Skip to content

Quick Six: Top Premier League storylines from weekend no. 1

Aug 18, 2013, 4:15 PM EDT

source: Reuters

1. ARSENAL’S CONJURING MEMORIES OF 2011

After Arsenal lost 8-2 at Manchester United on Aug. 28, 2011, Arsène Wegner’s hand was forced. To that point, the Gunners’ boss had been cautions about throwing his recently received Cesc Fábregas/Samir Nasri money at new players, but with his team on one point through three rounds (having been held scoreless in their first two matches), Wenger had to do something. The subsequent ‘panic buys’ of Mikel Arteta and Per Mertesacker have worked out well for the club.

Perhaps that’s the silver lining Arsenal fans can take out of Saturday’s match, a bitter opener that saw the Gunners lose 3-1 at The Emirates to Aston Villa. Though there’s a small number of Premier League clubs to whom Arsenal can justify losing at home, Villa is not one of them, let alone in the manner they did. Villa scored the match’s last three goals, led for the final half hour, and put more shots on net over the 90 minutes.

If they’re so inclined, Arsenal can hide behind excuses. Laurent Koscielny was sent off, leaving the team short-handed for 23 minutes, while two of Villa’s goals can be attributed to penalty kicks. Those circumstances are unlikely to be replicated next week at Fulham. Still, Wenger would be better served to summon the urgency of Aug. 2011 and throw some money at the problem.

source: Reuters2. MANCHESTER UNITED SHOULD NOT HAVE BEEN OVERLOOKED

Barring a Monday night explosion from Manchester City (and with the Sky Blues hosting Newcastle, that could happen), the red side of Manchester will hold the top spot after the Premier League’s opening round. Perhaps that’s only appropriate, given the defending champions had been deprived of the spotlight in the build-up to the season. Though the Red Devils bring back a near-identical squad to the one that ran away with last year’s Premier League, none of your PST writers have them finishing in the top two.

New manager David Moyes has said his club intends on buying, hinting the squad still has weaknesses. Most people point to the midfield as its main point of need, though United’s had the same problems in midfield since Roy Keane left. They’ve still managed to claim silverware since – both at home and abroad.

Saturday was a bucket of cold water for those of us who had dwelt on that weakness. Swansea City — a team that opened last season with two lopsided wins; who drew United on their last visit to the Liberty Stadium — were torn apart by braces from Robin van Persie and Danny Welbeck. Although Swansea’s poor play contributed to that results, United’s firepower means they’ll be capable of this kind of result.

source: Reuters3. MOURINHO’S RETURN MORE ‘DECENT’ THAN ‘SPECIAL’

If we learned anything about Chelsea from match one, it’s that they had an easy start. Hull City, roundly picked to resume a place in the Championship, failed to provide a challenge. The Blues dominated for a half hour, built a 2-0 league, then clicked it into cruise. We’ll have to wait for stiffer competition before passing judgment on the Blues.

There were hints, however, of what we could expect from Mourinho’s second term, including in the way Chelsea cruised. Perhaps the team didn’t pile on goals as Mourinho’s Real Madrid might have, but team’s return to a belligerent pragmatism that won two Premier League crowns will be welcome by some. Frank Lampard, despite having a penalty kick saved, lent credence to the notion his effectiveness will be prolonged by his reunion with Mourinho, while the Blues’ three substitutes (André Schurrle, Romelu Lukaku, Marco van Ginkel) confirmed new blood will play a key part.

Hull’s limited performance never gave Chelsea a chance to truly convince, but there were still things to learn from the Special One’s return.

source: Reuters4. PROMOTED SIDES SHOW LITTLE LIFE IN TOP FLIGHT RETURNS

Hull weren’t the only promoted side to disappoint. Crystal Palace, picked 20th by so many coming into the season, were able to keep the score close, their 1-0 loss to visiting Spurs disguising the fact Tottenham controlled the game. Cardiff City, winners of last year’s Championship, fell 2-0 at West Ham United.

Underdogs in each match, it’s no surprise all three Premier League newbies lost, yet their inability is still concerning. Out-shot by a combined 59-24 (13-6, shots on goal), the trio of neophytes seem to lack a Norwich City or Southampton – two promoted sides who managed to stay up last season. While recent signings from Cardiff and Hull may soon change their teams’ outlooks (and it is far too early to condemn any of the new clubs), matchday one was a grim reminder of how far the new teams have to go.

source: Getty Images5. PENALTY KICK GRACE PRESERVES RESULTS

Liverpool’s Saturday win over Stoke recalled the good and bad of last year: strong play; at times not reflected in the score; sometimes leaving matches to be stolen by lesser teams. Thanks to Simon Mignolet‘s 89th minute save on Jon Walter’s penalty kick, Daniel Sturridge‘s first half opener held up, giving the Reds the 1-0 win they probably deserved.

But penalty kick grace was also evident at The Hawthorns, where West Brom nearly held on for a 0-0 with Southampton before Ricky Lambert converted in the 90th minute, giving a Saints team that had been the ever-so-slightly better side an ever-so-slightly better result. And in South London, Roberto Soldado‘s early second half conversion assured Spurs a result to mirror their control.

source: Getty Images6. SUNDERLAND AS IMPRESSIVE ON GRASS AS ON PAPER

Going into Saturday’s match, the on-paper Black Cats’ didn’t look too impressive, but given the club that survived last year’s Premier League, it was easy to look at the additions of Jozy Altidore, Emmanuel Giaccherini, Cabral, Valentin Roberge, and Ondrej Celustka and see an improved team, overlooking the possibility they may still be inferior to their competition.

