Life returned to normal this weekend with the start of the 26th Premier League season. It’s been a good summer, but it’s time to get back to the serious stuff. Here are 5 things we learned from the opening weekend’s action …
The promoted clubs are going to have long, hard seasons despite investment
Much was made of the heavy investment by the three promoted clubs this season. Many were billing Fulham and Wolves as surprise packages going into this Premier League season. Both clubs spent heavily on their squads with promotion secured and the fruits of the top flight available to them.
However an opening weekend saw two defeats and a draw for the new comers, with only Wolves managing a point at home against ten men. The other two didn’t even score and managed just seven shots on target between them. Now it would be unfair to write off all three sides following a disappointing opening weekend, but their flat performances against very well established Premier League sides left a lot to be desired.
Wolves, Fulham and Cardiff will hope that they can click into gear a lot more than they did this weekend. It will prove to be a long and arduous campaign for them, with the big boys, if they don’t show rapid improvement and that extra bit of top flight quality.
Newcastle show plenty of fight with Rafa
If there was plenty of optimism from the likes of Wolves and Fulham going into this weekend’s fixtures, then spare a thought for Newcastle and their beleaguered fans. A negative net spend, a top class manager starved of funds and an owner more keen on buying up failing high street chains then investing in his football club.
All that being said, The Magpies put up a wonderful fight against Spurs in their opening day game at St James’s. Spurs managed to hang on for 1-2 win, but Rafa’s men showed that they are going to show plenty of quality and graft this season. They will likely need to give everything in their lockers to avoid trouble, but you get the feeling that with Benitez there they have a fighting chance. Some investment would be nice, but you feel that is light years away with Ashley in charge of the purse strings
Pogba showing all the right signs
Paul Pogba has found himself in the firing line during his second stint at Old Trafford from certain sections of the press and the United fan base. He has come under scrutiny for certain performances which haven’t quite lived up to hype of his £89 million price tag, with some saying he is too much of a luxury good for the day to day toil of The Premier League.
Now a deserved World Cup winner and back for a fresh term with Manchester United, Pogba was excellent in their curtain opener against Leicester City. Operating in a pivotal midfield role, the Frenchman was instrumental to everything positive done by United on Friday night. Every pass was weighted perfectly, and every attacking move seemed to stem from the number six. Pogba was purring by the end of night and showing real danger signs to United’s rivals that he could be the difference. He also scored a brilliantly comical penalty, worthy of the eccentricity Mousier Pogba oozes.
Liverpool playing without the millstone
Liverpool fans will tell you that they don’t like the spot light falling too brightly on their club. The weekends’ opening fixtures saw The Reds paired up with West Ham United in the opening game of a season which promises to be their most high pressured campaign in recent memory.
The hope amongst their fans was that they could get off to a winning start against The Hammers and put down a marker for the rest of the season. A comprehensive 4-0 victory at Anfield for Klopp’s men was the perfect way to show the fans and their rivals that the pressure and expectation on the club this season is actually something they can not only live with, but enjoy.
The performance was everything we’ve come to expect from Klopp’s Liverpool over the past couple of season. Keita, Milner and Mane in particular were excellent as The Hammers were left dizzy and bewildered by the ceaseless movement and work rate of Liverpool. The supporters will be hopeful that it’s just the start of a very enjoyable season.
The Big Boys are looking up for it.
Manchester City’s unprecedented nineteen point title margin last season is, in all honesty, something we’d all not like to see repeated. It’s nothing against City, but we don’t want to see the Premier League become a one horse race. There is plenty of quality with Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester United and Spurs all bursting at the seams with talent. All of them are more than capable of challenging City this season.
The opening weekend saw no surprise results as far as the big boys are concerned. Five of last season’s top six all managed a winning start against a back drop of a mixed bag of new managers, expectation and transfer window strife.
With the league in its infancy it’s hard to draw anything too conclusive from these five victories, but none of the big boys looked especially vulnerable or too off the pace on week one. If, and it’s a big if, City can wobble slightly this season, then there a four other teams that look well poised to make a title charge.