After 82 days of waiting, the greatest league on earth was back on our screens. If the opening weekend is anything to go by, this could turn out to be one of the most thrilling of seasons of the English Premier League in a while yet.
Here’s the recap of an eventful weekend across Europe.
Arsenal and Leicester serve neutrals a treat
The curtain raiser of the Premier League was one thoroughly enjoyed by everyone watching as a dramatic 4-3 win for Arsenal over Leicester City at the Emirates finally saw them celebrate an opening day win after suffering defeats in the preceding two seasons.
Arsene Wenger deserves credit for his bravery in going for the win with his substitutions. Electing to make the switch from a back three to a back four – featuring three natural fullbacks and a winger – forced the issue. Ultimately, Ramsey and Giroud came to the Frenchman’s rescue by chipping in with their goals.
For Craig Shakespeare though, his bemusing decision to bring on Kelechi Iheanacho in the final ten minutes beggared belief at the time, and it wasn’t surprising they were overrun in the closing stages. Of course, Arsenal might have won irrespective, but the Leicester manager must bear much of the brunt for his side’s collapse.
The Champions stunned!
In the proverbial game of two halves, Burnley upset the applecart to come away with all three points in their 3-2 victory over Chelsea at Stamford Bridge. For 14 minutes, it seemed like it’ll be business as usual for the champions as they seemed in control of the games but Gary Cahill’s red card for a mistimed lunge changed the course of the game. The unprofessional response from the Blues was disappointing as was their defending. The goals they conceded bore glaring similarities to how they let their opponents in last season and were all avoidable.
Perhaps Antonio Conte shouldn’t have brought on Andreas Christensen for Jeremie Boga following the red card. Sticking to a back four would have left Chelsea with three attacking players and their attacking play wouldn’t have suffered as it did. The trio of Christensen, David Luiz and Antonio Rudiger hadn’t played together in a competitive match, so the defensive lapses were always going to occur.
Chelsea’s response in the second half was the only positive on a gloomy day, and the debut of Alvaro Morata in particular would offer some sort of encouragement to his manager who might feel Diego Costa won’t be too big a miss this season.
United look businesslike
The gauntlet is down… the Manchester giants have thrown it down! That’s exactly what happened with the Red Devils thrashing West Ham United 4-0 at Old Trafford on Sunday. The league’s most expensive buy in Romelu Lukaku stole the headlines with his brace and Anthony Martial as well as Paul Pogba also getting into the act.
Of course nothing is decided on day one, but it was a statement win, regardless. United will face tougher opponents than the Hammers. They will also face tougher spells over the course of the season, but you can only beat what’s in front of you; and Jose Mourinho’s charges did that… in style.
Huddersfield living the dream
After 45 years away from the top flight, the newly promoted Huddersfield could only dream of how their return to the big time would pan out. Except those dreams became a reality as the Terriers won 3-0 convincingly at Crystal Palace. The win over managerial debutant Frank De Boer, was delight for the whole of Yorkshire and Steve Mounie introduced himself in style with his brace.
The Terriers are in dreamland and they wouldn’t want it to end any time soon. Who would?
Real Madrid gives a master class in counter attacking
The Spanish Super Cup first leg was an expert counter attacking display by a Real Madrid side missing Luka Modric and Cristiano Ronaldo (left on the bench). After a somewhat uninspiring first half, the game came alive in the second and four goals were scored. It wouldn’t be a Clasico without the drama that comes with it and there was time for CR7 to come on, score a cracker, and get sent-off in comical circumstances.
Barcelona missed Neymar – who’s moved for big money to Paris Saint-Germain but the Whites showed a superior strength in depth with the quality they had on the bench with Marco Asensio getting on the score sheet. Ernesto Valverde’s bench didn’t make much of an effect and the margin in quality between the two sides has never been more glaring.
Drama at the Stadio Olimpico
Nothing in football is ever more dramatic than a late goal. But the circumstances in which it all played out in the Italian Super Cup between Lazio and Juventus was nothing short of enthralling. The Biancocelesti led 2-0 courtesy of a Ciro Immobile double up until the 85th minute, before a quick-fire brace from Paulo Dybala leveled things up.
The Old Lady thought they’d forced extra time, but the White and Blues had other ideas as Alessandro Murgia scored a winner at the death to stun Max Allegri’s side. If you ever had any doubts as to why the beautiful game is loved by enthusiasts, they should be cleared now, shouldn’t they?
Neymar starts well in France
Guingamp stunned PSG last time they met at the Stade de Roudourou. Except the Parisians didn’t have Neymar on side then. With the fleet-footed Brazilian in their ranks, they ran away with a 3-0 win.
All eyes were on the former Barcelona man to see how he’ll fare on his debut for The-Red-and-Blues. He didn’t disappoint, either, as he scored a goal and supplied one… good run out, job done. €222 million might be good money after all.
What was your thrilling moment of the weekend? Kindly share in the comments box.
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Photo Source: Getty Images via Zimbio.com