Premier League Review - Matchday 1
Friday 9th August, 2019
Liverpool v Norwich
This was only the first game of the season, and it was at Anfield against the European Champions and Premier League runners-up, but it could be a long hard campaign for Norwich.
Daniel Farke's side came with attacking intentions with Stiepermann hitting a couple of wayward shots before truly testing Alisson with a good effort, but by that time Norwich were already two down. Last season's top scorer Pukki was also getting into some good positions thanks to the "Canaries" playing some nice approach football in front of The Kop Stand.
Norwich's youthful and inexperienced defence had the worst possible start when captain Grant Hanley miscued an intended clearance of Origi's cross into his own net. It was 2-0 inside twenty minutes when Salah got into the box on the right. He lost the ball, but an attempted clearance fell to Firmino, who fed the ball back to Salah, who finished in typical and clinical fashion.
Virgil Van Dijk headed home a Salah corner to make it 3-0 after 28 minutes.
Liverpool goalkeeper Alisson had to hobble off with a knee injury suffered when he slipped over taking a goal kick, and former West Ham goalkeeper Adrian had to come on for his debut. Adrian could be playing in the European Super Cup Final in Istanbul on Wednesday. He was only signed on a free transfer earlier in the week after Mignolet had been sold.
Norwich's first half misery was complete when Origi was allowed a simple header from Alexander-Arnold's cross in the 42nd minute.
The start of the second half was delayed for over five minutes due to technical problems with an assistant referee's headset. Liverpool nearly scored their fifth goal after 47 minutes when Henderson's shot was saved by Krul, before Alexander-Arnold returned a low ball which Firmino was unable to finish at the back post.
Salah went close after 53 minutes with a shot across Krul's right hand, but outside the far post. Liverpool were attacking in waves. Adrian tried to make a save in his top left corner from Norwich substitute Leitner's rising shot after 62 minutes, but the ball hit the top of the bar before a minute later Norwich did have a goal through Pukki, receiving a pass from Buendia on the edge of the area before moving forward and scoring with a right footed shot.
Liverpool had a free kick after 84 minutes when Firmino had been fouled just outside the box. Trent Alexander-Arnold's rasping shot was well saved by Krul, diving to his left.
Norwich tested Adrian again as added time loomed, and they could at least say they had won the second half.
Saturday 10th August, 2019
West Ham 0 Manchester City 5
I suppose the good news for West Ham is that they have got one of their games against Man City out of the way. This was however an emphatic home defeat, and Declan Rice's pre-season comment that European football was imperative for the "Hammers" surely belongs in the realms of fantasy.
City took the lead after 25 minutes. Walker made a sprint to the bye line and crossed, with Diop getting a touch before Gabriel Jesus flicked the ball past Fabianski. The second goal came in the 51st minute with De Bruyne setting up Sterling for a clinical finish.
It looked as if City had gone three up with a typical passing move where they almost walked the ball into the net, with Sterling making the final pass to Jesus, but VAR decreed that Sterling had been offside. That disallowed goal was about the only thing the home fans had to celebrate!
The only new signing to start for West Ham had been £45 million striker Haller and he did at least cause Ederson to make a very good save, with a dive to the right. Sterling did make it 3-0 after 75 minutes after Mahrez chipped the defence and Sterling lobbed his shot delicately over Fabianski. There has been debate over the fact that VAR allowed this goal, and not the previous incident.
Fabianski gifted a ball to Mahrez, who was fouled in the area. Aguero took the penalty, which was easily saved, but VAR dictated a retake was required for encroachment and not for the keeper moving off his line. Aguero made no mistake with the retaken spot kick.
Sterling got his hat-trick in the first minute of added time with a shot inside Fabianski's left post. Media images suggested that Sterling had celebrated one of his goals with an "Irons" stance.
Bournemouth 1 Sheffield United 1
A late equaliser made it a happy return to the Premier League for Sheffield United. Bournemouth took the lead in the 62nd minute and it was a first club goal for 21 year old centre back Chris Mepham, who was signed from Brentford in January. Fraser had been fouled out on the right and floated in the free kick. The ball fell to Mepham after a couple of touches in the box including a shot by Wilson which was saved, before Mepham fired home.
