In Gary Mabbutt Blog


Liverpool scored four first-half goals as they started the new Premier League season with a blistering performance to demolish newly-promoted Norwich City at Anfield. I suggested in my season preview that Norwich might be fighting relegation from the first game and this would appear to be the case.

Norwich captain Grant Hanley scored the opening goal of the top-flight season when he sliced Divock Origi’s cross into his own net before Mohamed Salah opened his account after a pass by Roberto Firmino.

German midfielder Marco Stipermann forced a fine save by Reds keeper Alisson before an unmarked Virgil van Dijk headed the third from Salah’s corner, Origi nodding the fourth after a stunning pass by Trent Alexander-Arnold.

Teemu Pukki’s composed finish reduced the deficit after Liverpool lost Alisson to injury, the Brazil keeper replaced by new signing Adrian after slipping while taking a first-half goal-kick.

There was a carnival atmosphere at Anfield for Liverpool’s first home game since beating Tottenham in the Champions League final on 1 June and Jurgen Klopp’s side responded with a superb display, sending out a lot and clear message to their competitors.


Raheem Sterling scored a hat-trick as Manchester City got their title defence off to a winning start with victory at West Ham in a game that saw the video assistant referee play a significant role for the first time in the Premier League. You will probably be aware that I think that the VAR could be very disruptive in the game, football is a non-stop game and the stoppages from VAR may take away the passion and the spectacle of the game.

VAR was first called on when Gabriel Jesus appeared to have put City 3-0 up midway through the second half, only for Raheem Sterling to be ruled fractionally offside in the build-up.

After Sterling added City’s third, a moment also reviewed for a possible offside, the system then awarded the visitors a penalty retake after Sergio Aguero’s tame effort was saved by Lukasz Fabianski but Declan Rice was deemed to have encroached into the area.

The striker made no mistake at the second attempt.

This was, nevertheless, a dominant and deserved victory for Pep Guardiola’s side, who laid down a marker for the season ahead in emphatic fashion.

The visitors had looked a little short of their best early on but they took the lead midway through the first half when Jesus flicked in Kyle Walker’s low ball into the box.

They doubled their advantage six minutes into the second half, Sterling sliding in a low shot after being put through by Kevin de Bruyne.

After Jesus’ VAR-denied effort, a third did come for City as Sterling ran on to a ball over the defence before coolly lobbing Fabianski. And after Aguero’s retaken penalty, Sterling got his third in injury time to complete the abysmal afternoon for West Ham.


Sheffield United’s Billy Sharp, who had only been on the pitch for six minutes, bundled the ball home from close range after Oliver McBurnie’s mishit shot bounced off Nathan Ake and into the striker’s path, to Sheffield a point on their return to top-flight football.

Chris Mepham’s first Premier League goal, when he smashed in a rebound after Callum Wilson’s shot on the turn had been parried by away goalkeeper Dean Henderson had looked like giving Bournemouth the three points.

Sharp, 33, had only played in two Premier League matches before, so a dream start his season.


Last season, Burnley got one point from this first five games, but no such worries for manager Sean Dyche this time around

In fact, on Saturday they recorded their biggest opening day league victory since 1966 with three goals in 12 impressive second-half minutes.

Striker Ashley Barnes scored twice, the first coming on 63 minutes with the hosts’ first shot on target as he scored from summer signing Erik Pieters’ cross.

The pair again linked up as Barnes fired into the corner to double the advantage before midfielder Johann Berg Gudmundsson added a third from a tight angle as Sean Dyche’s side got their campaign underway in style.

This game was also not without calls to the video assistant referee system. VAR upheld an offside call that had ruled out Burnley striker Chris Wood’s effort after 16 minutes and was called on to review two potential first-half red cards. Adams arrived high and late on Burnley’s Ben Mee, while Gudmundsson crunched in on Ryan Bertrand but neither was shown a card, more VAR intrusion 🙂


The bore draw came at Selhurst Park where Palace and Everton failed to score on the opening day of the season.

Everton keeper Jordan Pickford made two crucial saves blocking efforts from Jordan Ayew and then Max Meyer as Palace put the visitors under pressure in the second half.

German Meyer also went close in the first half when his goalbound effort looped behind off the foot of Seamus Coleman?

Marco Silva’s Everton dominated much of the first period with Gylfi Sigurdsson firing a yard wide before full-back Coleman smacked a shot into the body of goalkeeper Vicente Guaita.

Sigurdsson produced another effort that was blocked on the line and team-mate Richarlison curled a sumptuous effort narrowly wide of Guaita’s upright.

Palace’s Wilfried Zaha, who handed in a transfer request and was the subject of a summer window bid from Everton, came on in the 65th minute to warm applause.

