Well, would you look at that – a new Premier League season. Not a lot has changed, really – Mo Salah scores on the opening day, Arsenal are still bobbins, Leeds cannot defend at Old Trafford and Harry Kane still wants to leave Spurs.
The new season got underway at one of the promoted clubs, Brentford. They were entertaining Arsenal and, according to the Gunners fans, everyone was there just to watch the Arsenal.
Yeah, about that. Without wishing to take too much away from the Premier League new boys who were very, very good but just how utterly rubbish were Mikel Arteta’s men?
Rather than spending most of the summer trying to pay £40m for a very average goalkeeper, time could have been spent addressing bigger issues – and there are too many for me to list here. Mind you, it doesn’t help when your two highest-paid strikers phone in sick before kick-off. Arteta was very tightlipped about what had happened there, but we can probably assume what they’ve gone down with.
Brentford went to bed top of the league – what a feeling.
Naturally, much of the pre-match chatter around City’s opener with Tottenham was around the Spurs captain and his desire to walk away from “the greatest stadium in world football”. It was believed that Kane actually wanted to play against the club he’d really like to join but Nuno, at the end of his first actual week of working with Harry, chose against it.
Daniel Levy thinks he will be keeping Hazza at Tottenham for at least one more season and passed this note on to the City officials at the match. Mind you, you get the feeling City will want him just a little bit more after that result and Spurs will either think they can do without or think they’ve got an even stronger selling position.
Sitting deep and hitting City on the break – it was almost as if Jose never let but fair play to Nuno, that’s not a bad way to say hello to your new fans. 6th choice or not, he even managed to get a tune out of Lucas Moura who hadn’t been seen since Amsterdam.
Sonny can only play with Kane? Not a bit of it. And who would have thought Grealish would have played twice for City and not seen them score a goal?
Many people, including myself (for which I apologise to Leeds fans), have tipped Marcelo Bielsa to better last season’s 9th place finish – and they’ll be grateful they won’t be playing at Old Trafford again this season having followed up last time out’s 6-2 drubbing with a 5-1 battering on Saturday.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer unveiled Raphael Varane before the game, whipping United’s fans into a frenzy ahead of kick-off – nice to see those protests against the Glazers and European Super League have been bought off by a couple of big signings – and his team were at it from the first whistle.
Graeme Souness must have been salivating at the form of Paul Pogba – by the hour, the Frenchman had matched last season’s assist total by laying on three for his teammates. Many have been wanting to see the Pogba that plays for France and he showed some of that off against Leeds, creating a fourth before the end.
But the star of the show was Bruno Fernandes, never shy of sticking the knife into a team that isn’t in the top six. Brunaldo got a hat-trick but it was Leeds’ Luke Ayling who got the best goal of the game, smashing an equaliser in from right back.
Pogba might have been excellent, but it won’t stop him running down his contract this season and disappearing on a free next summer – yet already United fans are thinking he might head off with a league winner’s medal around his neck. Trust me, that’s not happening.
My bet for the title just happens to the Champions of Europe – they took apart my dead certs for relegation, Crystal Palace, 3-0. Marcos Alonso, who just keeps getting picked, scored the best free-kick of the season before the next kid off the Academy rank rounded things off nicely. We probably won’t see that much of Trevor Chalobah this campaign, but he’ll always have that moment.
Chelsea have finalised the coming home of Romelu Lukaku for the small matter of around £100m and have more than enough in the tank to nick the title from Pep’s lot this season.
Tammy Abraham will be waving his mates on from Rome, by the looks of it – he jetted off to see Jose over the weekend and agree his move to Serie A.
I cannot see how Liverpool can realistically challenge for the title given that they’ve done very little in the window to close the gap on City. But, they put Norwich to bed fairly comfortably with Salah doing his usual opening day thing of scoring. Mind you, his first assist was a touch fortunate as he demonstrated the touch of a sledgehammer trying to control Trent’s pass into his feet.
Norwich are supposed to be better than the last time they graced the top flight. Time will tell, it looked pretty similar to me.
Rafa’s back in town and he’s already got points on the board. Everton beat Southampton, who have had better weeks having had to sell Danny Ings and then seeing Jan Bednarek leg it to Leicester as fast as his very long legs would take him.
Richarlison was back from the Olympics where he won a gold medal, presumably for either the long jump or in the diving competition. It being earlier than November, he was in spectacular form turning the game around for Everton after new signing Adam Armstrong started filling the Ings void for the Saints.
Leicester would love to not bottle it this season and finish in the top four and Jamie Vardy was on that mission straight away, scoring a lovely goal to beat Wolves – Wolves could well struggle, especially if they are relying on Adama Traore’s finishing to score them goals.
Hands up if you could name more than two Watford players in their starting line-up? No matter, they could be quite fun to watch this season as they sprinted into a 3-0 lead over a Grealish-less Aston Villa. Villa got it back to 3-2 but did little to quell the suspicion that they were a one-man team who no longer have that one man.
Brighton adopted a different approach in their first outing. Rather than dominating a game and losing, Graham Potter sent the Seagulls out at Burnley to be dominated – and, of course, Brighton ended up winning. Funny old game, as someone used to say.
Newcastle fans have been desperate to get back into St James’ Park and throw their support behind Steve Bruce and his team. My advice would be to forget the actual result against West Ham – they should close their eyes and replay each moment Alain Saint-Maximin got the ball. I mean, it took Declan Rice five minutes to get back in the ground after the headband-wearing magician set up the opener for Callum Wilson. All that was very nice, but it didn’t lead to Newcastle winning – West Ham know matching last season’s league finish will be tough but made as good a start as they could have hoped for.
There is plenty of transfer news but I shall spare you that – as nothing I write next could possibly top the fact that Phil Jones, the former footballer, has refused to give Raphael Varane his number four shirt despite the fact he is more likely to be Messi’s replacement at Barca than ever play for United again. Score on the petty scale? A solid 19 out of ten.