premier League.

Last Updated: 04/09/14 at 16:50 Post Comment

Dusan Tadic is one of a number of canny signings by Southampton boss Ronald Koem

Dusan Tadic is one of a number of canny signings by Southampton boss Ronald Koem

A Saturday afternoon when the form book went out of the window and then two top sides sharing nine goals in a Saturday Night Football thriller was followed by two days of transfer madness before the window slammed shut at 11pm on Monday night.

I didn't think Stoke had a prayer against Manchester City and nor did the bookmakers, so all credit to Mark Hughes' side.

Everton against Chelsea was bonkers.

Everything seemed to go in and although Jose Mourinho will have been annoyed to see his team concede three, they look awesome and are already odds-on for the title with Sky Bet.

This team has the ability to out-pass you, fight you if necessary and as Saturday Night Football showed, Chelsea can also out-score you.

I remember presenting the conclusion of the Transfer Deadline Day alongside Jim White six years ago when Dimitar Berbatov was spotted in the glass corridor at Manchester United.

Afterwards I remember saying to Jim that surely we'd never get a day like that again and yet it seems to have grown every year since in to the monster it is today.

Deadline Day is brilliantly mad and my colleagues at Sky Sports News HQ do a wonderful job covering it all in difficult circumstances.

It still baffles me why teams leave it until the last minute to get deals done - brinkmanship and saving money on wages is the only way I can explain it.

Chelsea did the best business - ins and outs - in the Transfer Window. The best business is usually always done early.

Mind you, Hull and Southampton look to have done excellent late deals. The turnaround at St Mary's since the early summer has been remarkable.

Events at Old Trafford have been even more remarkable. I now can't wait to see Radamel Falcao, Angel Di Maria and co in action on Super Sunday next weekend against QPR.

What a prospect.

For now, we can take a deep breath as the Premier League takes a break for international week. No rest, though, as coverage from all the European Qualifiers will be on Sky Sports over the next few days.

Stars

Here are five players who have caught my eye in the opening three rounds of the Premier League season:

1. Leonardo Ulloa

I thoroughly enjoyed my first trip to Leicester on Super Sunday. What an excellent addition to the Premier League they are. A football club that is going places. How healthy as well to see 10 of the starting 11 against Arsenal had played for Leicester in the Championship. The one new face was the player to get the Sky pundits raving.

Ulloa won the Man of the Match award from Alan Smith and impressed Neil Lennon and Jamie Redknapp in the studio. For 75 minutes he was absolutely outstanding. After only a short time at the club, Leicester's £8 million signing summed up the team's work ethic and hunger. Ulloa was everywhere and a real goal-scoring threat to boot.

At the other end Wes Morgan is the rock that the team seems to revolve around. With the dearth of top-class centre-halves around, it's always surprising that the big clubs don't come calling. Likewise Ashley Williams at Swansea. Two big characters and leaders at their respective clubs. Leicester have done well to pick up two points from three tough opening fixtures. They are now in good shape to kick on. No side will find it easy at the King Power Stadium this season.

2. Branislav Ivanovic

Diego Costa and Cesc Fabregas have hogged the headlines at Stamford Bridge as Chelsea have made a flying start and shortened to 4/5 with Sky Bet to win the title. Both have made brilliant starts to their Chelsea careers.

"That" pass from Fabregas at Burnley is the highlight of the season so far. Chelsea also have the League's most reliable player in their ranks.

I questioned in my season preview, with Felipe Luis signed and Cesar Azpilicueta free to move to right-back, how on earth they could leave Ivanovic out of the team. He has started the season like a man possessed. Against Everton he was everywhere and will always be a goal-scoring threat from open play and set pieces, so he is a good man for goal-scorer markets and Sky Sports' Fantasy Football. Mr Reliable.

3. Ashley Westwood

In the summer it seemed fashionable to tip Aston Villa for the drop and they were well backed with Sky Bet to do so. It's early days but that looks unlikely now.

Winning at home, where they struggled for so much of last season, will give Paul Lambert a huge boost. Their next five games are absolutely brutal but Villa remain masters at pulling off a shock and are still the Premier League's hardest team to predict for punters.

Ashley Westwood remains a model of consistency in midfield. Westwood’s strength is his efficient  passing style, which means his best work often goes unnoticed. This season he has looked more dynamic and with Fabian Delph's England call-up, plus Tom Cleverley's arrival, Westwood is set to kick on to the next level.

4. Wilfred Bony

What a superb start for Swansea and Garry Monk. At home against sides in the bottom half, Swansea are banker material for punters. They have already disposed of Burnley and West Brom at the Liberty Stadium. The front four are key to that.

Nathan Dyer and Wayne Routledge do the damage out wide, while Gylfi Sigurdsson has slotted back in with ease and is such a good fit at Swansea. It's clearly his natural home.

Swansea's best business, though, has been holding on to Bony. A number of clubs were in for him. Bony is Swansea's glue up front. He's always been a raw talent but his hold-up play seems to have improved massively over the last six months and he's now an excellent all round striker. The arrival of Bafetimbi Gomis gives Monk options up front and seems to have fired up Bony. He's set for a prolific season.

5. Dusan Tadic

The gloom that descended over Southampton this summer has well and truly lifted. Ronald Koeman has conducted himself immaculately throughout and he's already got his new-look team exceeding expectations and proving the critics wrong.

The stick I took on Twitter for predicting Southampton would finish in the top half at 6/4 with Sky Bet seems to have died down. They have also added quality. The capture of Sadio Mane and Toby Alderweireld on Deadline Day has added to the fans' excitement and finally puts to bed any talk than the owner was asset stripping this summer.

Ralph Krueger and the hierarchy also deserve credit for keeping Morgan Schneiderlin and the player deserves credit, too, for knuckling down after initially throwing his toys out of the pram. As important as Adam Lallana, Dejan Lovren, Luke Shaw and Rickie Lambert were, Schneiderlin has been the Saints' most consistent player over the last four years.

Despite the exodus, the club has kept its biggest asset. Fraser Forster is going to make a big impact in goal but the player to really catch the eye has been Tadic. The players rave about his ability in training and there have been flashes of brilliance on the pitch so far. Graeme Souness liked what he saw at Anfield. There is much more still to come.

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S

terling needs to be told though that upon entering the Arsenal squad he will re-enact the final scene from Highlander where he will be thrown around a warehouse by cartoon dragons and then be a mere mortal that will only ever spend three to four weeks a season playing football and the rest on the physio's bed. There can be only one.....player available at The Emirates.

rodger's gusset
Arsenal interest in Sterling

T

he game changed in our favour when Carrick came on. We were able to play further up the pitch due to having a player who can give and go with the ball and keep possession. Yet barkley made some runs and Townsend scored a good goal but carrick's inclusion and chiellini's withdrawal made the biggest difference to the flow of the game

ricky villa
Hodgson: Barkley was brilliant

N

o, you've not silenced anyone Andros, i'm afraid. We know you can score a great goal, and it's really handy to have your direct running and willingness to shoot on the bench. But until you can do the other things expected of a winger (beat the man, put a decent cross in, stay wide etc) then you can't expect more than a regular cameo. Wonderful goal though, what a hit! No wonder Buffon wanted the shirt.

badwolf
Townsend: I've silenced critics

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