The English Premier League is off and running as 21 goals were scored across the league in nine matches. From Ian Holloway’s change in approach to the disastrous start for Arsenal, we bring you the talking points of first gameweek.
A more circumspect Ian Holloway?
Ian Holloway is certainly one of the most flamboyant personalities in the Premier League right now, and his personality is often reflected on his team’s style of play. Under him, Blackpool were one of the most attacking sides in the league, and although they didn’t survive the drop, their gung-ho style of play won the hearts of the neutrals. Not many newly promoted teams have shown such positive attitude since. But perhaps at the end of the day results are the most important thing in such a cut throat competition and it seems Ian Holloway will be a bit circumspect with his tactics this time around.
Crystal Palace, in their opening match at home against Tottenham Hotspur made it difficult for the London club to break them. Palace held an organised shape in midfield and defence, with Holloway changing to a narrow 4-3-2-1 and installing a bank of three man midfield which didn’t allow any space for Spurs to manipulate. Most of their attacks were on the counter and Crystal Palace had only five shots at Tottenham’s goal in the match. This is hugely contrasting to the approach Blackpool had when they met Spurs back in 2011 under Ian Holloway. The Seasiders had 16 shots in that game and Holloway used a very attacking 4-3-3 formation.
It will be interesting to note if Ian Holloway continues a similar approach against the lesser teams in the league. Their next match against Stoke City, away from home, will give us an indication whether Holloway has decided to sacrifice a bit of flair in order to bring in more stability at the back. The neutrals though would certainly hope this was just a one off change in tactics.
New boys making their mark in the Premier League
After a busy summer and a huge build-up, fans were finally able to see the new signings don their club colours and introduce themselves to the world – and some of them managed to live up to the billing.
Simon Mignolet had a nervy start to his Liverpool career. He looked uncomfortable with the ball at his feet, and some of the fans who criticized Reina’s departure this summer must have feared the worse. But one can forgive him for showing nerves, as he was making his debut in front of the Kop, the expectations are huge at this club and some of the most famous names have donned that No.1 jersey at Anfield. But soon he was back to doing what he does best – saving a wonderful volley from Walters from the edge of the box. Liverpool dominated most of the match, but failed to score a second goal in the game, and it could have cost them dear, when Stoke were awarded a penalty in the 89th minute of the match. But Mignolet stepped up to the task as not only did he manage to save Walters’ spot kick, but also saved Kenwyne Jones’ shot on the rebound – a heroic performance from the debutant, which earned him the man of the match award. Meanwhile, debutant Iago Aspas was also credited with the assist for Daniel Sturridge’s goal, although it was the Englishman’s wonderful strike that takes most of the credit in that goal.
Ricky van Wolfswinkel also made a significant impact on his debut for Norwich as he scored the all-important equalizer in the 71st minute of the game, which of course denied new Everton manager Roberto Martinez all three points in his first game. Another new striker, Wilfried Bony, got on the score sheet with a calm and composed finish against Manchester United in the dying minutes of the game, although that goal was more of a consolation as United were leading 4-0 at that point. But one can expect to hear a lot more of Bony in the upcoming months.
Four players made their debut for Tottenham in the league, in their 1-0 victory over Crystal Palace. While Nacer Chadli and Paulinho gave a good account of themselves, Roberto Soldado stole the headline as the former Valencia forward scored the winner from the spot, after Palace left-back Dean Moxey handled the ball inside the penalty box.
Kevin De Bruyne, Marko van Ginkel and Andre Schurrle earned their first league cap for Chelsea under Jose Mourinho on the opening day. De Bruyne put up a decent display, without being spectacular, and ended up with an assist during Chelsea opening goal scored by Oscar. But one can expect to a see a lot more of Marko van Ginkel this season with Mourinho rotating the squad.
Arsenal press the panic button
No one could have scripted a worse start for the Gunners. After a summer of frustration where they missed out on most of their transfer targets, Arsenal lost 3-1 at home to Aston Villa. If the result wasn’t bad enough, Arsene Wenger saw Kieran Gibbs, Bacary Sagna and Alex Oxlade Chamberlain getting injured and depleting an already thin squad. Along with a poor performance, the Gunners were also undone by some poor officiating where Laurent Koscielny was sent off after receiving a second yellow – when replay proved it to be a wrong decision. Now with Vermaelen injured, Arsenal will also miss Koscielny in their second game – which leaves them worryingly short at the back. Moreover, Arsene Wenger will find it hard to field a proper first team eleven against Fenerbahce, in their all-important Champions league qualifying match due to all the injuries.
The fans voiced their concerns and directed their wrath towards the Arsenal manager during the match, while fan groups like ‘Black Scarf’ wrote letters to the board members demanding swift action in the transfer market before it is too late. The panic button has well and truly been pressed at the Emirates and the remaining days in this transfer window could well decide Arsene Wenger’s future at the club.
Liverpool 1-0 Stoke City; Norwich 2-2 Everton; Sunderland 0-1 Fulham; Arsenal 1-3 Aston Villa; West Brom 0-1 Southampton; West Ham 2-0 Cardiff; Swansea 1-4 Manchester United; Crystal Palace 0-1 Tottenham, Chelsea 2-0 Hull City
- Fulham had only one shot on target in the whole match and that turned out to be the winner.
- Norwich made 53% of their attack down the right-hand side of the pitch – the most lopsided attack in the league this weekend.
- Sunderland had seven attempts on goal from set-pieces – highest among all the teams.
- Everton out-passed all the other 18 teams in the gameweek 1 by making a total of 602 passes against Norwich – the Roberto Martinez effect?
- 28 cards were dished out in the nine matches – out of which 10 of them came in the Arsnal v Aston Villa fixture.