“Let me entertain you,” crooned Robbie Williams in 1997. Two decades later, you could use it as the Premier League anthem and have people going “Yeah, that’s about right”. The self-proclaimed ‘Best League In The World’ returned with a bang as millions around the globe renewed their cable subscriptions that had been lying inactive for the past couple of months. At least the ones who could afford to, did. Others, desperate not to miss out on the action and unafraid to take risks, fired up their list of streams from last season. Whatever category you belong to, it was an exhilarating opening weekend of Premier League action and you should hang your head in shame if you missed it. And speaking of shame, it’s time, once again, to point and laugh at the weekend’s action. Here. We. Go.
Entertainment Value: This is what the Premier League is all about. Teams score when they want, referees send off whomsoever they please and managers pace about nervously in their technical areas, hearts pounding and eyes filled with tears as their team’s defence falls apart yet again. We saw some truly kamikaze defending and bonkers scorelines, which can only mean one thing: multiple 0-0 games next week.
Debut Day: As Lacazette wound his neck for a bullet header, Morata, Salah and Lukaku followed his lead and scored on their respective debuts. Anyone planning to build a replica of www.hasfernandotorresscoredforchelsea.com should start looking at other avenues of employment.
Wayne Rooney: Back on his old stomping ground, Rooney scored the winner against Stoke and seemed to resemble a fully functioning footballer again. Maybe all he needed was to feel like a big fish in a small pond again.
Huddersfield: I tipped them for relegation before the season started and I’m not changing my mind on the basis of one good result. But it’s nice to see the new boys landing a solid punch on one of the Premier League also-rans.
Burnley: The 12 men of Burnley won at Stamford Bridge for the first time in ages, allowing Sean Dyche another opportunity to moan about English managers not getting their due.
Manchester United: Top of the table with four goals scored and none conceded against a West Ham side that have not yet mentally returned from their holidays. Their new signings are firing on all cylinders, they look very strong as a unit and seeing as there’s only 37 more games to go, we should just hand them the title right now.
Watford: The Hornets stung Liverpool right at the death and snatched a dramatic point. ‘Snatched’ would be an exaggeration, though, as the point was almost handed to Watford on a platter.
Antonio Conte: If Conte had any of his real hair left, he’d have torn it all off by the end of the match against Burnley. Already struggling to fill the bench, he now has to make-do without his captain and his only other fit, senior midfielder. Indeed, when it rains, it really does pour.
Crystal Palace: It’s not a good look for a new manager to be beaten 3-0 by a newly promoted team in his first game. De Boer’s boys took one hell of a beating.
Cahill and Fabregas: One was the victim of a trigger-happy referee and the other let himself down with his lack of self-control. And my Fantasy Football team bore the brunt of their stupidity.
Defending: I could just copy whatever I wrote last season and paste it here because nothing seems to have changed. We’ve got more expensive defenders than ever before, but the goals still keep flowing. There’s something going horribly wrong somewhere and it’s now up to Tony Pulis to find it and plug that leak.
The Wounded Want-aways: It’s merely a coincidence that several players injured for the opening weekend are also the ones looking for a move away from their current clubs. Put away your tinfoil hats, nothing to see here, move along now.
Officially Poor: Refereeing performances like a few on the opening weekend will only make calls for adoption of technology louder. The biggest gripe with officials is their inconsistency; two similar situations may produce two completely different decisions, depending upon the state of mind of the referee. For example, if a referee is high (on life, obviously), he might send off a player for a lunge and let off another player for the same offence. Or if he had an argument with the missus on the way to the ground, you might end up with 8 vs 9 for 60 minutes. Eliminating such inconsistencies will go a long way towards restoring the officials’ standing among players than any ‘Respect’ campaign could.