Finally, the Premier League is back, with football fans around the world rejoicing that the off season is now over.
With every team in action over the course of the first weekend, it proved to be a game week which offered a bit of an insight into what to expect over the coming months, at both the top, and bottom, of the table.
Friday Night Football
The action kicked off on Friday night, with Champions League winners Liverpool entertaining newly promoted Norwich at Anfield. In typical Liverpool fashion, Jurgen Klopp’s men brushed Norwich aside with relative ease, winning the game 4-1, but an injury to Alisson and several defensive frailties offered food for thought.
A Sterling Hat-trick
Saturday’s round of fixtures saw Man City thump West Ham, managed by former City chief Manuel Pellegrini, 5-0 at the London Stadium. While West Ham had a couple of decent spells in the game, City were ruthless, with VAR preventing them from winning by a much larger scoreline. Raheem Sterling, who seems to get better and better, bagged a hat trick, to kick start his season in style.
VAR Talking Points
VAR was again the talking point in one of the two games which ended goalless. Wolves felt aggrieved for having a goal chalked off for handball thanks to VAR, with Nuno’s men playing out a goalless draw at Leicester. The other game which failed to produce goals did see the first red card of the season, with Everton’s Morgan Schneidelin picking up two yellow cards, as Palace and Everton played out a nil nil draw at Selhurst Park.
Brighton & Burnley Do It In Threes
Ashley Barnes, who has improved in the goalscoring stakes year on year, bagged a brace as Burnley ran out 3-0 winners against Southampton at Turf Moor. They weren’t the only team to win 3-0 on Saturday, as new Brighton manager Graham Potter saw his side take the points and score three at Vicarage Road, in what many suggest was a surprise result.
New Teams Performance
Of the promoted teams, Sheffield United faired the best, with Billy Sharp’s dramatic equaliser against Bournemouth well deserved. Aston Villa had started superbly away at Spurs, with John McGinn taking advantage of some slack defending to put Dean Smith’s side in front. However, Spurs ramped up the pressure, and when new signing Tanguy Ndomblele scored a fantastic equaliser the writing was on the wall, with Harry Kane bagging a brace to see Spurs win 3-1.
Arsenal Get The Win
Sunday saw Steve Bruce take charge of hometown club Newcastle for the first time, with the visitors to St James’ Park being Unai Emery’s Arsenal. Bruce’s Magpie’s were well drilled and organised and managed to fashion the best chances of the game in many respects, but a defensive lapse saw an Ainsley Maitland-Niles ball well controlled and finished by Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, with that goal being the only one of the game.
Manchester United vs Chelsea
The clash between Manchester United and Chelsea at Old Trafford on Sunday was arguably the one everyone was looking forward too. With both clubs in a period of transition. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and Frank Lampard have turned to their respective youth systems, and things seemed to be going to plan for Lampard’s side, who were no doubt in the ascendency. This is in spite of Marcus Rashford putting United ahead from the spot in the 18th.
However, in the space of 95 seconds of the second half, first Anthony Martial, and then Rashford again, saw United 3-0 up on 67, with Dan James adding a fourth in the 81st minute after coming on less than ten minutes earlier. The 4-0 Manchester United win will offer food for thought for both managers, Lampard especially, with a lot of work to do.