The Premier League kicked off this weekend and while there were not a lot of goals there was plenty of late drama.
Yes, the World Cup was great with a lot of goals and the emergence of new superstars but nothing compares to watching the Premier League. And after 3 months one finally got to see some fast paced and end to end football.
Manchester City, Arsenal & Chelsea – 3 teams who along with Chelsea are looking to win the league this season got off to winning starts where as the reign of Louis Van Gaal got off to a nightmare start as Manchester United lost out to Swansea at Old Trafford.
Louis Van Gaal faces a huge challenge
After winning all 6 of their pre-season games Manchester United and new manager Louis Van Gaal must have been confident about getting a positive result at home against Swansea. In reality though, the situation turned out to be quite different, with United producing a disjointed display to lose at home for the first time in a season opener since 1972.
The omens were not good before the match began with United missing a whole host of players which led to Van Gaal starting with Jesse Lingard and Tyler Blackett. The former though did not last very long and was substituted by Adnan Januzaj after less than half an hour. It also seemed as if United continued from where they left off last season as the delivery from out wide was poor and there were large gaps between the back three which became a huge problem when Swansea counter attacked. This ultimately led to the opener on 28 minutes when Ki Sung-Yueng found the left side of David De Gea’s goal from the edge of the area.
While Van Gaal’s switch to the more conventional 4-2-3-1 at the start of the second half did help United equalize through an overhead kick by Wayne Rooney there always seemed a distinct probability that Swansea would find a killer second goal. And they did just that on 72 minutes when Gylfi Sigurdsson scored from 12 yards out following Wayne Routledge’s mishit volley. This goal ultimately proved to be the winner as the Welsh side held on despite some late United pressure.
Manchester United must now hope that Van Gaal soon opens his cheque book so that this season does not follow the trend set by the last one.
Ramsey wins it at the death for the Gunners
Arsene Wenger must have been pleased about this win for two major reasons. Firstly, this was the first time since 2009 that the Gunners had managed to win the first game of the season. Secondly, both of Arsenal’s goals came from set pieces and in a match where they failed to find their traditional zip & movement this proved to be crucial.
Crystal Palace, a club in turmoil following the departure of Tony Pulis took the lead in this match when new boy Brede Hangeland headed in a corner and it was the Norwegian’s first goal in the Premier League for three years. Arsenal though equalized on the stroke of half time when Laurent Koscielny headed in expertly following Alexis Sanchez’s free kick.
And despite going down to 10 men at the end of the game following Jason Puncheon’s dismissal the Eagles looked like they had done enough to secure a draw. However, Aaron Ramsey had other ideas as he bundled home the winner in the first minute of injury time to send The Emirates into raptures.
Liverpool start off post Suarez era with win
Liverpool got off to life without Luis Suarez with a scratchy win over Southampton at Anfield but boss Brendan Rodgers knows how crucial these points could prove to be come the end of the season.
Southampton began the match brightly but it was the home side who took the lead when Jordan Henderson robbed new signing Dusan Tadic and sent a sublime through ball to Raheem Sterling who expertly finished past Fraser Forster. The Saints to their credit kept on fighting and were deservedly level when right back Nathaniel Clyne finished powerfully past Simon Mignolet following an exquisite back heal by Tadic.
Daniel Sturridge though put the home side ahead on seventy nine minutes but Liverpool were left hanging on at the death and ultimately had Mignolet to thank after the Belgian produced a string of fine saves to ensure that Rodgers’s side started off their campaign with a win.
City start title defence with win
Manchester City were not at their best in this match whereas Newcastle United apart from a few errant finishes were. The Manchester based club still ran out 2-0 winners and this must serve as a warning to the other title challengers that Manuel Pellegrini’s side will not take their foot off the pedal in their quest for a second successive Premier League title.
Manchester City have not splashed the cash this summer like some of their counterparts and there was a feeling in some quarters that this might ultimately prove to be their downfall this season. But when you have players like David Silva & Sergio Aguero you do not need to refresh and the former put City in the lead following some neat work by Edin Dzeko. Newcastle though kept on landing counter punches of their own and should have deservedly equalized through Ayoze Perez.
Aguero finally made sure of the 3 points for City with a typical finish which highlighted the fact that this side remain the team to beat in England.
Round up of all the Action
- Manchester United 1-2 Swansea
- Leicester City 2-2 Everton
- QPR 0-1 Hull City
- Stoke City 0-1 Aston Villa
- West Bromwich Albion 2-2 Sunderland
- West Ham United 0-1 Tottenham
- Arsenal 2-1 Crystal Palace
- Liverpool 2-1 Southampton
- Newcastle United 0-2 Manchester City