The Premier League has officially kicked off and it’s been a comparatively dramatic and exciting opening weekend. We’re going to have a look at some of the most significant fixtures and incidents and how they may impact the following weeks’ games.
The fixtures kicked off with Arsenal facing Leicester and getting all three points in a 4-3 win. it took new signing Alexandre Lacazette only two minutes to open his league account, followed with a quick reply by Okazaki of Leicester to equalise. The rest of the game had a frantic back and forth featuring a myriad of scorers for both teams; Jamie Vardy grabbed two, Welbeck pulled one back before half time, Ramsey converted in the 83rd minute and Olivier Giroud gave Gunners supporters a sigh of relief by notching the winner in the 85th. While it was an enthralling match, it unfortunately highlights Arsenal’s defensive frailties, an often-criticised element of Wenger’s tactics that he will need to address if Arsenal are to make their way back into the top four.
A similar back and forth trend was repeated in Liverpool’s visit to Watford where the teams shared points in a 3-3 draw. Unfortunately for Liverpool, Coutinho was an absentee, but new signing Mo Salah acquitted himself admirably, scoring alongside his fellow forwards Mane and Firmino. Unfortunately for Liverpool, due to ineffective defending at set pieces, Watford were allowed back into the match on more than one occasion after opening the scoring, and confirmed the draw in the 93rd minute after a mix-up in the box followed by uncertain keeping from Mignolet. Jurgen Klopp won’t be panicking yet, but it’s an unfortunate setback for the Reds, who would’ve wanted a more comfortable start to the season.
The most dramatic fixture of the weekend was probably the surprise 3-2 defeat suffered by Chelsea at the hands of Burnley at Stamford Bridge. The Blues looked disinterested at first and lost captain Gary Cahill to a harsh red card after a rash challenge. Burnley forward Vokes got two goals either side of a teammates 39th minute goal to put Burnley 3-0 up at half time. Despite a spirited resurgence by Chelsea in the second half through David Luiz and Alvaro Morata goals, the Blues ended up coming away with nothing from this match. Conte was visibly frustrated at his team’s performances, and it bears an uncomfortable resemblance to the way Jose Mourinho’s acrimonious last season at Stamford Bridge started.
The upset of the weekend goes to Huddersfield who visited Crystal Palace and managed to come away with a 3-0 victory in their Premier League debut. An own goal from Ward started Huddersfield off and they confidently built up subsequent attacks until forward Steve Mounie broke through the Palace defence on 26 and 28 minutes. Starting positively is usually a massive boost for Premier League debutants as every point ends up mattering in potential relegation scraps, setting Huddersfield up to potentially enjoy a better outlook that Brighton and Newcastle who both lost.
The question of whether or not Jose Mourinho’s Manchester United would compete for the title was emphatically answered in their 4-0 victory over West Ham at Old Trafford, where new signing Romelu Lukaku opened his United account with a brace, followed by goals from Martial and Pogba. All the problems United had last season in terms of scoring fell away and they managed to display their best attack performance since Sir Alex Ferguson left. It’s still just their first match, but their new signings seem to have clicked and they appear a far more polished product than they were last season.
Chelsea and Liverpool will both be concerned at their less than ideal performances, while Manchester City, United, Tottenham Hotspur, Arsenal, and Everton will feel they’ve gotten results that match their competitive objectives for this campaign. Next week’s blockbuster game is an all London affair as Spurs host Chelsea, will Conte’s men recover from their shock defeat or is Pochettino going to add to their misery?
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