LONDON – The first weekend of the new Premier League season made it clear that Manchester City and Liverpool are the clear favorites to battle it out for the title once again while leaving a big question mark over Chelsea’s prospects.
Just one point separated the City and Liverpool last season with City crowned champions with 98 points to Liverpool’s 97 and the two sides hit the ground running at the start of the new campaign.
Liverpool kicked off the season with a 4-1 thrashing of newly promoted Norwich City on Friday night. Mohamed Salah, Divok Origi and Virgil van Dijk on the scoresheet and Roberto Firmino winning nearly everything in attack.
The negative note for Liverpool was a calf injury suffered by keeper Alisson Becker, which could sideline the Brazilian for several weeks.
Manchester City travelled to the London Stadium for a potentially difficult game away to West Ham United on Saturday lunchtime and made the difficult look easy with a 5-0 win.
Raheem Sterling netted a hat-trick as Pep Guardiola’s men seemed to say “anything you can do, we can do better,” in a game which also saw the first use of the Video Assistant Referee (VAR) system in the Premier League.
The VAR needed three minutes to rule out a Sterling goal for a marginal offside and is sure to open the debate which continued over the weekend.
Harry Kane hit the ground running with two late goals as three goals in the last 17 minutes saw Tottenham come back from a goal down to newly promoted Aston Villa to claim a 3-1 win, with new signing Tanguy Ndombele scoring the opener.
Despite the defeat Aston Villa showed they should be able to cope with their return to the top-flight as did Sheffield United who can thank veteran striker Billy Sharp for a late goal which gave them a point away to Norwich City.
Manchester United got off to a flying start to the season with a 4-0 win at home to Chelsea with a result that is going to boost morale at Old Trafford after the disappointments of last season.
Marcos Rashford opened the scoring with a first half penalty before United ran riot in the second half with Rashford scoring a second, Anthony Martial adding a third and Daniel James netted the fourth on his debut.
The heaviest opening day defeat in Chelsea’s history is sure to raise questions over Chelsea’s prospects for the season ahead of the European Supercup against Liverpool in midweek.
A goal from Patrick-Emerick Aubameyang just before the hour gave Arsenal a 1-0 win away to Newcastle United and handed Steve Bruce a defeat on his home debut after replacing Rafael Benitez at St James Park.
It was 0-0 between Leicester City and Wolves in a cagey affair at the King Power Stadium, although the VAR was used again to rule out a goal for the visitors after it was ruled the ball had struck and attacking arm before Leander Dendoncker put it into the Leicester net.
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The weekend threw up some surprises with Brighton and Hove Albion, who struggled badly at the end of last season, winning 3-0 away to Watford, while Crystal Palace introduced want-away forward Wilfred Zaha in the second half of their 0-0 draw at home to Everton.
Finally Burnley striker Ashley Barnes was on target twice as his side defeated Southampton 3-0 to get the flying start coach Sean Dyche will have wanted after last season’s brief European adventure left them in and around the relegation zone for much of the campaign.