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Premier League Matchday 1: The Good, Bad and the Bizarre

Throughout the Premier League season, Sebastian Noren will provide analysis from the week of games, talking about the good, the bad and the bizarre.

Opening Day is like Christmas, New Year’s Eve and Fourth of July all rolled into one for Premier League fans across the globe. Expectations are alway sky high. Some of the games managed to live up to the hype and some teams failed to impress.

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Reigning champions Chelsea were lackluster in their opening game against Swansea City. The defense looked slow and uncoordinated, Thibaut Courtois got sent off early in the second half after the Chelsea goalkeeper had brought down Bafetimbi Gomis inside the penalty area.

At that point it was 2-1 Chelsea, but Gomis scored on the penalty and tied it up at 2-2 which was the final score. Swansea were the closest side to grab a win, although Eden Hazard once again showed why he was voted Player of the Year last season as he continues to be absolutely vital for Chelsea.

Andre Ayew got a good start to his Swansea career, scoring a goal. Ayew were one of the better players for Swansea together with Jefferson Montero. Ayew has been a top performer in the French Ligue 1 for many years, so it’s not surprising that he’s fitting in nicely with Swansea.

Andre Ayew (om) during the French Ligue 1 match AS Monaco at Marseille on May 10, 2015 in Marseille, France****NO AGENTS----NORTH AND SOUTH AMERICA SALES ONLY----NO AGENTS----NORTH AND SOUTH AMERICA SALES ONLY****

Andre Ayew came to Swansea City from French Ligue 1

Manchester United got a 1-0 win over Tottenham, but were far from impressive. The Red Devils were fortunate that Kyle Walker scored an own goal in the first half, and United took that 1-0 lead into the locker room despite having a shot on goal.

Sergio Romero got the start in net for United, after manager Louis van Gaal decided that David de Gea was too unfocused to play. De Gea has been linked with a move to Real Madrid all summer, and fans will have to wait and see if Real can come up with a good enough bid for the Spanish international.

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Leicester City got off to a great start with a 4-2 win over Sunderland. The team went on a phenomenal run at the end of last season and managed to finish comfortably in the middle of the table after being down in last place for a majority of the season.

Riyad Mahrez scored twice for the Foxes to give new manager Claudio Ranieri a win in his first game in charge. Many people have predicted Leicester to go down this season, but if they can perform like they did against Sunderland, then they should have no trouble staying up.

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Bournemouth played their first ever game in the Premier League, but fell at home to Aston Villa 1-0. They have the smallest ground of any Premier League team, with about 12,000 seats at the Goldsands Stadium.

Although they started off with a loss, they can take some positives out of the match, and there’s no doubt that they will sell out every home game this season. Aston Villa were saved by new signing Rudy Gestede who came off the bench and headed in the winner in the 72nd minute.

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Crystal Palace took on newcomer Norwich City on the road and grabbed a 3-1 victory. It was a close game, and Norwich were denied a tying goal in the 74th minute after it was deemed dangerous play when Cameron Jerome hooked the ball into the net from inside the penalty area.  

Instead of a tying goal for Norwich, Yohan Cabaye scored for Palace in the 94th minute to make it 3-1. Cabaye got off to a good start for Palace after joining the team from Paris Saint-Germain in late July.

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Watford was the only promoted team that came away with a point on opening day after a 2-2 draw against Everton. They had the lead twice, but Arouna Kone tied it up for Everton in the 86th minute.

Ross Barkley had the other goal for Everton and he put a real screamer into the back of the net from distance. Miguel Layun and O.J. Ighalo scored for Watford.

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The biggest surprise of Matchday 1 took place on Sunday when West Ham United took a shocking 2-0 victory over Arsenal at the Emirates. West Ham played really well, but Arsenal were poor and Petr Cech had a nightmare debut in net for the Gunners.

On the first goal, it was a combination of poor defending and Cech’s decision to come off the line that resulted in Cheikhou Kouyate getting a free header inside the box, with Cech punching nothing but air. On the second goal, the defense failed to put pressure on Mauro Zarate and Cech tried to gamble and anticipate where the ball was going to go, but it ended up going the other way and into the back of the net.

The other big storyline from the game was 16-year-old midfielder Reece Oxford, who was in the starting lineup for the Hammers. Oxford had a sensational game in a holding midfield role, going up against stars like Mezut Ozil and Santi Cazorla.

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Newcastle and Southampton played a 2-2 draw as Shane Long came off the bench for Southampton and salvaged a point. Southampton did go up 1-0 in the first half after a goal by Graziano Pelle, but Papiss Demba Cisse tied it up before halftime after chesting the ball in behind Maarten Stekelenburg from close range after a nice cross by Massaido Haidara.

Newcastle took the lead early in the second half after a perfect header by new signing Georginio Wijnaldum after an excellent cross from the right side by Gabriel Obertan. Long’s equalizer came in the 79th minute.

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Liverpool got revenge over Stoke for the thrashing they suffered at the end of last season. That game ended 6-1 in favor of Stoke as they demolished Liverpool. The Reds and manager Brendan Rodgers went on a shopping spree during the summer, bringing in several new players, including $50 million striker Christian Benteke.

The game was a real snooze fest and if it wasn’t for a moment of brilliance by Coutinho in the 86th minute, Liverpool would have left Britannia Stadium with one point. Coutinho blasted the ball into the back of the net from long range and saved the day.

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Runners-up Manchester City closed Matchday 1 with a comfortable 3-0 win over West Bromwich Albion. Yaya Toure scored a brace in the first half and City had control of the action from start to finish. Vincent Kompany scored in the second half to make it 3-0 and that put City on top of the league.

Last season, Chelsea held the top spot from opening day, remains to be seen if City can do the same.

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The Good: Reece Oxford

The young West Ham player had a phenomenal first game against Arsenal. Getting your first Premier League start must be nerve-wracking enough, but the 16-year-old midfielder did it in front of a packed Emirates stadium and went up against some of the best players in Europe. He looked like a veteran and it looks like the fine youth academy at West Ham has produced another gem.

The Bad: Chelsea

The champions looked nowhere near match form and the sluggish performance against Swansea must be worrying manager Jose Mourinho. Chelsea are according to rumors, still trying to get John Stones from Everton, and his arrival would be much-needed as the central defensive pairing of John Terry and Gary Cahill didn’t look good at all.

The Bizarre: Petr Cech

Many pundits praised the arrival of Petr Cech at Arsenal and he was supposed to be the final puzzle piece as Arsenal make a real go at the title. His first Premier League game for the Gunners was awful and the disconnect between Cech and the Arsenal defense was apparent.

Fans are not used to seeing Cech make such mistakes during his time at Chelsea, and it remains to be seen just how much damage that year on the bench caused him.

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