Premier League Review – Matchday 1
Both the games involving Manchester teams were postponed due their later involvement in August European games than Chelsea and Wolves, whose games were put back to Monday night.
Saturday 12th September, 2020
Fulham 0 Arsenal 3
I don’t take pleasure from predicting the scoreline in this game correctly. Fulham face a season-long struggle, whilst Mikel Arteta’s Arsenal are becoming a force again. Leno was back in the Arsenal goal and put paid to a couple of early Fulham chances, one of which was gifted by a careless back-pass by debutant Gabriel. Arsenal had the lead inside 8 minutes and another debutant – Willian – was involved. His shot was saved from short range by Rodak but parried to the feet of Lacazette who made no mistake. Lacazette was fouled by Hector just outside the area and Willian’s free kick hit the bottom of the goalie’s right-hand post. Rodak had to save low from Aubameyang’s shot after 37 minutes, following Xhaka’s pass.
It was 2-0 in the 49th minute when Gabriel headed home a corner which had been taken from the right. Aubameyang made it 3-0 after 57 minutes with a powerful right-foot shot after a team move from the back by Arsenal, who will face sterner opposition in most of their games over the rest of the season but perhaps not next week when they host West Ham. Take a look at best football tipsters for the prospects in this and other future games.
Burnley v Manchester United - Postponed.
Crystal Palace 1 Southampton 0
Wilfried Zaha’s 13th minute goal proved to be the difference between these two sides in a game where the new VAR policy was demonstrated after referee Jon Moss initially showed Kyle Walker-Peters a red card for his high challenge upon Tyrick Mitchell for a 50/50 ball. VAR suggested Mr. Moss looked at the pitch side monitor, after which he amended the colour of the card to yellow. Walker-Peters was a useful part of the "Saints" attacking strategy providing several incisive crosses.
Zaha’s goal followed a surging run down the right by Andros Townsend whose cross was met by Zaha at the back of the area and fired home with his right foot. Southampton had a good chance early in the second half following a Walker-Peters cross which was helped across the edge of the area by Ings and Adams before Redmond’s shot was saved by Guaita. This was followed by the red/yellow card incident.
Guaita made an excellent reaction save from Che Adams’ shot after Vestergaard’s header. Zaha did have the ball in the net again nine minutes from the end but he was called marginally offside by VAR when he made his run for a ball out of defence a few yards inside the "Saints"' half. Zaha hit the side netting with another chance after getting the better of Jack Stephens. Deep into added time Guaita saved again, this time from an Ings header after another Walker-Peters cross.
Manchester City v Aston Villa - Postponed.
Liverpool 4 Leeds 3
This was clearly the most entertaining game of the day. The scores were 2-2 after only 33 minutes, and both teams looked like scoring at every opportunity in the early stages with both defences looking ragged at times. The fun started after only three minutes when Salah struck a shot which took a deflection off debutant Robin Koch’s foot before hitting his out-stretched arm. VAR supported Michael Oliver’s penalty decision and Salah struck the penalty with aplomb.
Helder Costa, now signed on a full contract after last season’s loan from Wolves, had the ball in the net after a good Leeds attack, but he was offside. Legendary manager Marcelo Bielsa’s side looked dangerous going forward throughout the game. Leeds were level after 12 minutes. Kalvin Phillips, who made his England debut this week before his Premier League debut, hit a long ball out from defence for Jack Harrison, who collected out on the left wing, cutting inside and getting the better of Alexander-Arnold before striking home from 20 yards.
Liverpool had a corner after 20 minutes, taken by Robertson. Van Dijk was allowed a free header and scored too easily to make it 2-1. 8 minutes later Robertson advanced and Leeds keeper Meslier had to push over Struijk’s mis-placed back header. It was 2-2 after half an hour and this time Van Dijk was the villain of the piece. The £75 million defender nonchalantly tried to flick a long ball to Robertson when he should have hit it to row Z. Instead the ball fell for Patrick Bamford who gleefully snapped up the chance and fired over and to the right of Alisson.
The first half scoring was completed by a cracker by Salah. Robertson floated in a free kick which was headed to the left foot of the Egyptian who fired home to the left of the goalkeeper.
