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Week 1 of the Premier League: What did we learn?
Simon Winter
Simon Winter
August 15, 2018
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Born in the south east of Ireland, Simon put his life-long love of football to good use when he started a successful independent blog in 2010. That opened up an alternative route to a career in journalism, and having had work published across a number of sites and publications, Simon joined the staff at Spotlight Sports Group in 2018.

The new 2018/19 Premier League season kicked off at the weekend, over-loading the football senses with excitement, skill and frenzied action, alongside the usual delicious undercurrent of drama, controversy and contention.

10 fixtures, 900 minutes, 25 goals, 28 yellow and 1 red card later and we’ve just about recovered from our first taste of top flight domestic action of the season. Here are a few things we learned from the opening weekend of the Premier League season.

Read More: Premier League 2018/19 Outright Betting Tips and Predictions – Winner and Top 4

Pogba & Mourinho: The hate continues to burn bright

Man Utd manager Jose Mourinho

I think it’s pretty well established now that Paul Pogba and Jose Mourinho don’t see eye to eye, both literally and figuratively. After their relationship began to show signs of wear towards the end of last season, it was hoped that the summer break would allow wounds to heal and clean slates to be wiped.

However, after some seriously loaded back-handed compliments aimed in Pogba’s direction via Jose Mourinho’s World Cup punditry, and a transfer window filled with Barcelona links and Mino Raiola mischief, tensions between player and manager have never been higher.

Mourinho extended an olive branch to Pogba on Friday, naming him as Manchester United captain before their 2-1 opening night win over Leicester City, but despite scoring the game’s first goal and performing well, Pogba’s post-match comments restoked the embers of discontent.

It seems that no amount of pandering to Pogba will make up for his dislike of Mourinho and United’s current style of play under the Portuguese manager. You get the sense that Old Trafford is a tinder box awaiting a spark at the moment.

Read More: Premier League Expected Goals (xG) – Who Were the Winners and Losers Last Season?

Red hot Reds

Mo Salah Premier League

Seeing Liverpool perform live open-defence surgery has become a Premier League staple under German coach Jurgen Klopp.

It must be quite a thing for a defender to experience – a feeling of utter helplessness as the hordes of red shirts zip this way and that in the final third, leaving so much work to do that you don’t even know where to start or what shadow to chase. Trying to stop them is like trying to empty the sea with a sieve.

Liverpool were at their mesmeric best against West Ham and even though 4 goals is a fabulous haul for a first league game of the season, they really could have scored twice that.

As always with Jurgen Klopp’s teams – maintaining the frenetic pace they play at for an entire season is the biggest challenge. That’s a worry for a few months down the road however, for now, Liverpool are the best side to watch in the Premier League.

Read More: Is the Premiership really the most competitive major European league?

Emery needs a rethink

Unai Emery’s first competitive game in charge of Arsenal didn’t exactly go according to plan. The Gunners looked woefully unprepared tactically and mentally against Pep Guardiola’s rampant Manchester City.

Arsenal’s attempts to play out from the back through the high Man City press were comical at times and they could have been on the end of a much meatier scoreline had City been a little more clinical.

Naturally, it will take some time for the Arsenal players to absorb Emery’s new ideas and methods, though the Spanish manager should have been wily enough to play a little safer against the league’s most tactically aggressive outfit.

Next up for Arsenal is a trip across London to play Maurizio Sarri’s Chelsea at Stamford Bridge. It will be interesting to see if Emery chooses to stick to the philosophies and principles that saw his side come unstuck against City.

Read More: Premier League Team Focus: Will Arsenal be reborn under Unai Emery?

Promoted trio have stuttering Premier League auditions

If the trio of clubs promoted from the Championship last season were under any illusions about just how tough life will be in the Premiership, they were each served a healthy dose of reality over the opening weekend.

Big spending Fulham, who splashed out close to £100m on new players over the summer, started brightly against Crystal Palace, but were ultimately undone by some organised defending and clever, clinical attacking by the visiting Eagles.

Cardiff City were outclassed at Bournemouth, their 2-0 defeat a reminder of the sizeable gulf in class between the Premier League and the Championship. The Cherries crisp passing and intelligent movement proved a combination too difficult to counter for Cardiff, who must already be a little worried about the task facing them this season.

A Ruben Neves inspired Wolves made the most positive impact of the three promoted sides, coming from behind twice to rescue a point against 10-man Everton in front of a boisterous Molineux crowd. Nevertheless, 1 point from 9 for the three promoted clubs is a concerning opening weekend haul.

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Change isn’t always good

West Ham manger Manuel Pellegrini with Felipe Anderson and Jack Wilshere

While the teams who finished near the top of the Premier League last season only tentatively dipped their toes into the summer market, the clubs who finished closer to the foot of the table and some of the division’s new members embarked on some serious splurging.

Between them, Leicester City, Newcastle, West Ham, Brighton, Huddersfield, Wolves and Fulham signed over 60 new players in the summer transfer window. What started as smart, considered purchases in the early market exchanges, quickly turned into scattergun, talent grabs as the window progressed.

Of course, a high turnover of personnel at a club usually results in much longer periods of adaptation – instant synergy is an incredibly rare thing, and it looks as though the league’s most fervent shoppers are already suffering from post-window hangovers..

The 7 shopaholics collected just 1 point between them in their Premier League opening weekend fixtures. I hope they kept the receipts.

Read More: Premier League 2018 Summer Transfer Window: The Numbers

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