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Takeaways from Premier League Opening Weekend

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There's nothing quite like the opening weekend of the Premier League season. Fresh faces are unveiled, new managers take the helm, contenders look to make an emphatic statement, and in this year's case, new technology takes a sizeable share of the limelight.

And while VAR certainly left its footprint as the 2019/2020 Premier League season burst into life, there was plenty more on offer as the first part of the 38-piece jigsaw that is the twisting, turning road of the English top flight was completed.

While we should always take things with a pinch of salt, there's no harm in having a crack at a forecast. Here are the most notable things to take away from the first weekend of the season.


The champions have picked up from where they left off

It was a feeling of the morning after the night before for English champions Manchester City. Having overcome a decade-long curse by retaining the Premier League title, they proved exactly why most are tipping them to do it for an unprecedented third straight time - and how satisfying it must have been that they bettered Liverpool's opening night blowout of Norwich City.

They thumped five goals past a helpless West Ham United side at the London Stadium, flexing their proverbial muscle at the top of the food chain with the bottomless pockets of their owners throwing up more treats for fans of the Citizens.

Image: RacingPost
Raheem Sterling continues to flourish under Guardiola, bagging a clinical hat-trick employing some goalmouth cool that just a few years ago seemed inconceivable for a player like him. VAR may have prodded its nose where it wasn't wanted throughout the game, but it gave the thumbs up to his delightful lobbed finish over Fabianski for his second.

Things weren't plain sailing right from the off however, even if the scoreline would suggest. West Ham made them play in the first half, and Guardiola acknowledged that there is room for improvement - still a scary proposition considering the firepower this team are packing.

They finished opening weekend at the top of the table, and will have every belief that they can defend that number 1 spot for the remaining 37 weeks of the campaign.

Image: Nettavisen
VAR announces itself to the Premier League, along with some new rules

Saturday's lunchtime kick-off wasn't only a chance for City to show themselves off to the world, but also the video assistant referee technology. And officials made the most out of the opportunity to say the least.

It could have been a six-goal win for the Citizens had Gabriel Jesus' goal not been ruled offside. Sterling's arm was offside by an inch, and with the lines blurred over the offside rule, questions still loom about the accuracy of the technology in terms of timing.

Image: NWE Mail
Man City learned their lesson in their crushing defeat to Tottenham in last season's Champions League semi final. Celebrations in the Premier League will now be taken with a pinch of salt, the "checking" message on the VAR screen will go on to haunt every team in the top flight eventually.

The margin for error is substantial in a thumping like that - but it had a more significant impact when Wolves and Leicester started their seasons the next day. Wolves thought they had stolen the game when Leander Dendocker struck the back of the net, but less than a minute later the goal was snatched out of their hands like a bully snatching a classmate's lunch money. An unintentional and unavoidable piece of hand contact on the ball by Boly meant it was ruled out.


And of course there's another sight to get used to. Goal kicks. Yes, your eyes weren't deceiving you, the ball no longer has to leave the penalty area from the goal kick. Teams can play it short with less danger and building from the back will be as popular as ever now.

Liverpool's defensive problems bubble to the surface

The ghosts of Liverpool's defensive struggles made an alarming cameo on opening night. There is one fact in particular that will leave Jürgen Klopp scratching his head: Norwich City managed more attempts on goal at Anfield than any team had done last season.

Whether it was the surprise factor, or lack of match fitness that saw the Reds tail off towards the end of the game, the injury to goalkeeper Alisson will give Liverpool a stern test in the opening weeks of the season.

Image: St. Mary's Musings
The Brazilian shotstopper was downed with a calf injury leading to the debut of Adrian who will look to hold the fort in the absence of the Reds' number one. Alongside van Dijk, Becker was instrumental in Liverpool conceding the least amount of goals last season, but there's already been a spanner thrown into those works after just one game.

Norwich have plenty to offer

Props to Norwich City though, for a newly promoted team, starting the season at the cauldron of the European Champions is daunting. They played without fear and attacked without caution. At this rate they should be a reliable source of entertainment.

Whether that means they go down or survive the drop is a long question that we can barely scratch on, but either way we are going to see a lot of goals coming and going.

Image: Liverpool Echo
The Canaries had something to celebrate on the long Friday night trip back home from Anfield, as Teemu Pukki got them off the mark - a perfect way to kick things off for the reigning Championship Player of the Season.

Daniel Farke's side may have been handed a harsh reintroduction to life in the Premier League, but they will bring plenty of edge to the league over the next 9 months.

Lampard's baptism of fire

Frank Lampard landed his dream job this summer. After an excellent stint with Derby, opportunity knocked, far earlier than expected, and he found himself in charge of the Blues. One of their own.

Things went well, and despite the astronomical Eden Hazard-shaped void that lingered over the club, combined with their transfer ban, it was all going swimmingly in the opening stages as Chelsea took the fight to a nervous Manchester United at Old Trafford.

Image: Metro
A spot-kick from Rashford was the only thing separating the sides at half-time, and then some schoolboy errors surrendered the game to United who ran away with it. Striking the post twice and controlling a large spell of the game, Lampard and his men had nothing to show for it.

Kante and Rudiger were missed badly in midfield and the inability to bring in new players took its toll. It was never going to be easy for Lampard, and a 4-0 loss to United would be a disaster had it not been for their current situation. It will be a rocky road and Lampard will be cringing at the scoreline - but it's only one game, I guess.

It's a good job Eriksen didn't leave

We were barely 24 hours through the new season and already a seismic shock was on the cards. Newly promoted Aston Villa had taken the lead in North London and were closing in on victory.

Eriksen's substitution into the game - something that seemed to be impossible with all the transfer talk surrounding him at the end of the window - galvanised the Spurs side and set up for Ndombele's debut goal before Harry Kane iced the game and handed Spurs all three points.

Pochettino's men evaded a calamitous start but with the window now closed for English sides, they are going to want to keep hold of their Danish star.

Image: Cartilage Free Captain

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TheSportMatrix • We Live For Sport: Takeaways from Premier League Opening Weekend
Takeaways from Premier League Opening Weekend
There's nothing quite like the opening weekend of the Premier League season. Fresh faces are unveiled, new managers take the helm, contenders look to make an emphatic statement, and in this year's case, new technology takes a sizeable share of the limelight.
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TheSportMatrix • We Live For Sport
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