The Premier League is back – and true to form, the world’s most exciting division delivered six studs to the senses in the opening round of the new 2020/21 season.
Mikel Arteta’s rejuvenated Arsenal team were the first side to come flying out of the blocks in Saturday’s lunchtime offering, when the Gunners breezed past newly promoted Fulham with dismissive ease.
Victories for Crystal Palace, Liverpool and Newcastle against Southampton, Leeds and West Ham followed respectively, before another quartet of top-flight combatants took centre stage 24 hours later.
In Sunday’s first tussle, Leicester cruised to a 3-0 win at a Baggies side that lacked bounce, before Everton impressed in a 1-0 win at Tottenham.
On Monday, Wolves raced into an early unassailable lead to claim three points at Sheffield United, before a flattering 3-1 final scoreline saw a new-look Chelsea start with a victory at Brighton.
Let’s take a look at the players that we thought put in the best individual performances during the opening round of the new campaign in our first FST Premier League TOTW selection of the season:
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FST’s Premier League Team of the Week
Goalkeeper: Vicente Guaita
With a lengthy list of injured defenders to contend with, Crystal Palace needed keeper Vicente Guaita to shine against the Saints, and the 33-year-old didn’t let the Eagles down. The Spanish stopper made five saves in total to deny Southampton at Selhurst Park, and Guaita’s clean sheet allowed a depleted Palace side to claim three points.
Defence: Tariq Lamptey (Brighton)
It might seem a little strange to select the right-back from a team that were beaten 3-1, though Tariq Lamptey’s thrilling performance for Brighton against Chelsea made his inclusion a must. The ex-Blues academy starlet marauded down the Seagulls’ right flank with menace throughout, and having given Marcos Alonso a torrid time, Lamptey’s endeavours were rewarded with a 54th minute assist.
Defence: Gabriel Magalhaes (Arsenal)
One of two Brazilian debutants to make a fantastic first impression, summer signing Gabriel Magalhaes looked right at home at the centre of Arsenal’s three-man defence at Fulham on Saturday. The 22-year-old made a game-high matching two successful tackles and three clearances against the Cottagers, and the promising defender capped his display with a well-taken headed goal early in the second half.
Defence: Michael Keane (Everton)
England international Michael Keane was a rock at the heart of Everton’s defence against Spurs on Sunday, and the centre-half’s performance provided the platform for a successful opening day jaunt for the Toffees. Keane completed a game high nine clearances in total in North London, helping Everton to keep a frustrated Spurs side at arm’s length throughout.
Defence: Timothy Castagne (Leicester City)
Leicester City debutant Timothy Castange was actually deployed as a right back in his first Foxes run-out at WBA, though the versatile Belgian’s performance meant we simply had to find a spot for him on the opposite flank. The established international was the picture of composure and class for City, and the ex-Atalanta defender ensured it was an introduction to remember when he nodded home the game’s opening goal on 56 minutes.
Midfield: Willian (Arsenal)
Seasoned Premier League campaigner Willian stamped his authority all over his first appearance in an Arsenal shirt, pulling the strings from deep for his new employers in the Gunners’ fine win at Fulham. The ex-Chelsea star finished the contest with two assists and Willian was unlucky not to get on the scoresheet himself when an effort came back off the woodwork.
Midfield: Jeff Hendrick (Newcastle)
New Magpies midfielder Jeff Hendrick had a debut to remember on Saturday evening with a goal and an assist in Newcastle’s excellent 2-0 win at West Ham in the capital. The Republic of Ireland international first set up fellow new addition Callum Wilson for the deadlock breaker early in the second half, before he notched himself with an 87th minute thunderbolt.
Midfield: Jack Harrison (Leeds)
Leeds were able to take plenty of positives from their impressive showing against Liverpool at Anfield on Saturday – one of which was the performance of Jack Harrison. The 23-year-old’s brilliant goal on the 12 minute mark set the trend for a threatening display down the visitor’s left-flank, and the Man City loanee completed more dribbles (three) than any of his teammates on Merseyside.
Attack: Mohamed Salah (Liverpool)
Prolific Egyptian winger Mohamed Salah plundered an opening weekend hattrick for defending Premier League champions Liverpool, in the Reds’ hugely entertaining 4-3 win against the division’s new boys Leeds. The 28-year-old buried two spot kicks either side of a sumptuous effort on 33 minutes to claim his treble.
Attack: Jamie Vardy (Leicester City)
Last season’s Golden Boot winner Jamie Vardy put down a marker to his challengers this term with a two-goal showing for Leicester at West Brom on Sunday. The veteran poacher notched both efforts from the penalty spot, expertly slamming the ball into the side netting with each perfectly executed strike.
Attack: Raul Jimenez (Wolves)
Talismanic Mexican centre-forward Raul Jimenez was Wolves’ leading marksman last season, and the technically talented finisher hit the ground running in 2020/21 with a superbly taken 3rd minute hit for Wanderers in their 2-0 win at Sheffield United on Monday evening. The 29-year-old nearly had a second when his ferocious effort came back off the crossbar shortly after.