Sergio Aguero and Four Other Players Who Shined for Their New Clubs This Week
Roberto Mancini had barely enough time to unwrap his latest present at the City of Manchester Stadium before 23 year-old Sergio Agüero completed one of the most memorable first appearances in Premier League history.
The opening weekend of the EPL is a cause for celebration not only because soccer is officially back, but also because we get to see the results of a summer's worth of shopping. It's always nice to get a goal on your first day of work, but there are always other ways to impress a new manager and get your new fans on your side.
We won't be able to cast an eye over any new signings made by Spurs or Everton, but here's a quick overview of who the biggest performers were for their new clubs. Your comments are appreciated!
Sergio Aguero Thrills the City of Manchester on His Debut
The summer of 2011 has been relatively quiet by the previous precedent set by the richest club in the world. The low-key captures of Stefan Savić and Gael Clichy bolstered an already plentiful back line, but the dramatic whirlwind that seems to follow Carlos Tevez around wherever he goes showed no signs of abating. Mancini wanted a marquee signing to show his club's intent, and he got one.
After hitting the net an alarming number of times in the past two season for Atlético Madrid, young Sergio "Kun" Agüero was tracked by all the big names before settling on Manchester City. Diego Maradona's son-in-law didn't get the starting spot he wanted, but with an impressive Swansea holding City at 0-0 after 45 minutes, the frustration was palpable.
Lumbering Bosian striker Edin Dzeko broke the deadlock early in the second half, then Mancini withdrew Nigel de Jong and unleashed his newest purchase. Manchester United's fortunate 2-1 victory over West Brom set the tempo for opening week, and City were looking to keep pace.
You could draw many comparisons between Agüero and City's captain Carlos Tevez. Both are small, quick players with skilled feet and some serious power when in sight of goal. Agüero melds this with a vision that was on full display for City's second goal, where he picked out an on-rushing David Silva to smash the ball into an empty net.
His two goals were world's apart. The first was a lung-bursting run that saw him side-foot Adam Johnson's low cross in at the far post. His hunger and willingness to get forward at pace will have impressed Mancini, who has no reason not to start the Argentinian against Bolton next week. Agüero's second was a piece of magic.
Receiving the ball outside the 18-yard box, he unleashed a drive that first looked like the goalkeeper could have done better, but the replay showed that Agüero left him with no chance.
On current evidence, £35 million well spent.
Charlie Adam Showed Steven Gerrard That the Captain Has Work to Do
Kenny Dalglish's lengthy pursuit of fellow Scot Charlie Adam was finally ended when the Blackpool captain was allowed to follow his heart to Anfield. Of all Liverpool's many signings this summer, the midfielder was probably the first to go on the starting XI team sheet to sit in beside Lucas Leiva.
A smart, accurate passer of the ball, Adam's left foot took no time in wrapping itself around balls to team-mates, free-kicks and corners all over the field. Steven Gerrard's injury setback was cause for concern before this match, but after the No. 26's performance on Saturday, Liverpool fans should know that creativity in midfield is in very safe hands.
The first thing Adam gave to Liverpool was the kind of deep-lying vision that (yes, here we go again) Xabi Alonso took with him to Real Madrid. Quick, incisive balls up to Luis Suarez, Andy Carroll and out to Steward Downing were key to the impressive performance the Reds delivered for the first 45 minutes against Sunderland.
Secondly, and no less important is Adam's ability on set-piece situations. Again, Liverpool have lacked a player with this kind of delivery since Alonso. Suarez's nicely taken headed goal was the result of an accurate cross splashed into the box by Adam, in that perfect area between the mob of players and the goalkeeper.
Now, I'm a massive fan of Raul Meireles and I think he deserves a spot in the starting line-up, but clearly the axis of Adam and Lucas will be Dalglish's go-to pick for the heart of Liverpool's midfield. As happy as Gerrard was to see the Scot's performance, he should be prepared to pack his bags and venture out onto the right wing where Benitez was so keen to deploy him.
Liverpool did fade badly in the second half, but Adam continued his good work, despite picking up a booking in the 60th minute.
