Pitchside

Losers and winners: Death to three at the back, All Hail Barry Davies

Pitchside

Losers

The concept of three at the back

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Louis van Gaal made three at the back en vogue again at the World Cup but it seems like his team are struggling to grasp the principals of the concept. Still at least they were competitive throughout their Premier League clash against Sunderland. QPR, who also started with a back three, were staggeringly inept in the first half of their 4-0 defeat to Tottenham Hotspur. They switched to a back four in the second-half and were better. Not good, but better. Is there a chance the system just isn't suited to the Premier League?

Joey Barton

Sticking with QPR – last year Joey Barton tweeted this…

Then this happened.

Alexis Sanchez

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Arsenal's big summer signing was hauled off at half-time in Arsenal 2-2 draw with Everton and has yet to spark into life in a Gunners shirt. Arsene Wenger says the Chilean is not yet fully fit and it is certainly not time to panic just yet, but with Mesut Ozil also having had an unremarkable first year at the Emirates, Wenger's ability to integrate marquee signings into his side will be called into question if things don't improve.

Ed Woodward

Angel Di Maria is undoubtedly a fantastic player but is seems amazing that Real Madrid are going to get more money for him than they paid for James Rodriguez. The reason they are selling Di Maria is because they found a younger, more marketable replacement in the Colombian. With PSG out of the mix due to Financial Fair Play restrictions, United are the only realistic suitors for Di Maria so why are they paying so much when Real Madrid are clearly keen to sell? Ed Woodward is supposedly a master at negotiating sponsorships deals but the same cannot be said of his transfer dealings.

People who paid money to watch Aston Villa v Newcastle

We have an early contender for the most boring match of the Premier League season already. Anyone for a t-shirt?

Winners

Chelsea's new boys

Chelsea were not great against Leicester City but they still steamrolled their way to three points by the end and the key reasons were three players who were not at the club last season. Cesc Fabregas, Diego Costa and the returning Thibaut Courtois all played superbly and the side looks significantly improved on last year's outfit. This was the sort of game that Chelsea would have dropped points in last season, but they look primed to be more consistent this year and are justifying their tag as pre-season title favourites.

The legend of Sir Alex Ferguson

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With just one point from six to start the season, it looks like Louis van Gaal is going to suffer similar troubles to the ones David Moyes endured last time out. Which begs the question, how on earth did Sir Alex win the 2012/13 title by ELEVEN POINTS??? That season only finished 15 months ago! It was an incredibly act of sorcery given that the players Ferguson was using look so average now. Of course, the fact that he left the club with such a sorry collection of "starts" is part of the problem now, but while that memory will dilute in time, all those trophies Fergie won will remain in the record books.

Tottenham's love affair with Argentina

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When Erik Lamela was signed for £30m last season, it was hoped that the young Argentine would bring the class and flair back to White Hart Lane once shown by club legends Ossie Ardiles and Ricky Villa. However, by the end of the season he was looking like one of the biggest flops in Premier League history with neither Andre Villas-Boas nor Tim Sherwood seemingly aware of what to do with him. Compatriot Mauricio Pochettino seems to have unlocked the code though, and appointing a coach that speaks Lamela's language – literally and figuratively – is starting to look like a shrewd move by Daniel Levy.

Barry Davies

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They say 'never go back' but that's clearly nonsense when you are as class an act as Barry Davies is. The veteran commentator made a one-off return to Match of the Day to celebrate the shows 50th anniversary and you have to say it was quite superb - there's no debate about that. Nobody can say 'ohh' quite like Davies and the gushing praise he received on social media for his commentary of Crystal Palace v West Ham was totally deserved. Nice touch with retro graphics too BBC.

West Ham's maligned men

Sam Allardyce, Carlton Cole, Stewart Downing….they have all received some heat in recent seasons but they put in a retro performance to go with the BBC's retro graphics.

Allardyce looked the prime contender to be the next manager to lose his job but he gave his team some much need breathing space with this win at Palace and in Mauro Zarate, the club's fans might finally have found the type of creative, exciting player they have been crying out for since the departure of Paolo Di Canio.

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