The big transfer stories in the final run-up to English Premier League action was all about Clint Dempsey and Robin van Persie. So, where can we take the story after Matchday 1?
Hard to say how Dempsey, the unhappy American attacking star who so desperately wants out of Fulham, feels after the first round of relevant matches.
On the one hand, his old club managed just fine and dandy without him. “Fine and dandy” may not even do justice to Fulham’s opening day 5-0 win over Norwich, one that everyone will file under “Whoa! Who saw that coming?”
So Dempsey may be reconsidering his choice to essentially go on strike; he certainly would have wanted to stick his spoon into that creamy sundae of scoring delight around Craven Cottage on Saturday. (Aside: I will never understand all the cultural vagaries of English soccer. Said the English announcer on a glorious and sunny day in London as the teams took the field: “This is the sort of day you don’t want to play football, you just want to be on the beach. But the players will have to contend with it.” I shake my head.)
On the other hand, Liverpool’s season started with a crash landing, a 3-0 loss at West Brom. Not just a loss, but a setback in which the new way under manager Brendan Rodgers looked pretty limp; there was precious little fizz in the LFC attack.
Liverpool, of course, is the place most frequently linked to Dempsey’s departure from Craven Cottage, which everyone assumed would happen this summer, and which no one believed would devolve into the mess it has.
Dempsey has fizz. Plenty of it. So Liverpool clearly has more incentive today than yesterday to open the checkbook and meet Fulham’s asking price. (The price has been reported at about $14 million.)
So, too, may Arsenal, a club linked to Dempsey going back to last spring. The Gunners opened their post-van Persie era with an unlovely thud – although not one of Liverpool-thud proportions. Arsene Wenger’s team drew meekly with Sunderland (0-0) in one of those matches that any Premiership contender is generally expected to win.
The big question around the Emirates was whether the combined influence of incoming summer signings Olivier Giroud and Lukas Podolski (pictured) would represent anything close to adequate cover for van Persie? The first test says “Nope.”
Nothing says “nope,” in fact, like a scoreless draw with Sunderland. Worst moment for Gunners was Giroud’s 82nd minute miss after being put through beautifully by Santi Cazorla (the one summer transfer for Gunners who did pull his weight Saturday.)
So, Dempsey to Arsenal? Probably not – but it sure wouldn’t hurt.