One of the key figures behind the US women’s national soccer team’s success, Tony Gustavsson is set to be named the new Matildas head coach.
With the first week of the new season of the English Premier League now complete, it was evident that some teams coped better with the shortened break than others. Here are my takeaways.
Fulham 0-3 Arsenal
Arsenal stamped their authority on the game early and never looked back. It was great to see the new signings firing.
Gabriel did great defensively and was able to bag a goal on debut. Meanwhile, Willian contributed massively by assisting all three Arsenal goals.
With plenty of speculation regarding Alexandre Lacazette potentially being sold, he had a good start scoring his first goal of the season.
In attack, it now seems they have more assets at their disposal with Willian’s arrival, but Arsenal fans will be monitoring their defence closely in the coming weeks.
Crystal Palace 1-0 Southampton
An early goal from Wilfried Zaha separated the two sides, but Crystal Palace certainly had Vicente Guaita to thank. He made five crucial saves to keep Southampton scoreless and effectively secure three points for his team.
One of the leading goal scorers last season, Danny Ings, had a great chance with a header late in the game but could not beat Guaita.
Crystal Palace was quite unfortunate not to have scored more goals. Zaha was denied a second goal as he was deemed offside by VAR.
Southampton dominated possession but seemed vulnerable to Palace’s counterattack. The wingers Jeffrey Schlupp and Andros Townsend got forward and received long passes, while repeatedly whipping balls into the box. A lack in the quality of pass and positioning saw Palace fail to capitalise.
Liverpool 4-3 Leeds
Most likely the match of the week, we saw a fearless Leeds side who took it to the defending champions. In an entertaining goal-fest, whenever Liverpool scored, Leeds had a response soon after – at least until the final goal of the game.
Although there was a Virgil van Dijk defensive error involved, we saw individual brilliance from Jack Harrison, and a willingness to get numbers forward into the box from Leeds.
If they continue to play aggressively as we saw in their first game, Leeds are capable of causing problems for any side in the league.
Overall, they just couldn’t hold up and were a bit unfortunate defensively. They conceded two penalties and were killed off late in the game by Mo Salah.
Encouraging signs for Leeds fans, but the defending champs took care of business at home eventually.
West Ham 0-2 Newcastle
Newcastle had lost on opening day for the past three seasons, but were able to get the win against a hapless West Ham team.
New signing Callum Wilson scored on debut for the Magpies. Jeff Hendrick also starred for the away side, scoring a goal of his own and providing an assist for Wilson.
This was a missed opportunity for the Hammers to collect points at home, as their upcoming fixtures are unforgiving. Seven of West Ham’s next eight games are against last season’s top nine teams, including Arsenal, Wolves, Leicester, Spurs, Man City, Liverpool and Sheffield Utd. Good luck.
West Brom 0-3 Leicester
In an uneventful game overall, Leicester visited West Brom and took care of business. West Brom didn’t threaten Leicester’s defence at all, and Jamie Vardy kicked off his campaign with two goals from the spot. New signing Timothy Castagne became a part of the ‘scoring a goal on debut’ club.
Spurs 0-1 Everton
Everton were able to capitalise on a set play as they escaped London with the three points. Everton handed starts to new signings James Rodriguez, Abdoulaye Doucoure and Allan. The trio all made a strong impact on debut.
Under Carlo Ancelotti, Everton already look like an improved squad, and they showed against Spurs they are not be underestimated. James was hugely impressive with his ability to execute the right pass and threaten the goal with his left foot.
It could have been a much uglier scoreline for Tottenham, as Richarlison had many opportunities to score but was not clinical.
Ultimately, Dominic Calvert-Lewin pounced on a header from a free-kick unchallenged, leaving Spurs centre-backs Toby Alderweireld and Eric Dier red-faced.
Spurs had chances in the first half, most notably a volley from newcomer Matt Doherty that couldn’t beat Jordan Pickford. However, their second-half performance was flat and uninspired.
Sheffield Utd 0-2 Wolves
Wolves went to Bramall Lane and did their damage early. Sheffield Utd could not recover after conceding two rapid goals in the first six minutes. Wolves had played on the counter-attack, one of their main strengths, to earn their first goal. It was followed by a header from Romain Saiss off a corner.
In the second half, Wolves had their chances to score more but couldn’t capitalise. Meanwhile, Sheffield managed to hit the post once and also had a header turned away by Saiss.
Overall, it was an impressive performance from Wolves and they’ll look to be battling for European spots yet again.
Brighton 1-3 Chelsea
Brighton battled hard against a talented Chelsea side but to no avail. Brighton had equalised in the second half until a Reece James rocket from outside the box gave the Blues the lead once again. Kurt Zouma scored in the 66th minute to kill the game and secure all three points.
What stands out for Chelsea is their depth. They had an amazing transfer window. The players that they were missing for the game against Brighton include Ben Chilwell, Thiago Silva, Hakim Ziyech and Christian Pulisic.
They also had Tammy Abraham, Ross Barkley and Cesar Azpilicueta on the bench. Watch out for Chelsea.