Throughout the Premier League season, Sebastian Noren will provide analysis from the week of games, talking about the good, the bad, and the bizarre.
The Premier League has finished up its second week of play. We saw Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Paul Pogba shine bright at Old Trafford, while champions Leicester got the first point of the season after a raw against Arsenal. Here’s a full rundown of what happened over the opening weekend.
Zlatan Double Secures Win For Man United
What Happened: Manchester United grab a 2-0 win over Southampton on Friday at Old Trafford, with Ibrahimovic scoring both goals in his home debut.
It was a real buzz around and inside the stadium as Zlatan was making his first appearance at Old Trafford, and Paul Pogba was making his first game for United since his return from Juventus. The French midfielder was brilliant in midfield and showed why United decided to throw the checkbook at Juve in order to get him back to Manchester.
Ibrahimovic opened up the scoring in the 36th minute with a nicely placed header from inside the penalty area after a ball in by Wayne Rooney. The Swede added a second from the penalty spot in the 56th minute. United did a good job at dictating play and creating space for the attacking players, with Zlatan and Anthony Martial having several good opportunities.
Seb’s Take: The talk about Ibrahimovic not being able to cope with the physicality of the Premier League was laughable even before he made his debut for the team, but he’s already shown that he isn’t like other 34 year olds. Zlatan overpowered the Southampton defense on the opening goal, and showed his composure from the penalty spot in the second half. Pogba dominated the midfield and didn’t look like he’s only been training with the team for about 10 days.
Man City Picks Up Win Over Stoke
What Happened: Manchester City followed up their opening day win over Sunderland by beating Stoke 4-1 on the road on Saturday.
Sergio Aguero and Nolito scored the goals for the Manchester side as Aguero scored the first two goals of the game in the opening half. The Argentine opened up the scoring in the 27th minute from the penalty spot, and added a second in the 36th minute with a header. Stoke were also awarded a penalty, with Bojan Krkic converting from the spot in the 49th minute to put Stoke within one. But two late goals from new signing Nolito handed City a comfortable win.
Seb’s Take: Aguero has started off strong for City, and it’s turning into quite the duel with Zlatan Ibrahimovic over who is the best goalscorer in Manchester. Nolito has had a good start to his City career, and getting off the mark in this match will surely boost the Spaniard’s confidence. Manager Pep Guardiola once again opted to go with Willy Caballero in net instead of Joe Hart.
Hull Picks Up Second Straight Win
What Happened: Newcomers Hull City picked up another win on Saturday, beating Swansea City 2-0 on the road after goals by Shaun Maloney and Abel Hernandez.
Hull picked up a shocking win over champions Leicester City in the season opener, despite only having 13 fit first-team players. The players seem to have been able to keep focus on the game and block out all the uncertainty surrounding the club away from the pitch.
Swansea dominated possession and created a lot of chances, but failed to get many shots on target. After a scoreless first half, it was the substitute Maloney that gave the visitors the lead in the 79th minute. Maloney then assisted Hernandez for the second goal in stoppage time that sealed the deal for the Tigers.
Seb’s Take: Kudos to the Hull players for coming together and putting on two great performances to open up the season. The club seems to be in total disarray off the pitch, highlighted by manager Steve Bruce leaving the club just three weeks before the start of the season due to a lack of signings. They will however need to invest in new players if they are to survive, despite the good start.
Tottenham Edge Out Palace
What Happened: Victor Wanyama became the hero for Tottenham as he scored his first goal for his new club in the 1-0 victory over Crystal Palace at White Hart Lane on Saturday.
Spurs got their first win of the season, after being held to a 1-1 draw last weekend against Everton. The home side dominated play and created a lot of chances, but it took until the 83rd minute for them to find a winner as Wanyama headed the ball into the net from close range after a Tottenham corner. Manager Mauricio Pochettino said after the match that he was pleased with the performance, but added he was a little disappointed they didn’t score more goals
Seb’s Take: Just like Pochettino said, Spurs should have scored more goals, but they will surely be happy to bank the three points and focus on the game against Liverpool on Sunday. They look solid defensively and Pochettino will just have to find a way to get the offense firing like it did last season.
Chelsea Gets Another Late Winner By Costa
What Happened: Chelsea grabbed their second 2-1 win, as the Blues defeated Watford on the road on Saturday after a late goal by Diego Costa.
Just like in the season opener against West Ham, it was Costa that provided the winner for the Blues with a late goal. After a scoreless first half, Watford took the lead in the 55th minute through Etienne Capoue. But after making three changes, bringing on Victor Moses, Michy Batshuayi and Cesc Fabregas, Chelsea turned the game around.
Batshuayi scored his first goal for Chelsea in the 80th minute as he made it 1-1. Costa then scored the winner in the 87th minute on an assist by Fabregas.
Seb’s Take: Chelsea got away with it again, and this was the type of game where they might have dropped points last season. Costa keeps on being a polarizing figure, and there is a good argument that he shouldn’t have been on the field again, as just as in the game against West Ham, he did some questionable things while on a yellow card.
