This weekend saw Premier League football return after the international break, and was full of intrigue, with the first meeting between Pep Guardiola and Jose Mourinho in English football living up to the pre-match hype, Leicester becoming the first visitors to the revamped Anfield stadium, and David Moyes trying to secure his first win as Sunderland manager, against Everton. Here are ten things that we learnt from the weekend’s action.
- Guardiola’s goalkeeping conundrum continues (Manchester United 1-2 Manchester City)-Much was said over the international break about Pep’s decision to sign Chilean international Claudio Bravo as a replacement for Joe Hart, with the Manchester City manager hoping that the former’s kicking ability will help instil his style of play on the team. A dominant first half was nearly ruined by five minutes of madness from Bravo, with a dropped catch leading to Manchester United’s only goal, with indecision whether to come for the ball almost leading to an equaliser. He was also lucky not to give away a penalty for a rash challenge on Wayne Rooney, and Guardiola will be hoping that he will perform better once he has a chance to gel with his defence.
- New stand, new hope for Liverpool (Liverpool 4-1 Leicester City)-The new Anfield era began in brilliant fashion for Jurgen Klopp’s men, with the only downside of the match being Lucas’ brainless back pass, which gave Leicester hope of a comeback. This season already looks as though it will be a rollercoaster ride for the home side, going up and down more times than Klopp in the dugout, but Liverpool fans will have hope that they can reach the top 4, without the distraction of Europe. For Leicester, it looks as though they will have to enjoy their Champions League adventure while it lasts, as it won’t happen next season.
- Referees still need help (Swansea City 2-2 Chelsea)-Antonio Conte was right to be aggrieved after his side lost their 100% record this season at Swansea, with Leroy Fer’s tackle on Gary Cahill in the lead up to the second Swansea goal being missed by both the referee and his assistant. Match officials are only human, and humans make mistakes, but it seems to be happening more regularly as the pace of the Premier League increases.
- Hammers have an Olympic struggle ahead (West Ham 2-4 Watford)-West Ham started their first season in their new home with high expectations, after reaching Europe for the second season in a row. Their third loss of the season hurt much more than the previous two, having been 2-0 up and cruising before Watford staged a brilliant comeback. The transfer window ended on a high for West Ham after keeping hold of talisman Dimitri Payet, but they are going to need a few more magic moments from the Frenchman if they want to match last season.
- No problems for Pochettino (Stoke City 0-4 Tottenham Hotspur)-Spurs boss Mauricio Pochettino would have worried about a hangover from last season’s miserable ending, but the London side are unbeaten after their first four league games, and were never in trouble against a Stoke side who fell apart after manager Mark Hughes was sent to the stands in the first half. Mauricio will be hoping for a similar performance as Tottenham prepare for their first Champions League campaign since the 2010/11 season.
- Arsenal pleased with penalties (Arsenal 2-1 Southampton)-A third penalty this season helped Arsenal to their first home win of the new campaign, which looked unlikely for the majority of the match against Southampton, who took the lead before Laurent Koscielny’s overhead kick brought the hosts back on level terms. The match against PSG in the Champions League will provide a better indicator into what Arsenal fans can expect from this season.
- Same old Sunderland struggles (Sunderland 0-3 Everton)-Before the match, David Moyes claimed that he could have won the league if a Romelu Lukaku-type player had been at Everton while he was in charge. The Belgian tore Sunderland apart in the second half with a twelve minute hat-trick, leaving Moyes’ new side without a win in August or September since 2012. Sunderland will be happy to survive relegation this year, Everton should be aiming for Europe.
- Benteke back to his best (Middlesbrough 1-2 Crystal Palace)-Palace fans will have been happy with the performance of their record signing Christian Benteke, whose headed goal was similar to those he was renowned for during his Aston Villa years. Poor defending from Middlesbrough led them to their first loss since being promoted, and will be hoping that this doesn’t become a recurring theme throughout the season.
- A Hull of a mess in the boardroom (Burnley 1-1 Hull City)-A Robert Snodgrass free kick secured a point for Hull in the last minutes of the game, keeping the East Yorkshire side in the top half of a table, something which was unthinkable at the start of the season, with transfer turmoil leading to only thirteen senior players being available for their first match. Manager Mike Phelan will be hoping that a takeover deal can be reached shortly, otherwise it could be an uncertain future for both him and his players.
- Wilshere and Wilson bright sparks for Bournemouth (Bournemouth 1-0 West Brom)-Callum Wilson’s first goal since returning from a knee injury was enough to secure all three points for the home side, with Jack Wilshere making his first competitive appearance for the club since joining on loan from Arsenal. Eddie Howe will be hoping that both players remain fit, as he looks to build on last season’s sixteenth placed finish, with West Brom looking like they are heading for another mediocre campaign.
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