What was the VAR doing?
It was a thoroughly entertaining opening weekend of the Premier League, despite the fact that there were two scoreless draws.
There were four games that had a margin of three goals or more, yet the football was still great to watch. Liverpool, Manchester City and Manchester United scored 13 goals between them.
VAR intervened, which demonstrates that there is definitely a place for it in football – a decision overturned by VAR could make or break a manager’s future, so as long as the correct result is reached, who cares how much time it takes.
What would be of interest to the neutral spectator was the fact that the Premier League is wide open. Following the first match day, especially from a relegation perspective, all three promoted teams performed admirably.
At the other end of the table, there is a clear favourite at this stage: Manchester City, who were impressive themselves.
Top five coaches
1. Pep Guardiola (Manchester City)
2. Sean Dyche (Burnley)
3. Graham Potter (Brighton and Hove Albion)
4. Jurgen Klopp (Liverpool)
5. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer (Manchester United)
Coaches under the pump
Manuel Pellegrini (West Ham United) – It may be a bit early for coaches to be under pressure, but West Ham were thoroughly outplayed by Manchester City.
Liverpool vs Norwich City
Liverpool too good for Premier League newcomers
Liverpool took the lead thanks to an own goal from Norwich. Following that, Mo Salah doubled the lead to further strengthen their hold on the game. Salah took a corner that led to the third goal for Liverpool thanks to a header from Virgil van Dijk. Trent Alexander-Arnold crossed the ball to Divock Origi, who made it four-nil at half time. Norwich pegged one back thanks to some classy play.
Magic moment: Norwich’s goalkeeper Tim Krul’s brilliant save from a Trent Alexander-Arnold free kick in the second half.
Who stood out from the pack? Salah didn’t only score, but provided an assist. Salah passed and moved elegantly. He displayed why he is one of the best players in the world.
What went right? Liverpool were ruthless early, taking a two-goal lead fairly early. Marco Stiepermann from Norwich showed great endeavour getting forward and taking a good shot that was well saved by Liverpool goalkeeper Alisson.
What went wrong? Alisson was injured when he kicked a ball. It was extremely upsetting as it was an unlucky injury as no player was anywhere near him at the time. Therefore, he had to be substituted off. Moritz Leitner from Norwich hit the post in the second half.
West Ham United vs Manchester City
City five star
Riyad Mahrez had a shot on target, well saved by West Ham goalkeeper Lukasz Fabianski. Kyle Walker made a clever run and provided the assist for Gabriel Jesus, who scored on the near post. Manchester City made it two-nil in the second half thanks to a good break by Kevin De Bruyne who provided an assist for Raheem Sterling.
Mahrez helped to make the score three-nil with an assist for Sterling. Sergio Aguero made it four-nil, eventually, thanks to being able to retake a penalty that he initially missed.
Magic moment: Manchester City goalkeeper Ederson made a super double save to prevent West Ham from pegging a goal back when the score was two-nil in favour of City.
Who stood out from the pack? Raheem Sterling’s finishing was clinical.
What went right? Manchester City scored two goals in two minutes in the second half. Sterling scored a hat trick.
What went wrong? Mahrez wasted a good chance to score. Sterling put what looked like the third goal on a plate for Gabriel Jesus who finished well, but the goal was ruled out for offside. Issa Diop from West Ham gave away a penalty. He tripped over Mahrez in the penalty area. Fabianski saved the resultant penalty, but it had to be retaken due to encroachment.
Bournemouth vs Sheffield United
Bournemouth share spoils with Premier League new boys
Sheffield United squandered two points as they conceded a late goal to Bournemouth. Bournemouth would feel the same, as it was a pretty even contest between two teams striving to avoid relegation and perhaps harbouring ambitions of finishing in the top ten.
Magic moment: Billy Sharp, from Sheffield United, scored an equaliser late in the contest.
Who stood out from the pack? Nathan Ake showed why he is such an important part of the Bournemouth team.
What went right? Two out of six shots on target by the two teams combined resulted in goals.
What went wrong? Both teams would have left this game disappointed as they would have pencilled this game in as one where they would claim all three points on offer.
Burnley vs Southampton
Triple treat for the home side
Southampton had more possession and shots on target than Burnley, yet they lost the game comprehensively. The stats just don’t make sense, but at the end of the day these things happen in football.
Magic moment: When the game was in the balance at nil-all just before half time, Nathan Redmond of Southampton nearly scored, but was denied by Burnley goalkeeper Nick Pope, which was probably the defining moment in the contest.
Who stood out from the pack? Ashley Barnes scored a brace to help Burnley claim a comfortable victory. Southampton had three shots on target, so Pope deserves a mention.
What went right? Burnley scored three goals in 12 minutes in the second half, which is definitely something that went right if you look at it from a Burnley perspective.
What went wrong? Che Adams missed a golden opportunity to put Southampton ahead, but didn’t even hit the target.
Crystal Palace vs Everton
First day stalemate
The game finished goalless, despite the fact there were five shots on target. Everton had much more possession than Crystal Palace, they had one less shot on target than their opponents, which indicates that they wasted their possession.
Magic moment: Jordan Ayew was brilliantly saved by Everton goalkeeper Jordan Pickford. It was a one-on-one situation and the save was made with Pickford’s feet.
