It looks like Emmanuel Adebayor is set to be given a ban of up to six weeks for his actions in Saturday’s win over Arsenal. Rightly so, too, in my opinion. The striker is accused of stamping on former teammate Robin Van Persie – when slowed down it does seem that he kicked out at Van Persie’s head.
However, the incident that troubled me most was his goal celebration. Quite why he saw it fit to run the length of a pitch to taunt the Arsenal fans I don’t know, but this is just the sort of behaviour we’ve come to see from the striker. He showed himself to be childish and insolent in his final season at The Emirates and his lack of effort on the pitch was clear for all to see. Disappointing as his behaviour on Saturday may have been, it certainly was not surprising.
However, we need to take a moment to look at the broader picture here. While Mad-ebayor may have stolen the headlines on Sunday’s back pages, the truth is that something else is at play. We could just have a new world order on our hands when it comes to the Premier League.
City’s 4-2 win was impressive in a way that not even the score line can convey. They were clinical, and organised in a way that a galaxy of stars shouldn’t be. There was no Tevez, no Roninho and no Santa Cruz in the side on Saturday but nonetheless Hughes’ side bossed the game. De Jong marshalled the defensive midfield while Gareth Barry and Stephen Ireland did enough to upset Arsenal’s usual slick passing. Sure, Arsenal had more possession and more chances, but City took there’s. This was a team performance that belies the way in which they’ve risen to become a genuine power in football.
In my work as a newsreader, I often call City’s home ground ‘The Middle Eastlands’ in reference to the way in which the club’s Arab owners are bankrolling their tilt at Premier League glory. Yet Saturday’s team wasn’t an example of how money has changed their fortunes. Adebayor, Touré and Lescott aside, most of the players on show for The Citizens were of the solid and dependable sort. Their man of the match was Craig Bellamy (not that I ever thought I would call him dependable) and among their other players on show were the likes of Shay Given, Micah Richards, Shaun Wright-Phillips and Wayne Bridge. All solid players, but none of them (with the possible exception of Given who was a relatively inexpensive purchase) are world-beaters. While the likes of Carlos Tevez and his reputed £47m transfer fee may grab the headlines, the quiet truth is that Hughes is quietly assembling a squad capable of breaking up the Big Four.
I am a Manchester United fan and thus should hate Manchester City and all who are partial to City but even I would welcome a much-needed change in the Premier League. And in a season when Liverpool and Arsenal are both struggling (even at this early stage), the truth is this could be the year that finally happens. I predict that we will see Manchester City play in the Champions League next season after they finish in the top four come May.
Can they maintain their impressive start and finish even higher than that? Probably not. I expect theit 100% start to end at Old Trafford on Sunday, but it won’t be an easy game for my Red Devils.