English Premier League Round 1: What we learnt

Ben Talintyre Roar Pro

By , Ben Talintyre is a Roar Pro

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    After a long wait, the EPL is back. Here’s what we learnt from the first weekend of action.

    Arsenal v Leicester (4-3)
    Well wasn’t that a season opener and a half? Both defences looked very vulnerable with seven goals conceded. Arsenal came out slender victors and they should be happy with that as that’s what you need to do. Scrape wins in games where you don’t play well.

    Alexandre Lacazette was able to score early on his debut but was rendered fairly ineffective after that. But it is his first game in the EPL and he scored you can’t ask for much more.

    Sead Kolasinac was very solid for a defence conceding three goals. He was a threat going forward assisting their second goal and pulling off an outrageous bit of skill in stoppage time at the end of the game. Very very promising.

    For the Foxes, Jamie Vardy is back to his best. He proved a threat all game and caused Arsenal a load of worry. Their defence let them down at the end but was a decent performance in the season opener.

    Oliver Giroud is invaluable. Giroud offers that other dimension as a target man and aerial threat that Arsenal lack. He is very underrated and gets them out of sticky situations time and time again.

    Watford v Liverpool (3-3)
    The quality of this one overall was poor. Watford started the game well 2-1 up at half time before Liverpool controlled majority of the second half going up 3-2 until stoppage time when Watford scored controversially from a corner where Britos was offside nodding in a goal.

    Roberto Firmino isn’t a striker. The problem with him playing up front is it stops him from getting as involved in the build-up play. He is an attacking midfielder playing as a striker.

    A striker is needed for Liverpool and a fit Dan Sturridge should be the way to go for them.

    Stefano Okaka is a strong, mobile, skilful forward who could be in for a big year. The big man upfront scored their first and looked threatening before being substituted for their recruit Andre Gray after 63 minutes. Gray looked alright but could take some time to adjust.

    Mo Salah’s stats look alright with a goal and an assist by winning a penalty but he has a long way to go. He has a very poor game and missed some key chances. His touches let him down and he failed to look too threatening. It is early days but he must put in some hard work on the training ground.

    Jordan Henderson looked unfit and was poor. Henderson struggled to prove to be a presence struggling to replace Lucas Leiva as defensive mid and proved that a defensive midfielder is needed at Liverpool.

    He has had a long layoff with a foot injury and may take a few weeks to hit his straps again.

    Liverpool’s defence is the same old story. It is utterly shambolic for a top club and it will cause them numerous issues going ahead. With a whole offseason to work on it more than Virgil Van Dijk is needed to make them more secure. They could be in for a long year if it stays like that.

    Zonal marking on corners doesn’t work. A lot of top teams employ this tactic of defence but it is too easy to run lines in between defenders for example the first goal. This tactic must be scrapped for the traditional man marking.

    West Brom v Bournemouth (1-0)
    Bournemouth looked good but failed to render anything in attack. They had 71 per cent possession and only managed two shots on target failing to test Foster. It is the same old sit back and counter West Brom who trust their defence.

    West Brom’s defence is strong. At home especially they are hard to crack an their defence looked organised and solid.

    Jay Rodriguez fits West Brom perfectly. He may have failed to score but looked very threatening. He offers a more dynamic attacking presence than Rondon and can see him scoring 10+ goals in the league this campaign. A good buy for the club.

    Bournemouth lack a true attacking midfielder. Their striking options are strong with Defoe, Afobe and King but they missed that attacking threat in behind their lead men. Ibe looked good when coming on but others in behind failed to create anything substantial.

    Southampton v Swansea (0-0 draw)
    Southampton were stronger but neither team were threatening the others defence. A quite slow game.

    Both teams defences look improved which is promising going forward.

    Dusan Tadic needs to step up this year and Sofiane Boufal needs more game time. Tadic has been the one in the making for Southampton for two years now and fails to string together strong performances. Boufal looked to threaten when he came on and with regular football he can be a shining light and one of the most improved.

    Everton v Stoke (1-0)
    Everton were good without being dominant. Both teams looked a little under prepared but defensively strong. Wayne Rooney scored back at Everton to the delight of the fans.

    Sandro Ramirez and Rooney could be a feared strike force. Ramirez showed sparks in a relatively non-eventful game.

