So, after all the questioning, consternation, excitement and dread, the new Premier League has finally arrived! The season opened with what was, on paper, a cracking fixture between Manchester City and Manchester United, but who would come out on top? Who would kickstart their season the best possible way?
Bernardo Silva got Manchester City off to an early start when he tapped home from a Cancelo cross, following the latter’s excellent, and virtually unopposed run into the box from the right, something that will have provided Ole Gunnar Solskjaer with an early source of concern. Frowns would turn to smiles shortly after half an hour, when a good, surging run from Marcus Rashford, and a good, well-weight pass, led to a neat finish beyond Ederson’s left hand. Less pleasing for Utd was the reckless, two-footed lunge from Donny van de Beek on Raheem Sterling, just beyond the centre circle, which led to an easy red card from the referee. Utd players could have few complaints, and from there, City began to exert a thorough control of the game. More good work from Cancelo, and a tidy combination with Ilkay Gundogan, produced an opportunity for Kevin De Bruyne in the penalty area that he was never going to miss.
City triumphed 2-1, but it could have been more. With 19 shots, nine of those on target, 12 corners, and a majority of the ball, Pep Guardiola might even be left wondering how it wasn’t more. Nonetheless, it is City who enjoy an early-season result against their fierce local rivals.
Elsewhere, both Arsenal and Tottenham had to come from behind to take opening-day victories, with Adam Armstrong taking his Arsenal bow with a goal to cancel out Douglas Luiz’s opener, within a minute of Villa taking the lead. The brilliant Martin Odegaard secured the points on the hour mark.
Tottenham trailed after only two minutes to Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park, thanks to a crisp effort from loanee Jean-Philippe Mateta. The Mainz 05 man could not prevent Spurs from rallying, with goals from Hojbjerg, Alli, and Kane putting the away side in a commanding position at half-time. Ndombele made sure there was no doubt with a goal near the hour-mark.
Elsewhere, there were opening day wins for Everton, Leicester (Jamie Vardy, top scorer last season, found the net after only 15 minutes at Fulham), Southampton, Wolves and Liverpool. The reigning champions were head after just one minute at Brighton, thanks to who else but Mo Salah. Whilst Brighton did equalise, Dunk’s sending off was always going to encourage the Reds, and Salah would get a second before the break, with Wijnaldum adding a third after it.
Sunday’s games both served up draws. A passionate clash between West Ham and Chelsea ended a goal apiece, and Leeds will be buoyed by coming away from Newcastle with a point, twice falling behind, and twice battling back.