The "Blades" equaliser followed a cleverly taken free kick pushed to the right of the area. The ball was crossed with McBurnie having a go but Billy Sharp scored the goal from close range, leading to wild celebrations in the away section.
Burnley 3 Southampton 0
Three goals in 12 second half minutes secured the points for the home side. The first came from Barnes after 63 minutes when he latched onto a speculative long ball by new left back Pieters (signed from Stoke), beating Angus Gunn with a powerful right foot shot. Pieters was the provider again and this time it was a deliberate ball to the back post where Barnes made it 2-0 after 70 minutes.
Gudmundsson made it 3-0 after Barnes had challenged for the ball which ran to the midfielder, who ran forward and scored with a left footed shot across the goal.
Crystal Palace 0 Everton 0
Unsettled Wilfried Zaha started on the bench in this game. Marco Silva has been allowed to splash the cash somewhat this summer, but the Everton starting line-up had a familiar ring to it.
Neither side could break the deadlock, and Zaha did get a rousing reception from the home fans when he did come off the bench.
Everton's Schneiderlin was shown a red card for a second bookable offence.
Watford 0 Brighton 3
With new manager Graham Potter at the helm and a different style of football Brighton pulled off a surprising and convincing away win. None of Brighton's new signings started the game.
The first goal was a Doucoure own goal after Locardia, Stephens and Murray had pressured the Watford goal in front of the travelling fans. It was Gross's shot that was turned into the net.
Watford had their chances with Ryan having to turn over a Holebas shot following a free kick, then in the second half Dunk getting in the way of a Gray shot.
Brighton signing Neal Maupay did come off the bench during the second half at the same time as Andone. It was Andone who got Brighton's second goal with almost his first touch, meeting Propper's cross from the right at the near post to squeeze the ball into Foster's net in the 65th minute.
Maupay scored a debut goal after 77 minutes running onto a long low through ball, and skipping round Foster before firing home. Brighton fans had already been singing "We're gonna win the league!". They certainly enjoyed their first game.
Spurs 3 Aston Villa 1
Harry Kane's first and second goals at the new stadium gave him the man of the match vote, but there were honourable mentions for game-changing substitute Christian Eriksen, right back Kyle Walker-Peters, and of course debut scorer Tanguy Ndombele! See the full spursometer here.
Comments of the week, following the post-match survey:-
1. "Mature game from Walker-Peters. Steady start and well taken goal from Ndombele. Good to see Kane scoring at our great stadium. Rose recovered and put in a decent performance especially after playing his part in the Villa goal"
2. "We need to evolve and that won’t happen without trying different formations and personnel in proper games.
It takes a good manager to do this, recognise it's not working in the short term, tweak it to get the result and improve the team for next time. Our squad is finally at the level to comfortably allow this to happen with the knowledge we can turn it around and get result."
Sunday 11th August, 2019
Leicester 0 Wolves 0
The main talking point of this game was the VAR decision which denied Wolves what would have been a winning goal.
Wolves have already been busy of course, having played three Europa League matches. They are well placed to make the play-off stage with their second leg game at home this Thursday. The Wolves side which faced Leicester had a familiar look about it, while Leicester had to replace the departed Maguire (centre backs were Evans and Soyuncu) and included former Newcastle man Ayoze Perez up front with Vardy. Perez did have Leicester's best effort in the first half, but pulled his shot wide.
The first shot on target came from Jiminez in the second half, but that was easily saved. The VAR moment came in the 51st minute when Dendoncker "scored" but after a considerable delay VAR decreed that there had been a handball preceding the "goal". Wolves manager Nuno Espírito Santo's main gripe after the game was with the length of time taken over the decision.
Newcastle 0 Arsenal 1
Mesut Ozil and Sead Kolašinac had been left out of the Arsenal squad for this game due to security concerns for the two individuals and their homes.
It was #BoycottArsenal day at St. James' Park where the locals are not enthused by the appointment of Steve Bruce to replace Rafa Benitez, and of course they are still unhappy with the way that Mike Ashley chooses to run the club. The quoted attendance figure was 47,635, but the actual figure may have been less.
