Hurray!!! After just two games it is already apparent that this season will be tangibly different from last year. For starters, both the best (three victories over Spurs) and worst (losing six points to mighty Palace) points of last season have already been overturned. We were promised more open football and already we have scored two stunning strikes while failing to keep Sam's beloved sheets clean on both occasions!
Yesterday's game put the Spurs defeat in context - in all honesty, we deserved to beat Spurs and although the first sending off was fortuitous, we should have strolled home ad were battering them in the period up to the penalty. Enough said, it was one of those smash n grab raids that you just have to chalk down to experience.
Sam finally revealed a more expansive set up yesterday. One wonders if this is partly because in Kouyate we have a midfielder with presence to partner Noble? His all round play was again impressive and perhaps most noticeably, his mobility allowed us to quickly switch into attack. Similarly, Zarate buzzed around the place posing a constant irritation to Palace and was pleasingly involved in defensive as well as attacking efforts (with one 'naughty' Nolanesque challenge duly noted!).
Cresswell also looks excellent - and he can cross the ball with that crucial bit of 'zing' that makes for a real goal opportunity rather than a simple collect and catch that follows Jarvis' usual floated efforts. Nice feet going forward and it looks like he can defend a bit as well, but let's see some more before we firmly commit on that.
Palace were well outplayed throughout and apart from a are piece of quality from Chamakh, looked flat and rudderless. They need a manager asap. Maybe the board should eat humble pie for the sake of the club and bring Pulis back? Better to be a little embarrassed now than damned by their league position at the end of the season?
It's unclear how long Nolan's shoulder injury will keep him out. Perhaps much more intriguing is how long Zarate's performances will also keep him on the bench when he is fit again?
No such worries for the Duracell-powered Mark Noble. Diego Poyet is clearly being groomed as a back up for the midfield engine room but Noble has plenty left to give and surely it's time he was given the Captain's role he so clearly deserves?
And also, it was great to finally get a glimpse of Teddy Sheringham in his new role - we were beginning to wonder if he really had taken up the role as attacking coach!
As always, it's great to see Carlton 'Killer' Cole on the score sheet. The big man has been a loyal servant to the club through thick and very thin. However, the arrival of Diafra Sakho, who looked a real livewire and a proper nuisance when he came on, probably signals that Carlton's contribution will diminish as we move on.
Finally, wasn't it a treat to have Bazza Davies doing MOTD old-school with that eerie silence after the away team scores (which was quite a lot yesterday!). He's a legend, truly!