It was one of the better days for Roberto Martinez, a protest by fans at the stewardship of Everton chairman Bill Kenwright having been eclipsed by a convincing 3-0 win at Southampton. Nevertheless, the Everton manager still found himself having to defend Kenwright, with whom he has a close bond, and again attempt to dampen speculation as to the future of defender John Stones.
In a small room at St Mary’s Stadium he despaired of the constant pressure both to buy, and sell. “It seems you need to win games in the media depending how many signings you bring in,” he said. Then he added: “Ambition is not just about who you buy, it is also about who you don’t sell.”
At the time most observers, and many Evertonians, believed Martinez’s instransigence was a negotiating tactic and that, eventually, Chelsea would make an offer Everton could not refuse. Stones would go, just like Marouane Fellaini, Jack Rodwell, Mikael Arteta and Joleon Lescott, all the way back to Wayne Rooney.
Premier League Power Rankings - Game Week 4
Premier League Power Rankings - Game Week 4
1/17 17) Petr Cech (Arsenal) - new entry
The Arsenal goalkeeper has atoned from his dreadful first Premier League match for the Gunners and with it returns to our Power Rankings. His first half performance in the 0-0 draw with Liverpool was brilliant and arguably earned his new side a point. With Arsenal's defence looking uncertain so far this term, Arsenal need Cech to maintain that form. Last fixture: D - 0-0 - Liverpool Next fixture: Newcastle (a)
2/17 16) Callum Wilson (Bournemouth) - new entry
Wilson was an early entry on our Power Rankings but dropped out after failing to score in his first couple of games. We got it wrong. The Bournemouth striker announced himself to the Premier League last weekend with a hat-trick in the 4-3 win over West Ham. Leicester at home presents Eddie Howe's team with a decent opportunity to get a run together. Last fixture: W - 3-4 - West Ham Next fixture: Leicester (h)
3/17 15) Jefferson Montero (Swansea City) - up 2
Branislav Ivanovic then Daryl Janmaat felt the full force of the Ecuadorian's devastating start to the season and he played his role in ensuring Swansea kept up their unbeaten start to the campaign in the 1-1 draw with Sunderland. This weekend he'll be taking on Matteo Darmian of Manchester United - a player picking up many plaudits as well. So who will come out on top? Last fixture: D - 1-1 - Sunderland Next fixture: Manchester United (h)
4/17 14) Salomon Rondon (West Brom) - down 1
A club record price-tag will come with hefty expectations but in the defeat to Chelsea Rondon showed enough to suggest he'll cause defences a few problems this season. Tony Pulis will certainly be hoping so considering his side are currently propping up the table. Last fixture: L - 2-3 - Chelsea Next fixture: Stoke (a)
5/17 13) Yohan Cabaye (Crystal Palace) - up 2
Crystal Palace have made an excellent start to the season, winning two and narrowly losing to Arsenal. Cabaye has played a massive role in that and if they are to put Chelsea back into a 'crisis', then the Frenchman will be key. Without the suspended John Terry marshalling the defence this weekend, there could be a few gaps for Cabaye to find. Last fixture: W - 2-1 - Aston Villa Next fixture: Chelsea (a)
6/17 12) Romelu Lukaku (Everton) - down 6
When you pay £28m for a striker you expect something special and that was the exact performance Lukaku delivered against Southampton. But the Everton striker was again drawing blanks in the defeat to Manchester City. A game against Spurs sees two teams with ambitions of being the best of the rest - can Lukaku be the difference at White Hart Lane? Last fixture: L - 0-2 - Manchester City Next fixture: Tottenham (a)
7/17 11) Pedro (Chelsea) - new entry
The former Barcelona man hit the ground running at Chelsea, playing an integral role in Chelsea's first victory of the season, a 3-2 win over West Brom. Having scored the first, the Spaniard set up the second and despite Chelsea having their backs to the wall after John Terry's red card, Jose Mourinho showed enough faith in him to keep him on the pitch until the 84th minute. With his home debut this weekend, expect Pedro to star. Last fixture: W - 2-3 - West Brom Next fixture: Crystal Palace (h)
8/17 10) Harry Kane (Tottenham Hotspur) - down 1
