In England, both Arsenal and Chelsea only drew two weeks ago to allow Manchester United to make up some ground with a deserved 2-1 victory over Liverpool. Last Saturday, Chelsea were the first to lay their credentials on the line at Middlesbrough, Drogba securing all three points just 10 minutes from the match end. Arsenal and Manchester United duly followed suit, also winning 1-0 away from home. Ashley Cole secured all three points against Manchester City, whereas a Ruud van Nistelrooy penalty was enough to end Tottenham’s unbeaten start to the season. Both Newcastle and Liverpool had easy home wins to keep up with the pace.
The Portuguese Superliga looks a bit lop-sided at the moment with Porto and Sporting struggling in mid-table while Benfica’s ‘Eagles’ soar away to their best start of the season for 11 years. As predicted on this page, Porto are having difficulty compensating for their departed stars, while the Sporting board seemingly fail to appreciate that José Peseiro needs time to develop his young team. Mick Wadsworth’s Beira-Mar, on the other hand, is coming good, culminating in a 2-1 away victory over high-flying Setubal last Friday. Maritimo are also enjoying lofty heights, a 2-1 win over Boavista affording them second place in the Superliga under new coach Mariano Barreto, poached from the Ghanaian national side.
In Spain, Barcelona and Valencia are setting the pace and look a class above the rest at the moment. In Italy and France, Juventus and Monaco are continuing where they left off last season, but in Germany unglamorous Wolfsburg are upsetting the principals. Bayern are particularly disappointing under new coach Felix Magath, and look sluggish and unadventurous at the best of times.