Something something football is back something something.
Yes, the Premier League is back which consequently means Match of the Day is back which consequently means that Pan The Pundits makes its glorious return from its summer holidays. And by holidays I mean those three days I got off work to go and stand in a muddy field in Cumbria.
It’s the well paid Gary Lineker in the hosting seat joined by what I assume is this season’s A-Team – Big Al and Wrighty.
Gary doesn’t mess around either, throwing us right into the action with the last season’s champions, Antonio Conte’s Terminators. They’ve had an interesting summer with some curious transfer business but, as Gary noted, they hadn’t lost on the opening day since 1998. Which wasn’t foreboding at all. They were hosting Onyx and Burnley who had sold Andre Gray because his girlfriend was a bit famous and Michael Keane because his brother wanted a cup of tea. Thanks for those gags Onyx, the royalty cheque is in the mail.
And what a fine start to this season of PtP we got as it turns out the Terminators are human. Gary Cahill’s attempts at being a footballer ended in a red card before Cesc Fabregas got sent off for a round of applause. Fair play to Burnley, they were brilliant and were three up at half time with even world’s most average player Stephen Ward scoring a goal. Props to Conte for starting youngster Jeremie Boga then subbing him after 20 minutes for young Christensen who was then subbed for young Musonda. And that Morata kid that scored looked decent as well…
Even Big Al is trying hard to change up something this season and he spoke like someone who knew what he was talking about. Poor Wrighty never got a word in though…
We were off to Palace next where Jurgen Klopp’s pal Dave leading Huddersfield into the Premier League for the first time. Palace have their own bright new dawn with Frank De Boer in charge and big things are expected. He’s only spent about a fiver this summer though so expectations have been tempered after Pardew’s summer bonanza last season.
Well, De Boer’s passing style might be a bit of a struggle with Scott Dann and James Tomkins lurking at the back. Then again, everything Palace do is usually a struggle. Huddersfield looked decent with Big Steve up top and St. Mirren legend Aaron Mooy and deserved their three goals. And wait, in the post-match interview, they talked about xG in the stats. I blame OptaJoe.
Excellent. It’s my club Liverpool who were travelling to the United Nations who were now led by the Foreign Guy. Strangely, Mr. Guy only fielded eighteen nationalities as he looks to change the UN’s image. Jurgen was busy not selling Coutinho but still found the time to have two Chelsea outcasts in the squad and get to play Sadio Mane.
I think that defending can be filed under ‘questionable’. Then again, both sides will probably be happy with a point because they sometimes didn’t cover themselves in glory with Simon Mignolet seemingly unable to escape the clutches of his own goal line. It also takes a special skill to make Okaka look like he was a semi-competent player but somehow Lovren and Matip managed it.
We travelled back in time to Friday night when Leicester and Arsenal made history as the season started as pre-drinks for everyone before they go out clubbing. Arsene survived another season and even spent some of his considerable change on a player. Leicester kept Shakespeare in charge and there’s probably a pun in there somewhere but I’m far too lazy to look.
Well then. That happened. Mind when Olivier Giroud was a walking joke? He’s now the world’s best substitute, something that makes Ronald Koeman very excited indeed. Meanwhile, I’m pretty sure Jamie Vardy is beginning to look like a diet Connor McGregor without all the dumb tattoos and Petr Cech enjoyed a nice night running all over his box without ever getting near the ball. Special mention to Arsenal fans who beat their own Wenger Out record by suggesting it about 20 minutes into the game.
Jesus, we’ve still got four games to go on this. We get the first of many 25 year montages I think we’ll be getting this season. Curiously, the MotD graphic lists key things and players such as 15 August 1992 (opening day of the first season) and the late Ugo Ehiogu. So, it shocked me to see amongst those names etc. was Leon Britton. Obviously his name resonates in PL history far more than I realised.
To Brighton next where Pep’s Manchester City were the visitors. Brighton had resisted the urge to bin Chris Hughton like Newcastle have in the past because they believe he’s the man to lead them to relegation. That’s harsh probably and I’ll live to regret it when they win at Anfield this season but still. Pep meanwhile has seen what Big Sam did at Palace in January and thought, “that’s brilliant”. So, he’s signed (no exaggeration) 33 full backs. Watch them win the title now.
City won. Brighton offered little. As you were.
And now we’re heading into the games nobody really cares about. Everton hosted Stoke in a game between two sides that will finish between 7th and 10th. Every season. For the rest of eternity. Everton have spunked loads of money this summer on players for the first time ever so naturally every one of their fans seems to think they’re destined to win the league while Stoke have… erm… what have Stoke done?
Some lad named Rooney scored as Everton basically put one hand on the title. Right lads? Lads? Anyone? Saido Berahino still hasn’t scored for Stoke taking his goal drought into the decades region at this point. I feel it doesn’t get as much love as it should really.
We get our first Linker special with Wayne Rooney which is always going to be exciting. The little boy robot even managed to crack a little bit of a smile during it before his PR people kicked him off camera and he recited his lines perfectly.
We visit the Wall next who, like Stoke, have done little of note this summer. They were hosting Bournemouth who are doing their best to ensure they’re now taken seriously as being a mid-table powerhouse by giving a pensioner named Jermain a three year contract.
So Tactics Tony has got the Wall to play much the same as last season. That means that a giant centre half scores their goals and Salomon Rondon is still crap. Bournemouth were pretty with their passing and not much else. As you were.
We have the battle to replace Boro as the team I can’t be arsed watching as Southampton host Swansea. Both sides were missing key men who seemed to be on their way out of the clubs so plenty was expected of Premier League legend Leon Britton for Swansea. Key man for Southampton? Ah, who cares?
It finished 0-0. Southampton are the ones I care least about so they’re the real ‘winners’. Swansea can thank Legend Leon Britton.
So, what have we learned on the opening day? Well, Saido Berahino is so bad he’s ignored, Southampton have replaced Middlesbrough, Terminators are human, Liverpool can’t defend and Leon Britton means more to the Premier League than we ever knew.