Although the summer months are beautiful and full of life, those of us that love the Barclays Premier League think of the summer as barren and cold and even more lacking in life than the winter. After several grueling months of attempting to busy ourselves and grasping at any whisper of transfer news, the day finally arrived this weekend and we got to see the return of the beautiful game to England’s premier league. Although one round of fixtures rarely tells the whole story (at least Liverpool fans will hope so), there is an awful lot to talk about despite only three points separating the top of the table from the bottom.
To start, we’ll head over to the Etihad and look at how the Champions fared in their attempt to repeat for the title. Despite facing recently promoted Southampton (and facing them at home), City needed a comeback victory to ensure that they walked away from their first fixture with three points. These are the types of victories that they will have to secure if they are hoping to prevent any of the other top tier clubs from taking the title away from them. For the past several years, United have pulled out these kind of victories and we have often heralded them as the victories that you must have in order to bring back the silverware, and City will be no different.
Losing three points to a recently promoted side would have been even worse than seeing Sergio Aguero carted off early in the first half. Although the Manchester clubs can deal with a few attacking injuries because of their massive depth up front, Aguero will be sorely missed by the Champions and they will hope that his knee issues do not keep the clinical Argentine off the pitch for too long. It is interesting that the best defense in the EPL last season has already given away two goals to a team that will probably be an early favorite to begin next season in the Championship, and you wonder if the youth of Rodwell and the lack of Micah Richards had much to do with that. It will certainly be interesting to see how they fare when they visit Anfield to face a Liverpool side that will be desperate to erase their 3-0 loss in week one.
Big summer spenders Chelsea started their season with one of their signings making an immediate statement. Eden Hazard created the first goal for Ivanovic and also won the the penalty that Frank Lampard slotted away to effectively end the match. A clean sheet will be a welcome sign for Chelsea, and for a team that saw the departure of Didier Drogba to China, the two goals will be a welcome addition to a team that now has to depend on a strike-force that has some serious questions about it. Juan Mata and Lampard both look bright and prepared for the new season, and they will be pushed hard if Chelsea hope to retain their Champions League crown and press forward within the league.
Arsenal will bemoan the fact that their season starts with every Gunner’s worst fears being realized. After the selling of RVP to United, the question of “where would the goals come from?” became a constant thought in the minds of anyone following or commenting on the future of the London-based outfit. A nil-nil draw will boost thoughts about a defense that began last season horribly, but the scoreline also shows a team that is already missing their star-man. Despite Cazorla looking bright and seeming to be a good transfer, Podolski and Giroud (who missed an absolute sitter) will hope that they can soon find the back of the net in order to shake the monkey off of their backs. The longer they are prevented from that first goal, the longer the groans about the loss of RVP will continue. However, Wenger somehow makes everything work so I do not expect them to suffer for too long.
In order to watch RVP and his new club play, we had to wait all the way until Monday and the last fixture in the week one schedule. Travelling to play an Everton side that many claim, Sir Alex included, cost United the title after the 4-4 draw that they played to last season. Although new signing Kagawa looked fantastic and whose vision seems better than advertised, Everton seemed to clue in on Michael Carrick in defense and eventually took advantage of the makeshift defensive pairing. Although United will not face another player like Fellaini throughout the year, the Belgian international seemed to have his way in the midfield and it was no surprise that he broke the deadlock with a well-won header.
United will hope that their attackers can improve as the season moves on. Nani looked particularly poor and RVP was rarely used when he finally made his appearance. United will have enjoyed the performance of young Cleverly and they will also have enjoyed the fact that Vidic looks like he never missed a single day of top-tier play. There were many positives to take away from the game, but United will not enjoy their first fixture to end with zero points accrued on the table.
The rest of the league provided us with some amazing feats of goalscoring. Fulham and Swansea showed no ill-effects from their summer losses and they each buried five while maintaining a clean sheet in their first matches of the season. Fulham will hope that Clint Dempsey ends his self-imposed “strike” and either leaves or stays, while Swansea showed that Brendan Rodgers may have left a promising future behind. Rodgers had to suffer through a 3-0 defeat in his first game as Liverpool manager and, although West Brom will have enjoyed their first performance, Liverpool will hope that their first match does not set a pattern for the rest of the season.
Newcastle were able to defeat Tottenham despite Spurs seeming to be in control of most of the game. Both of these teams will be keen to repeat their stellar performances last season and Newcastle will want to prove that last season was not a fluke. West Ham was able to take three points away from their first Premier league match since getting promoted, while the other newly promoted team Reading was able to get a point against Stoke. One thing is certain, the Premier League never disappoints and we are certainly set-up for another intriguing season.
How did your team come out on the weekend? How miserable was your summer without European football? Leave your thoughts in the comment section below. end? How miserable was your summer without European football? Leave your thoughts in the comment section below.