Premier League Thoughts: Matchday 5

Aug 2, 2014; Ann Arbor, MI, USA; Real Madrid goalkeeper David De Gea (1) during the first half against the Manchester United at Michigan Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports
Aug 2, 2014; Ann Arbor, MI, USA; Real Madrid goalkeeper David De Gea (1) during the first half against the Manchester United at Michigan Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports /

1) Will De Gea return to the Manchester United starting line-up?

David De Gea’s transfer to Real Madrid seemed permanently on the verge of completion throughout the summer until it bizarrely collapsed at the deadline with complaints from both United and Madrid as to each other’s conduct.

But now, in a shock turn of events, the Spaniard has signed a new four year contract at United.

This is a massive win for the club. After the collapse of his move to Madrid, De Gea was simply expected to run out the final 12 months of his contract before departing on  free transfer to resume a career in the Spanish capital. Now, with the goalkeeper signed up for a further three years following this season, United will be in a position to demand a mammoth fee for his services.

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It’s a result for De Gea as well; the rumoured terms of the contract suggest a tripling of the player’s salary, with the potential for his weekly wage to reach the 200k per week mark with various performance targets.

Despite these surprising developments, it still remains difficult to see De Gea’s long term future at United; this deal instead smacks of a mutually beneficial deal for both parties. United will be able to demand a higher fee next summer without the looming impediment of the player’s expiring contract, and De Gea drastically increases his earnings while he remains in Manchester.

Real Madrid and president Florentino Perez still want the player at the Bernabéu, and it would not be surprising to see them lodge a new bid for his services as early as January.

For now though, De Gea’s focus is on United and working his way back into the team.

Argentina international Sergio Romero has so far been the man between the sticks for United throughout the uncertainty surrounding De Gea’s future, but the Spaniard, unquestionably the most talented goalkeeper in United’s squad, will be expected to return to the starting line-up

2) Will Harry Kane carry his international form into the league?

Last season’s top English goalscorer in the Premier League with 21 goals, Harry Kane has so far struggled to live up to the expectations raised by his breakout campaign in 2014-15.

With zero goals so far in a Tottenham shirt, Kane finally got off the mark for this campaign by firing in a goal apiece for the national team against San Marino and Switzerland.

Undoubtedly the figurehead of the Spurs attack, Kane has so far looked isolated in the final third, devoid of support and opportunity. The few shots Kane has managed at the opposition goal have been a mixture of snatched half-chances, and optimistic long-range efforts.

Prior to the international break, Kane was struggling to truly impact games in the same manner that he was so accustomed to doing in 2014-15 and Tottenham have stuttered their way through the season’s opening few weeks as a result.

This team will only go as far as Kane’s goals can take them; without his 20+ goals a season, this Spurs team, as constructed, lacks the cutting edge to mount any real challenge for a Champions League berth and could possibly fall out of the European qualification places altogether.

There’s little to suggest that Kane is a one-season wonder; after scoring so many goals in such a variety of ways across an entire Premier League season, a player’s pedigree shouldn’t be in question. Kane has the talent to lead a team, and now must break his first ever domestic lean spell in front of goal to get the wheels moving on Tottenham’s season.

3) Where does Berahino fit into West Bromwich Albion’s future?

Filed next to De Gea, David in failed transfers that broke down amidst controversy, Berahino’s current situation is far more suspect.

After posting, and then later deleting, a tweet on deadline day declaring that he would never play for club chairman Jeremy Peace again in the wake of several rejected bids from Spurs, the prospect of Berahino remaining at the club long term appears to be bleak.

There has been no new contract for this wantaway star, nor public declarations of fielty to the West Brom cause. Instead, the player has been granted an extended leave of absence over the international break in an attempt to diffuse a troubled relationship between club and player.

Indeed, the break has probably come at the perfect time for both the player and the team; it has presented a chance to assess the situation for both sides and an opportunity to clear the air away from incessant press speculation surrounding the player’s potential squad inclusion.

No apology has been forthcoming from Berahino in the wake of his social media indiscretions, but manager Tony Pulis has still intimated that the young striker could soon find his way back in the side, and has said that he will be considered for the weekend’s contest against Southampton.

4) West Ham strive for some consistency

West Ham are just a beautiful mess right now, leaving their supporters and manager scratching their heads at such baffling inconsistency.

After a 2-0 opening day away win at Arsenal, West Ham then followed that up with two consecutive home defeats to Leicester City and Bournemouth, falling 2-1 and 4-3 respectively. West Ham then travelled to Liverpool and recorded a 3-0 away win–their first win at Anfield since 1963.

No one knows what to expect with this team but Monday night’s home game against Newcastle United offers the team a chance to establish some level of consistency.

So far, West Ham have looked incredibly soft against the teams they should feasibly be beating, shipping six goals across two games against Leicester and Bournemouth, and impervious in away games at the Emirates and Anfield, scoring five and keeping two clean sheets.

Their play has belied the expectations of the team in each match, but at home to Newcastle, they will hope to finally get some points on the board at home and string some consistency between games and performances.

They shouldn’t worry though. They play Manchester City at the Etihad next week..

5) Can Leicester City continue their blistering start against Villa?

Leicester have had a scintillating start to the season despite being among the favourites for the drop.

After sacking manager Nigel Pearson, who helped lead his team on a sensational end of season run to preserve their Premier League status, the Foxes hired the beloved uncle of European football, Claudio Ranieri.

For many this was another nail in the coffin of Leicester City that would surely result in relegation to the Championship. But so far, the Foxes have been rampant.

Following victories against Sunderland and West Ham, and draws with Spurs and Bournemouth, Leicester are one of only three teams still unbeaten in the Premier League–the others being Swansea and Manchester City.

This Sunday they go up against a Villa side flush with young talent but still struggling to carve out a consistent identity amid injuries and incomings. This Villa side has the makings of an exciting young team once the players reach a level of understanding and cohesion but until that point they remain vulnerable.

Leicester City are surely the favourites in this contest and will expect to continue their fine start to the season.