EPL Winners and Losers After Sunday's 2019 Week 1 Premier League Results

James Dudko@@JamesDudkoFeatured ColumnistAugust 11, 2019

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - AUGUST 11: Anthony Martial of Manchester United celebrates with teammate Marcus Rashford after scoring his team's second goal during the Premier League match between Manchester United and Chelsea FC at Old Trafford on August 11, 2019 in Manchester, United Kingdom. (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)
Julian Finney/Getty Images

Anthony Martial and Marcus Rashford helped Manchester United hammer Chelsea 4-0 in the Premier League on Sunday. Martial made the decision to sell Romelu Lukaku to Inter Milan and install the Frenchman at centre-forward look like a masterstroke when he added United's second at Old Trafford.

Meanwhile, Rashford bagged a brace, with the first coming from the penalty spot after Kurt Zouma's clumsy foul. The latter endured a torrid time on a day when a Chelsea defence overhauled after the departures of Gary Cahill and David Luiz to London rivals was torn apart.

Earlier, Arsenal, despite putting summer signings Nicolas Pepe, Dani Ceballos, Luiz and Gabriel Martinelli on the bench, did enough to beat Newcastle United.

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang's goal separated the young Gunners, with teenagers Joe Willock and Reiss Nelson in the staring XI, from the Magpies at St James' Park. A rare win and even rarer clean sheet on Arsenal's travels vindicated the work and bold selections of head coach Unai Emery.

Meanwhile, Leicester City and Wolverhampton Wanderers played out a bore draw at the King Power Stadium. The drab fare was little credit to the attacking talent on the pitch.


Sunday Results

  • Newcastle United 0-1 Arsenal
  • Leicester City 0-0 Wolverhampton Wanderers
  • Manchester United 4-0 Chelsea


Winner: Anthony Martial

It was no-small gesture when United returned the No. 9 shirt to Martial and let Lukaku move on. Those actions challenged the Frenchman to finally live up to his potential as a marquee talent who can lead the line for United.

So far so good after the way Martial proved a constant menace for Zouma and the rest of Chelsea's bewildered defenders. Nobody was able to cope with the 23-year-old's pace and movement.

Zouma, Andreas Christensen and the usually reliable Cesar Azpilicueta all lost track of Martial at least once. It was Azpilicueta at fault when Martial ghosted in to complete a swift counter with a classic instinctive finish in the box after 65 minutes.

NBC Sports Soccer @NBCSportsSoccer

Anthony Martial makes it 2! Watch the match now on NBCSN, or stream here: https://t.co/xhQ2aTI0NC https://t.co/xebnuzQ8A5

Sky Sports Premier League @SkySportsPL

Superb counter attack from @ManUtd for their second goal! Martial off the mark after getting picked to start up front - and WHAT a cross that was 😮 📺 Watch #MUNCHE on Sky Sports Premier League 📱 Follow #MUNCHE here: https://t.co/PL4tjaOMvk 📲 Download the @SkySports app! https://t.co/R1A3ognkAE

Martial already looks at home back in the No. 9 shirt:

Squawka Football @Squawka

Anthony Martial’s first game wearing the No.9 shirt for Man Utd: ⚽️ vs. Liverpool Anthony Martial’s first game after taking back the No.9 shirt for Man Utd: ⚽️ vs. Chelsea #AM9: The Sequel https://t.co/0p0ye5z6c8

It's reasonable to expect many more days like this from the former Monaco star this season.


Winner: Unai Emery

Emery's bid to rejuvenate Arsenal looked to be undermined by ongoing defensive issues and not enough star power in attacking areas. Both problems were looming ominously when Emery rotated his ranks and named a skeleton crew for this starting XI, one featuring youth academy graduates and sans big-money summer imports such as club-record signing Pepe:

Arsenal @Arsenal

🚨 One hour until kick-off 🚨 So here's how we line up for our @premierleague opener against @NUFC 🔢 #NEWARS

A makeshift defence missing injured full-backs Kieran Tierney and Hector Bellerin and recent Chelsea defector Luiz wasn't exposed by Newcastle's attack. The Magpies were as strong as they could be in forward areas thanks to the presence of expensive acquisitions Joelinton and Miguel Almiron, but neither found much joy against a back four anything but soft in the middle, in stark contrast to last season, when the Gunners kept just one clean sheet on their travels.

