Premier League Review – Matchday One
This was a joyous occasion for the fans, allowed to return en masse to stadia up and down the country for thee first time since March 9th last year.
Friday 13th August, 2021
Brentford 2 Arsenal 0
It certainly wasn’t a good Friday 13th for Mikel Arteta and his Arsenal side (minus Aubameyang and Lacazette) who went down 2-0 in Brentford’s vibrant new stadium. It was 24-year-old Spaniard Sergi Canos who got Brentford off the mark after a strong start. He scored from inside the area on the left with a powerful low drive after Arsenal failed to clear. Leno conceded inside his right post on his narrow side.
Balogun had a first half effort cleared for Arsenal, and early in the second half Smith-Rowe’s 16-yard shot was pushed away by David Raya. Arsenal substitute Bukayo Saka was applauded by the whole stadium when he replaced Balogun. Saka hit a powerful shot off target from the left of the area after Calum Chambers crossed from the right. It was 2-0 in the 73rd minute after Sorensen’s long throw was not defended and allowed to bounce before reaching Norgaard who headed home towards the back post. Smith-Rowe led another attack and after Tierney’s cross Pepe hit a good shot which was well saved by the Brentford keeper at his right post.
The celebrations were prolonged by Brentford, but after all, their fans had been denied the opportunity to say goodbye to Griffin Park and to see the introduction of The Community Stadium.
Did you know? Brentford’s last top tier game was a home defeat (at Griffin Park, of course) against Arsenal on 26th May 1947. They’ve waited over 74 years for their revenge against Arsenal at this level. There has been one intervening competitive meeting between the two clubs in the League Cup in September 2018.
Saturday 14th August, 2021
Manchester United 5 (1) Leeds United 1 (0)
Man Utd- Fernandes (3), Greenwood, Fred.
Leeds United:- Ayling
Both teams had a familiar look, with Manchester United holding back Jadon Sancho on the bench. Marcelo Bielsa, who has recently agreed a further one-year contract, gave "The Yorkshire Pirlo" Kalvin Phillips a place on the bench. Manchester United will be without Marcus Rashford until October after he had surgery on his shoulder. New centre-back Raphael Varane was presented before kick-off but took no part in the game.
Both sides had corners before Meslier was forced into action to save Greenwood's looping shot, taken when he intercepted an intended clearance after 10 minutes. Pogba put an excellent chance wide a minute later.
De Gea had to stretch to his left to push away Klich's 16th minute shot after good work by Harrison, finally signed permanently from Man City in the summer.
The game was being played at fast pace, and Leeds' best chance followed a Raphinha free kick and a header by Rodrigo which passed outside De Gea's right post after 25 minutes. Bruno Fernandes had already gone very close to teeing up Mason Greenwood before the Portuguese star inevitably got United off the mark for the new season. His 30th minute goal followed a poor ball out by Meslier and passes by McTominay and Pogba who set up Fernandes, who scored from the left side of the area. Meslier got a touch but could not prevent the ball hitting the net.
Luke Shaw rattled the side netting with a powerful shot and whilst Manchester United showed plenty of potency, they did not increase their lead before the break.
Leeds made a half-time change, replacing Rodrigo with new signing Junior Firpo, signed from Barcelona in the close season. Leeds scored a 48th minute equaliser out of the blue when Luke Ayling hit a right foot rocket into De Gea's top right corner.
Three minutes later it was 2-1 to Manchester United. Pogba sent forward an excellent ball and Greenwood had the beating of Struijk, scoring across Meslier with a left-footed shot. Fernandes made it 3-1 after 53 minutes with a shot that Ayling tried to clear but goal-line technology quickly indicated the ball had crossed the line.
Fernandes made it 4-1 with a hat-trick goal, running onto Lindelof's long ball out of the United half before beating Meslier with a powerful angled right foot shot. (60 mins)
The game became a rout in the 68th minute as Pogba crossed from the left and Fred slotted home. The Leeds defence was nowhere.
Sancho came on to make his Manchester United debut with the score standing at 5-1, replacing James. Martial came on for Pogba, who had four assists to his name.
Raphinha should have had a goal back five minutes from time after Roberts' pass, but the shot passed wide across goal.
Last year's corresponding game had finished 6-2 to Manchester United. There had been skirmishes in the City centre pre-match, but Leeds fans went home with their tails between their legs.
Burnley 1 Brighton & Hove Albion 2
Almost inevitably the Burnley side wore a very familiar look, whilst Brighton had to fill White’s place at the back. Tarkowski headed home after two minutes following a corner but there was disappointment in the Brighton defence over a possible push in the build-up. The goal stood, despite review. Gudmundsson hit the bottom of the post after 19 minutes with a good shot from 22 yards. Burnley nearly had a second goal before the break, from another corner. Both Mee and Tarkowski were being physical in the area and Mee’s header hit the underside of the bar before being cleared.