Saido Berahino won't be going to Tottenham this summer, although the arrival of South Korean Hueng-Min Son in a £22m deal from Bayer Leverkusen has gone some way to alleviating the concerns about a lack of attacking threat at White Hart Lane. That said, Kane remains top dog but must start scoring if he's to justify that position. Last fixture: D - 1-1 - Leicester Next fixture: Everton (h)
9/17 9) John Stones (Everton) - up 3
Stones has been told he's going nowhere this summer, despite a massive bid of £38m for his services from Chelsea. The England international is said to be devastated at the Toffees' refusal to do business. But Roberto Martinez is expected to keep picking him so how he performs at the weekend will be fascinating. Last fixture: L - 0-2 - Manchester City Next fixture: Tottenham (a)
10/17 8) Wayne Rooney (Manchester United) - up 2
After his hat-trick against Club Brugge in midweek after a 10 game goal drought, there is a feeling that Rooney is back. But now he must convert it to the Premier League and with Louis van Gaal's side scoring just two Premier League goals in three games, the pressure is back on the skipper. Last fixture: D - 0-0 - Newcastle Next fixture: Swansea (a)
11/17 7) Eden Hazard (Chelsea) - down 2
Like the rest of the Chelsea team, Eden Hazard has looked out of sorts in the opening couple of weeks of the season. The arrival of Pedro could spark a revival in his form with the pair linking up dangerously in the 3-2 win over West Brom. Last fixture: W - 2-3 - West Brom Next fixture: Crystal Palace (h)
12/17 6) Sergio Aguero (Manchester City) - down 3
As long as Sergio Aguero stays fit, Manchester City will be among the favourites for the title. There is no other striker like him in world football - so adept with his movement in and around the box that he makes world class defenders look like Sunday league players. At home to Watford, he'll be hoping to add to the goal he scored against Chelsea last time out at the Etihad. Last fixture: W - 0-2 - Everton Next fixture: Watford (h)
13/17 5) Riyad Mahrez (Leicester City) - up 3
What a start for the Algerian, who has scored in every game for Claudio Ranieri's surprise package. The latest came against Tottenham and it would be unwise to back the current Premier League top scorer not to add to his tally at Bournemouth. Last fixture: D - 1-1 - Tottenham Next fixture: Bournemouth (a)
14/17 4) Jermain Defoe (Sunderland) - up 3
By scoring the equaliser in last weekend's 1-1 draw with Swansea, Defoe went some way to calming what has been turning into something of an early crisis at the Stadium of Light. The Black Cats remain among many people's favourites for the drop but if Defoe can keep on scoring - he has two in three PL matches and scored a hat-trick in the Capital One Cup in midweek - there's a glimmer of hope. Last fixture: D - 1-1 - Swansea Next fixture: Aston Villa (a)
15/17 3) Alexis Sanchez (Arsenal) - down 1
The Chilean is just so crucial to any hopes Arsenal have at the title this season. The Gunner failed to score against Liverpool on Monday night and if they are to seriously challenge, they must add to their solitary win this season. Sanchez will be central to that happening. Last fixture: D - 0-0 - Liverpool Next fixture: Newcastle (a)
16/17 2) David Silva (Manchester City) - down 1
Silva is a singular talent in the Premier League. There are others like him - Juan Mata, Mesut Ozil - but neither of those two players has matched the level that Silva can reach when he is on form. Was again excellent in the most recent Manchester City win as Manuel Pellegrini's side maintained their 100 per cent start to the season with victory over Everton. At home to promoted Watford, expect Silva to excel. Last fixture: W - 0-2 - Everton Next fixture: Watford (h)
17/17 1) Christian Benteke (Liverpool) - up 3
He might not have scored at the Emirates on Monday night, but Benteke continued to show that he brings a different dimension to Liverpool's strike force. A home game against West Ham's leaky defence presents an excellent opportunity to add to his only goal of the season so far, which came at Anfield against Bournemouth. Last fixture: D - 0-0 - Arsenal Next fixture: West Ham (h)
This week Martinez and Kenwright combined to finally convince Chelsea, and everyone else, Stones was not for sale, not at any price. Not this year at any rate. Everton may not be a buying club this summer, not significantly, but they are no longer a selling club either.