    Morgan Schneiderlin is key. The protection he provided to Everton’s back line was exceptional and will be key to success this year for them. The 3-4-3 formation with two wing backs employed proved suitable for Everton and they could be a surprise package after good recruitment in the offseason.

    Palace v Huddersfield (0-3)
    Wow. I, like most, expected a lot more from Palace but take nothing away from Huddersfield who were very, very good.

    Steve Mounie, their new recruit, netted a brace and looked a big threat throughout the game. Aaron Mooy fitted into the Premier League with ease, setting up a goal and proving instrumental in their attack.

    Palace need to work on their defence. The 3-4-3 formation is becoming a popular one but their backs look vulnerable with Joel Ward and Patrick van Aanholt being caught too far up the field as wing backs trying to offer something in attack.

    Tim Fosu Mensah pulled off one of the tackles of the decade to save a goal but their marking and positional play at the back was poor and needs to be improved.

    Christian Benteke needs to make his presence felt. Benteke has strength likened to Romelu Lukaku and is a real hard man to mark. His fitness may have been lacking, as the season has just started, but he needs to get more involved and be physically imposing.

    Chelsea v Burnley (2-3)
    What a game. Two reds for Chelsea and they nearly got out of it despite being 3-0 down. Gary Cahill’s tackle was reckless but a red may have been harsh. As for Cesc Fabregas, it was a silly challenge in the desperation of the moment.

    Burnley caught them out and looked very good and should have no credit taken away from them as they deserved the win.

    Sam Vokes is a man to be wary of. He made a mess of David Luiz and Antonio Rudiger who are quality defenders. He was deadly throughout; a threat in the air and at his feet.

    Michy Batshuayi looked ineffective and Alvaro Morata, despite scoring, needs to continue to prove himself. Not starting is a bit concerning but he played well when he came on.

    Chelsea have work to do. This may be obvious but they lack serious squad depth. I have no doubt they will be improved next week but the depth is a big worry going forward with the EPL, Champions League and League Cups to compete in.

    Brighton v Manchester City (0-2)
    A good performance from Brighton but Manchester City had too much firepower in the end. A good game that was tighter than one might think.

    Manchester City are all class. They have so many options in attack and a strong defence. On that performance, squad depth and the options they possess they are the rightful favourites for the competition and my pick.

    There is room for Gabriel Jesus and Sergio Aguero up front – what a combination this could be. Both offered plenty and their potential together is something for City fans to get excited about.

    Pascal Gross is a very good buy for Brighton. He was the lone spark for Brighton and was a great debut performance. One to watch and include in your fantasy teams.

    Newcastle v Tottenham (0-2)
    A close game where Spurs barely got out of cruise control and looked the goods. Newcastle were competitive but the red card to Jonjo Shelvey took the wind out of them.

    Tottenham have one of the deadliest attacks. Dele Alli, Christian Erikson, Harry Kane and Heung-min Son will prove to be exceptional this season. Definite title contenders despite the lack of transfers this window.

    Shelvey never changes. He stomped on Alli’s leg under the ref’s nose and was sent off as a result. It is the same old Shelvey but it cost his team any chance of getting a point.
    Christian Atsu looked good, providing a different dimension to Newcastle’s attack. I saw enough in that game to suggest they will be staying up at the end of the season. It’s always nice to have Newcastle in the Premier League where they belong.

    Manchester United v West Ham (4-0)
    Manchester United were way way too good for a West Ham team who have made great transfers this window. Despite this, United were too classy and threatened on every attack. Defensively they did a fair job but still require improvement.

    West Ham had such high hopes but have been dealt a reality check with the new links not clicking in their season opener.

    Romelu Lukaku hit the ground running. Their big transfer started strong and put in a great game, scoring two goals. There were critics suggesting he would struggle to start strong at United but the Belgian proved them completely wrong.

    Paul Pogba and Henrikh Mkhitaryan looked superb. Pogba showed why he was brought over last year for a record fee playing one of the best games of his United career starting the year strong. I cried out for Mkhitaryan to get regular starts last year, and he did just what I expected, looking deadly and confident creating chances at will.

    West Ham’s boss, Slaven Bilic, could be the first one sacked this year. Yes, it’s big call after one game, but they looked poor.

    Take nothing away from though, United who showed why they are title challengers this year but West Ham’s structure and tactics were poor. They didn’t work well together and with a difficult trip to Southampton next week and Newcastle soon after, two more poor performances could see Bilic with serious problems after splashing the cash.