5 Things We Learned from the EPL Weekend
Although the Premier League hasn't taken any time to announce its return, the second weekend of the season is proving to be just as lively as the first.
Although teams can't really be judged at this point, first impressions have definitely been made and playing styles have certainly been established. With a number of matches already played at a fierce, high tempo, it's clear that the opening matches of the season are just as important to all 20 top flight clubs as the closing matches of the season.
There were more than a few high profile matches this week and plenty of talking points, so here are five things we learned from the Premier League weekend.
This Season Is Starting Just Like Last Season Ended
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Not much has changed from last season to this one, and that can be said for more than one Premier League team.
To start with, Everton ended the 2011-12 season as one of the league's form teams and is starting this season in similar fashion. The strange thing here is that the Toffees are notorious for their slow starts, with their season usually kick-starting around the New Year.
Manchester City started their 2012-13 campaign in alarmingly identical manner to the way that they ended last season—with a 3-2 home win over a newly promoted team after going 2-1 down.
Their crosstown rivals, Manchester United, have also started their quest for the Premier League title similarly to the way that they ended last season, with patchy form including ugly wins and dropped points here and there.
The odd part of this is that title contenders like Manchester City and Manchester United usually start off their seasons in brilliant form with wins by giant margins left and right.
Now, of course there are some exceptions to this interesting theory. Chelsea, for example, look a lot better in the league now than they did at the end of last season, and Newcastle haven't looked quite as sharp at the start of this season as they did in their brilliant run of form at the end of last season.
Although this might not mean anything, it's still something worth noting. Maybe the Premier League is becoming more competitive than it already is?
Swansea Can Be the Surprise Team of the Season
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Forget the Manchester clubs and Chelsea—Swansea have been the most convincing Premier League team so far.
Swansea City have started the season in flying form. They outscored their opponents by eight goals to nothing after a 5-0 mauling against QPR on the first day of the season and a convincing 3-0 win over West Ham this weekend.
After losing Brendan Rodgers to Liverpool during the summer, Swansea appointed Danish legend Michael Laudrup as manager; he made some astute signings, as defender Chico Flores and goalscoring midfielder Michu impressed in the Swans' opening fixtures.
The best part of Swansea's winning start to their 2012-13 campaign is the manner in which they've done it—Laudrup's side brilliantly passed QPR and West Ham to death, getting the six points through free flowing, attacking football.
It's too early to tell at the moment, but Swansea City definitely have the potential to be the Newcastle United of this season, and a surprise push for Europe may be in store.
Eden Hazard Is Already a Candidate for Player of the Season
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Eden Hazard, Chelsea's blockbuster summer signing from Lille, has taken no time to get used to English football, as he's set the league alight in his first three matches with the Blues.
Already topping the assists charts with a stunning six so far, the 21-year-old Belgian also has a goal to his name. Hazard has been at the heart of every Chelsea attack, providing the spark for their dominant form so far this season with his pace, flair and creativity.
Few players have impressed as much as Eden Hazard in the opening two weekends of the Premier League, so the attacking midfielder will be the spearhead of Chelsea's attack as well as their title challenge. Individual honors are definitely on the table as well, and I think Hazard could be a shoe-in for not only the PFA Young Player of the Year award but also the PFA Player of the year award.
It's only been a few weeks, but if Hazard keeps up this incredible form, he's in for the season of his life.
Arsenal Have a New Side to Their Game
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Two matches, two draws, both 0-0.
It's been an unexciting, if not boring, start to the season for Arsenal. The negatives are that the Gunners still haven't scored a goal, with both Sunderland and Stoke effectively keeping Arsene Wenger's side at bay. For me, an Arsenal supporter, this isn't too worrying—the North London club were scoreless in their first two matches last season as well, before scoring a whopping 74 goals in the following 36 fixtures.
The positives of the two scoreless draws is that it's two clean sheets on the bounce for Arsenal and not something that you see every day. With Pat Rice's retirement, Arsenal legend Steve Bould was brought in as the new assistant manager, and many predicted that he'd sort out the Gunners' shaky defense.
Well, so far so good. They haven't exactly gone head-to-head against dynamic attacking forces yet, but Arsenal's defense has looked solid and much less nervy than last season. Remember, that's without Laurent Koscielny and Bacary Sagna, arguably Arsenal's two most consistent defenders.
Against Stoke, it became apparent that Arsenal have a new side to their game, and that they can, in fact, compete in the physicality department and not let the side get bullied at places like the Britannia did.
Carlos Tevez Isn't Fooling Around This Season
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With Wayne Rooney and Sergio Aguero both injured, I think that Carlos Tevez may just be the favorite for the 2012-13 Premier League Golden Boot.
He won it two seasons ago as the joint top scorer with Dimitar Berbatov, but after Carlos Tevez went AWOL in 2011-12, his career was on life support, and a move away from Manchester City looked inevitable. Carlos Tevez, who arguably gave City an extra push in the title race last season after returning and hitting a good patch of form, doesn't look like he's messing around this season.
With two goals in two games for the Citizens, Carlos Tevez will be a key player in their title defense and is definitely a candidate for the Golden Boot. In my opinion, he's also in the mix for this year's PGA Golf Championship—all jokes aside though, watch out for the little Argentine this season.