Ed Chamberlin on Manchester United v Chelsea and York's Ebor Festival
Ed Chamberlin looks at the first 'blockbuster' clash of the season and previews York's Ebor Festival.
Last Updated: 22/08/13 10:32am
An enthralling opening Premier League weekend with Manuel Pellegrini's side impressing Sky Bet most as they shortened to 7/4 from 9/4. Chelsea are 11/5 after edging past Villa on Wednesday night and the Champions have drifted half a point to 3/1 despite scoring four at Swansea. I can't ever remember a side doubling in price after one game but Arsenal are put to 10/1 from 20s and probably friendless at that price after a nightmare start.
It felt good to get the first Super Sunday and Monday Night Football of the season under our belt. It was a great experience to be at Stamford Bridge for Jose Mourinho's homecoming and the atmosphere could not have contrasted more with when we were there for Rafa Benitez's first game. Some of the football that followed in the first half had Graeme Souness purring and comparing Chelsea's play to Barcelona at half-time.
MNF was full of fascinating analysis from Jamie Carragher and Gary Neville, and I was particularly interested in what Jamie had to say about the new-look Everton under Roberto Martinez. He said the change in style was summed up by the two full-backs being the only two Everton players in the six yard box for Seamus Coleman's goal. Everton had more possession and more passes than any other team in the Premier League last weekend. Their 564 passes against Norwich were 150 more than Everton's average under David Moyes last season. Punters should keep a close eye on Roberto Martinez's team starting at home to West Brom on Saturday.
On Super Sunday this week we have another chance to see the title favourites in action as Manchester City travel to Cardiff. It will be Cardiff's first top division home game since a 3-0 win against West Ham at Ninian Park on April 23 1962. West Ham's team that day included Martin Peters, Bobby Moore and Geoff Hurst. Peters had to go in goal for the final 20 minutes (with the score at 2-0) after goalkeeper Brian Rhodes was carried off with a dislocated collar-bone (no subs were permitted back then).
How times have changed and that game 51 years ago was played in front of 11,274 fans so it will be quite a contrast on Sunday as Cardiff's new home will packed and jumping. Cardiff are such a progressive, forward thinking club and we will be featuring a few of their innovations on the show.
Talking of new things, Thursday is going to be a day with a difference for Gary Neville and I because we are heading north to speak at the Edinburgh TV Festival. I'm not sure we'll make the headlines Al Gore did there a few years ago but it should be good fun and hopefully a good warm-up act for Kevin Spacey, who is this year's main speaker.
The main game game of the weekend comes on Monday night with the first 'blockbuster' clash of the season - Manchester United v Chelsea. Sky Bet have Manchester United at 5/4, Chelsea at 11/5 and the draw trading at 23/10. What a fascinating tactical battle this will be and there's so much for Jamie and Gary to get stuck in to from 7pm on Sky Sports 1.
There's always brilliant racing at York's Ebor Festival and the meeting has weather to match this year. I sincerely hope Richard Fahey has a productive few days. The master trainer needs a bit of cheering up as he's a big Arsenal fan and has been despairing at their lack of activity in the transfer market.
I'm also not sure Fahey's recovered from being the beaten favourite in the summer's Sky Bet Yorkshire Festival Tipping competition. I was the outsider of the party first as the only football representative amongst six racing aficionados but also the rank outsider in Sky Bet's betting. I was delighted to prove those odds wrong (by using a few contacts up North!), to win the competition and most importantly make a profit of over £900 for the Yorkshire Air Ambulance. My sources tell me the esteemed Sporting Life editor and Sky Bet's Racing PR Manager, who was tailed off, are still licking their wounds. Definitely one of the highlights of my summer.
That was a freak week and my tipping will probably now revert to the norm but I will certainly be having a few quid on The Fugue in Thursday's Yorkshire Oaks. No Al Kazeem to worry about this time and conditions look ideal for her.
Sky Bet are sponsoring three good races on Friday's card on the Knavesmire. The feature is the Nunthorpe and I'd love to see Moviesta win for Harry Redknapp and his team of owners.
Saturday's Ebor looks as competitive as ever. However, I really fancy Jonjo O'Neill's Well Sharp to run a massive race at 10/1. People will doubt whether he has the pace to win an Ebor after winning over 2m 4f at Royal Ascot but the way he tanked around the track that day, this horse is not short of speed. He's off a 10lb higher mark than Ascot but he bolted up that day and there looks to be much more to come from Well Sharp. A fast run Ebor should be tailor made for him and I can see Well Sharp pouring it on down the long straight at York.