Barry Goal Seals Win For Everton
What Happened: Veteran midfielder Gareth Barry hadn’t scored a goal for Everton in over two seasons, but the Hastings native found himself the hero on Saturday as the Toffees took a 2-1 win over West Bromwich Albion.
WBA got off to a good start, as Gareth McAuley gave the home side in front in the 9th minute. Everton got a 1-1 draw against Tottenham on opening weekend, and saw more of the possession against WBA. They created several chances, and Kevin Mirallas scored the equalizer right before halftime. Barry scored the winner in the 60th minute to give Ronald Koeman his first win as Everton manager. Barry’s last goal came during the 2013/14 season.
Seb’s Take: Koeman is slowly putting his mark on Everton, and revealed after the game that star striker Romelu Lukaku, who came on as a first-half substitute, will stay at the club for at least one more season. There’s been heavy speculation that the Belgian international was seeking a move away from Goodison Park.
Burnley Shock Liverpool
What Happened: Newcomers Burnley stood for the upset of the week as they took a 2-0 win over Liverpool at Turf Moor on Saturday after goals by Sam Vokes and Andre Gray.
Vokes got the Clarets on the scoresheet just two minutes in, and Gray extended the lead to 2-0 in the 37th minute. Liverpool absolutely dominated possession, but Burnley did a great job of taking advantage of the few chances they got. Liverpool won a 4-3 thriller over Arsenal in their opening game, but looked lackluster against Burnley. Manager Jurgen Klopp said after the game that Liverpool still had a lot to learn.
Seb’s Take: The Liverpool hype was strong coming into the season, with Klopp having a full preseason to work on his system. The win over Arsenal fed the hype machine, but the loss to Burnley shows that they are not the finished product yet.
Leicester Still Looking For Win
What Happened: Champions Leicester City is still searching for the first win of the season, as they followed up their 2-1 defeat to Hull with a scoreless draw against Arsenal at King Power Stadium on Saturday.
The game was a fairly drab affair, that only came alive towards the end of the game. Leicester were denied a penalty by referee Mark Clattenburg in the 88th minute when Hector Bellerin brought down Ahmed Musa inside the penalty area.
Seb’s Take: Leicester might be suffering from a small case of title hangover, but they should have been given a penalty at the end and could easily have had a win. Arsenal are still looking a bit frail at the back, but they must be pleased to keep a clean sheet after letting in four against Liverpool.
Stuani Leads Middlesbrough To Victory
What Happened: Christian Stuani grabbed both goals as newcomers Middlesbrough took a 2-1 win over Sunderland at the Stadium of Light on Sunday.
Stuani opened up the scoring in the 13th minute. The Uruguayan striker made his first appearance of the season, and made an immediate impact. He added a second right before halftime to give the visitors a comfortable lead. Sunderland created most of the chances, but it took until the 71st minute for them to pull one back through Patrick van Aanholt. Middlesbrough, with American goalkeeper Brad Guzan in net, held on to grab their first win of the season.
Seb’s Take: Middlesbrough has done some smart signings over the summer to bolster the squad. They will need to win games like this against other sides that will most likely be in the relegation battle, and getting points on the road could turn out to be the deciding factor for a team like Middlesbrough.
West Ham Edge Out Bournemouth
What Happened: West Ham United grabbed a 1-0 win in their first ever Premier League game at the London Stadium after a goal by Michail Antonio.
The official attendance for the game was announced at 56,977, which is a mere 23 people away from full capacity as it has been set at 57,000 for security reasons. West Ham, who were without Dimitri Payet and Andy Carroll, had a difficult time breaking down Bournemouth. But the home fans would get a reason to celebrate as Antonio scored what turned out to be the winner in the 85th minute.
Seb’s Take: It’s clear that West Ham is a different side with Payet on the pitch. In the narrow loss to Chelsea on opening weekend, the Hammers looked like a more confident team when Payet came off the bench. Now they were without him for the whole game, but they managed to grab a narrow win.
The Good: Zlatan Ibrahimovic
The 34-year-old Swede was questioned by fans and pundits alike before making his debut for Manchester United. Would he be able to cope with the physicality of the Premier League? You have to wonder if the people raising these questions have ever seen Zlatan play. He’s an absolute beast that has never had any problem with the physical side of the game. He’s in great shape, and with two goals against Southampton in his Old Trafford debut, the United fans have already fallen in love with the man from Malmö in southern Sweden.
The Bad: Mark Clattenburg
Clattenburg has a tendency to put himself in the center of attention, and on Saturday he robbed Leicester of a clear penalty towards the end of the game. Ahmed Musa sped past Hector Bellerin who chopped him down from behind inside the penalty area, but Clattenburg made sure that we would be talking about him after the game by not opting to blow his whistle.
The Bizarre: Liverpool
Liverpool went from being a free-flowing attacking machine that put four past Arsenal in their season opener, to be shut out by newcomers Burnley just a week later. Consistency is a must if they are to live up to the hype and compete for a top 4 finish. They still have some question marks in defense, and Klopp might want to look to strengthen the left back position before the end of the transfer window as Alberto Moreno has been shaky for a long time on the defensive side of the game, and was dropped in favor of midfielder James Milner seems pretty telling.