EPL Week 1 Round Up
Leicester City hammered Sunderland, Manchester United just crept past Tottenham, Bournemouth were downed by Villa on their PL debut, Everton drew with Watford, Crystal Palace beat Norwich. Champions Chelsea drew 2-2 with Swansea in an absolute cracker at Stamford Bridge. Liverpool beat Stoke, Newcastle drew with Southampton and the surprising result of the weekend, Arsenal lost 2-0 at home to London rivals West Ham.
Jose Mourinho‘s men got their title defense off to an uninspiring start against Swansea at Stamford Bridge. Oscar‘s free kick gave Chelsea an early lead, but Andre Ayew scored on his debut to make it 1-1. Willian‘s deflected effort but the Blues ahead before the break and in the second half the moment of the match arrived as Thibaut Courtois flicked Bafetimbi Gomis and referee Michael Oliver awarded Swansea a penalty kick and showed Chelsea’s goalkeeper a red card. Gomis scored the resulting spot kick and despite some heavy pressure from the Swans, Chelsea held on for a point. Not the start the Champions were hoping for.
Louis Van Gaal‘s five new signings all played a part as the Red Devils beat Spurs 1-0 on the opening day of the season. The only goal of the game came against the run of play as Spurs’ bright start was interrupted when Kyle Walker tried to challenge Wayne Rooney but instead toe-poked the ball into his own net for the first goal of the 2015-16 season. Spurs had a great chance early on when Harry Kane and Christian Eriksen carved open United’s defense but the latter lobbed his effort over. Eriksen tested United’s new goalkeeper Sergio Romero late on, but he was up to the challenge as a tight game went United’s way.
Newly promoted Waford got a point away at Everton on the opening day and the Hornets were a few minutes away from grabbing a win. Mexico international Miguel Layun put them 1-0 up in the first half, but Ross Barkley equalized in stunning fashion to make it 1-1. Late on Odion Ighalo put Watford 2-1 up, but Arouna Kone scored just two minutes later as the Toffees fought back to grab a point.
What a start for Claudio Ranieri in charge of the Foxes as his side raced into a 3-0 lead at half time. Jamie Vardy‘s header got things going early on, then Riyad Mahrez scored twice before half time to stun Sunderland. The Black Cats improved in the second half, with Jermain Defoe pulling one back, but Marc Albrighton scored another to make it 4-1. Steven Fletcher pulled another one back for Sunderland, but it ended 4-2 at the King Power Stadium with Leicester momentarily top of the league, Leicester fans enjoy it while you can.
Bournemouths first ever game in the Premiership came to a disappointing end for all the cherries fans, Second half substitute Rudy Gestede powered home a header just 13 minutes into his debut to hand Aston Villa an opening day win for the third-straight PL season. Tim Sherwood handed six players their debuts and after struggling in the first half, Villa improved in the second but Bournemouth and Eddie Howe will feel hard done by to lose in the sun down on the South Coast. Marc Pugh and Dan Gosling went close in the first half, while Matt Ritchie had some chances late on to snag an equalizer, but Bournemouth’s first-ever game in the PL ended in defeat.
The Eagles bagged an impressive win away from home as goals either side of half time from Wilfried Zahaand Damien Delaney (that name is going to cost the Palace fans a fortune to put on the back of their shirts) put them 2-0 up. Substitute Nathan Redmond pulled one back for Norwich with a long-range goal, then Cameron Jerome had a goal disallowed and the Canaries thought they should have had a penalty when Sebastian Bassong went down. Late on Palace debutant Yohan Cabaye wrapped up the win, as Alan Pardew‘s side started off this season exactly the way they finished last year.
Liverpool faced an away trip to Stoke, who had battered them 6-1 in the last game of last season, in a game lacking goalscoring opportunities of note, it was a moment of magic from the Brazilian Coutinho four minutes from time that downed a resilient Potters outfit and gave Liverpool their first three points of the new season. Since going down 6-1 at the hands of Stoke some 77 days ago on the final game of last term, Rodgers has brought in a host of new faces, but it was the Brazilian who proved his worth four minutes from time with a moment of magic. Christian Benteke, James Milner, Nathaniel Clyne and Joe Gomez all made their competitive Liverpool debuts and, for much of the contest, the visitors lacked any attacking threat in the final third. Stoke’s makeshift centre-back pairing of Geoff Cameron and substitute Philipp Wollscheid were largely able to deal with Benteke’s physical threat as Brendan Rodgers’ new-look side looked set for a frustrating stalemate. However, shortly after compatriot Roberto Firmino was introduced, Coutinho produced an early goal-of-the-season contender from distance in their Premier League opener. The Brazil international cut in from the right and unleashed an unstoppable 30-yard drive past Stoke’s new number one Jack Butland that goes some way to papering over the cracks on show in Liverpool’s attack.
Newcastle handed Premier League debuts to summer signings Chancel Mbemba and Georginio Wijnaldum, who had a significant impact on the game. In McClaren’s first competitive fixture at the helm, Newcastle came from behind to lead at St James’ Park after Graziano Pelle had opened the scoring midway through the first half. Papiss Cisse’s close-range finish ensured the two sides went into the break level, before debutant Georginio Wijnaldum, a close-season arrival from Dutch champions PSV, capped his impressive bow with an equally fine header at the start of the second period. But Southampton, led by Ronald Koeman’s brother Erwin as the manager recovers from Achilles surgery, showed their battling qualities and levelled with 11 minutes remaining when Long headed in Dusan Tadic’s cross.
Arsenal lost their opening match of the new Premier League season against West Ham on a disappointing afternoon at Emirates Stadium. After an encouraging pre-season, the Gunners came into the game with a real sense of optimism and they made a positive start here. They came close to the opening goal when Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain volleyed just over, before Aaron Ramsey later struck the bar. But with the visitors proving a real threat themselves, the game was finely poised, and West Ham took control just before the interval when Cheikhou Kouyate headed in. The Gunners upped the ante after the break with Olivier Giroud twice going close, but just as they were starting to exert real pressure they fell further behind as Mauro Zarate scored. Arsène Wenger brought Theo Walcott and Alexis Sanchez off the bench, but they could not drag their team back into the game against a well-organised West Ham side. So a frustrating result to start the campaign with, but the Gunners will have to pick themselves up quickly ahead of another London derby next weekend against Crystal Palace.
Manchester City got their Premier League campaign off to the ideal start as they cruised to a 3-0 victory over West Brom at The Hawthorns. Expensive new signing Raheem Sterling was fairly quiet on his Premier League debut for City and Sergio Aguero started on the bench, but it hardly mattered as Yaya Toure bagged a first-half brace before Vincent Kompany headed home a third after the break. However, the star of the show was City stalwart David Silva, who was a constant danger to the home defence as he showed off his delightful passing repertoire and wonderful close control, maybe City have their desire back.
The Draws and unexpected results really blew my predictions, so hopefully better this week ???
Week 2 Predictions
Aston Villa 1 v 2 Man Utd
Southampton 2 v 1 Everton
Sunderland 2 v 1 Norwich
Swansea 2 v 1 Newcastle
Tottenham 3 v 1 Stoke
Watford 1 v 2 West Brom
West Ham 2 v 1 Leicester
Crystal Palace 1 v 2 Arsenal
Man City 2 v 1 Chelsea
Have a good week
Gary Mabbutt MBE