After the one-and-a-half-month long hiatus, The English Premier League is back much to our delight. In the very first week, we saw all the big guns with their new armour in the shape of new signings took to the field to reign supremacy. Some did end up doing that, some failed. But at least the Premier League is back!
Now, we don’t have to live off of the World Cup memories anymore. For the next year or so, we’ll see some of the game’s finest artists and minds go head to head in their journey to be called England’s best. Today, we take a look back at the performances of the top six teams from the first game week.
Manchester City- 9/10
Effortless, brilliant and devastating. These three words are more than enough to judge Manchester City’s performance at the Emirates against Arsenal. Pep Guardiola spoiled the atmosphere of the first home match of Unai Emery by beating him again. Emery has never managed to get the better of Guardiola in Spain. And it looks to be the case even in England.
— Kyle Walker (@kylewalker2) August 12, 2018
Against Arsenal, City weren’t in their full strength. The likes of Leroy Sane, Kevin De Bruyne were on the bench. But still the City attack included players like Riyad Mahrez, Sergio Aguero, Raheem Sterling. City were by far the better team. Their defense was solid. Even after Lacazette, Aubameyang played together. Against City’s attack, Arsenal didn’t stand much of a chance. Guardiola’s men breezed past the Gunners as if it were a friendly. Although Arsenal did shows signs of life, City were just on another level.
After a record breaking campaign last season, City looks like the best of England once again. It’s like they’ve never been away.
Much like City, Liverpool also started the season with a bang. Against a spirited West Ham side who did well in pre-season, Liverpool were just too good. Their defense looked sharp for a change. The two fullbacks Alexander-Arnold and Andy Robertson were bombing up and down the flanks, much like the traditional wingers. Add that to the fire power of Salah-Firmino-Mane and one should already know The Hammers stood no chance.
“IT’S MAGNIFICENT!” ⚡⚡
🔊 It’s time for Match in a Minute, turn that volume UP! 🔊 pic.twitter.com/rMPSrh38kv
— Liverpool FC (@LFC) August 12, 2018
It took Liverpool only 18 minutes to break the deadlock. And who else than Mohamed Salah. Liverpool’s attack last season had to do a lot on their own since the midfield trio of Henderson-Milner-Wijnaldum didn’t create much. Klopp took notice and recruited Fabinho this season. Before the Brazilian, Guinea star Naby Keita was already signed. The midfielder made his official debut against the Hammers and stood out. Keita’s intensity, playing style must have reminded the Liverpool fans of a certain Steven Gerrard, after whose departure the Reds lacked that driving force from the midfield. If that match was anything to go by, Liverpool’s 4-3-3 looks simple and is absolutely devastating.
With a more compact and complete looking squad, Liverpool fans can finally pin their hopes on 2018-19 truly being their season.
After failing to get Chelsea into the Champions League for this season, Antonio Conte was sacked by the club. In his place, came another Italian; namely Maurizio Sarri. The Italian lost his first match against Manchester City in the Community Shield. Chelsea’s performance in that match was subject to much criticism and speculation on whether Sarri is indeed the right man to replace Conte. Therefore, his very first match in the Premier League against Huddersfield was a big test of his character.
— Chelsea FC (@ChelseaFC) August 14, 2018
And Sarri’s men stepped up to the mark. Goals from N’golo Kante, Jorginho and Pedro sealed a comfortable 3-0 win over ‘The Terriers’. Chelsea’s linkup play, passing was extremely organized. As expected, the duo for Kante-Jorginho seems like an immovable wall that seems to put away any threat that comes up against them. Chelsea’s win undermined the Sarri philosophy: intricate passing and pressing.
With the likes of Hazard, Willian and new signing Kovacic still to come into the main eleven, Chelsea fans have plenty of reasons to be optimistic about the Sarri era in London.
