All those people complaining that the English Premier League starts earlier and earlier every year and most of the matches end up being played in weather conditions that would not look out of place in the middle of December. Yes, folks – the greatest show on Earth is back with some new multi-million pound signings (and that’s just in the Sky studio).
The action got underway at Anfield where King Kloppo had spent the build-up talking down the fact that Liverpool had been pretty inactive in the transfer window. After all, he made the one signing that really counted on Friday night – bringing in West Ham reject Adrian to replace the finally-sold failed shot-stopper Simon Mignolet.
I mean, nobody expected Adrian to actually play given that Alisson never gets injured, right? Yeah, about that. The Brazilian is out for between four and eight weeks after his calf gave away under the pressure of the new goal-kick ruling.
Not that it really mattered – Liverpool were well on their way to sticking four past newly-promoted Norwich City in the first half-an-hour by this point and Alisson had managed to keep yet another clean sheet. Adrian comes on and Liverpool concede – coincidence? Most probably.
Norwich did not embarrass themselves though, creating more than enough chances against the European Champions for the score to have ended up a little less flattering than the 4-1 posted – a win that saw Liverpool soar to the top of the table, something that was noted over and over and over and over again on social media. Guys, it’s one match. Don’t go celebrating the title just yet.
The transfer window was full of people who ended up in new jobs they didn’t really want and several that were stuck in ones they wanted to leave. Whether anyone was less impressed with his agent’s work than Jose Mourinho remains to be seen.
Jose was snapped up on a free by Sky Sports and he made it very clear within ten seconds of Super Sunday that was only there until a proper job came up.
That said, the prospect of Jose and Graeme Souness joining forces on their hatred for Paul Pogba was mouth-watering.
Mourinho set his stall out nice and early, reminding his old employers that ‘City’s B team are closer to the title than United’ with a tone of voice that suggested he had absolutely nothing to do with the mess at Old Trafford. When asked how many teams could fight for the Premier League title this season, Jose responded with ‘four – Man City, Liverpool, Tottenham and City’s B team’.
More importantly, it was the first time that Frank Lampard’s Chelsea had taken to the field under their new manager, Frank Lampard. And, to be fair to Frank Lampard’s Chelsea, if football matches were judged off the first 15 minutes then they look like a very fine side.
The problem is, they are not – and somehow Manchester United ended up winning 4-0. Yes, 4-0!
The most expensive defender in the world led United to a clean sheet on his debut, though even Harry Maguire cannot take credit for the fact that both Tammy Abraham and Emerson smacked the ball against the same upright in the first-half.
Aaron Wan-Bissaka looked like money well-spent in his first outing and Daniel James came off the bench to scuff the fourth but it was that 90-second spell in the second 45 that killed off Frank Lampard’s Chelsea.
United above Liverpool in the table? It doesn’t matter, it’s the first game of the season.
There must be a weird glitch in the fixture computer that means Man City have to kick-off their title defence at West Ham’s Athletics Stadium each year – this season was no different and even with West Ham breaking their transfer record in signing their new defender VAR, they got battered. VAR was brilliant on his debut, once denying Raheem Sterling and oh so nearly helping Sergio Aguero miss two penalties.
West Ham actually played quite well and if Issa Diop hadn’t sliced horribly into his own net they might have gone into the break level and playing the better football. The problem was, he did – and that was all the excuse City needed to step it up a notch or two. Pellegrini suggested City spent the first half ‘tactically fouling’. Don’t say that – it will upset Peppy G.
Liverpool win 4-1 on Friday? No problem. City won 5-0, allowing all the pundits to get far-too-excited at the thought of another classic title race. Remember what I said earlier, folks – it’s only been one weekend.
Tottenham were able to field something of a rarity against Aston Villa – a new signing made his debut. Better still, Tanguy Ndombele scored the equaliser meaning Spurs fans can now fall into the same trap as Arsenal fans all those years ago when they signed John Jensen. They think they’ve got themselves a goal-scoring midfielder. To be fair, they might have – I doubt there’s much mileage in the Ndombele-Jensen comparison being honest.
In the first half, I was as guilty as the next idiot muttering under my breath how Tottenham are better when Son plays and how they are better when Kane is injured. Naturally, Harry Kane popped up twice in the last ten minutes to net Spurs all three points.
Villa were decent though and looked pretty good value for their half-time lead after John McGinn chased down a hopeful punt and slotted past Hugo Lloris. The Scot is the midfielder that Sir Alex Ferguson himself recommended that United went and bought this summer – that said, the last recommendation Fergie made to United didn’t go that well, did it Moyseh?
When the final whistle went last season, did anyone really expect Steve Bruce to be the guy shaking hands with Unai Emery at St James’ Park on Sunday? As someone said expertly on Twitter, imagine waking up from a three-month coma and seeing a photo of Bruce shaking hands with Andy Carroll holding a Newcastle shirt.
The game itself was pretty much what you would have expected from these two teams on a wet and windy day in Newcastle – minus Arsenal conceding a goal. Who knows, maybe the sight of David Luiz’s touseled locks on the sideline reminded Sokratis and Calum Chambers that their shirts were on the line? As ever it was down to Yo-Pierre to apply the cutting edge and score the winning goal. Newcastle weren’t terrible, but there were some promising debuts from all those players Brucey persuaded Mike Ashley to splash out on.
Graham Potter is already working his magic at Brighton. It’s worth remembering that Watford’s last two competitive matches have been an absolute shellacking in the FA Cup Final against City and then a humiliating 3-0 home defeat to Potter’s new charges on the opening day of the Premier League. Javi Gracia out, anyone? It wouldn’t be the first time Watford have changed a manager early in a season – maybe not quite yet though.
Brighton were very good, and despite their fans moaning that none of their new signings started the match strolled to victory.
I’ll tell you who were not very good – not very good at all; Southampton. This was, remember, the season where we would see ‘a new Southampton’ because they had a full pre-season with Ralph and had made a few new signings. Well, yes – it was a new Southampton of sorts. It was one that hit a low that not even Mark Hughes had managed to plunge to – a 3-0 hammering away at Burnley.
Burnley had taken about three months to get off the mark this season, but found willing opposition in the Saints to make sure Turf Moor didn’t have to wait as long this time around. Beware the long punt on a windy day in Lancashire, that’s the only advice I can give to Southampton’s defence.
Down on the South Coast, ‘a little fat lad from Sheffield’ completed his life by scoring Sheffield United’s first goal back in the Premier League. Club legend Billy Sharp scored a late leveller against Bournemouth to snatch a point for Chris Wilder’s men.
Wolves were denied three points in the ‘7th place Derby’ by VAR. There was a lot of passing the ball around between them and Leicester but not a lot in the way of cutting edge.
Finally, Crystal Palace’s 0-0 draw with Everton reminded both teams why they were so keen to have Wilfried Zaha in their starting XI. Entertaining, it was not.