Sebastian Larsson Was Available for Free and Now Steve Bruce Is Laughing
If you haven't yet seen Sebastian Larsson's spectacular equaliser against Liverpool. then you definitely need to check it out. It was a beauty. Stéphane Sessègnon was given way too much room by Liverpool's defence on the right flank, and he poked it back to Ahmed Elmohamady to cross in. Liverpool right-back John Flannagan was caught napping, and Larsson acrobatically scissor-kicked the ball home.
But that's not the reason why he is on this list. YouTube is chock full of spectacular goals scored by players who aren't deemed "world class" by the majority, but this Swede gave the rest of the Premier League a wake-up call to the fact that he was available for free after Birmingham's relegation.
The former Arsenal trainee was one of the main reasons that Birmingham were close to staying up, as he has one of the finest set-piece deliveries in the Premier League today. Whether it was from corner kicks or free-kicks outside the box, Larsson's class was evident as every ball coming towards goal was a danger. With a strike-force that is more formidable in the air, Sunderland could pose a significant threat this season.
Larsson was utilized as a left-winger on Saturday, giving him the option of cutting inside to cross with his stronger right foot. Aside from his goal, he had one other shot on goal, a rasping drive from 20 yards that wasn't on target but gave Liverpool some cause for concern.
I'm frankly surprised that the likes of Tottenham or Everton didn't spring for the Swedish winger, as they both would have benefited greatly from his set-piece delivery.
Ashley Young Has Slotted Seamlessly into Manchester United's Machine
You can never be certain when a team's talisman goes from becoming a big fish in a small pond to just another star in the trophy-monster that is Manchester United. Ashley Young proved this weekend that the estimated £15 million paid by Sir Alex Ferguson is an absolute bargain.
Javier Hernandez took hardly any time to acclimatize to the culture at Old Trafford, and Aston Villa's prize possession seems to have followed down that path. Comfortable on either wing or in behind a striker, Young joins Antonio Valencia and Nani in a roster of speedy, skilled attacking players that will provide assists for the front-men as well as goals in their own right.
United's first goal against West Brom was a result of a clever series of passes and a smart finish. Wayne Rooney played a first-time pass out to the left to Young, who beat his man to bring himself to the left-corner of the 18-yard box. Squaring up as if to shoot on goal, the winger instead slid the ball back to Rooney, who turned and finished with all the calm in the world.
Young was full of running and drive for the rest of the game. Although United's winning goal was a savage deflection, it was a result of the Englishman driving to the net and putting the ball into a dangerous position.
At the end of last season, it seemed that a central midfielder was top priority to replace the retired Paul Scholes, but once again Ferguson has shown us that he knows much more about the game than everyone else. Young was in the last year of his contract with Villa, and although Liverpool were offering more money, the lure of United proved too strong.
Improving on a title-winning and Champions League finalist squad is always tough, but Young's debut really couldn't have gone any better.
Roger Johnson Has a New Club and Wolves Have a New Captain
Another direct consequence of Birmingham's relegation was the loss of their stalwart central defender Roger Johnson, who was snapped up by Mick McCarthy for just over £4 million. The Wolverhampton Wanderers were a source of entertainment and amusement last season, ending Manchester United's unbeaten run (despite being in last place) and giving every game a hearty attempt no matter who their opponents were.
Poor defending was often their undoing, which is where Johnson comes in. The first day of anyone's work is stressful enough, but with added pressure of being club captain all of a sudden would throw most people off balance. Johnson showed no signs of nerves, however, and looked comfortable in Wolves' 2-1 defeat of Blackburn.
Many would say that McCarthy was fortunate to hold on to Matt Jarvis, who was the target of several clubs over the summer, but with the addition of Johnson in particular Wolves may just be able to establish themselves as a regular Premier League team.
The large defender was never a prolific goal-scorer, but alongside Scott Dann at Birmingham the Englishman presided over every one of City's 12-match unbeaten run in last season's campaign. As it stands right now, Wolves sit ahead of Liverpool, Arsenal and Chelsea in the league table. While it's only the first week, Johnson will relish the opportunity to face these kind of clubs, rather than the likes of Portsmouth and Cardiff in the Championship.