Takeaways of “The Big 6” After Matchweek 1 in the Premier League
On Friday, it felt incredible flipping on the first Premier League match of the new season after nearly three months without English “football.” Now that “Matchday 1” has ended, I want to reflect on the big six’s performances to assess where the giants stand now that pre-season is officially over.
First up, Arsenal. Going into this summer, it was apparent Arsenal required a handful of first-team signings to improve the overall quality of the side. Arsenal’s marquee signing this summer, defensive half Ben White, didn’t play well at all in their 2-0 loss to Brentford. Aubameyang and Lacazette missed the match due to illness, opening the door for youngsters Gabriel Martinelli and Folarin Balogun to take their place. Hector Bellerin also didn’t start, allowing Calum Chambers to fill his role at right-back. Arsenal looked like a mid-table side. They lacked the proper organization and quality a “big six” club requires to compete at the top of the table. Their bright point, however, was Emile Smith-Rowe, who looked a level above his teammates. It will be exciting to see how he progresses this season after signing a new five-year contract with the club. While it’s only the first game, and Arsenal missed a handful of regular starters, Gunner’s fans will hope this match was a one-off. Credit to recently promoted Brentford for not being star-struck in their first game back in the top flight after seventy-four years away. They played with confidence and class and deserved their convincing result against Arsenal. Ironically enough, Brentford’s last top-flight game was against Arsenal in 1947, where they lost 1-0.
Second up, Manchester United. The Red Devils put on a dominant display against Leeds United, winning 5-1 after full time. Paul Pogba assisted four goals and Bruno Fernandes scored a hattrick. Mason Greenwood started down the middle and scored a well-placed finish to put Man-U up 2-1 minutes after Leeds drew level. The game had everything, and it was apparent the sold-out crowd at Old Trafford of nearly 75,000 fans played an instrumental role in the result. United was organized and full of energy, which is a positive sign after how poorly they started last season. Daniel James filled in for an injured Marcus Rashford. Jadon Sancho started from the bench and got some minutes towards the end of the game. Rafael Varane didn’t feature in the match but got the crowd going before kickoff when he was officially unveiled as a United player.
Third up, Liverpool. The Reds played Norwich City in an entertaining match that finished 3-0 to “the Scousers.” It was a decent display that saw the return of their dominant defensive half Virgil Van Dijk, who’s been out for the last ten months with a cruciate ligament injury sustained at the beginning of last season. Van Dijk is an instrumental player, and when he was out, it was a significant factor in Liverpool playing as poorly as they did throughout the course of last season. This weekend he looked sharp and confident, playing a fundamental role in their side keeping a clean sheet against Norwich – which is a good sign for Liverpool fans! Kostas Tsimikas filled in at left-back for an injured Andrew Robertson, and he added pace and directness to the attack. Additionally, Diego Jota started in the #9 role instead of Roberto Firminho and scored in the 26th minute to put Liverpool up 1-0. Firmino was later subbed for Jota after an hour and got on the score sheet himself after being on the pitch for only four minutes. Mohamed Salah carried his exceptional form into the match from last season, bagging a brace and winning the player of the match award. All and all, it was a great result to kick off the season for the Reds.
Fourth up, Chelsea. This is a simple one. The reigning champions of Europe didn’t appear to skip a beat after the summer break. They handily defeated Crystal Palace 3-0, with goals from Marcos Alonso, Christian Pulisic, and youngster Trevoh Chalobah. Starters Kai Havertz, N’Golo Kante, and Thiago Silva didn’t start, as well as recent £98 million signing Romelu Lukaku. If this is how capable Chelsea are without those players, it’s going to be a frightening season for the rest of the league!
Fifth and sixth up, Manchester City and Tottenham, who both played each other at White Hart Lane in London. This match was the primetime event of the weekend. Recent league champions Manchester City started their new record signing Jack Grealish and Nuno Espirito Santo managed Tottenham for the first time in the Premier League. Manchester City opted not to start Gabriel Jesus, Kevin De Bruyne, and Aymeric Laporte. John Stones was also not in the matchday lineup for Manchester City. Tottenham was without Harry Kane, who recently returned to training from a two-day training holdout against his club; trying to push through a move to Manchester City. Son Heung Min started in Kane’s place up top, with controversial figure Dele Alli starting behind him in the #10 position. Youngster Jaffrey Tangana started at right-back for Tottenham ahead of Matt Doherty and Serge Aurier. To many’s surprise, Tottenham was by far the better team, winning 1-0 against Manchester City at home. Spurs were very capable of suppressing City’s sustained attacks and looked dangerous on the counters. Perhaps City still lacks some fitness after the break, but what stood out profoundly was their lack of a true #9 since the departure of Sergio Aguero this summer. They missed a focal point in the attack, a player capable of holding up the ball and distributing it accordingly. City had chances, but those chances didn’t compare to Tottenham’s. All in all, the 1-0 win for Tottenham was well deserved and was a statement for Nuno’s side. He’ll be happy to start his tenure with Tottenham with a win and a clean sheet.
Thank you for taking the time to read our synopsis of the big six after “Matchweek 1”. It’s so great to have the Premier League back and we look forward to bringing you more content throughout the season!
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