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Heroes and Villains: Return of Super Mario and Barton’s blushes

Heroes

Diego Costa and Cesc Fabregas
Dynamic duo Costa and Fabregas have so far swept aside all opposition in the Premier League’s opening weeks, with their prolific partnership providing three assists and two goals.

Returning hero Fabregas may now be a villain for Arsenal fans, but the super Spaniard made his bow for the Blues in swashbuckling style, dictating the match tempo at Turf Moor against Burnley. Jose Mourinho’s majestic matador laid opportunities on a platter for bullish Costa and Andre Schurrle.

It was more of the same against Leicester City, who battled the Chelsea well, but could not compete against Fabregas’ superior vision and sidekick Costa’s brute strength.

After flopping at the World Cup, Costa looked like he may be another victim of the Stamford Bridge striker curse. In welcome news for the Blues, though, he has so far illustrated all the hallmarks of a hero in the making, with his determination, power and pace helping Chelsea demolish all before them.

Stevan Jovetic
The Manchester City man was MIA for much of last season, but has returned with vengeance to confound his critics.

After entertaining the Etihad crowd by bagging a briliant brace against Liverpool, the forgotten man became a headline-making hero, laying down the gauntlet for fellow City strikers Sergio Aguero, Edin Dzeko and Alvaro Negredo.

Known affectionately as ‘Jo-Jo’ by former club Fiorentina’s fans, Jovetic may finally be about to shrug off the injury troubles that have blighted his career, and undergo a transformation from gangly supporting act, to leading man.

Mario Balotelli
It was the news every journalist wanted to hear, and every Man City fan feared: Super Mario is making his long-awaited return to British shores.

Controversy magnet Balotelli will likely fill the Luis Suarez-shaped hole at Liverpool in more ways than one, and Brendan Rodgers should be commended for providing Premier League fans with a truly like-for-like replacement.

As he prepares to don the prestigious red shirt, with Ballotelli’s Sky Blues past now a mere footnote in a short career that has so far spanned five clubs, fans can expect fireworks on the Anfield pitch- as well as in the bathroom.

With a rap sheet that reportedly includes doling out money to strangers, wandering around a women’s prison, fighting with Roberto Mancini and offering to kiss the Queen, we can’t wait.

Villains

Joey Barton
Always eligible to be considered a football villain, Barton earned his stripes this week by falling into a well-trodden twitter trap.

Big-mouthed Barton saw fit to offer his two-pennies worth on Tottenham’s team, less than a year ago claiming he could ‘destroy’ the Spurs midfield.

Sure enough, many fans have been on hand to remind the QPR player of his social media faux pas, following his poor performance at White Hart Lane, in which his team were smashed 4-0.

Three at the back
All of this summer’s most fashionable formations were displaying the must-have tactical accessory of three at the back, including World Cup darlings Chile and the Netherlands, who played sensational football in Brazil.

Unfortunately for Hull City, Manchester United and QPR, who have mustered one win between them so far this season, the system seems to have gotten lost in translation upon its application to the Premier League.

Dejan Lovren and Alberto Moreno
Expensive signings are often the focus of ire when they fail to justify their hefty price tags, quickly transforming potential saviours into much-maligned flops before they have had a chance to kick a ball in anger.

Liverpool’s combined £32m calamity defensive coupling will be no different if they keep up their current form. Culpable for all three goals conceded against City’s lethal predators, centre half Lovren and left back Moreno will be fan favourites at opposition grounds around the country if they continue in this vein.

An honourable mention must go to Moreno for continuing to play on whilst injured, though his team may have fared better with nine men.