Big spenders Chelsea can tear up Liverpool’s porous defence, dour Jose Mourinho is miles from raising Spurs smiles and Mikel Arteta is the real deal – 10 things we learned from the opening weekend of the Premier League
- The Premier League threw up plenty of twists and turns on the opening weekend
- Liverpool will be concerned about their defence after a thrilling win over Leeds
- Jose Mourinho tasted defeat for the first time in an opening game of a new term
- There was more misery for David Moyes after West Ham’s recent insipid showing
- Sportsmail delves into 10 of the main talking points from the top-flight’s return
The Premier League has returned after its incredibly short break, and the opening weekend has already treated supporters to twists and turns galore. There was a losing start for Jose Mourinho, his first taste of defeat in the first fixture of a new season, and Leeds pushed Liverpool heroically at Anfield.
Arsenal, with two more trophies added to their collection in recent months, hit the ground running at newly-promoted Fulham – but the mood is very different across London at West Ham.
Here, Sportsmail takes a close look at 10 things we learned from the opening fixtures in the top flight.
Liverpool were made to work hard to defeat newcomers Leeds as the Premier League returned
But Jose Mourinho was made to taste defeat on the opening day of a new term for the first time
CHELSEA CAN PUNISH LIVERPOOL’S SHAKY DEFENCE
Jurgen Klopp may have appeared calm on the exterior after Liverpool laboured to a narrow win over Leeds, but he will be fully aware that his team’s defence have been thrust into the spotlight.
After conceding just 33 goals last season, Klopp may not have expected to be faced with a dilemma involving his back line.
The usually reliable pairing of Virgil van Dijk and Joe Gomez, coupled with the dynamic duo of Trent Alexander-Arnold and Andy Robertson, formed an almost impenetrable wall – but they were left horribly exposed at Anfield on Saturday.
Jurgen Klopp will be concerned about his side’s defending after shipping three goals to Leeds
Patrick Bamford (L) capitalised on a poor touch from Virgil van Dijk to tuck in Leeds’ second
It took the heroics of Mohamed Salah, and a Van Dijk header, to bail out the hosts after Jack Harrison, Patrick Bamford and Mateusz Klich netted for Leeds.
Liverpool have also shipped more than one goal against Red Bull Salzburg and Blackpool during pre-season, and were torn apart all too often by Arsenal in the Community Shield.
Up next? Frank Lampard’s Chelsea buoyed by a £230million spending spree. Coming up against the likes of Timo Werner, Kai Havertz, and Christian Pulisic, it may be time to go back to the drawing board for Klopp and his defenders.
ARTETA’S ARSENAL ARE THE REAL DEAL
Arsenal will be confident and in good spirits heading into their clash with the champions. The Gunners swaggered to a comfortable 3-0 win against Fulham in their season opener, and have already clinched two trophies under the stewardship of their young head coach.
All the signs are certainly promising. Long gone are the days of stodgy build-up play and frustration from the stands during Unai Emery’s tenure.
Arteta has introduced an incisive and flowing style of play, and honed it to the cusp of perfection, in a remarkably short space of time.
Arsenal kicked off the new campaign with a win against Fulham and had been in total control
Mikel Arteta’s philosophy was clear when Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang finished a team move
Good results breed more self-belief, and each Arsenal player on the banks of the Thames carried that with them as they brushed aside the newcomers.
Willian bagged a hat-trick of assists on his debut, Gabriel Magalhaes was impenetrable on his Arsenal bow and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang – who is edging closer to a new deal – found the net once again.
Arteta is gradually instilling a winning mentality not seen at the club for years. They club are still on the hunt for a new midfielder though, and will almost certainly be knocking on the door of the top four after this display.
WANTAWAY WILF WILL STAR FOR PALACE
Despite having clearly expressed his desire to leave Crystal Palace, Wilfried Zaha put an end to questions over whether his uncertain future would affect performances on the field at the weekend.
The 27-year-old was linked with moves to Everton and Arsenal last season, and during this summer, and Roy Hodgson has not pulled any punches when admitting that the issue has weighed on the player’s mind.
There were no signs of that against Southampton, however. The Ivory Coast forward found himself unmarked inside the penalty area when he emphatically fired home from Andros Townsend’s pinpoint delivery.
