16 August 2016
The English Premier League (EPL) got off the mark on Saturday to the excitement of football fans who follow European football closely.
With all 20 teams playing in the EPL this season done with their first matches – the last of which was played on Monday night between Chelsea and London rival, West Ham – there are a lot to take away as we all look forward to a long season that will end in May 2017.
We’ve narrowed the long list of takeaways to a couple and are listed below:
David Moyes may be better at Sunderland than many pundits had predicted: To be fair, Moyes is already showing good promise at Sunderland despite his team’s loss to title favourite, Manchester City at the Etihad stadium.
Sunderland lost, but Moyes’ men played well under the circumstance that they were playing away from home and against a City side that was expected to starve them of the ball, leaving them no chance of scoring any goal.
Sunderland not only scored a fine goal, they almost shared the spoils with City but for a heart-shattering own-goal from newly acquired defender from city rival, Manchester United, they would have to wait till a later date for their first EPL point this season.
Moyes’ team’s performance at the weekend was unprecedented given his dismal performances on his previous two jobs at Manchester United and Real Sociedad.
Guardiola is still a long way from transforming City into Barca or even Bayern: In truth, Pep Guardiola still has an awful lot of work to do on his team at Manchester City if he wants them to be as dominant as his previous two teams – Barcelona and Bayern Munich.
As seen from the match against Sunderland, City struggled to dictate the pace of the game as a Guardiola-led team would have been expected to do. If not for McNair’s own goal, Guardiola might still be in search of his first win as City manager.
Leicester needs to be reminded they are the defending champions: The earlier the better for this team that is obviously not used to playing under pressure to always win matches.
Leicester’s loss to Hull City in the first match of the weekend was surprising as many had expected them to pick up from where they left off last season when they won the league title with a 10-point lead over second placed Arsenal.
Though Leicester dominated the game in the first half and were unfortunate to go into the second half a goal down, their unconvincing display in the final third gave Hull the confidence to come out and play ball with the champions when the second half resumed.
Leicester equalised through Mahrez from the penalty spot not long after resumption of hostilities in the second half, but Hull’s new-found confidence to make forward moves ensured Leicester were only level for barely 10 minutes as former Norwich man, Snodgrass fired Hull back into the lead with a volley.
Klopp may not be able to replicate his Dortmund magic: Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool went to the Emirates and defeated Arsenal in a thrilling match that produced seven goals – 4 – 3.
Klopp won, yes, but it should be noted that he struggled to win against an Arsenal team that played with not accomplished defenders hence the reason the Reds were strolling into the defense at will.
Calum Chambers and Rob Holding started as central defenders for Arsene Wenger while Olivier Giroud and Mesut Ozil played no part in the match, while rested stars like Chamberlain, Santi Cazorla and Xhaka had to be brought in to help salvage something from the match.
Liverpool, on the other hand, had the luxury of starting with their strongest eleven and still struggled against a weak Arsenal side.
If Klopp came close to losing a three-goal lead against a weak Arsenal side, then there sure is fire on the mountain given that later in the season, they will come across mean teams like Chelsea, Manchester United, Manchester City, Tottenham, Everton, West Ham etc.
Arsenal will struggle again this season if Wenger does not acquire a central defender: In truth, Arsenal did not lose against Liverpool because they rested a number of star players; they lost because their defense was inexperienced and they let a Liverpool forward line with the likes of Adam Lallana, Sadio Mane, Phillipe Coutinho have too much time on the ball.
With more options in defense, Wenger could have replaced the injured Per Mertesacker, Laurent Kocielny with similar replacements who would have done a better job than his youngsters.
With Mertesacker not expected back until January, Wenger cannot afford to go on playing with such inexperienced defense.
Ibrahimovic at his age (34) is looking like a good acquisition for United: Manchester United had a great game against Bournemouth and this has a lot to do with how new signing, Zlatan Ibrahimovic blended with his new teammates.
Ibrahimovic led the United attack line like a boss, bringing in-runners from the wings and the middle into play with carefully knocked down balls as he used his height and strength to “bully” defenders. He capped the brilliant performance with an unbelievable goal for United’s third of the day.
EPL teams need to be wary of Chelsea: Chelsea looked like a much better team than the team that finished 10th last season having won only 12 and also losing 12.
Chelsea started the season with a difficult London derby that pitched them against West Ham who were very impressive last season.
Chelsea dominated the match and came out 2 – 1 winners with performances to be proud of from star players who were disappointing last season.
Eden Hazard and Diego Costa who topped that list last season came out firing from all cylinders in the match and they capped their performance on the night with one goal each. With performances like this, EPL teams should expect a filled day whenever they come up against the Blues.