The Premier League is back baby and that can only mean one thing, right?
Actually, it could mean many things and we will cover a few of them over the next bit of tenuously related football prose in the next few paragraphs.
One thing Premier League football definitely means is goals for Mohamed Salah. One season wonder? Second season syndrome? People will work out how to play him? Not a bit of it as Mo opened his brand new account in less than 25 minutes at Anfield. West Ham United invested in an entirely new midfield but kept Mark Noble. West Ham’s new midfield was non-existent in the first half again and who is the common denominator? To be the worst signing of the season at West Ham often has stiff competition but Felipe Anderson went big in staking an early claim on his debut. Sadio Mane helped himself to a couple, the second being so far offside he was almost in the stands – but, of course, the Premier League doesn’t want VAR because the officials are so good they don’t need the help. The best moment of the game? Jack Wilshere nearly having to go off injured after taking one in the, er, midriff from Mo Salah. Nothing would have been more Jack Wilshere than that ruling him out for three months. You know you are bad when Daniel Sturridge jogs on to the pitch, ends up at the far post as a corner comes in and taps it home with his first touch, all in the space of 20 seconds. All in all, Liverpool have probably had tougher tests against the Academy lads in training. West Ham were woeful, but we all saw that coming, didn’t we?
Another thing Premier League football means is Jose Mourinho scowling his way through a game of football. Manchester United kicked off the new season at home to Leicester City and as much as Jose would have loved his side to be 1-0 up in a matter of minutes, I am sure he would have preferred it not to have been Paul Pogba who scored it. You see, Pogba doesn’t really want to play for Jose anymore and this is making Jose look a bit silly. Pogba said post-match that if he said what he would actually like to say, he would get a big fine. Read into that what you will, but I am taking it to mean that he thinks his boss is a bit of an idiot. A player that Jose just about rates as one of the top-six left-backs at United scored the second, and ultimately winning, goal against Leicester and it was Luke Shaw’s first ever senior goal. Look what happens when Mourinho is forced to work with what he has already, eh?
I knew Mesut Ozil had retired from international football after the World Cup but I missed the press release informing me he had quit club football as well. Ozil was very anonymous as Unai Emery honoured his promise not to change things too quickly at Arsenal. In fact, he honoured it so much that Arsenal went down 2-0 to Champions Manchester City without so much as a whimper. Yes, Arsenal have brought in some new players but it’s amazing how quickly City made them look particularly average. Stating the obvious, and removing the tongue from my cheek for a moment, it would be a bit of a shock if City didn’t become the first club to defend the Premier League title in a decade. All that said, couldn’t you have done that just once in the summer, Raheem?
Tottenham had a couple of things to be annoyed at over the summer. Firstly, they were not fans of the transfer window shutting early as Daniel Levy always has plans up until the last two weeks in August meaning an early window equalling no business getting done. Secondly, they were also against the Premier League kicking off a week early as that is another game in August for Harry Kane to draw a blank. And blanks were drawn byHarry as they beat Newcastle United 2-1. Newcastle hardly had a fine transfer window themselves but managed to compete with Poch’s men and will not be in relegation trouble at all – unless, of course, Rafa rightly thinks ‘stuff this for a game of soldiers’ and walks out on Mike Ashley.
Wise football men proclaimed, “there’s no goals in that Chelsea midfield” before Maurizio Sarri lined his men up for his first game in charge. Sure, Kante doesn’t get many and neither does Jorginho. Ross Barkley barely plays football anymore let alone score and Kovacic was told to pass to Ronaldo, not score himself, when at Real Madrid. Yet Chelsea under Sarri will be different and Kante plus Jorginho were on the scoresheet against Huddersfield. It’s not a bad state of affairs when you can give Eden Hazard fifteen minutes at the end either. Does this mean Chelsea are fixed? God no. Does this mean that Huddersfield are in trouble this season? Totally.
That Richarlison was a right waste of money, wasn’t he? Everton got panned (yes, I joined in) for buying the Brazilian from Watford for £40m. Yet maybe Marco Silva does know what he is doing as his go-to signing scored twice on his debut. The only problem for Everton was that they left their three Barcelona signings plus Kurt Zouma out of the team and considering three of them are new defenders it did not look like a wise move. Benfica Wolves FC scored twice and the game finished 2-2.
It was a good weekend for Roy Hodgson at Crystal Palace. Uncle Roy had another birthday, got a new contract, kept Wilf Zaha at the club and watched his side beat big-spending Fulham 2-0. It wasn’t all one-way traffic as Fulham should have had a clear penalty (where is VAR when you need it?) but Palace have already done more than they did in the first ten games last season. Which isn’t saying much. Just not losing 4-0 to a promoted side is progress.
Bournemouth versus Cardiff City was a clash of styles between two English managers. And pretty football won with the Cherries beating Neil Warnock’s promoted side 2-0. Obviously, Cardiff are going down – the only question is will they let Warnock take them down or get shut by November?
It was great to see my tip for relegation, Watford, do what any team I tip for relegation do and get off to a winning start. Brighton will struggle this season and handed three points to Javi Gracia on a plate of paella.