Saturday reinforced the notion this team’s facing significant obstacles. Against another flawed side (Fulham), the Black Cats lost at the Stadium of Light , putting only three shots on goal. They did out-shoot Fulham 21-5 and held 57 percent of the ball, but given nine of those shots came after the 52nd minute (when the Pajtim Kasami‘s goal gave Fulham incentive to change their approach), Sunderland should lament the result rather than dwell on the circumstances.

Latest Posts
  1. VIDEO: Jozy Altidore scores League Cup goal against Stoke

    Sep 23, 2014, 4:08 PM EDT

    Britain Soccer Premier League AP

    Altidore is off and running for the 2014-15 season, watch his goal.

  2. Three out of five is bad: CSKA Moscow faces racism charge for fan acts

    Sep 23, 2014, 3:15 PM EDT

    imgres

    UEFA has already ruled — based on previous offenses — that CSKA’s match against Bayern Munich next week will be played in an empty stadium.

  3. Manchester City’s Pellegrini won’t rule out Lampard loan extension

    Sep 23, 2014, 2:22 PM EDT

    Frank Lampard AP

    What would Lampard want? Hard to tell from the weekend’s goal celebration or lack thereof?

  4. ESPN sends Clint Dempsey out to ask people about USMNT captain (video)

    Sep 23, 2014, 1:33 PM EDT

    clint_dempsey AP

    You do get the feeling they had to do a bunch of work to find people who failed to recognize Dempsey, if only because of the interviews that made the final cut.

  5. League Cup third round preview: What qualifies as an upset?

    Sep 23, 2014, 12:42 PM EDT

    Britain Soccer League Cup AP

    The possibilities for juicy upsets aren’t dancing through the slate of third round matches, but there’s plenty to look forward to…

  6. Gyan to speak on journalist beating and refute human sacrifice rumors in press conference

    Sep 23, 2014, 11:43 AM EDT

    Brazil Soccer WCup Portugal Ghana AP

    Ghana national teamer and Al Ain striker Asamoah Gyan has called a press conference to refute non-sensical claims that he killed his friend to gain magical powers.

  7. Anfield $164m expansion approved; Liverpool’s home to near 59,000 cap

    Sep 23, 2014, 10:53 AM EDT

    _77766716_lfc_view01_final

    Anfield has been Liverpool’s home since 1892, and the new construction is slated to finish in time for the start of the 2016/17 season.

  8. PST’s Major League Soccer power rankings: Double(d) vision edition

    Sep 23, 2014, 10:08 AM EDT

    Sounders Union Soccer AP

    Oh, the challenges that await a man altering another man’s power rankings.

  9. US Soccer stands by Solo stance; Media backlash keeps on coming

    Sep 23, 2014, 9:06 AM EDT

    Mexico v United States Getty Images

    Hope Solo advocates have been angered by some columns claiming she shouldn’t be playing, while a national pundit gives his take on the story

  10. PST’s Major League Soccer player of the week: No question who was tops

    Sep 23, 2014, 8:09 AM EDT

    Bradley Wright-Phillips AP

    Bradley Wright-Phillips, you may now step forward to collect your prize of Internet-based high-fives.

  11. FIFA-outlined new head injury protocol will go up for vote

    Sep 23, 2014, 7:40 AM EDT

    West Ham United v Liverpool - Premier League Getty Images

    It’s hard to imagine the new head safety measures won’t pass quickly, and reports say they could be in effect by October.

  12. ICYMI: Insane 90-yard volley sets Bundesliga record for longest goal

    Sep 23, 2014, 12:14 AM EDT

    Stoppelkamp AP

    Newly-promoted Paderborn is shocking the Bundesliga and providing quite the show in the process.

  13. Americans Abroad Review: English-based Americans struggle, Green shocks parents Bayern

    Sep 22, 2014, 11:28 PM EDT

    Guzan Getty Images

    It was a rough weekend for Americans in England, but outside the country things a little more enjoyable.

  14. WATCH: Men in Blazers show debuts on NBCSN

    Sep 22, 2014, 10:51 PM EDT

    Screen Shot 2014-09-22 at 10.50.08 PM

    The full debut of Men In Blazers graced NBC Sports Network tonight with an assist from Adam Richman.

  15. Often mocked by fans, Wenger says Abou Diaby should command respect

    Sep 22, 2014, 10:04 PM EDT

    Diaby Getty Images

    Despite making just sixteen league appearances the last three years, the Gunners manager says Diaby should be commended for his perseverance.

  16. Report: Obafemi Martins close to Seattle extension and raise

    Sep 22, 2014, 8:41 PM EDT

    Martins AP

    Seattle’s lethal striker is set to cap the best year of his career with a new deal and a raise.

  17. Carlos Tevez still can’t get into the Argentinian national team

    Sep 22, 2014, 7:59 PM EDT

    Tevez AP

    The 30-year-old hasn’t been in the Argentinian side since 2011 when he missed a crucial penalty in a shootout with Uruguay.

  18. Great flop or greatest flop? German player executes ridiculous dive

    Sep 22, 2014, 7:07 PM EDT

    Siegert Getty Images

    A dive to end all dives gave the German third division some notoriety.

  19. Fans of Brazilian club throw rocks at team bus after huge loss

    Sep 22, 2014, 6:26 PM EDT

    Palmeiras Getty Images

    Things have gone horribly wrong for storied Brazilian club Palmeiras this year, and fans are making their feelings known.

  20. DC United extends Ben Olsen’s contract after bounceback season

    Sep 22, 2014, 5:54 PM EDT

    Olsen Getty Images

    The two sides agreed on a multi-year deal as Olsen calls DC United “my family and identity.”

Featured video

Week 5: Top five Premier League goals