Premier League Round-Up: Gameweek 1

gives a run-down of the opening week’s fixtures in the inaugural edition of our ‘Premier League Round-Up’ feature

Manchester United 2-1 Leicester City: The curtain-raiser of this 2018/19 campaign saw a sloppy Manchester United side just about overcome a decent looking Leicester side, albeit a side with their own problems. United took the lead in the second minute through a Paul Pogba penalty after Alexis Sanchez was fouled in the area. Much maligned left-back Luke Shaw scored the first senior goal of his career, sweeping the ball across the goal after a poorly controlled pass from Juan Mata. Jamie Vardy scored a very strange consolation in the dying moments, heading in a rebound off the post in the 93rd minute to give a resurgent and defiant Leicester side a glimmer of hope of a result.

Arsenal 0-2 Manchester City: Billed by many as the blockbuster match of the opening weekend, this didn’t fully live up to the hype. Perhaps it was due to its early scheduling in the season or Arsenal’s unfamiliarity with Arsène Wenger’s replacement Unai Emery, but neither side looked fully at it. That said, defending champions Manchester City looked a level above Arsenal, which is frightening because they didn’t seem to be out of second gear. Raheem Sterling cut inside after just fourteen minutes, sliding past the Arsenal midfield before slotting the ball into the bottom right of the Arsenal goal. City dominated the rest of the match, Arsenal having only a few chances on goal. Bernardo Silva underlined the blue dominance as the clock hit 64’ with a beautiful first-time effort inside the area. I’d be inclined to say the title is a foregone conclusion again this season.

 Liverpool 4-0 West Ham United: Liverpool are likely to be Manchester City’s closest challengers, thanks to the inactivity of Tottenham Hotspur and the failures of Manchester United in the transfer market, a prediction that was given more ammunition following this encounter. Liverpool dominated the game from start to finish, overrunning West Ham in every area of the field. It took them nineteen minutes to go ahead, newbie Naby Keïta being the architect of a move that saw Mo Salah tap in an Andy Robertson cross, starting where he left off last year. Sadio Mané doubled the lead in first half injury time, giving the Reds an added springboard going into the break. Mané delivered again shortly after half-time to effectively end all hope of West Ham taking anything back to the London Stadium. Liverpool wound down their assault and were cruising towards the end of the game, Mo Salah being replaced on 88 minutes by Daniel Sturridge just before a corner. Sturridge scored from that same corner with his first touch in a Liverpool shirt since returning to the first team side. A resounding win for a very strong looking side.

Newcastle United 1-2 Tottenham Hotspur: This first lunchtime kick-off got off to a flier, Tottenham being the beneficiaries of technology when Jan Vertonghen’s header was judged by the Goalline Decision System (GDS) to be just 9.3mm over the line in the eighth minute. Newcastle levelled within three minutes when a delightful Matt Ritchie cross was guided into the far corner by Joselu, scoring his first goal since the 13th January. Just seven minutes later Tottenham regained a lead which would prove unassailable when Serge Aurier, Kieran Trippier’s understudy at right-back, delivered a delightful early cross which was met by Dele Alli, who headed across goal to give Spurs a 2-1 advantage. Newcastle will count themselves very unlucky to be on the losing side, as a sloppy and lacklustre Tottenham scraped an important away win in a very difficult week off the field.

Huddersfield Town 0-3 Chelsea: Many were excited to see how Maurizio Sarri would change Chelsea’s fortunes in the league. The Italian will say that this was a perfect start to life in England, dominating a side that many tip to be relegated come May. The West Londoners dominated every aspect of the match, 63% of the possession and double the number of shots underlining their superiority. Man of the match N’Golo Kanté volleyed Chelsea into the lead on 34 minutes, a lead which was doubled by new signing Jorginho on the stroke of half-time. Chelsea’s dominance continued throughout the entire second half, only worried of a Huddersfield retaliation when Steve Mounié hit the post with a headed effort, and when Pedro chipped the Blues’ third of the afternoon into the net, the points were wrapped up.

Wolverhampton Wanderers 2-2 Everton: The Wolves stadium Molineux is a ground worthy of Premier League football, and boy did they make that clear. Following a startling firework display as the teams walked out, onlookers were treated to a splendid game of football, letting the watching world know that the Premier League was well and truly back. Everton took the lead in seventeen minutes when £50m record signing Richarlison bundled the ball over the line. Just prior to half-time, Everton skipper Phil Jagielka was controversially shown a straight red card for a challenge on Diogo Jota, which led to a stunning free-kick equaliser from Ruben Neves, a player many have been excited to see in the top tier after a stellar season in the second-tier last campaign. Richarlison doubled his and Everton’s tallies on 67 minutes, beautifully bending the ball into the bottom right hand corner of the Wolves goal, giving Everton a deserved lead. However, Ruben Neves stepped up again when his side needed him, putting it on a plate for Raúl Jiménez to steal a draw for Wolves via his head.

AFC Bournemouth 2-0 Cardiff City: Premier League new boys Cardiff would have been delighted to see their opening fixture would be against serial strugglers Bournemouth. Bournemouth took control of the game swiftly, gaining and holding possession for the majority of the match. Ryan Fraser put the hosts in the lead after 24 minutes, followed by Calum Wilson having a penalty saved by Cardiff goalkeeper Neil Etheridge. Cardiff rallied in the second half and will be disappointed at not being level after Sean Morrison was denied from a yard by Bournemouth stopper Asmir Begović . Callum Wilson made amends for his penalty miss earlier in the day when he sealed three points for the Cherries with a 91st minute strike.

Fulham 0-2 Crystal Palace: The struggle of adapting to a new league was clear to see here in Fulham’s performance, clearly trying to emulate the stylish brand of football which lit up the Championship last season. However, the Premier League experience of Palace came into play, fervently defending and attacking wisely. Jeffrey Schlupp put the visitors into the lead just before half-time with a strong effort, which Fulham could not find a way to counteract. Palace talisman Wilfried Zaha opened his account for the season eleven minutes from time to make sure Crystal Palace got off to a winning start.

Watford 2-0 Brighton & Hove Albion: Watford produced a strong and competent display to see off Brighton, dominating the majority of the match with good football and intricate passing. Roberto Pereyra was the scorer of both Watford goals, volleying the Hornets ahead from a corner just ten minutes before the break, despite the best efforts of the Brighton keeper Mat Ryan. Mirroring his strike in the first half, ten minutes after the break, Pereyra struck again, guiding the ball past Ryan from a tight angle to give Watford full control of the game. This control remined unrelinquished, which Brighton boss Chris Hughton acknowledged saying that his team were ‘comfortably beaten’ by Watford.

Southampton 0-0 Burnley: This one is barely worth mentioning to be honest. Burnley controlled the game and were kept at bay by Southampton back-up goalkeeper Alex McCarthy, a pattern that lasted for around seventy minutes, when Southampton had a mini revival, calling new Burnley signing Joe Hart into action. Nobody will mention this game come the end of the season.

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