Tuesday, September 15, 2020

The Premier League Week 1: Arsenal's Fast Start; Everton Impresses; Dark Days for the Hammers

 Top of the Table

Arsenal exploded from the gate with a dominant 3-0 win over newly promoted Fulham. New squad members Willian (2 assists) and Gabriel (goal) provided immediate dividends while the dangerous strike force of Aubameyang and Lacazette saw each contribute a tally towards the Gunner victory. Some nervous defensive moments early could have been damaging against a better opponent and may bear watching.

Liverpool also looked a bit shaky in back before ultimately prevailing 4-3 over a determined Leeds side. Ultimately the quality of the defending champions prevailed as Mohamed Salah delivered a hat trick. Liverpool has now won a premier league record 35 straight games when Salah scores.

Leicester was workmanlike in a 2-0 win over newly promoted West Bromwich Albion. Newly acquired Tim Castagne, replacing the departed Ben Chilwell at left back, scored in his 1st game with the Foxes while Jamie Vardy scored two second half penalties in his 212th appearance for Leicester.

Carlo Ancelotti's Everton squad made a strong statement in defeating Spurs on Sunday. The 1-0 margin could have been wider with more clinical finishing. Richarlison and Calvert-Lewin both looked dangerous with Calvert-Lewin scoring the decisive goal. James Rodriguez provided a previously absent element for the Blues with his link-up play and energy in midfield. Jordan Pickford was aggressive and mistake-free in protection of his goal. Jose Mourinho will be less than pleased with the 15 shots allowed by his team, but this game was more about the performance of Everton than a disappointing effort by Spurs.

Chelsea prevailed 3-1 over Brighton despite missing Christian Pulisic and three of its new transfer additions for the opener, starting two new acquisitions in attack and continuing to cross their fingers regarding the performance of goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga. Timo Werner was promising in his Chelsea debut and drew the penalty leading to Chelsea's first goal. Chelsea fullback Reece James had one of the stellar goals of the opening weekend with a strike for Chelsea's second goal. 

Both Manchester clubs begin their campaigns next week.

Mid Table

Crystal Palace eked a 1-0 win over Southampton. We'll leave these two reflected as mid table teams for now but questions can certainly be asked of Southampton which fell to a Crystal Palace side missing five of its defenders due to injury and which did not call on the services of newly added striker Michy Batschuayai. A Wilfried Zaha goal and a firmly parked bus keyed the Eagles victory. Crystal Palace now faces a brutal stretch of games versus Manchester United, Everton, and Chelsea in their next three games.

Newcastle's transfer window needs to receive good early grades as its two goals in a victory at West Ham were scored by newcomers Callum Wilson and Jeff Hendrick.

Leeds captured the imagination on Saturday as it pushed Liverpool to the brink before falling 4-3 in an Anfield goal fest. The aggressive attack style seemed to catch Liverpool off guard and Leeds may prove a handful for Premier League opponents this season. We will peg them as a mid-table team for now in what might prove an overabundance of enthusiasm over their opening week performance. 

Wolves launched a blitzkrieg upon Sheffield United in the opening minutes of their match at Bramall and were up 2-0 after only six minutes. With the Blades having been quickly dulled in such fashion, there was little more to the game. Sheffield United looked a bit improved in the second half but the team which attempted the fewest shots in the Premier League last year left significant doubt as to where their goals might come from this year, achieving just two shots on goal Monday. 

Burnley begins its season at Leicester next weekend.

Bottom of the Table

West Ham's 2-0 defeat to visiting Newcastle will serve to further aggravate a disgruntled fan base. It is difficult to understand why David Moyes would be using three defensive midfielders for much of the game against a Newcastle team not known for its explosive attack. Things get tougher for West Ham and its fans now as the team's next five matches are all against teams having finished in the top seven last season. The Hammers travel to high flying Arsenal next week.

Fulham manager Scott Parker brought far greater sartorial splendor to the technical area than his team seemingly brought talent to the pitch on Saturday. Hopefully, we witnessed a case of opening night jitters or this could be a grim season for the denizens of Craven Cottage.

West Brom was undone by three second half Leicester goals, including two second half penalties by Jamie Vardy. The Baggies managed only 37% possession time and launched only a single shot on goal in their opening match. 

Brighton and Hove Albion likely deserved better from their 3-1 defeat to Chelsea. They played confidently in the first half and later had an opportunity to tie the match at 2 goals apiece with star defender Lewis Dunk missing an open goal with a misplaced header. Injuries to mid-fielder Adam Lallana and defender Ben White did not help the Seagulls' cause.

Idle Aston Villa will open its league season next Monday, hosting Sheffield United.

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