Frank LeBoeuf and Tony Cascarino were detractors of his rush of blood to the head by clattering into Dominic Calvert-Lewin, but boss Lampard again came to his defence and pointed out his consistency since his move from Rennes. There is an assuredness in possession and an ability to sniff out danger from the centre-back and throw his body on the line, and he scored the Gunners’ first Premier League goal of the season. Occupying the right-hand side of the front three, the player signed from Ajax for £40m registered a goal and assist on his first Premier League start and has emerged as one of his club’s most creative outlets. Signed for £20.5m from Valencia in the summer, Torres has demonstrated his clinical edge in front of goal and prowess inside the penalty area, which is particularly impressive given his natural position is out wide. That pattern goes across the front of the shirt and on the sleeves, with the back of the shirt left plain white for the player names and numbers, which stand out in bright red like the club badge, adidas and Deutsche Telekom logos on the front.
Pep Guardiola singled out the Dutchman to come and shore up City’s defence, and if his start to life at City has been unspectacular, it has certainly added versatility to the backline. The 22-year-old Dutchman has battled back from injury to finish the season well at Milan who have expressed interest in keeping him on loan at San Siro. Spurs chairman Daniel Levy, who reports to ENIC owner Lewis, is close to finalising the appointment of a new manager for next season in Dutchman Loius van Gaal. Aside from an uncharacteristic error which contributed to the defeat by Everton, the Senegal goalkeeper has been a calming influence who has aided in an impressive start to the season for Chelsea’s defence. Those previous performances cannot be forgotten, and with Bayern Munich and Germany goalkeeper Manuel Neuer labelling him ‘world class’, there is certainly reason for optimism that a long-term holder of the No 1 jersey is quite literally in safe hands.
Right from the very start, Birmingham knew they had a special player on their hands. Three back-to-back Player of the Month awards at the Gunners may symbolise the poor form of the forwards, bayern munich new jersey but is equally a credit to the excellence Gabriel has added to the Gunners back line. His inexperience did show when his poor, overzealous performance against Southampton saw him receive a third red card shown to an Arsenal player in five games to exacerbate his side’s disciplinary issues. Few doubt he will eventually replicate his scoring record in Germany in the Premier League but the 24-year-old more recently has wasted good chances, missed when it has appeared easier to find the net and generally failed to make an impact on games. This is now happening in the Premier League. Maybe it would, but it was of little relevance to what was happening in Mourinho’s life at that moment so it might have slipped his mind. Reports in recent weeks suggest some of the Gunners squad are unhappy with the preferential treatment he supposedly receives from boss Mikel Arteta after facing little punishment following an ill-advised trip to Dubai during the latest international break. But the first few weeks – aside from a debut goal against Crystal Palace – were mired with frustration, glum faces from the Netherlands international looking on from the bench and an damning outburst from his agent that he had only featured in Carabao Cup games.
Given how much more solid he has made Chelsea barring his role in the penalty conceded at Everton, there is no surprise as to why the Blues are looking to keep him as part of a squad where many young players form a crux of the roster. The other big-money arrival at the back in the summer, Dias has been an almost immovable part of Guardiola’s new-look defence. Statham was pictured at a private Chelsea FC party in California back in 2007, though has not yet been seen at Stamford Bridge. Chelsea can do it now that they are established, just as Manchester City and PSG will have few problems with FFP from here. He has struck up a solid defensive pairing alongside Kurt Zouma and is firmly ensconced as one of Lampard’s first-choice centre backs given the resilience and knowhow he displayed in abundance at PSG. Full backs are Serge Aurier and Ben Davies, with Danny Rose expected to leave the club before the window shuts. Such leadership is something the club have lacked ever since the departure of Vincent Kompany, and while the Portuguese still has a long path ahead of him to be contemplated in the same breath as the Belgian, his start to life at City has done his chances of one day attaining such status no harm.