Manchester United stunned by Everton, Liverpool suffer shock defeat at The Hawthorns, Michael Laudrup has a 5 star debut while Manchester City script another comeback victory against Southampton. The Premier League picked up where it left off last season with first gameweek of the 2012-13 campaign proving to be an absolute cracker!
Top 4 hopefuls Newcastle and Tottenham squared off against each other at St. James’ Park. Newcastle were looking to build on their excellent 5th position finish last season while Andre Villas Boas’ Tottenham were looking for a good start to their quest for a Champions League spot. The game was a keenly contested affair and Alan Pardew’s tactical change at half time ensured a 2-1 victory for The Toons. Demba Ba scored a stunning goal and his form will be crucial if Newcastle are to maintain a sustained push for a Champions League place.
Champions League regulars Arsenal took on Sunderland at The Emirates with Arsene Wenger handing debuts to Lucas Podolski, Santi Cazorla and Oliver Giroud. For once The Gunners were proactive in the transfer market and bought in quality attacking players to compensate for the loss of van Persie to Manchester United. The slick passing and movement was there. The finish, however, was sorely missing. Arsenal came close on numerous occasions without finding the back of the net. Giroud missed a glorious opportunity from 12 yards and The Black Cats were happy to walk away with a point in the end.
Swansea, on the other hand, had no such problems in penetration. Playing their first competitive game under new manager Michael Laudrup, The Swans put on a 5 star show in front of despairing fans at Loftus Road. QPR had spent heavily in the summer but they had no answer to the slick passing of Swansea. Debutant Michu and Nathan Dyer scored a brace each to help them earn a 5-0 victors.
The score was replicated at Craven Cottage with Fulham emerging 5-0 victors against a hapless Norwich side. New signing Mladen Petric had a scintillating start to the League campaign after scoring two goals and setting up another. Martin Jol’s side looked solid in midfield and were threatening in attack. They will be looking for another top 10 finish this season on the back of such performances.
Another team looking to build on their top 10 finish last season is West Bromwich Albion. Newly appointed manager Steve Clark did his chances no harm as his team won against 10-man Liverpool. Things didn’t go according to plan for Brendan Rodgers as Liverpool slumped to a 3-0 defeat at The Hawthorns. Much like last season, Liverpool enjoyed plenty of possession and had a host of chances but failed to convert them. Liverpool now must pick themselves up against their home encounter against English Champions Manchester City.
The Citizens had not witnessed a home defeat since 2010 and had dropped just two points last season at The Etihad but newly promoted Southampton gave them a real scare. Manchester City lost their top scorer Sergio Aguero through injury early in the first half but fellow Argentinian Carlos Tevez gave them the lead after just before half time. Southampton equalised after the break and then went ahead thanks to inspired substitutes Ricky Lambert and Steven Davis. Nigel Adkins’ side gave a good account of themselves and look to be the pick of the newly promoted teams.
Premier League newcomers Reading and West Ham hosted mid-table teams Stoke and Aston Villa respectively. The Upton Park faithful saw their side off to a winning start as they won 1-0 against The Villains thanks to a well taken goal by Kevin Nolan. Michael Kightly put Stoke City ahead but Reading rallied from behind to secure a hard fought point thanks to a penalty from Adam Le Fondre in the 88th minute. The battle at the bottom will be keenly contested this year with teams trying till the last minute to avoid relegation.
Wigan had a narrow escape from the drop last season thanks to a switch to 3-4-3 by manager Roberto Martinez. Chelsea found them easy pickings as they shrugged of their poor pre-season form to score twice within the first six minutes. Eden Hazard had a wonderful debut and was involved in both goals – a quick turn and pass to allow Ivanovic through on goal and then a mazy dribble leading to a penalty. The Wigan side battled hard to get back into the game and Victor Moses was especially lively down the left but there was no getting past a resolute Chelsea defense. Wigan may find it hard to avoid the drop this time if they lose Moses to Chelsea before the transfer dealine.
The signing of the summer window, Robin van Persie found himself on the bench as United faced off against Everton at Goodison Park. The Red Devils were looking to avenge their 4-4 draw last season which put a severe dent on their title ambitions. With only two recognised defenders in their back line United were run ragged by a confident Everton side. The Toffees wasted a host of chances and could have easily been 3-0 up by half time. Marouaine Fellaini put in a man of the match performance and his header at the hour mark proved to be the eventual winner.
The first gameweek of the season is notorious for upsets with different players at different levels of fitness and teams still not drilled well enough tactically. 2012-13 has proved to be no different as we find Fulham and Swansea topping the League while Arsenal, Manchester United, Tottenham and Liverpool all find themselves in the bottom half of the table. The 2011-12 season was voted the Best Premier League Season of all time. Could 2012-13 get any better? You bet!
Final Score – Week 1
Arsenal 0– 0 Sunderland
Fulham 5– 0 Norwich
West Ham 1– 0 Aston Villa
Queens Park Rangers 0– 5 Swansea
West Bromwich Albion 3– 0 Liverpool
Reading 1– 1 Stoke
Newcastle United 2– 1 Tottenham Hotspur
Wigan 0– 2 Chelsea
Manchester City 3– 2 Southampton
Everton 1– 0 Manchester United