EPL Matchday One: 10 Games, 10 Winners

raam shanker@raam_s13Contributor IAugust 16, 2009

19 Mar 2002:  Arsenal Wenger, manager of Arsenal at a press conference ahead of their Champions League match against Juventus at Delle Alpi Stadium, Turin. DIGITAL IMAGE.  Mandatory Credit: Mike Hewitt/Getty Images

As the referee blows the final whistle at White Hart Lane signalling a 2-1 win for Spurs over Liverpool, I realise that this is the first time in five seasons when the opening day has not seen a drawn game.

The table evenly split between the 10 winners and 10 losers. Other significant top-table results include 1-0 win for Man United over Birmingham, Villa's loss to Wigan, Man City's win against Rovers, Everton's huge crash against Arsenal, and Chelsea's escape against Hull.

Let me start with the champions and my favourite team, Manchester United. If one goal is all it takes to secure those points, we'll settle for it. This probably sums up most of United's last season.

Now, for the first time in six years they were starting without their old No. 7, who just like his predecessor had moved to Real Madrid. Also missing from the squad was Carlos Tevez, who jumped across to Man City.

Michael Owen was the surprise signing and could be Sir Alex's masterstroke. Despite the lack of missing faces, the United machine looked well oiled and in good condition to plod on for another 10 months.

Rooney's first half effort was the only goal of the game, but Fletcher and Owen fluffed good chances and Valencia fluffed half a chance. Other than that, it was a good opening day at Old Trafford, much better than the last two seasons at least.

Having said that, United have gone on to prove in the last two seasons that it's not the first day, but it's the last day of the season that matters most. Will they get their fourth title and go one ahead of Liverpool? Only time will tell.

I am shifting focus on to United's main adversaries last season, Liverpool. Last season was by far their best in the premiership. Not only did they lead for most of it, but also did the double against United.

But key performances against Villa and Spurs saw United snatch the title away from Liverpool and Chelsea. However the summer saw a some transfer activity at Anfield. Departure of Alonso, arrival of Aquilani, and Torres' decision to stay were the highlights.

Opening day loss has been the first one for Liverpool in the last five seasons. How it affects their morale, given the fact that Gerrard started today's game, will be interesting.

Aston Villa, the most successful team from The West Midlands were amongst the preseason favorites for a top four finish. Gareth Barry's move to Man City and Martin "No-Deal" O Neill's lack of signings probably did not go down well with the supporters.

It was definitely bound to hamper Villa's chances but a 2-0 loss to Wigan at home was not expected. With Liverpool, Fulham, Birmingham, and Portsmouth being their next four opponents (West Ham game being postponed), it will be an interesting turn of events.

Whenever I think of Chelsea, I cant stop thinking of Ranieri and his hardwork and the way he was abandoned for Mourinho. They started the season against last year's surprise package, Phil Brown's Hull City.

The biggest news at Chelsea this season was the arrival of Carlo Ancelotti, the man who tasted a lot of success at AC Milan. With his arrival came the expectations of seeing Andrea Pirlo and Alexandre Pato in blue.

Ancelotti claimed he will attack and his team will play in the diamond formation. All said and done, they beat United to win the least significant piece of sheet metal work called Community Shield. Come the big day, they conceded an early lead to Hull, who seemed to have started the way they did last season.

But then Drogba equalised. Chelsea, however, left it till the dying moments to secure the win and pocket three points.

In the last few months that saw us suffer through recession, credit crunch, and unemployment, they made headlines for all the wrong reasons. They first said they'd pay a ridiculous amount for Kaka, who rightly snubbed them and went to Real Madrid. Come summer, they splashed out close to a hundred million pounds on Barry, Tevez, Adebayor, and Toure.

Now they want Lescott. However their performance on Saturday was more shaky than Sheikhy. I mentioned Ranieri earlier because I can see a trend emerging. If City do not win silverware this season, I fear Hughes maybe sacked after two seasons as manager.

Given their resources and challenge to be a huge club, their performance was below par. Hiring midfielders and strikers is good for the media eye, but what about the defence? Going by the trend, I think FIFA could take a cue from FIA and impose restrictions on annual spending by teams and probably even go one step further and place a cap on player transfer fees and wages.

More on that later, anyways but for now, I would like to see how City's new found riches match up against the tradition, experience and heritage built by Man United, Liverpool, Arsenal and the likes.

By far, Arsenal have got the most explosive start of all teams. A 6-1 drubbing of Everton at Goodison Park raises serious questions. How did it happen? Is it a flash in the pan or are they good enough to continue for a title fight? How must Adebayor and Toure be feeling?

Equally importantly how must David Moyes be feeing? So Arsenal sold Adebayor and Toure to Man City.

Almunia went to the extent of saying Toure was unhappy. Barcelona are making an alleged move for Fabregas. The way I see it, Arsenal's fortunes fell with the departure of David Dein, their former Vice President who was also responsible for bringing Arsene Wenger to the club.

But Wenger's profeciency as a manager cannot be doubted but maybe he lacks the shrewdness of Sir Alex. If Arsenal put all the rumours and media speculations behind them, they have a realistic chance. However they could do without results like the 4-4 against Spurs last season.

This now brings me to Everton. David Moyes has for long been amongst the contenders for top job at Man United. A result like this not only does his reputation a lot of harm but also reduces his chances, where he is likely to face competition from the likes of

Mourinho. What goes for Moyes is with the limited availability of funds and hence talent, he has managed to keep Everton in the top ten all but twice during his reign. He has not finished lower than sixth most of the time, which is a Europe spot. I am hoping this defeat is just a minor stumble and Everton bounce back into contention sooner than later.

At this point, I owe an explanation to those few who've supported me so far on BR and to the BR team. I've now sorted a few minor personal issues and am hoping to be back in gear with more analysis, viewpoints, discussions, and predictions in the coming weeks. Thanks a lot for the support ladies and gents, it was, is, and will be truly appreciated.


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