Premier League gets off to flying start on opening weekend

By Phoebe Evans

Working in a restaurant means that I often have to work long hours at the weekend. Unfortunately for me, last weekend was no different, and boy did I wish this weren’t the case.

Despite not being home on Friday night or Saturday for the thrilling kick off to the Premier League, I was fortunate enough to head to Old Trafford on Sunday to watch United’s opening match against West Ham. Before Manchester United’s 4-0 opener, however, there were several matches that shocked supporters and thrilled football fans who love the league for its ability to excite.

The big shock was Chelsea’s opening match against Burnley, as the Premier League title defenders lost 3-2 at home to a Burnley side who, like the Premier League champions, haven’t signed many players this transfer window.

There was nothing to admire about Chelsea’s discipline, with Gary Cahill sent off for throwing in a reckless tackle and Cesc Fàbregas seeing red after being booked for dissent and a dangerous challenge on Burnley’s new signing, Jack Cork.

It wasn’t the best defensive display from Chelsea, as they were unable to stop a Burnley side who pressed well and did not shy away from challenges.

Arsenal’s opening match against Leicester was a thrilling opener to the season on Friday, as the Gunners won 4-3 at home – a disappointing result for a Leicester side who came out all guns blazing.

Jamie Vardy put in a strong appearance, very reminiscent of two seasons ago when he was hailed as a legend by fans of the Foxes. Alexandre Lacazette also scored his first goal for Arsenal in the opening 2 minutes of the match with a cool headed finish on the end of a perfectly placed cross.

I can’t help but feel Leicester were hard done-by in this match, as both Vardy and Shinji Okazaki were able to tear the Arsenal defense apart on three occasions. However, Arsenal were able to get the clinical fourth goal to clinch the three points.

Liverpool’s draw against Watford was another interesting result, as it proved Jurgen Klopp’a side are as strong at the front as they are weak at the back.

Firmino looks as though he could have another strong season up front, and with the combination of him, Sadio Mané and new signing Mo Salah, they could be important for Liverpool’s score sheet.

Lovren and Matip at the back looked a bit of a mess, however, and were shown up by three Watford attacks. Liverpool’s defence was a trouble area for them last season, so it’s a wonder why Klopp hasn’t signed a strong centre back this transfer window.

Huddersfield striker Steve Mounie aided his team to a 3-0 away victory against Crystal Palace on Saturday. I don’t want to get caught up in the sensationalist hype around certain players early on in the season, but Mounie will be one to watch over this campaign and could be a crucial signing for Huddersfield, as his confidence in front of goal is something a newly promoted Premier League side needs.

Both of the Manchester clubs kicked off their Premier League campaigns with strong starts, with City winning 2-0 away at Brighton and United winning 4-0 at home to West Ham.

As a United fan myself, it was the perfect start to the campaign, with Lukaku scoring twice and showing why he is a force to be reckoned with up front. Paul Pogba and Anthony Martial also scored for the Red Devils in a game that made a decent West Ham side look no match.

Though many have been critical of United paying £40 million for an ageing Nemanja Matic, I think Sunday proved why they were willing to pay such a price – the 29-year-old was level-headed and critical in setting up several United attacks and will be a crucial player this season in dominating the midfield alongside the likes of Paul Pogba and Juan Mata.

From where I was sitting, West Ham did very little wrong in this fixture, though they weren’t particularly inspiring to watch as they were drowned out by a dominant United side.

Javier Hernández was awarded their man of the match, and although I am a big fan of the Mexico international, it was clear that a little more work needed to go into his combination with the midfield, as he became frustrated on a number of occasions by the lack of movement and effective passes from his teammates.

Manchester City put in a dominant performance against Premier League newcomers Brighton, though the match wasn’t particularly exciting. Sergio Agüero showed everyone that he is still worthy of starting up front ahead of Gabriel Jesus and Raheem Sterling with a strong performance and a goal in the 70th minute.

Other results included West Brom winning 1-0 at home to Bournemouth with yet another set piece, Southampton drawing at home 0-0 to Swansea, Wayne Rooney making his Everton comeback and scoring at home to help Everton win 1-0 against Stoke and Newcastle losing 2-0 at home to Tottenham.

The fixture at St James’ Park saw Jonjo Shelvey get sent off for pitifully stamping on Dele Alli after a rough challenge, and Harry Kane luckily escaping a sending off after a poor tackle. Kane seemed to carry on his tradition of not being able to score in August, missing multiple chances that in any other month would have been a sitter for last season’s Golden Boot winner.

Last weekend’s matches were a phenomenal watch, with many debutants scoring their first goals for their clubs, crunching tackles being made – some successful and many others not – and with some players showing flying starts to the new campaign.

The Premier League never fails to excite, and it seems this campaign will be no different. It is possibly the only top league in Europe where you can guarantee an upset in at least one fixture every weekend, and this weekend showed this quite clearly.

Many bookies have put their money on Manchester City to win the league this year, and many have United as second favourites, though you can never tell what surprises may be around the corner. Everton should surely be aiming for a top four finish with the amount of money Ronald Koeman has spent this transfer window, and it will be thrilling to see what Everton will produce this season after losing star man Romelu Lukaku. Furthermore, though Conte seems to constantly be complaining about Chelsea’s lack of signings this summer, the Italian will let their Premier League defence slip that easily. Let’s hope some of the other top sides produce some strong results so that the title race is just as thrilling as ever.

Photograph: Phoebe Evans

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