Manchester United- 7/10
It hasn’t been an easy pre-season for Manchester United. Results not going their way, no certain philosophy or playing style, Mourinho having rows with multiple players, publicly criticizing them- all is definitely not well in the red half of Manchester. Add Mourinho’s third season voodoo in the mix and it just keeps getting worse. Against Leicester City therefore, Mourinho’s men needed to answer a lot of questions. ‘The Special One’ himself had to answer his critics as well. And they both did it.
United beat Leicester 2-1 on the opening day thanks to goals from Paul Pogba and Luke Shaw. Interestingly, Mourinho had a row with both players during the last and this pre-season. There were some serious talks about Pogba joining Barcelona. Instead, Mourinho looked at the greater good. He handed Pogba the armband in absence of regular club captain Antonio Valencia. Pogba delivered with a goal. So did Luke Shaw.
— Manchester United (@ManUtd) August 13, 2018
United overall wasn’t that impressive though. They just got the job done. After the win, fingers were pointed at various players. None more so than Alexis Sanchez who had a dreadful evening at the Theatre of Dreams. United’s new number 10 Marcus Rashford also had a torrid time playing as centre forward. But there were signs of potential and promise as well. United’s new signing Fred was solid in the middle of the park. Alongside in midfield, young Andreas Pereira also put in a great shift.
United showed signs of linking up as a team, but also showed the lack of communication and chemistry amongst them. Still early days, but despite the win, United’s game indicated various sectors they can improve.
Tottenham Hotspur- 6.5/10
Be it Crystal Palace or Manchester City. Every team in the Premier League have at least one player to strengthen their side but for one team. Spurs became the first team since 2003 to not sign a single player in the window. Mauricio Pochettino’s decision to not sign new blood, rather retain the ones of last season may come back to haunt them.
— Tottenham Hotspur (@SpursOfficial) August 14, 2018
That looked like the case against Newcastle United. Despite taking an early lead, Spurs were pegged back within minutes. Alli restored the lead and that’s how the game ended. But Spurs weren’t convincing at all. The main problem with them is the core of the team includes Belgian and English players, who didn’t have a pre-season for their World Cup journey. Against the Magpies, Spurs showed signs of weariness. Alli and Kane weren’t at their best. The English striker once again failed to break his August curse as he’s still goalless in the month. Even Eriksen looked out of sorts. Spurs’ tired looking midfield was overrun by Newcastle way too many times.
Spurs may not feel the importance of signings right now. But in a long season stretching for almost a year, every team needs decent backups. Spurs doesn’t have a strong bench. Alli, Kane, Eriksen will require rest. But can Llorente, Winks and Co. step up when the starters are given a breather? Not many would be in favour of that judging by Spurs’ past seasons.
It was never going to be an easy season for Arsenal. After 22 years, the Legendary Arsene Wenger stepped down as the Gunners manager. In came Unai Emery. With that, ended a chapter of the Arsenal folklore. And a new one started. But it’s never that simple or even ideal to start the season against the Land’s best.
Emery had to endure that bad luck. He’d never beaten Guardiola in Spain or in Europe. And very few would’ve bet on the record to be turned around. And that happened. Arsenal were brushed aside with a 2-0 win by Guardiola’s men. The score line may suggest Arsenal provided some stern resistance. But that hardly were the case. The fierce front four of Lacazaette, Aubameyang, Ozil, Mkhitaryan were easily kept quiet by the City defense. And Arsenal didn’t do themselves much favour. In total 90 minutes, Arsenal had just two goal scoring opportunities. And one of them came from an Ederson mistake. This just underlines how below par Arsenal were. In City’s attacks however, Arsenal was caught many times. The defense of the Gunners still look shaky.
We’ve got more work ahead of us yet – but we’re just getting started
— Arsenal FC (@Arsenal) August 12, 2018
But it’s still early days. Arsenal did show some signs of life, especially Matteo Guendouzi. Emery is new in this league himself. He needs some time to adjust. And Arsenal need to adjust the void left by Wenger.