After nearly three months of trying to fill the void with endless pre-season friendlies, a rather tedious European Championships and perhaps even some scarcely bearable Major League Soccer, the Premier League has returned and we can all relax and enjoy what is set to be one of the most exciting seasons in recent times.
The opening weekend provided some genuine shocks, some stunning goals and a Premier League classic in the seven goal thriller at the Emirates on Sunday. The opening day also gave many fans the chance to catch a glimpse of the new signings at their respective clubs and how they fare as they enter the Premier League battlefield for the first time.
While much has been made of the arrivals of Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Paul Pogba, Ilkay Gundogan and the talents of experienced stars of the top flight like Sergio Aguero and Diego Costa, the five players who perhaps impressed the most in round one of 38, have been scarcely mentioned as potential stars this season.
Here are the five surprise star players of the opening weekend of the new Premier League campaign…
Arguably the lowest profile Manchester United arrival this summer, doubts were cast over the signing of young Eric Bailly, with many citing his lack of experience in professional football as a major negative entering the Premier League.
However, the Ivorian looks to have proved all of these doubters wrong, as he produced a markedly composed display in United’s opening weekend victory over Bournemouth.
Strong and quick, with a decent pass, Bailly could well be one of the most productive signings of the summer, if he continues to build on his confident displays.
At a cost of £34million, Sadio Mane still has plenty to prove in a Liverpool shirt. However, the Senegalese international has started his career with the Reds in fine form.
The 24-year-old was a key component of his sides’ 4-3 victory at Arsenal and topped his accomplished performance off with a remarkable solo goal.
In the midst of a cataclysmically dark cloud that is hovering over the KComm Stadium at the moment, a glorious ray of sunshine broke the gloom on Saturday as the Tigers grabbed a surprise win over last season’s Champions Leicester.
Sam Clucas, a man whose meteoric rise from non-league to the top flight has gone largely unnoticed, was superb in the middle of the park for Hull, looking totally comfortable with the pace of Premier League football.
Since arriving in England in 2013, Dutch ‘keeper Maarten Stekelenburg’s career has stagnated significantly. When signing for Fulham, the 33-year-old was the first choice stopper for his country and had arrived off the back of a superb season for Roma.
Since then, Stekelenburg has been relegated, loaned out to Monaco and Southampton, and released. Fortunately, the Dutchman has been handed a lifeline by compatriot Ronald Koeman, who has trusted the former Ajax man with the number one shirt at Goodison.
Stekelenburg duly repaid the faith that Koeman has shown him by producing some truly remarkable saves to keep Spurs’ ferocious frontline from netting more than once on Saturday.
Despite a decent debut season for West Brom in 2015/16, it always seemed as if there was more to come from Salomon Rondon, and judging by his performance on Saturday against Crystal Palace, there certainly is.
The Venezuelan looked fitter, stronger, faster and more hungry, dominating the Palace backline and combining well with his want-away strike partner Saido Berahino.
If Rondon continues in this vain of form, West Brom should have no problem avoiding the drop this season.