Arsenal Have All but Won the EPL Already: Opening Weekend Reaction

Barney Corkhill@@BarneyCorkhillSenior Writer IAugust 17, 2009

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - AUGUST 15:   Da Silva Eduardo of Arsenal celebrates with teammate Emmanuel Eboue (R) after scoring his team's sixth goal during the Barclays Premier League match between Everton and Arsenal at Goodison Park on August 15, 2009 in Liverpool, England. (Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)

And so it begins. This past weekend saw the beginning of another Premier League season, and it began in style.

There were shocks, late goals, and plenty of drama. No match ended in a draw, the first time that has happened on the opening weekend since 1980.

It certainly was one of the best opening rounds of matches in recent memory.

It also seems to be the one which has caused the most overreaction in recent memory.

Two results in particular seem to be the main culprits here: Arsenal's 6-1 thrashing of Everton at Goodison Park and Liverpool's 2-1 defeat at the hands of Tottenham.

Let's start with the Arsenal match.

Their performance was impressive, there is no doubting that. Most would have been expecting an away win, but the manner in which it happened made the league sit up and take notice.

But was it really that much of a surprise?

In recent years, Arsenal have often gone to Goodison Park on the opening game of the season, and they have always won. On two of those occasions they recorded 4-1 scorelines.

This 6-1 thrashing was beyond even that, however, and it has been dubbed as a two-fingered salute to their critics.

It isn't.

If they keep those performances up for the entire season, then they will be entitled to do that. A one-off performance, however, doesn't mean anything.

Cast your mind back to the final game of the 2007-08 season, and you may remember Middlesbrough's 8-1 demolition of Manchester City. One year later, that Middlesbrough side was relegated.

While the two situations are very different, the point is that anyone can have a mind-blowing performance which, coupled with some woeful defending, will result in a big scoreline.

The way people are going on about this particular Arsenal result sounds like they think the Gunners will run away with the title.

I wasn't particularly surprised by the scoreline. Arsenal, on their day, play the best football in the entire league. They are capable of dismantling anyone.

They are also capable of capitulating when facing teams like Stoke or Bolton.

That 6-1 win will be cancelled out by a loss or a few draws against teams they should beat.

I wrote a preview of the Premier League season a few days ago where I predicted Arsenal coming in fourth place. Suddenly, simply because they have had one good performance, people expect me to change that prediction.

I will not.

The same applies for Liverpool.

Their opening day performance was poor, and it resulted in defeat to Tottenham at White Hart Lane.

Last season, Liverpool lost two games, and the Spurs fixture was one of them. The other was to Middlesbrough, a team who aren't even in the league anymore.

I would gladly accept a repeat performance this season, even if it means losing the opening game.

To write them off simply because of that performance is foolish, just as thinking Arsenal are suddenly back to their best due to their showing is.

While momentum is important in football, drawing conclusions from the opening round of matches is nonsensical.

Let's look at last season's opening weekend results to see how little they really matter.

Stoke were comfortably beaten by Bolton, leading everyone to believe they were as good as down. That didn't happen.

Blackburn went to Goodison Park and got a win. Everton went on to claim fifth, while Blackburn struggled for a time against the threat of relegation.

Hull, who eventually finished 17th, beat Fulham, who ended up in seventh. Middlesbrough beat Tottenham, only to get relegated at the end of the season, and Liverpool scraped past Sunderland before going on to record their best Premier League season ever.

Chelsea demolished Portsmouth, establishing themselves as early favourites for the title, only to finish third, and eventual champions Manchester United only managed a draw at home to Newcastle, who, of course, were relegated at the end of the season.

The results on the opening weekend of the Premier League season rarely bear any correlation with the final league table.

Yes, Arsenal were impressive, but that is only one part of the season. They have another 37 to go. That same line that is being used to bring Arsenal fans down to earth can be used to reassure Liverpool fans too.

Arsenal are not suddenly the best team in England, Liverpool are not out of the title race, and Tottenham will not break into the top four.

If this is an indicator of what the rest of the season will be like, however, we're in for another good one!


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