Manchester United, Chelsea, Liverpool and Manchester City all registered wins in the first week of the new Premier League campaign.
The new season began with defending champions Leicester City falling prey to an impressive performance by newly-promoted Hull City. Elsewhere, Manchester City and Chelsea registered narrow 2-1 victories courtesy late winners, while Liverpool overcame Arsenal 4-3 in what proved to be the most entertaining game of the opening weekend. Manchester United were the biggest winners of the week as they beat Bournemouth by a convincing 3-1 score.
This is The Hard Tackle‘s top eleven of the week:
Formation: 3-4-2-1 (A bit unconventional, we know)
Ben Foster (West Brom); Eric Bailly (Manchester United) Curtis Davies (Hull City); James Collins (West Ham); Erik Lamela (Tottenham Hotspur); Etienne Capoue (Watford); Fernandinho (Manchester City); Eden Hazard (Chelsea); Alvaro Negredo (Middlesbrough); Philippe Coutinho (Liverpool); Zlatan Ibrahimovic (Manchester United).
Ben Foster (West Brom)
West Brom were handed a tricky away trip to Selhurst Park on the opening day of the season. The Baggies won the contest 1-0 courtesy of a 50th minute goal by Solomon Rondon. However, due credit must be given to goalkeeper Ben Foster who pulled off a number of miraculous saves to maintain a clean sheet for the visitors.
Ben Foster made 5 saves vs. Crystal Palace. No goalkeeper made more in the Premier League today.
West Brom Wall. pic.twitter.com/uEA13Rqbba
— Squawka Football (@Squawka) August 13, 2016
The English goalkeeper’s most notable contribution came in the 50th minute when he found himself in a one-on-one situation with Palace winger Wilfried Zaha. The former Manchester United player had a go with his left foot but the shot hit the keeper’s body. Fortunately for Zaha, the rebound fell back to him and he tried to beat the West Brom man with his right foot, but the keeper pulled off an acrobatic save to deny the youngster.
Eric Bailly (Manchester United)
Manchester United’s new signing Eric Bailly took very little time in getting used to life in the Premier League. The Ivorian defender was calm and composed on the ball and was also adept at dealing with long balls. He proved to be a more-than-able defensive partner to Daley Blind and was named as the Man of the Match ahead of goalscorers Wayne Rooney and Zlatan Ibrahimovic.
Man of the match on PL debut, Eric Bailly
41 passes, 95% accuracy
9 times possession gained
5/5 duels won pic.twitter.com/HUm9sauIe2
— Sky Sports Statto (@SkySportsStatto) August 14, 2016
In the post-match press conference, Mourinho spoke extremely highly about the defender. “He [Bailly] has been an incredible signing for us. He has adapted quickly to the Premier League and is a very intelligent player,” said Mourinho.
“He picked up an injury against Leicester, didn’t say anything. He only started training yesterday and was able to play the game,” added the United manager.
Curtis Davies (Hull City)
Centre-back Curtis Davies was paramount in Hull City’s shock 2-1 victory over defending champions Leicester City. The English defender put in an incredible showing as he dealt with the threat of a pacey and agile Leicester front-line. The likes of Vardy, Mahrez and Musa were all kept quiet due to some technically astute defending by the Englishman.
James Collins (West Ham)
The West Ham defender put in an incredible shift against Antonio Conte’s Chelsea side. Collins look solid from the opening whistle as he defended resolutely alongside Winston Reid. Diego Costa, who is known to be a pain in the neck for defenders, found it hard to break free.
Collins capped off an incredible performance by scoring a spectacular goal to bring the Hammers back on level terms. Unfortunately, West Ham failed to hold on for a point, but Collins’ performance certainly did not go unnoticed.
Erik Lamela (Tottenham Hotspur)
After a stellar pre-season campaign, Tottenham Hotspur winger Erik Lamela continued his fine run of form in the Premier League. In a tricky away fixture against Everton, Lamela came up with the goods and scored an impressive header to give his side the lead. Throughout the game, he proved to be a menace to the Everton back line and was unlucky to see his side only come out with a point.
Etienne Capoue (Watford)
The French midfielder was all over the pitch as he put in a spirited performance against Southampton. Capoue scored a well executed volley from close range beating goalkeeper Fraser Forster all ends up. This was also his first competitive goal for the club and would be looking to score a few more this season.
Fernandinho (Manchester City)
It was a below-par effort from Manchester City on the weekend as they managed to scrape through a 2-1 victory over Sunderland. However, City midfielder Fernandinho proved to be one of the few standout players in the game as he bossed the midfield and dictated terms from the half-way line.
Most passes completed this weekend:
Oriol Romeu (82)
Ander Herrera (76)
Marouane Fellaini (75) pic.twitter.com/jfPi6hg9qM
— Squawka Football (@Squawka) August 15, 2016
Fernandinho looks to be one of the few players who have nailed down a position in Pep Guardiola’s playing eleven. The Spanish manager would be hoping that the 28-year-old maintains this form as the Citizens look to challenge for European glory.
Eden Hazard (Chelsea)
Hazard picked up from where he left off at the European Championships. He was unplayable down Chelsea’s left flank, as he constantly cut inside and kept the West Ham defenders on their toes for most of the game. He scored the game’s first goal through a well struck penalty and also created a number of chances. The Belgian was arguably the best player on the day, and it seems that Antonio Conte has brought the best out in the versatile winger.
Alvaro Negredo (Middlesbrough)
Negredo was the marquee signing of the newly-promoted Middlesbrough and he showcased on Saturday why he was brought to the Ibrox Stadium this summer. Going into the game as rank underdogs, Middlesbrough put up a fight against Stoke and almost came away with a shock victory. The Spanish striker gave Boro a real chance to pull off an upset with a wonderfully headed goal in the 11th minute, but Stoke equalised through Xherdan Shaqiri to end the game at one goal apiece.
Philippe Coutinho (Liverpool)
Coutinho was simply sensational against Arsenal. The Brazilian played a pivotal role in the Reds’ 4-3 victory over the Gunners as he scored two goals and played a role in setting up another. His first strike came through a direct free kick that left Petr Cech no chance. The second one was a team effort that saw the 24-year-old apply the finishing touch. Undoubtedly, the player of the match.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic (Manchester United)
Ibrahimovic continued his fine scoring run for Manchester United as he grabbed his third goal in four appearances for the Red Devils. However, the goal against Bournemouth saw him achieve an incredible feat of scoring on league debut for a total of six different sides.
Even before he scored the goal, Ibrahimovic threatened Artur Boruc in goal on a number of occasions. The Swedish attacker almost scored through a direct free-kick but was denied by a miraculous save by the Southampton stopper. All in all, it was as exceptional way to begin life in the Premier League.