After the exhilarating action in the 2018 World Cup, all eyes of football fans were trained towards the Premier League which kicked off on Friday, 9th August. Last year’s title was won in convincing fashion by Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City side, who finished 19 points ahead of arch-rivals and second place team, Manchester United.
This year’s Premier League title race will see Liverpool closer to City after their huge spending in the transfer window, while Chelsea’s new manager Maurizio Sarri, will certainly bring the Blues closer to Guardiola’s men.
Here are 5 things we learnt from the first round of matches in the Premier League.
1. Manchester City Is Already A Favourite To Win The League
Pep Guardiola revolutionised the game and won numerous trophies in his spell as Barcelona manager and he continued that form of winning trophies aplenty at Bayern Munich. After a trophy-less first season as manager of Manchester City, Guardiola and his team won the league title convincingly last year and also won the EFL Cup.
In their first match of the new season against Arsenal - and Unai Emery’s first match as manager of the Gunners, City played Arsenal off the park at the Emirates and showed that they are not going to give up their title this year.
Goals from Raheem Sterling and Bernardo Silva gave Manchester City the win, in what was a dominant display. City next 6 fixtures are against teams that they should roll over easily - Huddersfield, Wolverhampton Wanderers, Newcastle United, Fulham, Cardiff City and Brighton. We could possibly see the Sky Blues take a huge lead over their rivals by October!
2. Paul Pogba’s Defining Year Of His Career
Manchester United’s Paul Pogba was one of the key figures in France’s World Cup triumph earlier this year in Russia, which could be the spark to kick-start his career and fulfill his potential.
Pogba only returned to training just four days prior to Manchester United’s opening fixture against Leicester City on Friday but made himself available to manager Jose Mourinho, and shone brightly.
There have been reports that the French midfielder is unhappy at the club and that his relationship with Mourinho has broken down but he didn’t show any of his supposed unhappiness on the pitch when he led his team onto the field.
The Frenchman opened the scoring early in the match when he scored from the spot kick to give the Red Devils an early lead. With the inclusion of Brazilian summer signing Fred, in the team, Pogba had the freedom to attack and dictate play and he did so effectively - linking up play and tracking back to help his defenders.
Barcelona is reportedly interested in signing him in this transfer window but with the Premier League transfer window shut, United would not want to sell the World Cup winner.
It looks like Pogba will stay and have a major role in United’s challenge of City’s title.
3. Liverpool Continue Flamboyant Attacking Display
Liverpool had a brilliant summer transfer window, signing several quality players who add steel and creativity to the team. Jurgen Klopp’s attacking and pressing style of play could benefit hugely from the addition of these players. They showed so over the weekend when they defeated West Ham United 4-0 at Anfield.
Last year’s star performers for the Merseyside club, Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane were once again on the scoresheet, while the returning Daniel Sturridge also got a late goal when he was substituted onto the pitch.
Two of Liverpool’s new signings, Alisson and Naby Keita, started the match and both had a solid game - the latter putting in an all-round display, while the former not troubled as much.
What was lacking in the Liverpool side in the last few years is good squad depth but the new signings give Klopp many options off the bench, with the likes of Shaqiri, Lallana, Sturridge and Henderson available for him from the bench, over the weekend.
Liverpool could once again put up a strong bid for the title if they continue playing like they did against West Ham, thanks to a squad littered with quality players all around the pitch and a strong bench.
4. “Sarriball” Kicks Off In Fine Fashion At Chelsea
Maurizio Sarri comes into the English game and Chelsea with a reputation of playing a style of football that has got praise from all quarters, including Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola.
And we may well have seen glimpses of “Sarriball” - the Italian manager’s high-pressing, possession-based tactic, which worked wonders when he was the manager of the Italian club, Napoli.
In the Blues’ first game of the season against Huddersfield, Chelsea ran out 3-0 winners away from home, with goals from Kante, Pedro and summer signing, Jorginho. Sarri has said that the team would take at least a month to adapt to his “Sarriball” tactics, which could be a scary proposition for their rivals, considering their fantastic performance in their first game.
Arsenal is up next for Chelsea, and Sarri and his men will look to take advantage of the Gunners’ frailties which were on witness over the weekend against Manchester City.
5. Attack, Attack, Attack
Premier League clubs spent around £1.24billion in the summer transfer window, with many clubs signing quality forwards and the huge sums spent over the summer translated to the pitch as we witnessed goals in all matches, barring one.
From Wolves midfielder Ruben Neves’ beautiful free-kick, to Luke Shaw’s first goal for Manchester United, Liverpool attacker Sadio Mane’s brace, to Everton new-signing Richarlison wonderful finish, it was an exciting and attacking start to the Premier League!