As the English Premier League kicked into life, bringing much relief to all of us soccer fans worldwide, we look closely at the opening week’s events so far.
By SportBrief Reporter
Here are the five talking points from the English Premier League opening weekend
- Matic and Lukaku looking value for money
Quite baffling how Chelsea decided they could afford to let Nemanja Matic join Manchester United and willingly pass over one of the more brilliantly effective midfield players of the modern game to a major rival!
The transfer was apparently so bizarre that even Mourinho himself admitted he was incredibly surprised. The Serbian made an impression on his very first premier league game with United struggling to break down West Ham until his interception sparked the breakaway that led to Romelu Lukaka’s first goal.
Matic was the spine of the Red Devils as he bossed that midfield in authoritative fashion, allowing Pogba the confidence to play further up the field and supplement United’s ruthless attack.
And Lukaku was in fine form as well as his ruthlessness in face of goal earned him a brace on his premier league debut. It may still be early days but Mourinho’s new men are certainly looking good value for money.
- Champions Chelsea’s struggles expose their lack of depth
It isn’t hard to see why Chelsea looked half the team they were last year. From the 13th minute, five of last season’s first-choice outfield 10 were absent. Gary Cahill, Victor Moses, Nemanja Matic, Eden Hazard and Diego Costa were all missing from the League winning side.
It is worth noting that the most notable absentee for Chelsea was none other than the new United man Nemanja Matic. Without his partner in crime, Kante was below par for much of the 3-2 loss to Burnley as he was a bit slack in his covering for two of Burnley’s goals.
And the feeling remains he needs the right partner to flourish. Much will hang on how quickly the partnership with Tiémoué Bakayoko gels. As it is Kanté looked quite a long way from a man you’d pick out as the reigning double player of the year.
- Some things will never change (Liverpool’s defence)
Plenty have had their say on Liverpool’s defensive shortcomings following their 3-3 draw with Watford but perhaps the most telling came from the man who dealt the late blow to Jürgen Klopp’s side. “Yes we knew [that Liverpool were poor at set pieces], said Miguel Britos. “Maybe it is their weak point.”
Of that there is no doubt – the Merseysiders have conceded 27 Premier League goals from set pieces since Klopp took charge in 2015, with only Crystal Palace and Watford themselves letting in more. Some claim Liverpool need better defenders while others, such as Jamie Carragher, say the fault lies with how the existing players line up, especially at corners.
Whatever the case may be, the Merseyside club have been atrocious at defending from as far back as the Brandon Rodgers era. Perhaps a certain Van Djyke (if they can still get him) would improve things.
- City hitting the ground running
Pep Guardiola’s men put in a controlled performance as they saw off new boys Brighton and Hove Albion 2-0.
What made Pep particularly excited was how much running his team did. “They were running like players in League One, or the Conference,” he exclaimed. He was right, City did the hard bit against Brighton. They matched the hosts’ energy and appetite. They will need to do so again when steamrollering opponents is not an option. Kevin De Bruyne concurred. “You know what’s going to happen in the Premier League when you play against these teams,” he said. “If you don’t match it then it’s going to be difficult. If you match it, and with the quality we have, we’ll win these games.”
- Arsenal holding up well without their star men….for now
The Gunners kicked off their premier league campaign on a good note with a hard fought 4-3 win over Leicester City with one of their new boys Alexandre Lacazette getting on the scoresheet.
And considering the fact that Wenger’s side was lacking their two star men in Alexis Sanchez and Mesuit Ozil, one would say they did a pretty fantastic job. However it is worth noting that the side did lack that extra bit of spark without the duo and with Wenger admitting to having not made any progress in contract negotiations with Sanchez, it still remains to be seen just how much they can cope without the Chilean forward.