World’s favourite football league, the English Premier League, is back with the hype and the goals as the opening round of fixtures saw 25 goals scored and only the one goalless game at the south coast to bring us an average of 2.5 goals per game.
Other than the goals, these are the takeaways from the exciting games played, takeaways which could serve as pointers to how the season would run for each club.
Maximum Effort needed to dethrone Manchester City
The reigning champs were at their pacey and precise best in the opening 20 minutes of their title defence at Arsenal but actually only managed to get the win with a relatively average display.
City opened the scoring in the 14th minute through Raheem Sterling and while coming close to adding a second, the champs did not find their visit to the Emirates Stadium to be as easy as their last visit which saw them leading 3-0 at half-time.
Still, at half their best, City still brushed aside a gritty yet, on the day, largely harmless Arsenal side playing a first competitive game with Arsène Wenger NOT at the helm in 22 years.
Liverpool could be that one true title challenger
While Man. City laboured to a win, the team tipped to give the moneybags a run for their riches delivered on the hype. Oh yes, Liverpool were sumptuous in the 4-0 thumping of West Ham United on Saturday.
Even better was the fact that the Reds’ front three got some goal action with last season’s golden boot winner Mo Salah taking just under 20 minutes to open his account, Sadio Mane scoring twice and Roberto Firmino assisting one of those Mane goals.
New arrival, Naby Keita, was a joy to watch as he embodied the relentless football Liverpool aim to challenge City’s throne with, while Alisson was largely untroubled in goal.
In all, the Reds made a huge impression and lay the gaunlet
not of infinity stones down to the rest of the league. City may be the team to beat, but Liverpool surely would be a team difficult to beat too.
Arsenal fans should give it some games
It bode of recent memories not so fond when Arsenal fans watched their team flatter to deceive in the 2-0 loss to Manchester City to close the curtains on the Premier League’s opening weekend.
The Gunners showed a bit more grit and actually won back possession more times than usual as new coach Unai Emery looked to instill his philosophy to the team alas, in futility.
While there were sparks of brilliance from Arsenal, there were also signs of work-in-progress in forward transitions, defensive lapses, and profligacy in front of goal.
Arsenal have a long season ahead to fix all that, however, and could come good next season or the one after only if the club and its fans are patient with the new coaching set-up.
The good news for Arsenal fans is that their club has potential to achieve, so giving the team time to get going ought to pay off. Bad news, though, is the fans have heard it all before. Plus, the Gunners travel to face Chelsea next and the Blues are in good mood.
Many new signings doesn’t always make a winning start
Transfer window activity tends to make the teams bringing in new players brim with more confidence until, for instance, West Ham and Fulham get a reality check in game one of what would be a gruelling, 38-game season.
The Hammers got a 4-0 *ahem, hammering at Anfield even after handing starts to new signings Jack Wilshere, Felipe Anderson, Łukasz Fabiański, and Fabian Balbuena, while Andriy Yarmolenko watched from the bench and Lucas Perez was not in the squad.
Even Fulham could not avoid going down 2-0 at home to Crystal Palace despite starting with Andre Schürrle, Jean Michel Seri, Calum Chambers, and Aleksandr Mitrović.
Wolverhampton Wanderers fared better, though, twice coming from behind to nick a thrilling 2-2 draw at home to Everton, but it was last season’s star, Ruben Neves, that drove the newly promoted side.
Wolves started with Rui Patricio, Joao Moutinho, Diogo Jota, Willy Boly, and Raul Jiménez but Neves it was who scored to make it 1-1 with a beautifully dispatched free kick and then he set up Jiménez for the late equaliser.
EPL could do with VAR
There’s goal-line technology at least, and it was deployed to give Tottenham Hotspur the lead through Jan Vertonghen but having enjoyed it at the FIFA World Cup in Russia, the world would be clamouring for Video Assistant Referee to be a thing in the Premier League real soon.
One instance it could have been deployed was in Arsenal’s loss to Man. City in which calls for a penalty from the Gunners was waved aside after defender, Shkodran Mustafi looked to have been pulled down in the City area by City’s Benjamin Mendy.
If that happened in Russia, you could bet your house VAR would have been called on to decide if play should have continued or that Arsenal be awarded a penalty. Plus, the suspense of awaiting the final decision plus watching the referee make the VAR gesture get fans going.
Premier League results
Manchester United 2-1 Leicester City
Newcastle United 1-2 Tottenham Hotspur
Huddersfield Town 0-3 Chelsea
Watford 2-0 Brighton
Fulham 0-2 Crystal Palace
Bournemouth 2-0 Cardiff City
Wolverhampton Wanderers 2-2 Everton
Liverpool 4-0 West Ham United
Southampton 0-0 Burnley
Arsenal 0-2 Manchester City