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English Premier League

Review of the Opening Weekend of the Premier League: Lackluster Defences and Exciting Debutants

Football fans received their first dose of Premier League action for over two months this weekend. Nails were bitten and fists were raised. But who were the winners and losers of opening set of games? Which teams need to improve, and where? Which debutants made the most impressive first impressions?

Sunderland Lackluster in Defence

After Sunderland conceded 53 goals last season, The Black Cats attempted to reduce defensive troubles through snapping up Younes Kaboul from Spurs, along with securing Sebastian Coates on a permanent deal. However the unfamiliar partnership catalysed the rate at which errors ensue, as they conceded 4 goals away at the King Power Stadium. This will be a disturbing start to the season for Dick Advocaat. The Dutchman has been presented with a handful of issues to deal with very early on, which does not give a positive indication for Sunderland fans going into the Premier League this season.

It’s important to note Leicester didn’t just get by through the opposition being off their best form. The Tinkerman had his side playing a positive, fast passing game. Ranieri showed his class as he got the best out of the players of the previous season, with the only new-signing in the starting line-up being Okazaki, with winger Mahrez stealing the show. The Algerian international was denied his hat-trick only by the woodwork, running the Sunderland defence ragged from start to finish. At times it was looking like a cricket score was on the cards.

Top Clubs Fail to Exert Dominance

Although Manchester United did manage to beat Tottenham Hotspur on the opening game of the Premier League season, the Red Devils didn’t always display the quality of football fans would be hoping to see from Van Gaal’s side. It is unquestionable that Spurs are a tough team to face, so I may be being slightly harsh when I find faults in United’s performance for not having the Lion’s share of possession. Failing to make short, sharp passing moves, and generally lacking the panache I was expecting to see going into this match-up. United only registered one shot on target during the match, meaning they will be hoping for more of an offensive spark as they delve deeper into the season, since it took a Kyle Walker own-goal to give them the 3-points.

The Champions were taken to a 2-2 draw against Swansea City, home at Stamford Bridge. As Courtois was sent off for a foul on Gomis just inside the area, The Blues struggled to break down the Welsh side once Oscar(who scored the opening goal) was replaced with back-up goalkeeper Asmir Begovic. Mourinho’s side displayed some decent spells of football during the the match but never dominated like they can when Costa and Hazard get going.  This allows Chelsea’s competitors to get a headstart on them in the race for the Premier League title.

Petr Cech’s league debut for Arsenal was a game he’ll want to forget.

Despite their various attacking options, Arsenal failed to break down the Hammer’s defence, losing 2-0 home at The Emirates. New signing Petr Cech opened with a game he will be trying to forget. After first making a positioning mistake from a set-piece for the opening goal, he was then caught by surprise as Zarate beat the experienced goalkeeper at his near post from outside the 18-yard box. Slaven Bilic’s decision to start 16-year-old holding-midfielder Reece Oxford (the youngest West Ham player to play in the Premier League) raised a few eyebrows. However he more than lived up to expectations keeping the space tight in the middle of the pitch, forcing Arsenal to play most of their football out wide, and out of danger zones. New signing Payet will have also made a positive impression to the away fans watching as he registered his first assist for the club, displaying, skill, strength and pace throughout the match. Oxford and Payet will be two promising players and it will be exciting to see how they perform over the coming season.

Exciting Debutants

Andre Ayew, son of Abedi Pele (arguably the greatest African footballer of all time), joined Swansea on a free transfer from French club Marseille and made an immediate impact on his debut finding his first goal for the club. Ayew would be considered a winger, however not in the traditional sense. The Ghanaian likes to cut inside and make late runs into the box. This is precisely how he got his name on the scoresheet as he outsmarted John Terry, getting on the end of rebound from Gomis’ header.

Rudy Gestede joined Villa from Blackburn for a fee thought to be in the region of £6million. The six-foot four-inch target-man came off the bench on Saturday and immediately made a nuisance of himself. Gestede is a player who knows how to make the most of his size, and eventually found the back of the net with a thundering header after getting on the end of a set-piece. Jordan Ayew (brother of Andre Ayew) was favoured to the French-born Beninese centre-forward, however after Gestede’s performance on Saturday he will making a solid case to see him up top on his own, or in a striking partnership.

Yohan Cabaye made his Premier League return on Saturday for Crystal Palace. The French playmaker showed off his slick passing and creativity throughout the game. Cabaye also sealed the game as he put Palace 3-1 up in stoppage time, sliding the ball into the bottom right-hand corner smoothly with the inside of his foot. It’s likely that the France international will be play a key role in any success the Glaziers have this season.

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