It’s as if it never went away.
The Premier League kicked back into action over the weekend and it has already thrown up some major talking points. We’ve seen the defending champions fall at the first hurdle and the boos already ringing out at The Emirates.
That sandwiched winning starts for both Manchester clubs while Tottenham’s England contingent didn’t quite get off to the start they would have wanted after their Euro 2016 misery.
So without further ado let’s now run down the six key stories from the Premier League weekend…
The scoreline highlights how bad both defences were yesterday, but actually that’s a little unfair on Liverpool as once again Alberto Moreno was doing his best to single handedly help the opposition win. Liverpool thankfully had enough at top of the pitch to not have to worry about their defensive deficiencies, but Arsenal were not afforded the same luxury as their lineup resembled their own version of The Suicide Squad yesterday as a patched up Gunners showed they could be in for a long season.
After taking the lead through Theo Walcott who previously missed a penalty just two minutes before, they then staged a 20 minute capitulation after the break which led to 4 unanswered Liverpool goals. Philippe Coutinho’s free kick was the pick of the bunch.
Jurgen Klopp would have thought Christmas had come early when he saw the team that Arsene Wenger had offered up yesterday afternoon and the spotlight was very much on the young pairing of Calum Chambers and Rob Holding. It wasn’t a good day at the office for either of them especially Holding but the more the game went on the more the question of why Laurent Koscielny wasn’t brought back to action was asked.
An unlikely comeback was almost on the cards as Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Calum Chambers both got on the scoresheet, but this was once Liverpool had decided that it was already game over at 4-1. The result papers over the cracks somewhat for Wenger as he can now say that the team showed character but let’s be honest they showed nothing of the sort. First day back and there’s already boos in North London, could this be the season when Arsenal finally miss out on the Top 4?
If you’re a betting man then your coupon would have probably been busted by 2:30pm on Saturday as defending champions Leicester were beaten by Hull. This was a Hull side who seemingly had no chance of winning this game as they only had 13 fit senior players. It was Leicester who were upsetting the bookies last season but Saturday lunchtime saw them on the other side of a shock result.
It was a Leicester side who weren’t allowed to play to their full strengths, the pace of Jamie Vardy was very much nullified by the fact that Hull sat deep and the few chances that Vardy did have he subsequently managed to fire high or wide.
Hull got off to the perfect start but were pegged back by a Riyad Mahrez spot kick, but Mahrez was playing like a man who wanted to be elsewhere. With last season’s PFA Player of the Year yet to put pen to paper on a new contract, Leicester fans will be facing a nervy couple of weeks before the transfer window closes.
Leicester are used to not being the underdog, everyone knows their style and you can be sure that many other teams will be copying Hull’s blueprint for success during this campaign. The perfect start for Hull while it’s a dose of reality for Claudio Ranieri and co.
The main story that came out of The Etihad on Saturday evening was not the fact that Manchester City beat Sunderland – although they left that late – it was the fact that Joe Hart was dropped to the bench for Pep Guardiola’s first official game in charge.
With other goalkeepers being linked with moves to City it looks as if the writing could very much be on the wall for Joe Hart. Guardiola’s official reason for not starting the England no.1 was that he felt Caballero had the better on the ball qualities, if he did he wasn’t particularly showing them against Sunderland.
And it’s also a problem now for England where Sam Allardyce will now have concerns of his own, if Hart fails to win back his place from Caballero before the end of the month then it will seem unlikely that Hart will be starting England’s World Cup qualifying campaign in goal.
Hart may now have to look away from Manchester if he wants to salvage his career on both the club and country stage.
With Paul Pogba on the sidelines due to a one game ban that was carried over from his time at Juventus, the focus was on the Premier League debut of Zlatan Ibrahimovic and a return to management for Jose Mourinho and it’s fair to say they passed their first test on the South Coast with flying colours.
It may not have been the most pulsating of encounters but once United found their groove they never looked in danger. Goals from Juan Mata who seemed to have put his Community Shield embarrassment behind him, captain Wayne Rooney and who else but Zlatan Ibrahimovic sealed a comfortable win for United.
Bournemouth spent big by their own standards but you get the feeling they may have been better suited spending that money on defence rather than attack. Jordon Ibe at £15m looks somewhat of a luxury player and with the Cherries set to battle against second season syndrome is it a luxury that they can afford?
On the basis of this game you get the feeling that United may not be the most entertaining side that you’ll watch this season but they certainly have a very good chance of going on to win a first title since 2013. Next up the Paul Pogba show finally comes to town as he is set to make his United return on Friday night at home to Southampton.
If ever a game was to fit the cliche ‘a game of two halves’ then this would have been the perfect example. Everton were on top in the first half but they failed to make their dominance count while Tottenham showed the kind of form after the break that earned them a Champions League place last season.
After a terrible end to that season it wasn’t the best of starts for Mauricio Pochettino’s men in this one as Ross Barkley’s freekick ghosted into the net without anyone getting a touch add that to Hugo Lloris getting an injury in the first half and it looked like it was going to be a long afternoon for the north London side.
But a tactical shift at half time saw Spurs look a much more lively outfit and new signing Vincent Janssen had a large part to play in that. With the rare sight of Tottenham having two strikers playing at once they wrestled back control of the game and Erik Lamela’s equaliser was nothing short of deserved.
With Lamela now in his third season in a Spurs shirt this is arguably his make or break campaign and more performances like the one he showed on Saturday will certainly show that he will make it. Were it not for the agility of Maarten Stekelenburg he could have very well got a late winner. But a share of the points was arguably the fair result and neither side will have too many complaints with that.
It may perhaps be a bit too early to start talking about six pointers but the game between Burnley and Swansea certainly had that feel to it. Burnley have failed to add any real quality to their squad over the summer while Swansea seem to have let all theirs leave the Liberty Stadium.
For the Swans, life goes on without players such as Andre Ayew and Ashley Williams and they got off to the perfect start on Saturday thanks to Leroy Fer’s late winner at Turf Moor. Swansea are for many the one established team that could struggle this season so to get three points on the board on the opening day will come some way to silencing the critics.
But it’s going to be a long season for Francesco Guidolin’s side and in fairness, even with all the players that have left South Wales over the summer months they should be expected to beat Burnley. It’s how they fare against other teams in the league which will be the measure of this campaign and whether or not they can beat the drop.
For Burnley there is still time to get a couple of new faces in before the transfer window closes but once again it seems Burnley are going to opt for a hard working unit of players over ones with any discernible talent.
These are players that certainly won’t disgrace themselves but they could really do with getting hold of some quality otherwise it could be the same story as two seasons ago when they lost the fight against the drop.
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