5 Things We Learned from the EPL Weekend
The 2012-13 Premier League season got off to a cracking start, complete with goals, controversy and upsets.
Just about every single match had a talking point, whether it was a newly promoted side proving that they can stay up this season, or a title challenger showing their top of the table credentials. Plenty of exciting new signings were on display too, with Eden Hazard, Santi Cazorla and Michu all shining for their respective clubs.
Although conclusions can't be immediately made, we learned a lot about the 20 Premier League teams that will be battling it out for the next nine months.
Here are five things we learned from the opening days of the season.
Who Needs Clint Dempsey?
After scoring 17 goals for Fulham last season, it's evident that Clint Dempsey wants a move to a larger club. However, he's unprofessionally chosen to handle his situation by refusing to play for Martin Jol's side.
Without their top scorer and best player, you'd think Fulham would have goal-scoring issues, right? Think again. The Cottagers couldn't have gotten their Premier League campaign off to a better start, thrashing Norwich 5-0 at Craven Cottage without the help of a certain American.
While Fulham were enjoying a goal festival on opening day, Liverpool, the club most likely to get Dempsey's signature, lost 3-0 at West Bromwich Albion.
Want to rethink that decision, Clint?
Liverpool Haven't Changed a Bit
Liverpool ended last season in absolute disaster, with losses to Swansea, Sunderland, Wigan, Fulham, West Brom and QPR leading to the sacking of manager Kenny Dalglish.
The man to replace the Liverpool legend was Brendan Rodgers, who led Swansea City to an 11th place finish last season using his philosophy of passing, attacking football. With Rodgers' fresh philosophy and some new faces such as Fabio Borini and Joe Allen, optimism for the upcoming season was growing at Anfield.
Within 90 minutes of the Reds' 2012-13 campaign, that optimism had vanished. Liverpool were humiliated by West Brom, losing 3-0 with Daniel Agger seeing red. They looked exactly like the Liverpool of last season, only this time the unhappy man on the sidelines was different.
"The Rodgers Revolution" still has a very long way to go.
New Signings Will Light Up the League This Season
One of the best parts about the thrilling opening weekend of the Premier League were the debutants.
To start with, Santi Cazorla was brilliant for Arsenal. Although the Gunners were held to a 0-0 draw at home to Sunderland, Cazorla was at the heart of every Arsenal move, including a clever pass late in the game that Olivier Giroud really should have finished.
Big money signing Eden Hazard silenced some of his recent critics with a strong debut for Chelsea in which he provided the assist for Branislav Ivanovic's goal before winning a penalty, which Frank Lampard smashed home.
It may have been a more low key signing, but Swansea City's Michu was the real star of the weekend. Signed for just two million pounds from Rayo Vallecano, Michu had one of the best Premier League debuts I can remember, scoring two goals before setting up another. In the other 5-0 win of the weekend, Fulham's Mladen Petric was exceptional in his debut, scoring two goals and assisting another for the Cottagers.
Overall, the Premier League's latest additions all looked very good this weekend, and could be lighting up the league in the coming months.
It Won't Be Easy for Manchester City
When defending Premier League champions Manchester City lined up against newly promoted Southampton, the question in most people's heads was how many goals City would score.
In reality, things weren't so straightforward. Going into halftime with a one goal advantage, Manchester City just needed to see out their lead to start their title defense with three points. It was deja vu all over again though, as Southampton had come back from behind to gain a shock 2-1 lead over a star-studded Manchester City.
Although it wasn't the most convincing of performances, there's no denying that City responded like Champions. Just like they did in the dramatic final to last season's title-winning campaign, Roberto Mancini's men came back to win 3-2 after being given a run for their money by the Premier League new boys.
Although many foresaw a thrashing, the beginning of the title defense wasn't easy for the Citizens, and they shouldn't expect it to get any easier.
There's No Longer a Title Favorite
Going into the inception of the 2012-13 Premier League season, the two Manchester clubs were touted as title favorites, with Chelsea and Arsenal outside contenders.
Coming out of the opening weekend though, I'm not so sure anymore. Neither Manchester club looked very convincing, with Manchester United's shocking loss to Everton especially worrying. Chelsea's new-look side played some good football against Wigan, and could have asserted themselves as immediate favorites had they not taken their feet off the pedal after getting a 2-0 lead in the first 10 minutes.
The only teams that were really convincing this weekend were Fulham and Swansea, two sides that will be overachieving if they even challenge for a Europa League place this season.
It's only the first weekend of the season, but for the time being, the team that gets branded "title favorite" is in the air.