Wilfried Zaha put to rest questions over whether his wish to leave would affect him on the field
Crystal Palace beat Southampton with Zaha netting the only goal of the game at the far post
‘He thinks it would be nice if a club did come in and pay that market price,’ Hodgson explained after Palace’s 1-0 win.
Despite the ongoing furore, Zaha is yet to be the subject of a concrete offer and will remain at the club as things stand.
Eberechi Eze may have been bought in from QPR to displace him, a shrewd master and apprentice manoeuvre at Palace, but Zaha will continue to lead from the fore even as speculation continues to whirl around him.
MOYES SET FOR MORE MISERY AFTER LIMP DEFEAT
David Moyes once again cut a forlorn figure after watching his West Ham team fall to an insipid defeat at home against Newcastle.
It is becoming an all too familiar sight for the club’s disgruntled supporters.
The frustration began an hour before kick-off, when the team sheets were released on social media. Furious users vented their fury over Moyes’ team selection, with Mark Noble’s selection in the No 10 role and Sebastian Haller having to settle for a spot on the bench particularly criticised.
David Moyes cut a forlorn figure after his West Ham team limped to defeat against Newcastle
Jeff Hendrick and Callum Wilson had scored on their debuts to pile on the misery for the hosts
The full-time result, a 2-0 loss to Steve Bruce’s men, further piled on the pressure. Moyes labelled his team’s defending as ‘weak’ after Newcastle new boys Callum Wilson and Jeff Hendrick often threatened and eventually found the target.
It is becoming increasingly harder for Moyes to shake off the feeling of anger that has shrouded his club, both on and off the field. The performance would have been roundly jeered by supporters, had they been allowed inside the ground, and the board are under renewed fire.
Irked by the questionable decision to sell talented youngster Grady Diangana, fans are rapidly turning their apathy into scathing, red-hot anger. Time may already be running out for Moyes with clashes against the league’s top teams just around the corner.
NEWCASTLE GOING SMOOTHLY UNDER THE RADAR
All the talk at Newcastle over the past couple of months has been whether the £300m Saudi-led takeover would go through.
The club recently confirmed the takeover had officially been rejected so it was back to the drawing board for the St James’ Park outfit and time to let their football do the talking once again.
But after the setback of the failed takeover bid, there is reason to be quietly optimistic at Newcastle following a strong transfer window, in which they signed Callum Wilson, Ryan Fraser and Jamal Lewis for £35m.
There are reasons to be optimistic as a Newcastle fan after their debutants impressed
And there were plenty of encouraging signs on Saturday evening after Newcastle emphatically overcame West Ham – in a spot of bother themselves – 2-0 at the London Stadium.
Wilson, who signed from Bournemouth, opened the scoring for the Magpies on his debut while Jeff Hendrick, who arrived on a free from Burnley, also netted in his first competitive appearance for the club.
Up next in the Premier League is Brighton at home on Sunday, and they will be confident of picking up three more points.
VETERAN JAMIE VARDY IN FOR ANOTHER GOLDEN BOOT RACE
Leicester ace Vardy just cannot resist a cheeky dig at his opponents. The 33-year-old, still managing to relocate his rich vein of scoring form despite his advancing age, netted twice from the penalty spot in the win at West Brom on Sunday.
The former England international, who boasts a record of six goals in eight appearances against the recently-promoted opponents, wheeled away in celebration after scoring his first goal and cupping his ears in the empty stadium.
‘I practice penalties every week so I knew where I would hit those,’ he admitted after the game. ‘I’ve enjoyed playing here over the years and scoring goals so that celebration was for the West Brom fans at home.’
Jamie Vardy jokingly cupped his ears to an empty Hawthorns after netting against West Brom
Brendan Rodgers has tipped Vardy to continue his superb form after Leicester’s 3-0 victory
Vardy plundered the highest amount of goals in the top flight last season and will have his sights firmly set on seizing another Golden Boot come next year. He may not have beaten Sam Johnstone from open play on the league’s return, but will be confident in his ability to terrorise defences again.
Foxes boss Brendan Rodgers has tipped the veteran ace to repeat his heroics in front of goal again, with Vardy set to play a crucial role in their Champions League push this time around.
He said: ‘Jamie trains well, he works intensely and he is a natural goalscorer who is still quick. I expect he will have another great season.’
