Twelve of our games this season will be against London clubs, and our results against these rivals will go a long way to shaping our success or failure this campaign.
Derby games are so different to your other league games, and we need to make sure we are in the top three in this mini-league if we want to have another successful campaign. There are some derby games that we will be looking at now – particularly at home, and especially against Fulham – where we need to win.
But having said that, we didn’t beat Brentford home or away last season and these derby games are always unpredictable. It’s not going to be easy for us. Brentford had our number last season, Palace are playing well too.
Then you add Arsenal and Spurs who have started the season well and Chelsea who no doubt will come good. I’d be amazed though if any of those three win the Premier League just because of the amount of London derby games this season. I really do think these games will have a massive impact on the Premier League table as a whole.
Sixth or eighth
And despite our start to the season, I think we are realistically still looking at sixth to eighth in the table. We achieved well over the last couple of seasons and there’s no reason why we can’t do that again. But we are just going to have to be on the metal all the time to make up for our start.
Liverpool have had a poor start too but they will undoubtedly be up near the top at the end of the season.
Man City are already up there as are Spurs and Arsenal. As I said, Chelsea will come good too so that’s already five teams I think we’d finish behind so If we can get next best after those teams then we’ve done well.
But it does feel like we are playing catch up with the rest and that puts a slightly different pressure on you as a player. We should’ve been looking at four points from our first three games if we are being realistic. And now we’ve got tough games coming up against Spurs and Chelsea and that could leave us further behind.
The Man City game was a free hit for us and it could have been a lot worse on the day. Most would have settled for a 2-0 defeat after the game.
I felt like we played better against Forest and it was all about the chances we missed. We did everything but score in that game. It was pleasing we made chances but disappointing we didn’t take one of them. And how they scored their goal too, which was really scrappy, just added to a bad day at the office for us. The disallowed goal was one you’d see given other weeks, but I always ask myself, would we have wanted that goal to be disallowed if it was scored against us?
As for Brighton, there has to come a time that we beat them. It was probably the most disappointing performance out of the three. On the day it wasn’t how well Brighton played, it was how we didn’t turn up at all.
That’s the thing in the Premier League you have to be on it every game – week in, week out. If you are not all on it, if you have a few passengers, you are going to struggle. The second half was calling out for a change in formation from us. We could have played two up top.
On the flip side, we managed to get through the banana skin of a qualifying tie in the Conference League to make the group stages. And I hope because of how the squad has progressed in terms of transfers over the summer that the squad has much better depth and strength.
Moyes will need to utilise the squad more this season than he did last season to avoid the burnout our players had. There is no reason why we can’t make good use of the squad we have.
Moyes should give some of the youngsters game time too. Give them more experience and save the legs of some of the older members of the squad.
What the start of this season has shown is there are quite a few teams not firing on all cylinders yet. We just need to focus on getting some points on the board and as the season progresses, find some form.
I don’t think we are quite at panic stations yet. But that might change by the time I get to write my next column!