Five things we’ve learned from the opening Premier League weekend:
Liverpool and Tottenham: Don’t panic yet
It is easy to get carried away with opening day results. Liverpool and Tottenham, coming off the back of a hectic summer during which both clubs have undergone sweeping changes both suffered defeats which on face value at least have the ability to demoralise, but neither set of fans should worry just yet.
Liverpool’s loss in particular appeared misleading. Although a 3-0 defeat against West Brom is hardly the ideal way for Brendan Rodgers to start his time in charge, a wonder goal, two penalties and a sending off will not happen in many games and if the scoreline is taken out of the equation, in the first have at least they created enough opportunities to win. That, rather than the scoreline, should be focused on as it is certainly a problem for his side.
For Tottenham, who were without key players Scott Parker and the wantaway Luka Modric, there appeared to be the green shoots of Andre Villas-Boas’ style coming through, especially in the way they pressed Newcastle. Unfortunately for the Portuguese boss he does not yet have the squad he desires so had to compromise on his formation, but Spurs deserved at least a point. At the very least they have already started this season better than the last one.
Olympics, what Olympics?
If there was any remnant of the anti-football feeling ushered in alongside the wave of euphoria felt following a successful Olympics for Team GB, the drama in the Premier League on the opening weekend has certainly done enough to show just why football attracts so much attention.
Football has become something of an easy target after a summer showing just how great sport can be, but is the fans, journalists, clubs and players who have helped football reach such an elevated status; so for them to round on the game seems strange. It’s always nice when the game gives something back in the shape of pure drama and this weekend has shown that maybe football isn’t so bad after all.
26 goals in nine games, seven penalties and in Southampton v Manchester a game of such drama that no words are required. Except these: Welcome back, the Premier League.
Eden’s a Hazard
Football can be a jealous sport and when Eden Hazard fell on his face attempting a back-heel in the Community Shield, the jeers from the Manchester City fans echoed all the way down Wembley Way.
The Belgian entered Chelsea’s first game of the new season with something to prove and let rip, helping Chelsea race into a 2-0 lead inside the first ten minutes against Wigan.
The talented youngster will no doubt be on the receiving end of plenty of abuse this season – the fee and the transfer saga that surrounded him this summer ensure that he is treated in a manner similar to Cristiano Ronaldo – but his directness and his turn of pace means Hazard will torment teams a lot better than Wigan this season. Maybe £30-odd million for an unproven youngster isn’t too much, after all.
Man, they're good
They just won’t let it go will they? How many times have Manchester City looked like throwing away their brilliant home record that stretches back to December 2010 only to pull something magical out of the fire?
They did it against Sunderland last season, claiming a remarkable 3-3 draw having looked out of it, and they did it against QPR on the last day of the season to claim the title. Their record now appears so vast that it has taken on a life of its own, casting doubt in the minds of their opponents and spurring them on to get a result.
Regardless of how cranky Roberto Mancini is at the lack of transfer activity this summer, in his side’s home form he may just have a weapon up his sleeve that is more powerful than any multi-million pound signing.
It's all to play for
First there was the big four. Then the big six. All last season did was prove that all bets were off and now in the first weekend there has been more than enough evidence to suggest that any team can beat one of the big boys on any given day.
Southampton and Wigan can make excellent cases for saying they deserved something from their opening fixtures while Sunderland did will to stifle Arsenal. New boys Reading and West Ham picked up points against established Premier League sides and with the likes of Tottenham, Liverpool and Chelsea all in various states of flux, there is plenty of evidence already to suggest that this could be the most open, and most entertaining season yet, outdoing last term in the process.
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