After a long summer of waiting, the English Premier League is finally back, with every team looking to make a good start and hit the top of the table.
Reigning champions Manchester City got their season started on Sunday with a win over Newcastle United, but a hectic transfer season has allowed a number of clubs to start believing they have what it takes to win a title.
Although there has been a lot of talking up to this point, teams were finally able to see what they can do on the pitch.
The battle for trophies, positioning and simply avoiding relegation began on Saturday. Here is the latest table with scores and individual trackers from the weekend:
|12||West Bromwich Albion||1||0||1||0||2||2||0||1|
|16||Queens Park Rangers||1||0||0||1||0||1||-1||0|
|Aug. 16||Manchester United||1-2||Swansea|
|Aug. 16||West Ham||0-1||Tottenham|
|Aug. 16||West Bromwich Albion||2-2||Sunderland|
|Aug. 16||Stoke||0-1||Aston Villa|
|Aug. 16||Queens Park Rangers||0-1||Hull|
|Aug. 16||Arsenal||2-1||Crystal Palace|
|Aug. 17||Newcastle United||0-2||Manchester City|
|Saido Berahino||West Bromwich Albion||2|
|Wayne Rooney||Manchester United||1|
|Chris Wood||Leicester City||1|
|Jose Ulloa||Leicester City||1|
|Andreas Weimann||Aston Villa||1|
|Brede Hangeland||Crystal Palace||1|
|David Silva||Manchester City||1|
|Sergio Aguero||Manchester City||1|
Manchester United were hoping this season would be better than the last. One match in, it looks like more of the same.
Swansea City earned the early lead when Ki Sung-yeung scored in the 28th minute. Wayne Rooney pulled his club level on an impressive goal early in the second half, but United weren't level for long. Gylfi Sigurdsson found his way through the United defence and fired the ball into the back of the net for the game-winning goal in the 72nd minute.
Sigurdsson was proud of the club's effort after the match, as Swansea—at least for the moment—sat alone on top of the table:
.@SwansOfficial's Gylfi Sigurdsson: "It's a great way to start the season. We always believed and dug in at 1-1. I thought we deserved it."— Premier League (@premierleague) August 16, 2014
Meanwhile, this is a devastating defeat for Manchester United, as ESPN's Paul Carr noted:
Manchester United loses at home on the opening day of the league season for the first time since 1972.— Paul Carr (@PCarrESPN) August 16, 2014
After finishing in seventh place under David Moyes, the Louis van Gaal era has not gotten off to a better start.
The action continued with some dramatic matches that featured plenty of late excitement. Everton and West Brom both appeared set to leave with three points until they each allowed equalising goals around the same time:
Goal rush. Sunderland now 2-2 at West Brom. And Leicester have made it 2-2 against Everton.— ESPN FC (@ESPNFC) August 16, 2014
Sunderland scored in the 85th minute to earn a draw, while Leicester City got their goal at the 86th-minute mark to get their first EPL point in their return to the league.
On the other hand, West Ham United seemed ready to accept a draw until Tottenham pulled ahead on a goal by Eric Dier in the 93rd minute. The late score allows Spurs to keep pace with the top clubs in the table and feel satisfied with a strong start to the year.
Arsenal continued the theme of impact goals late in Saturday's final match.
The Gunners were tied with Crystal Palace heading into the final minutes before Jason Puncheon was sent off for his second yellow card. With a man advantage, Arsenal were able to get the go-ahead goal when Aaron Ramsey knocked in a rebound in the 91st minute.
Although it is early, this type of win shows why the club is considered one of the favourites to win a title. Manager Arsene Wenger believes his side has a chance but notes the competition is fierce, via Jim Van Wijk of the Press Association (h/t Daily Mail):
The favourites you have again Chelsea, Man City, Liverpool, Man United and us. Then you have Everton, they were very dangerous last year as well and could be candidates. How well will Tottenham respond?
There is no hierarchy in the teams I give you, there is no priority - they are just the obvious candidates.
Although the season will not be decided in the first week, a good start is important. The same goes for Sunday's competitors, with Manchester City defeating Newcastle United 2-0 and Liverpool beating Southampton by a score 2-1.
Both favourites are loaded with talented young players, but the question is whether they can be consistent enough to get three points when they need it.
The first round of fixtures concluded on Monday when Chelsea battling Burnley. The Blues made significant changes to the roster and two key players came through right away as Diego Costa scored and Cesc Fabregas added two assists in the 3-1 win.
With the amount of talent on the Blues roster, they have the ability to be top contenders for a league title.
No matter what how each club fared in their opening matches, it is important not to overreact to one part of a long season. Still, it is good to finally have something to debate with the Premier League finally returning.
Follow Rob Goldberg on Twitter for the latest breaking news and analysis.