Premier League and international friendlies: things we’ll learn this month

World Cup winner Mario Götze will face a different sort of test against Scotland

World Cup winner Mario Götze will face a different sort of test against Scotland

The feeling of coming home from the supermarket and realising you’ve completely forgotten something is a familiar one to most of us, sometimes it’s something frivolous that you can do without, like organic cinnamon sticks, you have the dried stuff in the cupboard it’ll be fine, other times however it’s something vital, such as toilet roll, for which there really is no substitute. This is how many Premier League clubs will be feeling in the early days of September, whether it’s a third choice goalkeeper (the organic cinnamon) or a first choice goalscorer (the toilet roll) that’s been overlooked, the result will be much slapping of foreheads and murmuring of ‘I knew I should have made a list’. As is traditional Arsene Wenger will claim he didn’t forget the toilet roll at all, in fact he’s got some rather lovely wallpaper that can do just as good a job.


September sees a truncated set of Premier League fixtures due to the return of international football. Will the first round of Euro 2016 qualifiers bask in the feelgood factor engendered by the brilliant Brazilian World Cup? No, they won’t. The World Cup is over, it’s now frowned upon to go to the pub every night, the days of a 16 hour drinking session being justified by Iran vs Nigeria being on have long gone. Be prepared for people to moan about international football again. The standout fixture of the early qualifiers is of course world champions Germany hosting Scotland, now, whilst on paper the Germans would appear to be favourites it is telling that their lynchpin, the peerless Philipp Lahm has decided to retire rather than face the twin threat of Ikechi Anya and an overlapping Alan Hutton. Lahm has always come across as an intelligent man so don’t be surprised if Scotland take not only 3 points from the Westfalenstadion but the crown of ‘moral world champions’. England will get a satisfactory result (against whoever they’re playing) but there will be question marks over the performance, someone will be the new Gerrard, someone will be the new Lampard, they’ll never play together again.


Betting Instinct tipEngland to beat Norway in their friendly tomorrow night is 1.45 with 


Once all the international based fun is out of the way it’s back to league action. And straight away we have an absolute cracker on our hands as Arsenal host Man City, a good test of which is the more effective strategy when building an elite level team, just buying loads of players you like and think you could have fun with, or identifying which areas of your team need reinforced and swiftly purchasing players to do just that. At the other end of the scale, Hull vs West Ham is one of the televised games in September, anyone not emotionally invested in the outcome of that match that chooses to watch it needs professional help.


Man City have another big game later in the month when Chelsea come visiting, by far the two strongest sides in the league managed by two men not overly fond of the other, it could be a classic. It won’t, it’ll be a draw so dispiriting you’ll wonder what it was that made you fall in love with football in the first place.

Maybe it’s matches like the Merseyside derby that sparked your passion? But then again it’s also known as ‘the friendly derby’ which is just about the most offensive phrase (excluding all the genuinely bad stuff) you could possibly imagine so maybe not. The same weekend we also have the almost always entertaining North London derby, at the end of which we will see one of Arsenal or Tottenham hailed as title challengers, neither will challenge for the title, but you knew that.


The reduced fixture list probably means that none of the twenty Premier League managers will get the chop this month (this is conditional of course on them all resisting the temptation to indulge in some ‘friendly text message banter’ and in the process offend just about everyone on the planet).

One last thing, by the time September comes to a close and I sit here penning Octobers entry the quite brilliant Mario Balotelli will have done something that makes your heart sing with joy, I don’t know what he’ll do, you don’t know what he’ll do, Mario doesn’t know what he’ll do, but he’ll definitely do something.


Betting Instinct tip – Mario Balotelli to help Liverpool finish in the top three is 11/10 with


Ally avatarALLY MONCRIEFF is a freelance football writer and editor of All or Nothing magazine. Sometimes even he can’t tell if he’s being serious or not. Follow Ally on Twitter and maybe he’ll be your friend.




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