Brighton had an early second half chance headed off the line following another corner before Burnley wanted a penalty but only got a free kick following a foul on Charlie Taylor. Gudmundsson’s free kick was off target. Brighton equalised in the 73rd minute shortly after Moder had come off the bench. Moder was sent away down the right by Bissouma and when the sub crossed Neil Maupay was on hand to finish from close range. Maupay had a 25th birthday present to celebrate.
Another substitute was even more impactive for the visitors, after Gross crossed – also from the right – Mac Allister seized a goal with a right foot shot in front of the delighted travelling fans. (78 mins)
Chelsea 3 Crystal Palace 0
Champions League and European Super Cup holders and Premier League title contenders Chelsea waltzed home against Patrick Vieira’s Palace side. 22-year-old centre-back Trevoh Chalobah, who had a good pre-season and made his Premier League debut after three seasons out on loan capped his day with a goal. (Chelsea’s third). Palace have offloaded 10 players in the summer, but only one new signing started this game. That was former Chelsea player Marc Guehi, latterly on loan at Swansea.
Pulisic had tested Guaita with a good header from an Alonso cross before Alonso scored himself, direct from a free kick taken just outside the box on the right of goal. (27 mins) It was 2-0 inside 40 minutes when Pulisic took advantage of Guaita’s failure to hold Mount’s low cross from the right.
That Chalobah goal came in the 58th minute and was a low rocket of a shot hit from 25 yards after he received Kovacic’s pass from the left in acres of space. Guaita could do nothing about this one creeping inside his right post, although he did get a slight touch on the ball. The celebrations were emotional. Palace looked no more impressive than last year under Roy Hodgson. As for Chelsea – Romelu Lukaku, signed for over £95 million from Inter, hasn’t started yet! Tammy Abraham is apparently destined for Jose Mourinho’s Roma.
Everton 3 Southampton 1
Rafa Benitez’s managerial debut at Goodison Park did not go all to plan, as his side were booed off at half-time, but recovered to win convincingly. Andros Townsend and Demarai Gray made Everton debuts. Adam Armstrong made his Saints’ debut whilst his namesake Stuart stayed on the bench.
Armstrong had his first Premier League goal in the 22nd minute after a terrible error by Michael Keane and a touch by Che Adams left him with only Pickford to beat. Armstrong did not fail. After all, he did score 28 Championship goals with Blackburn last season. Armstrong had another shot saved by Pickford at his right post.
Everton’s equaliser was scored at close range by Olympic gold medallist Richarlison after Townsend received the ball after a corner and headed it over the defence where the Brazilian finished well. (47 mins) The second Everton goal followed a quickly taken free kick and a move which had involved Doucoure who received the final pass from substitute Iwobi and hit an excellent shot into McCarthy’s top left corner in front of the joyous Gwladys Street fans. (76 mins)
It was 3-1 in the 81st minute when Richarlison crossed low from the right of the box and Calvert-Lewin scored with a diving header which hit the net despite McCarthy getting a hand on the ball.
Leicester City 1 Wolverhampton Wanderers 0
FA Cup and Community Shield holders Leicester managed without their injured centre-back Wesley Fofana and won thanks to Jamie Vardy. That much was familiar. Wolves (who we meet on Sunday) have a new coach – also Portuguese – Bruno Lage. Wolves had another new face in goal – Jose Sa – and also featured loan signing Francisco Trincao beside Raul Jimenez who was making a welcome return to action following his serious head injury at Arsenal last November.
Vardy had an early shot comfortably held, before Traore missed a golden opportunity at the other end after being sent away by Moutinho. Vardy scored with an angled right-footer in the 41st minute after brilliant play by Ricardo Pereira who broke past two defenders before sending over his cross from the right. They’ve still got those cardboard clappers at the King Power Stadium! Sa saved well from Tielemans, diving to his right to push the ball away.
Trincao missed another good chance for Wolves early in the second half and Traore later shot straight at Schmeichel. Kilman got forward for Wolves with time running out and had one shot blocked by Amartey before a header (also by Kilman) was held by Schmeichel.
Watford 3 Aston Villa 2
Villa’s first game minus Grealish was not a happy occasion, whilst Watford celebrated their return with a first Premier League win since July last year. The Watford defence included a former Spurs academy player – William Troost-Ekong – who left Spurs 8 years ago and who toured Europe with various clubs before joining Watford for their last Championship season. They also featured goalkeeper Daniel Bachmann, who featured in the Euro20 tournament for Austria. Villa featured Ashley Young, making his second debut, and summer signing Buendia in midfield. Danny Ings was their front man.
