The Shocks, The Unsurprising & The Heart-Warming - The start of the new Premiership season is fast approaching and here's what's happened so far

The Shocks:

1)   Stewart Downing scored a goal – and a good one at that – in Liverpool’s Europa League qualifier first leg victory.  Has the England winger turned over a new leaf, putting his dismal record of last season behind him? Well, let’s not get carried away quite yet.

2)   Nobody activated Demba Ba’s release clause before it expired last week.  Despite his torrid end to the season and dodgy knee, Ba is absolutely lethal and could have been a brilliant gamble for a number of clubs such as Spurs, who are still very light in the striking department.

3)   Rio Ferdinand found himself on the wrong side of a Twitter racism storm.  As the nation decides whether or not the term “choc ice” is racially offensive, Rio could be left with egg on his face following his brother’s role in the John Terry saga.

4)   Roberto Mancini has ruled out signing RVP.  As the Arsenal striker refuses to extend the solitary year remaining on his contract, Man City were touted as favourites to land the Dutchman’s signature.  However, despite the potential cut price, the player’s quality and City’s quest for world domination, apparently it isn’t going to happen.

5)   Arsene Wenger is spending some cash.  Almost as if the Arsenal boss knew contract talks with RVP would disintegrate, the Frenchman brought in Olivier Giroud and Lukas Podolski as early as the end of last season, and he doesn’t look like stopping there.  The acquisition of Malaga’a Santi Cazorla appears imminent and there may be more arrivals before the big kick-off.  A changed man?

The Unsurprising:

1)   Luis Suarez was booed at the Olympics and is in denial as to why.  Despite the obvious reasons to boo the Uruguayan – racism, diving, obsession with imaginary cards – he personally believes that Team GB fans were less than welcoming towards him because they fear his quality.  Muppet.

2)   Steven Pienaar has returned to Goodison Park.  It’s tricky to understand how a player can make little or no impact at one club, but work miracles at another.  Either way, Everton is the rightful home of the tricky South African and it’s good to see him back where he belongs.

3)   Roberto Martinez has signed a Spaniard.  Jordi Gomez, Andrea Orlandi, Albert Crusat etc etc… The Wigan manager is a fan of the Spanish and why not? They’re the best country in world football.  Ivan Ramis is the latest player to join Martinez from the home of tiki-taka as Wigan look to survive the drop once more.

4)   Alberto Aquilani is finally on his way out of Anfield.  Now recognised as one of the least successful signings in Premiership history, Xabi Alonso’s replacement at Liverpool didn’t exactly fill the Spaniard’s rather large boots.  The loan spells and bench warming are over as the Italian midfielder has secured a permanent move to Fiorentina.

5)   Joey Barton is flying under the moral radar to play some football.  Not one to always abide by the rules, QPR’s favourite pacifist has found a potential loophole to help him overcome his lengthy ban.  By going out on loan to a Football League club, his 12-match ban would occur sooner due to the volume of games played in the lower divisions.  Legal, but I assume we were all hoping Joey would be out of the game for as long as possible.

And finally…

The news that Stiliyan Petrov is winning his battle with leukaemia makes everything else seem a little irrelevant.  Good luck to Stan and I wish him a speedy recovery, as I’m sure everyone else does.