He failed to affect the scoreline as did the 76th minute sending off of Morgan Schneiderlin, who picked up a second yellow for a foul on Luka Milivojevic, as Everton kept Roy Hodgson’s men at bay in the closing stages.,


Brighton manager put three past a stunned Watford, and surprised all the pundits, Brighton narrowly avoided relegation last term, while Watford finished in 11th place and got to the FA Cup Final, but Abdoulaye Doucoure’s first-half own goal gave them the lead. The Seagulls had travelled to Vicarage Road on the opening day of last season, losing 2-0 on that occasion, but the scoreline was reversed as substitute Florin Andone, with virtually his first touch of the game, doubled their lead, Just minutes later, newly signed Neal Maupay,  justified his £20m price tag with a debut goal, calmly finishing after rounding Watford goalkeeper Ben Foster.


Spurs were on course for a surprise defeat at home to newly-promoted Villa before scoring three times in the final 17 minutes to win 3-1, Kane grabbing two of the goals.

Despite the score, this was far from a straightforward victory for last season’s Champions League runners-up.

Tottenham was sluggish for long periods and was heading for defeat before turning the game on its head after substitute Christian Eriksen injected some much-needed creativity to the team.

The team lacked invention and sharpness before new club record £53.8m signing Tanguy Ndombele cancelled out John McGinn’s opener after Villa failed to clear their lines following Tom Heaton’s save to keep out Davinson Sanchez.

Kane made it 2-1 after Jack Grealish, a Spurs transfer target 12 months ago, lost possession, and then he wrapped it up with a clinical finish which left Villa crestfallen.

It was hardly vintage Spurs but at least they are up and running before next Saturday’s visit to champions Manchester City.


Another bore draw with the main talking point, not being the game of football, but VAR,

Wolves boss Nuno Espirito Santo said video assistant referee decisions are affecting “the spirit of the game” after his side had a goal ruled out in their scoreless draw at Leicester.

Joao Moutinho’s right-wing corner was headed goalwards by Leander Dendoncker and hit the arm of Wolves’ Willy Boly at close range before Dendoncker shot the rebound past Kasper Schmeichel from eight yards out.

But, after one minute and 38 seconds and a VAR review, the goal was disallowed by on-field official Andre Marriner, with Leicester fans cheering when no goal was announced via the stadium’s big screens.

The Premier League tweeted to explain why the goal had been cancelled

“What I’m concerned about is, let’s not ruin the game,” said Nuno.

“It’s what fans come for, to celebrate a goal, not to celebrate a no goal – that’s not the real celebration of football.

“It’s not good for the atmosphere of football. The Leicester fans were celebrating the no goal. That’s not the mindset of the game. Six months ago it would’ve been a goal, so that is an issue for VAR

“We have such a nice Premier League, such a product, we cannot lose that. Two minutes the game stopped. The anxiety of us celebrating, then we waited – it’s not the spirit of the game.

I could not agree more.


Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang punished slack Newcastle defending to give Arsenal victory at a rain-drenched St James’ Park.

Starting with many of their £125m-worth of signings on the bench and without midfielders Mesut Ozil and Sead Kolasinac, Gunners boss Unai Emery watched his side struggle to cut through their opponents in the first half.

That all changed just before the hour mark when Aubameyang was left unmarked on the edge of the area, collected Ainsley Maitland-Niles’ cross from the right and fired past Martin Dubravka.

Emery gave £72m club-record signing Nicolas Pepe and midfielder Dani Ceballos debuts from the bench, but they failed to make much of an impression.

As for Steve Bruce, his Newcastle managerial debut was about what could have been.

The Magpies’ record signing Joelinton  (a player who I think could be one of the best seasons signings) went close with a shot blocked by Bernd Leno before Jonjo Shelvey saw his drive crash off the woodwork.

The home side was flat for much of the second half, although another new recruit, the exciting wing prospect Allan Saint-Maximin, tested German Leno with a near-post drive.


Manchester United recorded their biggest Old Trafford win over Chelsea since 1965 to condemn Frank Lampard to a miserable start as a Premier League manager.

Marcus Rashford scored twice, either side of a close-range effort from Anthony Martial, who had been given the number nine shirt back following the sale of Romelu Lukaku to Inter Milan.

A star of the future, substitute Daniel James completed the scoring with a goal on his debut nine minutes from time.

The final scoreline was harsh on the visitors, who were the better side before the break and hit the frame of the goal through Tammy Abraham and Emerson, but still suffered their worst ever opening-day defeat in 104 league seasons.

The ecstatic home supporters did not care about that though, as the negativity of a difficult summer was swept away by their best result against Chelsea since they beat them by the same score in the 1994 FA Cup final.

To start the season, I had five correct results and one set on the scoreline, not a bad start 🙂

Please see following my Premier League predictions for week two:

Arsenal 3 v 1 Burnley

Aston Villa 2 v 1 Bournemouth

Brighton 2 v 1 West Ham United

Everton 2 v 1 Watford

Norwich  1 v 2 Newcastle

Southampton  1 v 3 Liverpool

Manchester City 1 v 2 Spurs

Sheffield United 2 v 1 Crystal Palace

Chelsea 3 v 1 Leicester

Wolves 2 v 1 Manchester United

Have a good week,


Recommended Posts

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Contact Us

We're not around right now. But you can send us an email and we'll get back to you, asap.

Arsenal 2 - 1 Burnley