EPL Review: Top 5 Observations from Opening Weekend of Barclays Premier League
The games from the opening weekend of the Barclays Premier League have been dissected over and over again in all corners by now. If you still haven't had enough of it, I have my own top 5 observations from the games of West Brom v Manchester United, Newcastle v Arsenal, Sunderland v Liverpool and Stoke v Chelsea.
The article first appeared on www.isport.in.
Manchester United Won, Eventually
United started off well. Rooney scored a goal, but this time there were a few more joules of energy in his shot, owing to a few extra grams of weight on his head.
If you still don't get it, it's because of his newly laid hair. The winning goal came late and was an own goal, the first of many that United will get whenever they are losing, along with some extra extra time to help score them. To be fair to Ashley Young, it was a great effort, and he should get the goal to his name (not to mention the small matter of a few points it will add to my fantasy team).
The difference this time was the bunch of promising youngsters in the United line-up, compared to a clutch of players on their last legs and some totally useless bodies that adorned the United lineup last year (cue Scholes, Giggs, Wes Brown and John O'Shea), along with an expensive but leaky goalkeeper.
Arsenal Exploded in the North and Had a Player Sent off
Enough has been said about Arsenal's struggles in the late part of the last season. Well, not enough actually. There is scope for a lot more, and it was visible throughout the 90+ minutes at St. James Park. They passed and passed, smooth and silky, nice and pleasing, but then huffed and puffed, struggled and staggered to a well earned draw.
Without forgetting to mention, they ended the match with something to complain about!
The difference? A solid defence.
For all the people complaining about the lack of quality in Arsenal defence, they had a solid back line even with Djourou on the bench. Vermaelan, Koscielny, Sagna and Gibbs did a damn good job to cut out the threat from an unimaginative Newcastle forward line. Considering Newcastle were in no mood for adventure, there will be lot sterner tests for Vermaelen and co.
Liverpool Huffed and Puffed to a Draw After Initial Promise
Liverpool started with a bang. Suarez missed a penalty, then scored a goal and was hauled off in the 71st minute, costing me some valuable fantasy points! Somewhere in between, Seb Larsson hit a screamer to dash the hopes of 3 points for the Reds. As many would say, typical innit?
Among all this was some very disjointed play by the revamped Liverpool midfield, and £35 million worth of Andy Caroll working hard to prove Kenny overpaid him in multiples of 2 to 3.
Chelsea Toiled and Laboured at Stoke
The day Ray Wilkins was fired last year apparently to cut cost, Chelsea turned into some sort of a joke that just got funnier when Fernando Torres and David Luiz were purchased for over £70 million shortly after. Treat the following like a sitcom with background laughter.
Chelsea with a new manager(cue for laughter) started with Didier Drogba on the bench (Another round of laughter). Saloman Kalou started the match in place of Drogba (continued laughter). Fernando Torres had a very good match (a small pause) but failed to score (delirious laughter).
Enough said, I guess.
Joey Barton Was the Smartest Man on the Pitch
If someone had started an "I hate Joey Barton" club, I would have probably joined it, but with the weekend over, I am clearly over that. In retrospect, I can see the method behind the madness!
He was clearly the smartest man on the pitch this weekend, and Alan Pardew should have been hugging and kissing him for earning the team a point. Many don't realise that Barton was doing all this for the greater good for his hometown of Liverpool, who will be playing Arsenal next. Get a couple of their good players suspended, and the Scousers chances get even better.