Joelinton made his Premier League debut and wears the iconic number 9 shirt. There were no other new names in the starting line up for "The Toon". Unai Emery chose to keep his new boys Pepe, Ceballos and David Luiz on the bench, where Lacazette also started. Two 19 year olds - Willock and Nelson (both English) did start for Arsenal.
The game started in pouring rain, and Joelinton did come close with a header going wide across the goal. Almiron was booked for simulation when he dived in the Arsenal area. Shelvey hit the outside of the Arsenal post with a deflected shot. Joelinton showed good feet in the area and had another shot saved. Arsenal showed little in the first half except for a saved Aubameyang effort.
It was Aubameyang who won the game for the visitors with a 68th minute goal receiving a long ball from the right and making no mistake from inside the area.
Manchester United 4 Chelsea 0
Record UK signing Harry Maguire and right back Aaron Wan-Bissaka made their United debuts, whilst Daniel James had to settle for a place on the bench.
Mason Mount made a league debut for "Frank Lampard's Chelsea" and both Kurt Zouma and Tammy Abraham made starts having been out on loan last season, as was Mount. Kante was only on the bench along with January signing Pulisic.
Chelsea started the brightest, playing zippy football and pressing United high. Abraham hit the post with a powerful shot following an early Chelsea corner. Zouma needlessly fouled Rashford in the box and the England International made no mistake from the spot after 18 minutes.
Ross Barkley had a shot saved by De Gea's outstretched foot and left back Emmerson rattled the frame of De Gea's goal, but the score remained 1-0 at the interval. Emmerson had another shot well saved by the United keeper (and captain), after Chelsea started the second half in similar vein.
However, Chelsea soon fell behind after Maguire started a move from the back. Rashford raced away and fed the ball to his right after which Pereira crossed and Martial finished from close range in the centre of the 6 yard box (65 minutes). Two minutes later, United went three up. Pogba sent a beautiful ball from his own half and Rashford picked it up in a central position before firing home from the edge of the area.
In the 81st minute Pogba got another assist and he ran a long way from his own half for this one, feeding the ball to James, who had come off the bench. James delayed his attempt, but scored on his debut with a right foot shot, which took a deflection to beat Arrizabalaga.
"Getting sacked in the morning" sang United fans to Lampard. "We'll race you back to London!" retorted the defiant Chelsea fans.
Jose Mourinho was a pundit on Sky's coverage, during which he cited four contenders for this year's Premier League title - Manchester City, Liverpool, Tottenham and Manchester City's "B" team, noticeably not including his two former teams in the reckoning.
Frank Lampard's next appointment is in Istanbul for the European Super Cup clash with Liverpool
Liverpool 4-1 Norwich
West Ham 0-5 Man City
B'mouth 1-1 Sheff Utd
Burnley 3-0 S'hampton
C. Palace 0-0 Everton
Watford 0-3 Brighton
Spurs 3-1 A. Villa
Leicester 0-0 Wolves
Newcastle 0-1 Arsenal
Man Utd 4-0 Chelsea
Premier League Table
P W D L F-A GD Pts
1. Man City 1 1 0 0 5-0 5 3
2. Man Utd 1 1 0 0 4-0 4 3
3. Liverpool 1 1 0 0 4-1 3 3
4. Brighton 1 1 0 0 3-0 3 3
5. Burnley 1 1 0 0 3-0 3 3
6. Spurs 1 1 0 0 3-1 2 3
7. Arsenal 1 1 0 0 1-0 1 3
8. B'mouth 1 0 1 0 1-1 0 1
9. Sheff Utd 1 0 1 0 1-1 0 1
10. C. Palace 1 0 1 0 0-0 0 1
11. Everton 1 0 1 0 0-0 0 1
12. Leicester 1 0 1 0 0-0 0 1
13. Wolves 1 0 1 0 0-0 0 1
14. Newcastle 1 0 0 1 0-1 -1 0
15. A. Villa 1 0 0 1 1-3 -2 0
16. Norwich 1 0 0 1 1-4 -3 0
17. S'hampton 1 0 0 1 0-3 -3 0
18. Watford 1 0 0 1 0-3 -3 0
19. Chelsea 1 0 0 1 0-4 -4 0
20. West Ham 1 0 0 1 0-5 -5 0