DOUR TOTTENHAM LACKED INSPIRATION AGAIN
It has finally happened. Jose Mourinho has tasted defeat on the opening matchday of a league campaign for the first ever time. To little surprise, his thinly-veiled irritation bubbled to the surface in his post-match interviews.
There was a worrying lack of fluidity on display, and Tottenham looked truly bereft of any imagination all too often in their 1-0 reverse against a new-look Everton. Harry Kane touched the ball just twice inside the Toffees’ penalty area, and lifeless pressing from the front saw Tottenham pulled apart from all angles.
A sour-faced Mourinho opened up on his frustrations with his team’s performance, highlighting a lack of intensity without the ball. He also reserved particular withering criticism for the manner of Everton’s winning goal.
Mourinho’s Tottenham appeared bereft of imagination as they fell at home to new-look Everton
Dominic Calvert-Lewin planted a bullet header into the far corner to punish slack defending
Carlo Ancelotti’s ranks were awarded a free-kick on the left-wing, which Lucas Digne sneakily shifted forward four more yards. His delivery into the box was exquisite, and Dominic Calvert-Lewin’s bullet header was even better. He climbed above Eric Dier and craned his effort into the top-left corner.
But what may prove more puzzling than the defeat is the lack of identity currently on show at Tottenham. Mourinho notoriously thrives off building a sold defence, but Everton were able to weave their way towards goal – marshalled by the magnificent James Rodriguez – far too often.
Mourinho was a man who was meant to have got his mojo back over the summer but going off Sunday’s evidence, it was back to square one for the Portuguese boss. There is plenty to ponder, this time away from the prying eyes of the Amazon cameras.
IS THIS THE BEGINNING OF SOMETHING SPECIAL AT EVERTON?
Following the arrivals of James Rodriguez, Allan and Abdoulaye Doucoure at Goodison Park, their signings were met by plenty of excitement from the Everton faithful.
Rodriguez was a real coup for Carlo Ancelotti’s side, who will provide them with the magic in attack, while Allan and Doucoure will offer much-needed steel in the middle of the park.
And that showed on Sunday after the Toffees put in an impressive display to overcome Tottenham 1-0 in their season-opener in north London.
It was a statement performance, and now it’s time to back that up and keep that feel-good factor going on Merseyside with the experienced Ancelotti at the helm.
And there is a really strong chance they could get off to some start to the new Premier League season, facing West Brom (home), Crystal Palace (away) and Brighton (home) in their next three fixtures.
Everton kept their feel-good factor up by beating Tottenham 1-0 away in their season-opener
LEEDS TO PROVIDE THE X-FACTOR
It was some return to the Premier League for Leeds after bravely going down 4-3 to reigning champions Liverpool at Anfield on Saturday evening.
While they walked away without anything to match their performance, Marcelo Bielsa’s newly-promoted side can take plenty of confidence after going toe-to-toe with the Reds.
Leeds thrilled in attack and tormented Virgil van Dijk and Joe Gomez in the heart of the Liverpool defence at times, with Jack Harrison, Patrick Bamford and Mateusz Klich all getting on the scoresheet.
Plenty of teams have come up in recent seasons without that desire to attack, but Leeds certainly won’t be one of them to bow down to England’s elite. You can expect much more of the same going forward.
It’s Fulham at home next in the Premier League before they take on last season’s surprise package Sheffield United away on September 27.
Leeds showed they can compete with the Premier League’s best against Liverpool at Anfield
… BUT IT WAS A RUDE AWAKENING FOR FULHAM AND WEST BROM
While Leeds showed they have what it takes to compete with the Premier League’s big guns, it was a hugely tough start for fellow new boys Fulham and West Brom.
Fulham were defeated 3-0 at home to Arsenal at Craven Cottage while the Baggies were convincingly beaten by the same scoreline against Leicester at the Hawthorns.
After entering the season with plenty of hope following their promotion from the Championship, that may have vanished in an instance following the convincing defeats.
And it doesn’t get much easier for West Brom early on, facing Everton away next before hosting a Chelsea side on a high following a ruthless summer transfer window.
Meanwhile it’s a slightly easier run for Fulham, they travel to Leeds next before hosting Aston Villa.
It was a tough start for West Brom and Fulham, losing 3-0 to Leicester and Arsenal respectively
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