This international break has seemed longer than ever, stuffed as it was with a whole extra match and coming on the back of a delirious and giddy opening few weeks of the Premier League season in which there seemed to be games and goals and games full of goals every single day. And now it’s coming back, complete with a batch of shiny new signings of which the following are quite literally some.
The international break has served as a welcome circuit breaker on Partey puns, but extreme vigilance will now be required as we open the Premier League back up. Inevitably the infection rate will rise again, but we will simply have to learn to live with the Partey puns. We can’t all shut ourselves away never looking at Twitter.
Leaving his name and the apparently permanent souring of relations between Arsenal and Atletico Madrid, what a signing this was for Arsenal at the arse end of the transfer window.
While the inevitable comparisons with Patrick Vieira are very lazy and kind of offensive in a way, the soft centre of Arsenal’s midfield has been a running joke for years now. They might finally have found an answer – let’s ramp up the pressure on him by insisting that he take instant control of proceedings in his first taste of Premier League action in the most straightforward of all midfield battles: Manchester City away.
With the tantalising prospect of this season’s Premier League continuing its commitment to nonsense and descending into a season-long goal-fest free-for-all, Gareth Bale is perhaps the most intriguing variable of them all.
His former manager has already suggested the arrival of Bale and the nonsense already going off could be enough to propel a Tottenham title bid. Bale’s agent has echoed that sentiment. It’s probably a bit much, but in this daftest of seasons who knows really?
We know Bale is a very different player from the one who left Tottenham seven years ago, but what we don’t quite know is just how good a player he still is. For all the talk of his demise, of golf and flags and resentment and disillusionment, we do only have to go back two years to find Bale still very much at his world-class best.
And if there was ever a league that appears custom-built for his style of play, it’s this defence-allergic Premier League season. If there were ever team-mates that appeared custom-built to dovetail perfectly with him, it’s Harry Kane and Heung-min Son, who have already frankly taken the absolute piss out of a couple of teams.
If Bale remains anything like the player we know, that is a truly absurd front three for a not-quite-elite team to call upon. Bloody hell, maybe they will win the league. Classic Jose.
For Bale, meanwhile, the prospect this weekend of making his second Spurs debut against West Ham, against whom he has previous.
It just never happened for him at Liverpool, but he now has the task of setting out to prove that the champions let the wrong striker go. He should certainly get his chance in a Sheffield United team that has scored just one goal in four Premier League games so far this season, and also has potentially the ideal debut against Fulham, who are absolutely history-makingly dreadful.
He’s gone one step further than Bale and gone all the way back to where it truly began.
The man himself has already said why this is lovely, so we’ll let his own words explain why we’re looking forward to a nice thing in a year so very desperately short of them.
“I had a few opportunities from other clubs, but as soon as Southampton came in for me, it’s part of me and has made me into the player I am. It’s in my heart.
“I will probably cry, I bet, when I first play, and it means so much. All the people that made it happen, I can’t thank them enough. Honestly, I’m so pleased.
“I was seriously lost for words when Southampton came on the table, and for me it was such an easy decision.
“To get the chance to work with the manager as well and these young players that are coming through, I feel like I’ve made the right choice.”
The wreckage of Manchester United’s transfer window combined with the fallout from that ludicrous twatting against Spurs meant there was little fanfare about the arrival of Telles, but even a blind squirrel finds the occasional nut and United might just have got a good one here.
Luke Shaw is so far gone at the game that England would rather pick literally every single one of their right-backs one after the other ahead of him, and it now looks likely his run of games for United will come to an end. With United still having to put their faith in the other malfunctioning components of their defence, still waiting for Edinson Cavani to complete his spell in isolation, and still labouring under the delusion that Solskjaer is a manager worthy of his current job, United suddenly find themselves with rather a lot invested in Telles making a seamless transition to English football. As with so many other new arrivals in this silliest of seasons, it almost doesn’t matter whether he does so or not; it’ll be compelling viewing either way.