Similarly Tottenham were forced to accept West Bromwich Albion’s Jeremy Peace meant it when he said Saido Berahino was not for sale. They have looked elsewhere, quickly wrapping up the £21m purchase of Son Heung-min, last season’s leading scorer for Bayer Leverkusen.
Leverkusen are in the Champions League, indeed they have been regulars in recent years. West Brom have not been in Europe since 1981 when they went out to Grasshoppers in the Uefa Cup first round. Yet it is Albion who have the financial muscle to resist Tottenham.
On Saturday Albion are at Stoke, for whom Xherdan Shaqiri will make his home debut. That’s the ex-Bayern Munich and Internazionale winger who scored a hat-trick for Switzerland at the World Cup and who, at 23, has his best years ahead. Elsewhere Dmitri Payet, Andre Ayew and Yohan Cabaye will be playing for West Ham, Swansea and Crystal Palace respectively.
It may not seem obvious, since we can all name this season’s likely top four before the season starts, if not the order they will finish, but one of the notable aspects of the Premier League is the equitable share-out of the spoils. It is Champions League revenue, merchandising, ticket sales and the generosity of billionaires that set the top four apart, not domestic TV income. That means even the smaller clubs are now bringing in so much wealth that, despite continued salary inflation, if they do not want to sell a player – and, crucially, he is under contract – they do not have to. Everton sold Rooney because they were going bust; they are holding on to Stones because they are financially sound, if not generating – nor investing – as much income as Kenwright’s critics would like.
Six Premier League clubs have this season broken their record fee while Chelsea are in line to be the seventh if they persuade Juventus, Italy’s wealthiest and most storied club, to sell Paul Pogba for £70m.
That would be Europe’s biggest deal of the summer and highlights another shift in the transfer market’s tectonic plates. The relaxing of Uefa’s Financial Fair Play rules, which Arsène Wenger on Friday bemoaned, has enabled the owners of Manchester City and Chelsea (plus Paris St-Germain) to flex their financial might once more. If the deals for Pogba and Kevin De Bruyne are done those two clubs will have been involved in four of the top eight transfers in Europe this summer. City’s cash also funded Liverpool’s purchase of Christian Benteke via the Raheem Sterling fee.
English market dominance should become even more pronounced when the new TV deal kicks in next season. Surely, then, Premier League clubs’ European performance will improve, not least because opponents are weakened? Already Manchester United have been drawn in a group featuring PSV Eindhoven – from whom they bought Memphis Depay and who sold Georginjo Wijnaldum to Newcastle United, and Wolfsburg, who seem poised to sell De Bruyne to Manchester City. City, meanwhile, could play a Juventus side bereft of Pogba.
“It will be very difficult – apart from Bayern Munich – to compete with the Premier League in the future,” said Klaus Allofs, director of sport at Wolfsburg, after discussing City’s “astonishing” wages offer to De Bruyne. Therein lies the caveat when it comes to the Champions League. As Manchester United’s doomed pursuit of Thomas Müller revealed, Bayern, like Real Madrid and Barcelona, are rich enough to resist English clubs. They benefit from a much less even split of domestic TV revenue than in England.
Those superclubs are not, though, in the Europa League and it is about time English clubs made an impact. That West Ham and Southampton should be knocked out by clubs of such inferior resources as Astra Giurgiu and Midtjylland is simply embarrassing. In both competitions English clubs need to turn paper riches into silver trophies.
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