Meslier got down low to his left to save from Wijnaldum four minutes into the second half after Firmino passed from the right of the penalty area. Alexander-Arnold headed Harrison’s effort into his own net after another long ball move by Leeds, but Harrison had been offside. Mateusz Klich scored a lovely equaliser with a right-foot shot from inside the area after 66 minutes, following an exchange of passes with Costa and a good run into the scoring position. Firmino was booked for his foul on the advancing Harrison and Phillips’ free kick passed just outside Alisson’s right post.
Van Dijk had the ball in the net (this time with a shot) following another corner-kick, but the goal was chalked off because substitute Curtis Jones had impeded a Leeds defender. Jurgen Klopp gave fourth official Mike Dean (yes, he’s still going!) an ear-bashing over that decision.
The game was won three minutes from the end with another penalty awarded when Fabinho fell over substitute Rodrigo’s out-stretched leg. Salah again made no mistake and had an opening day hat-trick.
West Ham 0 Newcastle 2
There is already talk of a crisis at West Ham Football Club, who have yet to sign a player this summer. Club captain Mark Noble recently publicly criticised the club for allowing young prospect Grady Diangana to be sold to West Brom. On this form and looking at forthcoming fixtures, the “Hammers” won’t be far away from the relegation zone for a while. Newcastle gave debuts to new signings Callum Wilson, Jeff Hendrick, and Jamal Lewis. They also featured their old player Andy Carroll who shared a joke or two with some of his former colleagues at The London Stadium.
Some of the Newcastle players forgot to take the knee which remains a fixture before kick-off. I’m sure they were still in the West Ham half when the game did kick off. Tomas Soucek (now on full terms with the "Hammers") was not laughing when "elbows" Carroll got away with a first minute challenge. VAR supported referee Stuart Attwell’s inaction. Another new signing, Ryan Fraser, was on the Newcastle bench, but apparently lacks match fitness, partly due to his inactivity with Bournemouth post-lockdown. West Ham were clearly targeting danger-man Saint-Maximin with a number of strong challenges until the Frenchman was replaced after 75 minutes by Joelinton.
Newcastle showed more attacking promise, but West Ham did hit the woodwork twice. The first occasion followed a free kick and a header by Ogbonna which hit the top of the bar. Soucek headed wide from a Fredericks cross, and Shelvey hit the side-netting following a counter-attack led by Wilson’s run. West Ham hit the woodwork for the second time through Fornals’ shot following another Fredericks cross. The ball again hit the top of the bar, and West Ham claimed a handball for a deflection by Lascelles without success.
Newcastle had the lead in the 56th minute thanks to two of their new boys. Manquillo lopped a cross from the right to the near post. Hendrick flicked the ball on, and Wilson scored with his raised foot with West Ham forlornly hoping for a dangerously high decision in their favour. Callum Wilson had a good start for his new team but was replaced by Almiron after 85 minutes. Almiron was instrumental in Newcastle’s second goal scored with a good right-foot shot by Hendrick three minutes from the end.
There had been a small protest outside the ground by socially-distanced "Hammers" fans clearly disenchanted with their club’s board.
Sunday 13th September, 2020
West Bromwich Albion 0 Leicester 3
The "Baggies" were the second promoted side to suffer a defeat of proportions to suggest they are in for a struggle this season. Slaven Bilic’s side included former Spur Jake Livermore who scored West Brom’s last Premier League goal – against Spurs – in May 2018. Jake, now 30, has made 135 league appearances for his current side. Also in the side was Grady Diangana, whose transfer from West Ham caused consternation in his former club captain Mark Noble.
New signing Timothy Castagne made his debut at right back for Leicester, who played Ndidi as one of their centre-backs due to injuries. Maddison was only fit enough for the bench. Goalkeeper Sam Johnstone made a good save from Leicester’s Harvey Barnes after half an hour. Another ex-Spur, David Button, was Johnstone’s deputy on the bench. Johnstone had to save again from Barnes only a minute later.