Calum Chambers, fresh from a loan spell as a midfielder with relegated Fulham last season, slotted seamlessly back into the heart of defence. Emery trusted Chambers, despite some sketchy performances during preseason, and the Spaniard's faith was rewarded.

Chambers' task was made easier by Sokratis Papastathopoulos producing an immense performance.

Arsenal's defence was also aided by a tenacious midfield prepared to graft, track back and cover runners on the break. Willock and Nelson, both 19, didn't shirk their defensive responsibilities, while Matteo Guendouzi snapped into challenges and justified Emery giving regular terrier Lucas Torreira an extended rest.

FootballTalentScout @FTalentScout

Matteo Guendouzi vs Newcastle 69 passes 86% pass accuracy 1 key pass 1 dribble won 1 tackle won 2 interceptions 3 clearances 3 aerials won 20 years of age. Incredibly mature player. Monster in the making. 🔴⚪️ https://t.co/Ci35ax1fS5

The Gunners were supposed to be fatally flawed defensively, weaker even than the unit that conceded 51 goals last season. Yet based on this evidence, Emery's group is going to be a tougher nut to crack.

Eventually, the strong platform allowed Emery to feel comfortable giving minutes to key signings Pepe, Ceballos and Martinelli. A clean sheet, three points away from home and a first taste of Premier league life for the new boys.

Emery could hardly have hoped for more.


Loser: Kurt Zouma

Kurt Zouma had everything he needed to stake his claim to be the linchpin of a new-look Chelsea defence. Cahill joining Crystal Palace, Luiz moving on to Arsenal and Antonio Rudiger's recovery from a knee injury put the Frenchman firmly into focus.

Zouma would have wished to be anywhere but in the spotlight when his trip to the red half of Manchester quickly descended into a nightmare. Rash decisions, poor timing and a lack of awareness left Zouma painfully out of his depth:

888sport @888sport

At fault for the penalty Nervy with clearances Yellow card after 30 mins Not Kurt Zouma's finest first half in a Chelsea shirt. #MUNCHE https://t.co/D8tjPdsYpy

Squawka Football @Squawka

Kurt Zouma did not make a successful tackle in the first half vs. Man Utd. Two fouls committed, a penalty conceded and a yellow card to cap it off. https://t.co/GNhsHGcpxs

This isn't how a pivotal season was supposed to begin for the defender who still needs to prove himself after loan spells and a litany of injuries have stunted his Chelsea career. 


Loser: Henrikh Mkhitaryan

While Aubameyang proved his worth, Henrikh Mkhitaryan left fans puzzled as to how he still gets a game for the Gunners. The Armenia international was so far off the pace of play he became Newcastle's best route to possession.

For a player normally defined by vision and technique, Mkhitaryan's penchant for giving the ball away is frightening:

BBC 5 Live Sport @5liveSport

Henrikh Mkhitaryan's stats so far: Pass accuracy: 69.2% Shots: 1 Shots on target: 0 Duels won: 25% Possession lost: 17 times Not vintage. 😬 📲⚽️https://t.co/0kUniX6SeW #NEWARS #bbcfootball https://t.co/zsKot9x6f8

It's hard to accurately gauge whether this is a confidence issue or merely a sign the former Borussia Dortmund star will never adapt to the style and standards of England's top flight. Either way, Arsenal are getting little from the versatile forward whose arrival in the winter of 2018 was supposed to soften the blow of then-attacking talisman Alexis Sanchez joining United.

With Mesut Ozil left out of the squad altogether, because of ongoing security concerns, Pepe and Ceballos on the bench and Willock and Nelson pressed into action, this should have been Mkhitaryan's moment to remind Emery of his qualities.

Instead, all the Armenia international did was send his boss a clear message he belongs nowhere near Arsenal's best XI when everyone is fully fit.