The English Premier League kicked off on Saturday 11th August, and with a full programme of 10 matches, the entertaining weekend has left us with much to ponder on how exactly this league season will pan out. Below are some of the major talking points after the EPL weekend:
- Liverpool and Manchester City look very good
While it is too soon to definitively say which teams will be involved in the title race among the so-called Big Six, the two teams that many are backing as the best in the league lived up to their billing.
Liverpool faced a tricky fixture at home to West Ham United, and it swatted them away 4-0. Mohamed Salah (one goal), Firmino (assist), Sadio Mane (2 goals) and Daniel Sturridge (one goal) were brilliant in attack, and the defense was rarely threatened by a West Ham side which is much changed from last season’s side.
It may be too early to know if Liverpool is a better side than the likes of Manchester United and Spurs, but on this evidence, the summer signings have improved them. It will be intriguing to see if they can keep up the outstanding performance all through the season.
Manchester City is also a side that is tipped to defend the EPL title, and a visit to Arsenal was billed as a potentially tricky game. Arsenal tried their best under new manager Unai Emery, but despite resting Kevin de Bruyne, David Silva and Kompany, City never looked in danger of losing the match they won 2-0.
Raheem Sterling was dangerous throughout, Benjamin Mendy was brilliant and Bernado Silva dominated the midfield. City looks very good and will back themselves to defend their title.
- Promoted sides look good, but lack of experience and cohesion cost them
There has been chatter in parts of the internet that Cardiff City, Wolves, and Fulham are the best-promoted sides the EPL has ever seen. While this is probably hyperbole, these sides have strengthened remarkably in the transfer season. However, none of them won, and only Wolves got a point over the weekend.
This is despite all three sides battling gamely against more experienced opponents. Cardiff lost three nil to Bournemouth, Fulham lost 2-0 to Crystal Palace, and Wolves were lucky to get a draw at home to Everton.
It is clear that despite the signings these teams have made, the EPL is a step above and it will take time before they get used to competing at such a high level. I still back Fulham and Wolves to avoid relegation, but it may not be as easy as many thought it would be.
- Is second season syndrome going to be a thing?
Last season, all three promoted sides (Newcastle, Huddersfield Town and Brighton and Hove Albion) survived relegation. On the opening day of this season, all three lost. Newcastle lost 1-2 to Spurs, Brighton crashed 2-0 at Watford and Huddersfield conceded 3 to Chelsea.
Second season syndrome is the idea that promoted sides find it harder in the second season in the top flight because their game is no longer a surprise and it is hard to improve without heavy investment.
Huddersfield Town and Brighton have spent money in the transfer window, but the manner of their defeats will set alarm bells ringing. While both clubs are stable and will back their coaching staff, they will have to improve drastically next weekend if they are not to start the season on the wrong foot.