Castagne had a debut goal after 56 minutes giving Leicester the lead when Justin passed forward to Prate making a good run to the bye-line on the lift before he lifted a cross which the right back headed home. Leicester dominated and Praet had a powerful shot headed over the bar for a corner before Perez had a “goal” disallowed for offside. After 72 minutes Barnes raced down the left-hand side and got into the area, hitting a shot which was saved by Johnstone, but referee Anthony Taylor spotted a foul upon Vardy who was in the box, although not in line to receive the ball. Vardy had been fouled by Barclay and with the keeper going the wrong way, he slipped the spot-kick inside the keeper’s right-hand post.
Barnes hit a shot wide across goal before left back Justin was brought down towards the right edge of the area by Dara O’Shea. Mo Salah had raced to the top of the Premier league scorechart with a hat-trick including two penalties, and Vardy scored a second penalty, this time more powerfully to the right of the keeper, who again went the wrong way.
Spurs 0 Everton 1
Declan Mulcahy offers this long list of depressing facts:-
1. Mourinho's first defeat on the opening weekend of a Premier League season in 11 seasons. He had previous won nine and drawn one game.
2. Spurs first defeat in the opening fixture of a PL season since 2015 against Manchester United.
3. Spurs had been unbeaten in the last 15 league matches against Everton.
4. Everton's first win away to Tottenham since 2008-09.
5. This is the 11th time Spurs and Everton have met on the opening weekend of a top-flight season - three more than any other fixture in top-flight history.
6. Tottenham have only previously been at home for their opening Premier League game of the season in seven years out of 28. Their only previous defeat in those matches came against Manchester United in 1997-98.
7. Everton were winless in 40 Premier League away fixtures against established top-six opposition since a 1-0 victory at Manchester United in December 2013.
8. Carlo Ancelotti has been on the losing side just once in 21 league matches as a manager on the opening weekend of a season, a 2-1 defeat against Bologna at AC Milan in the 2008-09 season.
9. First time Ancelotti has beaten Mourinho when the latter has been the home team manager.
It was one of those occasions when Spurs did not have a man of the match, but a “least bad player”. Not for the first time, this was goalkeeper and captain Hugo Lloris.
Comment of the week (from an anonymous contributor):- “Difficult to understand the lack of tempo as we are talking of intelligent and determined players! They did not seem to (have) a plan B to upgrade creativity! You definitely can blame Harry Winks who seemed off pace! The Hojbjerg tackle given a correct yellow summed up "slightly late" but definitely yellow ! This start will garner pessimism but is not what this squad is about! Harry Kane looked out of sorts, but I believe the whole squad can bounce back.
Monday 14th September, 2020
Sheffield United 0 Wolves 2
Sheffield United featured Adam Ramsdale in goal, who had been signed from Bournemouth. Ramsdale's career began with the "Blades". Otherwise their team was unchanged from last season. Wolves played Adama Traore as right wing-back (Matt Doherty's old position), and new signing Marcal on the opposite side.
Wolves had the lead inside three minutes. Podence raced down the left flank on a counter-attack and crossed to that man Jimenez who fired home with his right foot. Two minutes later Jimenez had another chance, latching onto Dendoncker's cross from the right before hitting a shot which Ramsdale pushed over the bar. The corner was taken on the right by Neto and headed in by Saiss inside the 6th minute.
The "Blades" struggled to make inroads and the closest they came in the first half was when Rui Patricio had to push over a Basham cross that got too close to goal. From a subsequent corner, McBurnie had a header on target by the Wolves keeper held the effort comfortably.
Stevens got into a good shooting position early in the second half but fired over from an angle left of goal. After 50 minutes Fleck was unlucky, hitting the bottom of Rui Patricio's left post with a Shot after being fed the ball by Lundstram, who had made a good run to the bye-line. Wolves went close two minutes later when Saiss headed just wide from another corner.
Egan and McBurnie combined as they advanced through the middle, but Sharp hit the final cross across goal with Lundstram unable to make contact.
After 69 minutes, Saiss seized upon a loose ball just inside his own half and raced forward with Jimenez to receive a return pass. Saiss fired at goal. Ramsdale got a touch but also relied upon his left post to keep the ball out.
