What an opening week of fixtures to start the 2016-17 Premier League season. In this segment, I’ll be giving you the scoop from all the matches played over the three day period.
Hull vs. Leicester: A tale of two cities, as Hull, pinned by many as relegation favourites, shocked the defending champions Leicester with a 2-1 win. N’Golo Kanté’s departure and Huth’s injury were felt in this match, but I was really impressed with new signing Ahmed Musa’s pace he brings to an already blistering attack. Here’s hoping things turn around for Ranieri’s side as they look to face a Arsenal side beleaguered with injuries.
Burnley FC vs. Swansea City: The man with the golden voice, Sean Dyche is back in the Premier League!! Unfortunately, his side didn’t pick up a victory after a late winner from Leroy Fer sealed it for the Swans. If only Fer was sold to Man City, he’d actually complete the Fer , Fernando, and Fernandinho evolution. Thanks Pokémon!!
Middlesbrough vs. Stoke City: With the signings Middlesbrough made this summer, I wouldn’t be surprised if they manage to scrape the top half of the table come the end of the season. The same can also be said about Stoke, who have made some decent signings as well such as Joe Allen. It ended in a 1-1 draw, with goals from former Manchester City winger Alvaro Negredo and #LegGoalsGuy Xherdan Shaqiri.
Manchester City vs. Sunderland: Pep’s debut in the Premier League proved to be a winning one, with the blue side of Manchester winning 2-1 over Moyeseh’s Black Cats. Some surprising exclusions from City’s side, as Willy Caballero started over surefire number one Joe Hart, and Kolarov being deployed in a centre-half position alongside newcomer John Stones. It’ll be interesting to see how far Pep can take this team, as this’ll be the first time he’s not presented with a “stacked” team like he did at Barcelona and Bayern.
Crystal Palace vs. West Brom: A 1-0 victory for the Baggies courtesy of Salomon Rondon. I think he’ll have a crack at challenging for top scorer in the EPL, which leads me to believe that he could be the Odion Ighalo wild card factor this year!
Everton vs. Tottenham: Two teams which I think will finish in the top six this year (and thus get a spot in European competition), we saw goals from the two attacking midfielders in Barkley and Lamela, ending in a draw. It’ll be interesting to see the integration of Yannick Bolasie (of Crystal Palace fame) slotting into Everton’s squad, with the idea of Bolasie, Barkley, Delofeu, and Lukaku up front already sounding like a nightmare for defenders in the Premier League.
Southampton vs. Watford: And at last, the 1-1 scoreline trend ends. Goals from newcomer Nathan Redmond (filling in Sadio Mane’s shoes quite nicely there mate!) and Etienne Capoue. If there’s one thing that I can say about Southampton’s season, it’s that every season where they have a new manager, they overachieve, so here’s hoping Claude Puel (who worked with Hatem Ben Arfa at previous club OGC Nice) can replicate that success!! In other news, new manager Walter Mazzari has a chance to replicate Claudio Ranieri as being Italian managers appointed in the summer that can win the Premier League 😉
Bournemouth vs. Manchester United: As a Chelsea fan, it is hard to see Mourinho leave for another club (more like rival over the past couple years), but he was victorious with a 3-1 victory against up-and-comer Bournemouth. Goals from Wazza/Shrek/Wayne Rooney, Zlatan, and Juan Mata (a former Chelsea player!) sealed the deal for the Special One, who are my favourites to win the Premier League this season!!
Arsenal vs. Liverpool: Being a neutral, this was a great match to watch. Not exactly Liverpool-Borussia Dortmund, albeit having the same scoreline, but really really close. Had I been an Arsenal fan, I’d be moaning at the lack of proactive behaviour coming from the board, and to top it all off, their most needed position (a striker) had their top target (Alexandre Lacazette) score three goals in the French league. Times they are a troubling for the Arsenal. Liverpool on the other hand were really good in the second half, where 3 out of their 4 goals came from obliterating a weak defensive line, including two young and inexperienced center-halves. Really admiring this new Gegenpressing style Klopp’s implementing at Anfield, and it’ll only be a matter of time before he gets the Reds their elusive first Premier League era trophy.
Chelsea vs. West Ham: I previously mentioned my affection for Chelsea Football Club, and it was Jose Mourinho who really got me into the club in the first place. Now that he’s gone and replaced with Antonio Conte, I was nervous to see how he’d perform in the first game against a really strong West Ham side. It was a match for the ages as they say, with controversial calls from referees (e.g. a tackle on Oscar from Winston Reid), defensive sharpness from both sides, and of course goals. Eden Hazard (what a run of form he’s been in lately!!)’s goal was offset by James Collins’ amazing strike, only to have the winner come from the one and only Diego Costa. Great start to the season from the Blues, and here’s hoping we can carry the momentum and carve out the same defensively astute (hopefully bolstered by the signing of Kalidou Koulibaly from Napoli) that Conte successfully crafted with Italy at the Euros.
Until next time folks,