Back with a lot of bangs

CALL it the chaos theory or the butterfly effect. And blame the Saudis!

The frustrations of Barcelona and Liverpool in particular, but also Real Madrid and Man United, not to mention the insanity of the transfer fees, can be traced to the Saudi Arabia-led political blockade of Qatar and the Qataris' football response.

Whether it's a butterfly in South America or a goalkeeper at Manchester City or Liverpool who flaps its wings, chaos will ensue. But no one could see this amount coming. And amid it all, the EPL got off to a flyer.

PSG's capture of Kylian Mbappe will surpass the £200m fee they paid for Neymar which sent the market into a new stratosphere. It led to Barcelona's pursuit of Coutinho and basically spoiled a summer on Merseyside.

The gazumping of Real Madrid for a player they thought was theirs for the taking – and with whom they had a deal - means Real will now keep Gareth Bale and thus prevent United from making their own marquee signing.

The two big losers are Barca and Liverpool – if Coutinho goes. And a measure of Catalan desperation can be seen from them agreeing the €40m release clause for Paulinho in China. Yep, a Tottenham dud but back in the Brazil national team.

Coutinho is several classes his superior but still not in the Neymar category. When he came back from injury last season, he made little difference until later on and his loss may not be as catastrophic as many Scousers fear.

And maybe not at all if FSG can get close to €150m for him and reinvest in either Napoli's Lorenzo Insigne or Schalke's Max Meyer as well as Virgil van Dijk.
Kopites may not admit it but part of the fear is of once again having to bow to the big boys and being labelled a selling club. At Watford it was déjà-vu just as it was for Arsenal who were aided greatly by the ref against Leicester. And Simon Mignolet showed glimpses of his old self too.

United pushed over a weak West Ham but sterner tests await. Having Welsh wizard Bale on the wing would just about make them unstoppable. They were much more impressive than City who flew the 300km to Brighton and played as if they had jetlag. They also showed a few typical Pep traits – players out of position and an iffy keeper.

Danilo demonstrated that he's very right-footed while Ederson was good with his feet but dodgy at the day job. Remind you of anyone? So Pep has spent £200m and still doesn't have a left back or a safe pair of hands...

Mourinho's recruits blended in much better with Nemanja Matic's presence even getting a proper shift out of Paul Pogba. It's not quite a Van Persie-style handing of the title but it could be close. But then Chelsea, as mentioned last week, are also in self-inflicted disarray.

With Jonjo Shelvey being man of the match for Spurs, the Londoners got the job done. But with many of their players earning nearly 100 grand a week less than they would elsewhere (Kyle Walker is picking up £150k to Danny Rose's £65k), there could be trouble ahead. A thorn in Daniel Levy's side indeed. They host Chelsea at Wembley next Sunday. Bring it on.


KEYSTONE KLOPPS: Liverpool defenders.
Pin-ball for first goal and keeper back to his old self, it showed why they need Virgil van Dijk. Worryingly for Kloppites, it may have shown why VVD may not be enough.


1. Wayne Rooney: 4,869 days after his last goal for Everton, Roo finally gets another. All that dreaming in Everton pyjamas must have worked. Did he go somewhere in the meantime?

2. Huddersfield Town: It was Aug 18, 1970 that the Terriers last topped the first flight – but they were back there on Saturday night. Prior to that, you have to go back to the 1920s for them to make a real impression. In 1926, they became the first English club to win a hattrick of league titles, a feat which only three other clubs have matched, and none have bettered. The first two were won under the legendary Herbert Chapman, who went on to repeat the feat at Arsenal. But they went 45 years bouncing around the lower divisions with only the odd sprinkle of stardust – Bill Shankly managed them in the late 50s when they boasted Denis Law and Ray Wilson.


If Manchester City's Gabriel Jesus had got away with handling the ball into the net at Brighton, would it have been called the Hand of Jesus?


Steve Monie: Like the rest of us, you can bet Danny Rose had to Google the Benin striker. But Huddersfield must have done more than that as they paid £12m for the Montpellier man. And what a start! Two goals with his first two strikes.


GOOD: The Premier League. It's good to have it back. Goals, upsets, controversies, ref justice ... we know why half the world watches. Just a pity it didn't end on Saturday.

BAD: Chelsea. Perhaps Roman is distracted by his third divorce. Perhaps his henchmen have too much power. Perhaps it's in the club's DNA. But the idea that Antonio Conte is already fearing for his job – he's a niggardly 7-1 third favourite in the Sack Race - is beyond ludicrous. They were robbed on Saturday by a card-happy ref and their own stupidity, but the last thing they need is to lose one of the best managers of the era.

UGLY: Jonjo Shelvey. The thug in Shelvey emerged once again to give the ref no option and ruin what chance the Magpies had of holding Spurs not to mention the entertainment for 50,000 fans and millions of viewers.

STUPID: Cesc Fabregas. Sarcasm gets you nowhere and can lead to you seeing red. The Spanish midfielder sarcastically applauded referee Craig Pawson to earn an automatic yellow against Burnley. Then he made a rash tackle that also deserved yellow which meant he was off and Chelsea were down to nine men. His absence undermined a late rally and cost them the game.