Full Matchday 1 Results
Liverpool 4-0 West Ham United
Southampton 0-0 Burnley
Arsenal 0-2 Manchester City
Newcastle United 1-2 Tottenham Hotspur
AFC Bournemouth 2-0 Cardiff City
Fulham 0-2 Crystal Palace
Huddersfield Town 0-3 Chelsea
Watford 2-0 Brighton & Hove Albion
Wolverhampton Wanderers 2-2 Everton
Manchester United 2-1 Leicester City
We Seem to Be Right About the Title Contenders
There’s no reason to believe Manchester City won’t have a strong chance to repeat as Premier League champions, and that rings especially true after witnessing their 2-0 defeat over Arsenal.
Pep Guardiola’s side showed their class in the first half despite the absence of Kevin De Bruyne, Vincent Kompany, David Silva and Leroy Sane from the starting lineup. The showing was even more impressive considering much of City’s squad was coming off a short summer break due to many players’ long World Cup runs. Raheem Sterling showed his brilliance throughout the game before being subbed off late, as his early goal was followed by Bernardo Silva’s fantastic strike to extend his team’s lead to 2-0. City took their foot off the petal and rode out the road victory in comfortable fashion over a strong Arsenal team.
The fact that City were able to easily take down a Top 6 team without their game-managers De Bruyne and (David) Silva shows the vast depth and talent of Pep’s team. Quite clearly, City are title favorites.
Up north in Merseyside, Liverpool destroyed West Ham 4-0 at Anfield, carrying over their momentum over from last season right from the kick-off. The names on the scoresheet were oh so familiar for the Reds, as Mo Salah opened the scoring before two Sadio Mane goals. Daniel Sturridge even got on the scoresheet, miraculously extending his team’s lead to 4-0 just 15 seconds after being subbed on for Roberto Firmino.
More importantly, Liverpool’s defence looked more of a unit than ever before, forcing little work for new new-Reds goalkeeper Allison. The Hammers do boast quite a few class attacking players, all of whom were shut down by Liverpool’s holding midfield and defence. Centre-back Virgil van Dijk and central midfielder Naby Keita in particular were phenomenal. If those two continue putting in performances like Saturday’s, Liverpool can compete with City for the title and will separate themselves from the other four ‘big’ clubs.
Everton Impressed, Have the Best Chance to Break Into the Top 6
The Blues may have only tied against Wolves, but it was an impressive point. Despite being down a man and tied 1-1 for over half of the match after Phil Jagielka’s straight red in the 40th minute, Everton managed a second half goal and even outplayed Wolves in the second half.
Richarlison, Everton’s new £45 million signing from Watford, had a dream start in scoring both of his team’s goals. Manager Marco Silva didn’t even include his trio of summer signings from Barcelona – Bernard, Andre Gomes (injured) and Yerry Mina – in the lineup, nor was centre-back Kurt Zouma in the team after being loaned in from Chelsea.
We haven’t seen this much depth from an Everton side in a handful of years, as many of the players who started against Wolves such as Morgan Schneiderlin and Jagielka will likely move to the bench when Zouma, Mina and Gomes and Bernard are ready to play, which should be soon. The Everton players have praised Silva for his managing style and there seems to be much more optimism out of their camp compared to recent summers.
Arsenal and Manchester United Have Questions to Answer
Despite Manchester United’s 2-1 win over Leicester City, the Red Devils did not look overly impressive, as Leicester looked even with Jose Mourinho’s side and were unlucky to not come away with a point. It took a silly Daniel Amartay handball on 2 minutes to put Leicester behind the 8-ball, or else the outcome likely would have been very different.
After scoring United parked the bus for the rest of the half as Leicester pushed for the equalizer, nearly scoring multiple times before Luke Shaw doubled his team’s lead to 2-0. Leicester did almost pulled off a miraculous comeback in extra time though, earning a 94th-minute corner after a Jamie Vardy-header made it 2-1.
It was much of the same from what we saw last year, a defensive, conservative Manchester United team who sat back after taking any sort of lead. Sure, it says something that they often properly defend that lead, but that won’t work against Liverpool and Manchester City. Unless Mourinho shows more ambition after taking a lead, it’s going to be more of the same in 2018-19, with United probably finishing 3rd to 5th but not scoring enough to keep up with the fellow big boys.
It wasn’t really a matter of tactics for Arsenal in first-year manager Unai Emery’s debut, but simply a matter of being outclassed. City had the advantage at basically every position on the pitch, even without De Bruyne and Silva. Arsenal clearly lack wing players with the dribbling ability and speed to cut inside like City have in Sane and Rihad Mahrez, and that will cost them this year.
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Alexandre Lacazette are fantastic players, but the Gunners’ midfield is too average to provide enough scoring opportunities, which is why Lacazette must start with Aubameyang up front.
The most important player to this team is Mesut Ozil. He was shocking on Saturday, basically invisible on the pitch which is a common occurrence for him in big-time games. If Ozil isn’t providing key passes, beautiful crosses and final balls to Aubameyang and/or Lacazette, Arsenal will have a major problem this year putting balls in the back of the net. Oh, and they need to start Bernd Leno in net. Petr Cech is too inconsistent at this point of his career, almost scoring one of the most embarrassing own goals in league history and in poor position on Sterling’s opening goal.