Who stood out from the pack? Jordan Pickford made a couple of pivotal saves for Everton in the second half.
What went right? Gylfi Sigurdsson took a good corner that was well blocked by Christian Benteke.
What went wrong? The conditions were difficult for both teams, with the wind extremely blustery. Sigurdsson squandered an opportunity to open the scoring, when he failed to get the shot on target. Max Meyer missed a golden chance to score for Palace in the first half. Morgan Schneiderlin was sent off following being dealt his second yellow card of the match to put Everton down to ten men in the last third of the second half.
Watford vs Brighton
‘Wat’ a horrible surprise
On paper, this game appeared to be a tight one, but of course life and football aren’t played on paper. The game proved to be a walk in the park from a scoreboard perspective for Brighton, despite the fact that Watford would have pencilled in taking all three points.
Magic moment: Jose Holebas took a crafty free kick near half time, that was astutely tapped over the bar by Brighton goalkeeper Matt Ryan.
Who stood out from the pack? Ryan, as Watford had three shots on target.
What went right? Florin Andone for Brighton came off the bench and scored the second goal of the game.
What went wrong? Abdoulaye Doucoure for Watford scored an own goal, which followed Watford losing the ball in midfield.
Tottenham Hotspur vs Aston Villa
Tottenham survive scare with late show
Following on from the opening goal for Aston Villa, scored by John McGinn. McGinn followed it up by setting up a chance for Trezeguet to score, but unfortunately for Villa, Trezeguet’s shot was blocked by Davinson Sanchez. Neil Taylor’s tackle helped Tanguy Ndombele scored a cracking goal on his Premier League debut. The story of the day was Harry Kane, due to the fact that he delivered when the game was in the balance, late on.
Magic moment: Tyrone Mings played a long ball to McGinn who scored newly promoted Aston Villa’s first goal of their 2019/20 Premier League campaign.
Who stood out from the pack? Harry Kane scored a brace late on to give Tottenham a 3-1 victory.
What went right? Lucas Moura had a header well saved by Aston Villa goalkeeper Tom Heaton. Mings blocked a shot from Kane that may well have gone in the back of the net, if not for Mings’ intervention. Erik Lamela had an opportunity to score stopped. Once again it was Mings who saved the day for Villa. Christian Eriksen had a free kick brilliantly saved by Tom Heaton.
What went wrong? Harry Kane had a shot go over the bar in the first half, following that effort up a few minutes later with a header over the bar once again. Moussa Sissoko failed to even hit the target early in the second half, when he had a golden opportunity to score a goal.
Leicester City vs Wolverhampton Wanderers
Spoils shared in deadlock
In a match where there were 23 shots in total combined from both teams, yet there was only three shots on target overall, there were no goals from either side.
Magic moment: Leicester City substitute Harvey Barnes had a descent effort from outside of the box saved by Wolverhampton goalkeeper Rui Patricio.
Who stood out from the pack? Leicester keeper Kasper Schmeichel didn’t only make a couple saves, but captained Leicester, leading the former Premier League winners from the front.
What went right? The defences of both teams were pretty solid, at least on paper, with both teams having trouble getting shots on target. It’s a positive for both teams that they managed to keep a clean sheet.
What went wrong? There wasn’t a goal scored over the 90 minutes, which is disappointing from the perspective of a neutral spectator. Leicester had more than two-thirds of possession and nearly double the shots, yet they only had a solitary shot on target. Raul Jimenez had a chance to break the deadlock shortly after the half time break, but butchered the opportunity, partly thanks to Kasper Schmeichel. Wolverhampton had a goal ruled out by VAR shortly after that, due to a handball by Willy Boly.
Newcastle United vs Arsenal
Gunners get off to winning start
Arsenal made a positive start to the season with a narrow victory over Newcastle United. They came into the match without their star striker Alexandre Lacazette, who was a big loss for the away side. He is such a clinical finisher that it was tough for Arsenal from an attacking perspective as they finished with just two shots on target.
Magic moment: The solitary goal scored was a quality chip over Newcastle’s goalkeeper by Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.
Who stood out from the pack? Aubameyang, for the obvious reason – scoring the only goal of the game.
What went right? The goal was an exquisite finish.
What went wrong? There were only four shots on target from a total of 17 shots, which is less than one shot on target from every four shots.
Manchester United vs Chelsea
Red devils leave the Blues red-faced
Who would have thought it would have been a one-sided affair! On paper, it promised to be a fairly even contest, but it was the antithesis – at least as far as the scoreboard was concerned. Sometimes the scoreboard doesn’t tell the story and give the full picture. That was the case in this encounter, with Chelsea unlucky to be losing one-nil at half time and eventually lose four-nil.
Magic moment: Emerson had a shot well saved by Manchester United goalkeeper David de Gea in the second half.
Who stood out from the pack? The player who was constantly on the bench under the management of Jose Mourinho: Marcus Rashford.
What went right? Rashford justified the decision to sack Mourinho as he scored a brace, while Harry Maguire substantiated why Manchester recruited him, helping keep a clean sheet.
What went wrong? Chelsea lost the game comprehensively, even though they had more possession and shots on target than Manchester United. That implies United were extremely efficient, while Chelsea weren’t. The Blues hit the frame of the goal a couple of times in the first half.