Tuesday, August 17, 2021

Premier League Results Match Week 1: Promoted Bees and Hornets Sting Opposition; Misery and Mystery at Arsenal; Manchester United Blitzes Leeds; Kane Watches Spurs Stun Manchester City

Two of the three promoted sides were victorious in the Premier League over the weekend, Manchester United delivered a dominating performance, and Nuno Espirito Santo won his Spurs debut, defeating Manchester City while striker Harry Kane observed the proceedings.

Brentford delivered an emotional win over Arsenal in a 2-0 curtain raiser for the Premier League season on Friday. Brentford was facing the same opponent it last played in a topflight match 74 years ago and the Bees proved the more motivated squad, outplaying their larger London rival throughout the match.

Spurred on by a 22nd minute season opening goal, the Bees clinched matters with a long throw-in to the box which was headed in when Arsenal goalkeeper Bernd Leno was effectively blocked from reaching the well-placed toss. Arsenal were poor throughout but for some brief flickers of form from youngsters Emile Smith Rowe and Bukayo Saka and a second half strike by Nicolas Pepe which was foiled by Brentford goalkeeper David Raya. Veteran Arsenal forwards Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Alexandre Lacazette both missed the match with undisclosed illnesses, details of which were withheld from the public, raising speculation that other factors may have factored in their absence.

Manchester United smashed Leeds in an impressive 5-1 romp at Old Trafford. The stars were out for the home side as Bruno Fernandes delivered a hat trick and Paul Pogba contributed four assists. Pogba made a strong statement as to his star capabilities amid his current contract uncertainty. The Red Devils, meanwhile, sent an early message regarding their title contention. Before the match, United announced the completed signing of defender Raphael Varane from Real Madrid. Old Trafford continues to be a House of Horrors for a Leeds side which has not won there since 1981 and conceded six goals in its visit last season.

Burnley confirmed they could be in trouble this season, dropping a 2-1 decision at home to Brighton. The Clarets squandered a lead gained in the second minute of play as two second half goals lifted the Seagulls to an opening victory. Burnley would manage just two further shots on goals after their opening score, neither in a dismal second half as Brighton engineered its comeback. Seagull substitutions factored in both second half goals for Brighton whereas Burnley manager Sean Dyche had few options to change the game with his threadbare bench.

Christian Pulisic scored his fifth goal in as many matches against Crystal Palace as Chelsea defeated the Eagles 3-0 at Stamford Bridge. New Crystal Palace manager Patrick Vieira experienced a rough return to the league where he starred as a player. Vieira never lost to Chelsea during his playing career but on Saturday looked as if he might never beat them as a manager. Crystal Palace mounted little in the way of opposition against the Champions League titlists, managing just a solitary shot on target. Chelsea academy product Trevoh Chalobah scored in his Premier League debut.

New Everton manager Rafa Benitez was triumphant in his debut as the Toffees erased a first half deficit to defeat Southampton 3-1. Benítez, becoming the first man to manage both Liverpool and Everton since the 1890’s, displayed his tactical nous with a half time adjustment to put Richarlison up top alongside striker Dominic Calvert-Lewin. Richarlison responded with a second half goal and an assist on a Calvert-Lewin score as Everton took control of the match. Southampton striker Adam Armstrong, acquired from Blackburn earlier in the week, scored the opening goal for the Saints.

Jamie Vardy’s 41st minute goal was the difference as Leicester defeated Wolves 1-0. An evenly played match in Wolves manager Bruno Lage’s Premier League debut ultimately came down to Wolves’ inability to capitalize on their opportunities. Only 3 of 17 shots by Lage’s men were on target. Leicester manager Brendan Rogers, meanwhile, continues to enjoy the services of 34-year-old sharpshooter Vardy, who scored 17 goals last season for the Foxes.

Aston Villa stumbled into its new era without Jack Grealish. Promoted Watford stung the Villains 3-2 after scoring the opening three goals of the match. Emmanuel Dennis had a goal and assist in his Premier League debut for the Hornets who won for a 10th consecutive time at home in a streak begun last season in the Championship. The two late scores by Villa included a penalty kick by newly acquired Dany Ings seven minutes into stoppage time.

Mohamed Salah scored a goal and added two assists as Liverpool romped over newly promoted Norwich. Salah became the first Premier League player to score on five consecutive Premier League opening weekends. Norwich, meanwhile, delivered a performance reminiscent of their last failed Premier League campaign which resulted in relegation two years ago. The open style of the Canaries continues to leave them vulnerable to the talent of clubs at the Premier League level.

West Ham took a large first step to convincing fans that last year’s success was not an anomaly. The Hammers roared back from a 2-1 half time deficit to defeat Newcastle 4-2. Said Benrahma scored one of the three second half goals as the former Brentford man is being counted on to replace some of the firepower lost with Jesse Lingard’s return to Manchester United. Perpetually unpopular Newcastle manager Steve Bruce heard boos from home fans following the match as the Magpies, oft criticized for a lack of attacking intent, instead displayed defensive frailties on Sunday.

All eyes turned to North London for the final match of the weekend as Manchester City visited Tottenham Hotspur. The Spurs’ Japhet Tanganga, starting in the right back role played disappointingly by Matt Doherty last season, was instrumental in shutting down Raheem Sterling and Manchester City debutante Jack Grealish in a 1-0 Tottenham Hotspur victory which capped the opening Premier League weekend. New Spurs Manager Nuno Espirito Santo’s 4-3-2-1 formation proved a tactical masterclass, allowing Manchester City space on the wings but choking off any meaningful penetration. Heung-min Son scored the winner for Spurs while Dele Ali put in his most industrious performance since Mauricio Pochettino roamed the touch line for Spurs. Harry Kane was reportedly watching from a private box as the saga regarding his future employment continued.


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