United still boss, but rays of light elsewhere

Manchester United's English defender Rio Ferdinand.

ENGLAND - Change has been the buzzword around the English Premier League lately but it is the same old team from Manchester with the same old players who continue to set the pace.

Manchester United's 4-1 thumping of Swansea City was - by far - the most impressive performance from the opening weekend of fixtures.

Even with new manager David Moyes, who has been wrongly written off by many, they showed the same killer instinct to humble the League Cup winners in an away game.

What was most surprising was that they achieved this with a half-happy, half-fit Wayne Rooney. Imagine, if the striker starts smiling again, defenders are going to get real grumpy, real fast.

Robin van Persie may continue to inspire claims that they are a one-man team. But, look closer, and you will see a proper, well-organised side from back to front.

Chelsea undoubtedly boast stronger squad depth but that alone does not guarantee a title.

If the Red Devils go on to add a premier playmaker they desperately seek, it will take something very special from The Special One to stop them.

Jose Mourinho's side had a good first half in a 2-0 win over Hull City but I fear that his tinkering will do more harm than good.

In Oscar, Juan Mata, Eden Hazard, Andre Schurrle and Kevin de Bruyne, they have too many creative types but no lethal finisher to cap off the sleek inter-play.

Perhaps, they should have signed Roberto Soldado who is likely to have a great season for Tottenham Hotspur.

As a fellow striker, I see that the Spaniard needs a couple more weeks to regain the form that saw him grab 59 goals in 101 appearances for Valencia.

If Gareth Bale buys a one-way ticket to Madrid as expected, Spurs have done good business to build a more balanced squad than last season's.

With silky Brazilian Paulinho pulling strings in midfield, a top-four finish is on the cards.

Samba magic could also help Liverpool push for a Champions League spot, as Philippe Coutinho was dazzling in their 1-0 win over Stoke City.

The Reds should have scored four or five goals and there are signs that Brendan Rodgers' free-flowing, off-the-ball-moving style has finally made its way to Anfield.

They will likely finish higher than Arsenal who - as much as it pains me to say - were abysmal in a 1-3 home loss to Aston Villa.

Arsene Wenger needs to loosen his wallet and spend big in the final days of the transfer window.

Besides a defender, the Gunners must also get a central midfielder to link play between both ends of the pitch.

Theo Walcott, Santi Cazorla and Tomas Rosicky are simply not consistent enough to make a concerted push for the championship.

It is not entirely impossible for surprise packages like Villa and Southampton - who have put together an under-rated strike force of Rickie Lambert and Pablo Osvaldo - to do better than Arsenal this season.

As for the top of the pile, it looks like a second successive trophy celebration at Old Trafford next May.


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