Traore was switched to the middle when substitute Oskar Burr replaced Neto, and after 74 minutes he hit a rasping shot from 25 yards which passed just over Ramsdale's goal.
After 82 minutes Traore showed great skill on the left flank, advancing to a central position where his shot took a deflection for a corner.
In added time Sheffield United substitute Berger crossed from the right and McBurnie's header was cleared off the line by Saiss.
Brighton 1 Chelsea 3
Kepa Arrizabalaga got Frank Lampard's nod to start this game, as did new boys Kai Havertz and Timo Werner. There was no Chilwell or Ziyech (injures), or Thiago Silva (match fitness). Brighton included Adam Lallana, signed in the summer from Champions Liverpool. The "Seagulls" also included former Chelsea academy player Tariq Lamptey at right back, who had another impressive game. They also had Ben White at centre-back, back from his loan spell with Leeds.
Goalkeeper Ryan brought down Werner just inside the area conceding a penalty, taken and scored by Jorginho (23 minutes). Chelsea had been gifted possession by Alzate's wayward midfield pass.
Brighton played nice football at times, and Maupay got on the end of a Lamptey cross. Kepa collected the ball. Alzate nearly atoned for his earlier error, collecting the ball from Lallana before hitting a good right-footed shot to the right of Kepa who did push the ball away to his right. Maupay was unable to take advantage of Lallana's short threaded pass as he entered the Chelsea area. The defence closed the Brighton man down and cleared.
Lallana had to be replaced just before the break by Connolly. Trossard reverted to midfield. In added time Werner advanced to a position left of goal, and his shot from an angle forced a save by Ryan and a corner.
March made a great run down the left flank early in the second half, and Connolly got on the end of his cross, but hit the side netting.
Trossard got a much-deserved equaliser in the 54th minute. Lamptey, who was often making exciting runs into the Chelsea area got to the edge of the box and this time passed back to Trossard who beat the goalkeeper to his right with a firm strike.
Reece James immediately regained the lead for Chelsea, hitting a right footed shot from 25 yards, beating Ryan, hitting the net in the keeper's top left corner. Lewis Dunk had a great opportunity to equalise again but headed wide at the far post when the ball was crossed from the right.
It was 3-1 to Chelsea in the 66th minute when Zouma side footed a corner which beat Ryan due to a deflection by Webster.
Fixtures/results 12.09- 14.09.20
Saturday 12th September, 2020
Fulham 0-3 Arsenal
Burnley P Man Utd
C. Palace 1-0 S'hampton
Man City P A. Villa
Liverpool 4-3 Leeds
West Ham 0-2 Newcastle
Sunday 13th September, 2020
West Brom 0-3 Leicester
Spurs 0-1 Everton
Monday 14th September, 2020
Sheff Utd 0-2 Wolves
Brighton 1-3 Chelsea
Premier League Table
P W D L F-A GD Pts
1. Arsenal 1 1 0 0 3-0 3 3
2. Leicester 1 1 0 0 3-0 3 3
3. Chelsea 1 1 0 0 3-1 2 3
4. Newcastle 1 1 0 0 2-0 2 3
5. Wolves 1 1 0 0 2-0 2 3
6. Liverpool 1 1 0 0 4-3 1 3
7. C. Palace 1 1 0 0 1-0 1 3
8. Everton 1 1 0 0 1-0 1 3
9. A. Villa 0 0 0 0 0-0 0 0
10. Burnley 0 0 0 0 0-0 0 0
11. Man City 0 0 0 0 0-0 0 0
12. Man Utd 0 0 0 0 0-0 0 0
13. Leeds 1 0 0 1 3-4 -1 0
14. S'hampton 1 0 0 1 0-1 -1 0
15. Spurs 1 0 0 1 0-1 -1 0
16. Brighton 1 0 0 1 1-3 -2 0
17. Sheff Utd 1 0 0 1 0-2 -2 0
18. West Ham 1 0 0 1 0-2 -2 0
19. Fulham 1 0 0 1 0-3 -3 0
20. West Brom 1 0 0 1 0-3 -3 0