Watford took a tenth minute lead when Sarr crossed from the right and new signing Emmanuel Dennis had a goal on his debut, scoring low with his right foot. Dennis’s first effort was blocked but rebounded to his feet. The Villa defence looked stale, and Watford had the better of the first half with Sarr showing well. Sarr made it 2-0 with a deflected right-footed shot in the 42nd minute. The ball looped over Martinez into the far corner after Mings’ deflection.
Ramsey had a couple of early chances for Villa and Dennis had a shot held by Martinez at the other end, but substitute Cucho Hernandez gave the home side a 67th minute 3-0 advantage after a good move from the back ended with him scoring inside Martinez’s left post with a right foot curler. McGinn got one back for the visitors with a well-taken left foot strike in the 70th minute, but it took a Danny Ings' 97th minute penalty (after Traore had been up-ended) to make the scoreline respectable. Watford’s new coach (their 14th in the last 10 years) Xisco Munoz was a happy man.
Norwich City 0(0) Liverpool 3(1)
Scorers:- Jota, Firmino, Salah
Liverpool have started their last two league games against a promoted side and win them both. Two years ago, their victims were Norwich, but the game was at Anfield. That was a 4-1.
Virgil van Dijk was back for his first competitive game since last October, but Jurgen Klopp was missing his ace left back Andy Robertson. Tsimikas deputised. Norwich included Chelsea loanee Billy Gilmour and four new signings. Those were Ben Gibson at centre-back, Dimitris Giannoulis at left back, Pierre Lees-Melou in midfield and Milton Rashica in a front three. Another Greek arrival Christos Tzolis was on the bench, along with American striker Josh Sargent. Ben Gibson was a Burnley loanee at Norwich last season.
The Carrow Road atmosphere was lively, as was the Norwich team in the opening exchanges. Liverpool had the first chances though after 10 minutes. Firstly, Gibson cleared a Tsimikas cross over his bar, then after the corner, Tim Krul stretched to push over a header by Jota. Salah hit a shot straight at Krul after a cross by Alexander-Arnold after 17 minutes.
After 19 minutes Cantwell lifted a nice ball over the defence and Pukki's shot was parried away by Alisson for a corner. Three minutes later Mane hit a deep cross from the left towards the back of the area where Salah hit a first-time shot wide back across the goal.
Liverpool took a 26th minute lead when Alexander-Arnold's cross was involuntarily touched on to Jota by Salah. Jota scored from inside the area. Seven minutes later a defensive error gave Salah a shot on goal which was blocked, as was a follow-up by Matip.
Norwich were under the cosh early in the second half, but Krul was not forced to make a save.
After an hour, Jota was replaced by Firmino and Fabinho took over from Oxlade-Chamberlain. Krul's first second half save was from Tsimikas after 62 minutes following some sharp passing from left to right by Alexander-Arnold, Salah and finally Mane. It was 2-0 in the 65th minute when a Mane effort was blocked and fell to Salah who quickly crossed from the right, finding Firmino in space where he could not fail to score.
Salah made it 3-0 in the 74th minute, following a corner from the left which reached him on the edge of the box, from where he beat Krul's dive to the right. Salah had scored an opening day goal for a record fifth consecutive Premier League season.
Daniel Farke inserted Sargent and Idah for Rashica and Pukki with less than 15 minutes remaining.
There was a goalmouth scramble after 86 minutes when Alisson made a great close-range save from Gibson after a free kick from the left. Alisson also managed to push away an attempted follow-up by Hanley.
Sunday 15th August, 2021
Newcastle United 2 West Ham United 4
The only arrival for Newcastle so far has been a familiar face – that of Joe Willock, finally signed on full terms after his successful loan last season, at the end of which he equalled Alan Shearer’s record of scoring in seven consecutive games. Willock didn’t play today and unfortunately for Steve Bruce the home fans will have been unimpressed by their team’s failure to twice hold onto the lead. “The Toon” succumbed to a West Ham side having to make do without their own loan sensation of last season Jesse Lingard who, for the moment at least, remains at Old Trafford.
Callum Wilson opened the scoring in the fifth minute with a close-range header after Saint-Maximin crossed from the right. Saint-Maximin had twisted and turned away from Rice not once, but twice before delivering the ball. West Ham equalised in the 18th minute, but there was confusion about whether the goal would stand or whether there was an offside. The move had involved several players before Antonio and Benrahma fed the ball to Cresswell on the left of the area. Cresswell’s cross/shot made it all the way to the net although Soucek looked to have got a touch and Jarrod Bowen was already over the goal-line when he made the final touch. The assistant’s offside flag was overruled by VAR. Bowen was through on goal soon after, but Woodman made a good close-range save.
