3 Up, 3 Down: Featuring Manchester United and Liverpool stars
The Premier League is back! Ninety days after Leicester City lifted their first ever top division title they were back on the pitch to defend their title.
It did not go exactly as planned, though, as the Foxes became the first ever Premier League champions to lose on the opening day of the next season. What made it even worse was it was to a Hull City side with no permanent manager and almost as few available outfield players. Not the best start.
Elsewhere, Liverpool saw off Arsenal in a scintillating seven goal thriller at the Emirates, several new managers made their Premier League bows, and both Manchester clubs and their superstar managers opened with victory. But who has made 2016/17’s opening 3 up 3 down?
Up: Zlatan Ibrahimovic
Where else to start than with Manchester United’s new number 9?
The enigmatic Swede made the points safe for his new side in a 3-1 win at the Vitality Stadium over Bournemouth by curling in a brilliant strike. Remarkably, it meant that Ibrahimovic had scored on his Serie A, La Liga, Ligue 1 and Champions League bows, so it was no surprise when he duly netted just 64 minutes into his Premier League career.
He may be 34 years of age, but after scoring in his first two Manchester United appearances and winning titles throughout his career, Ibrahimovic is already suggesting that he may just fire the Red Devils back towards the sharp end of the league this season.
Up: Alvaro Negedo
Middlesbrough have spent a lot of money on their Premier League return, and one of their most expensive acquisitions was Spanish striker Alvaro Negredo, a former Premier League winner with Manchester City.
Negredo didn’t take long to make an impact, hooking in just four minutes into Boro’s opening fixture against Stoke City. Although it wasn’t enough to secure all three points for the Teeside club, it was a great personal triumph for the forward, who scored with his first shot at the Riverside, repeating the feat he managed at City.
In doing so, he became the first player to score with his first shot for two different sides in the Premier League. An impressively clinical, if slightly irrelevant, feat.
Up: Mike Phelan
Few would have liked to have been in Mike Phelan’s shoes on Saturday morning, but by the end of the day he found himself on top of the Premier League.
Steve Bruce left Hull and his caretaker manager with just 13 fit outfield players ahead of their opening game against the champions Leicester. But Phelan was not to be deterred, and whipped his depleted squad into a shape fit enough to secure a 2-1 win.
Whilst Hull fans must not get carried away (even Aston Villa won on the opening day last season), their performance suggested that the Tigers will not be the pushovers that many expect ahead of the new season. Good on Phelan for getting the win.