Wilson tried a cheeky, but almost very effective back-heel shot on goal after a long ball by Shelvey. This move had started with an exciting run from his own half by Saint-Maximin. Saint-Maximin excited again, approaching the area and passing to Almiron, whose shot was deflected against the bar for a corner. The home side did have a first half lead when Jacob Murphy headed in from a Matt Ritchie cross. (40 mins)
However, the second half clearly belonged to “The Hammers” who equalised in the 53rd minute. Bowen passed sharply to Antonio who lifted a cross from the left of the box which was heded in by Benrahma. Saint-Maximin continued to offer threats, but West Ham had a penalty after 62 minutes. Coufal crossed from the right and Antonio’s header rebounded off the woodwork after which referee Martin Atkinson gave a foul against Fornals by Murphy. Antonio’s penalty was saved but Soucek followed up and scored. Antonio successful scored in the 66th minute when he was on the end of Benrahma’s pass and hammered home with a right foot shot.
Spurs 1 Manchester City 0
Nuno’s first game as Spurs head coach was certainly the toughest for any of our recent coaches/managers. The “spursometer” was definitely the highest marked debut game for any of our leaders since the advent of the feature on the website. I would argue that this was indeed the best Spurs manager/coach debut since the brilliant Bill Nicholson led us to a 10-4 win over Everton in October 1958!
This was a brilliant performance by all the players. Japhet Tanganga won your man of the match vote with a brilliant 8.8 out of 10 assessment.
Here are some more facts and figures found by Declan Mulcahy regarding this game:-
City failed to set a new top-flight record of 11 successive victories in their opening match of the season, surpassing Aston Villa's run from 1891-92 to 1900-01. The last time they had failed to win their opening fixture was a 0-0 draw at White Hart Lane at the beginning of the 2010-11 season.
Spurs' victory marked just the third time in Premier League history that the reigning champions have been beaten in their opening game of a campaign, following defeats for Leicester City in 2016-17 and Chelsea in 2017-18.
Spurs manager Nuno Espírito Santo has won three times against Manchester City under Pep Guardiola in the Premier League (previously twice with Wolves); the joint-most of any coach, along with Jürgen Klopp, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and José Mourinho.
Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola suffered his first defeat in the opening game of a league campaign since 2008-09, when his Barcelona side were beaten by Numancia. Before today's loss, Guardiola's sides had previously won their opening league game in 11 consecutive seasons.
Pep Guardiola has now lost more away games against Spurs in all competitions than against any other opponent away from home (5). All five have come while in charge of Manchester City, with each of the last four coming at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.
City have now lost on all four of their visits to the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in all competitions, the first time Pep Guardiola has lost four such away games in a row in his managerial career.
Fixtures and results - 13-15.08.21
Friday 13th August, 2021
Brentford 2-0 Arsenal
Saturday 14th August, 2021
Man Utd 5-1 Leeds
Burnley 1-2 Brighton
Chelsea 3-0 Crystal Palace
Everton 3-1 S'hampton
Leicester 1-0 Wolves
Watford 3-2 A. Villa
Norwich 0-3 Liverpool
Sunday 15th August, 2021
Newcastle 2-4 West Ham
Spurs 1-0 Man City
Premier League Table
P W D L F-A GD Pts
1. Man Utd 1 1 0 0 5-1 4 3
2. Chelsea 1 1 0 0 3-0 3 3
3. Liverpool 1 1 0 0 3-0 3 3
4. West Ham 1 1 0 0 4-2 2 3
5. Everton 1 1 0 0 3-1 2 3
6. Brentford 1 1 0 0 2-0 2 3
7. Watford 1 1 0 0 3-2 1 3
8. Brighton 1 1 0 0 2-1 1 3
9. Leicester 1 1 0 0 1-0 1 3
10. Spurs 1 1 0 0 1-0 1 3
11. A. Villa 1 0 0 1 2-3 -1 0
12. Burnley 1 0 0 1 1-2 -1 0
13. Man City 1 0 0 1 0-1 -1 0
14. Wolves 1 0 0 1 0-1 -1 0
15. Newcastle 1 0 0 1 2-4 -2 0
16. S'hampton 1 0 0 1 1-3 -2 0
17. Arsenal 1 0 0 1 0-2 -2 0
18. C. Palace 1 0 0 1 0-3 -3 0
19. Norwich 1 0 0 1 0-3 -3 0
20. Leeds 1 0 0 1 1-5 -4 0