Welcome back to the Premier League! What a cracking return of football we had this past weekend.
The newly-promoted sides were handed some tough fixtures straight up as Norwich City faced a challenging test to Liverpool, Sheffield United were on the road south to Bournemouth, and Aston Villa had a trip to the capital to tackle Tottenham.
Among the three promoted teams, some performed better than others. We take a look at how each of the promoted sides fared in the opening weekend.
Norwich faced one of the toughest tests a team could have faced upon their return back to the top flight. The 4 – 1 loss to Liverpool showed the gulf in class between two teams.
They found out what was the difference between playing in the Championship and playing against the Europeans Champions as their mistakes were punished.
The Canaries battled along valiantly to their credit, however. They won the second half after being four goals down at half time. Jamal Lewis showed his ability in the left-back position, and Teemu Pukki scored a well-taken goal.
The Canaries pushed their attacking brand of football intently, and Jürgen Klopp could only describe it as “cheeky as hell”. Against a weaker side, Norwich would have come out on top, bar the few defensive errors they made. Many positives to take out of this (heavy) defeat.
The 225-mile trip back north for the Blades looked to have been ‘pointless’, however, thanks to a dramatic Billy Sharp 88th minute equaliser that wasn’t the case. In a very well-matched contest, Bournemouth controlled more periods of the game but Sheffield dug in.
Chris Mepham poked the home side into the lead from a poorly defended set-piece. That didn’t matter the moment Sharp knocked in a scuffed shot from new record signing, Oli McBurnie. Not taking anything away from a resilient Blades performance, but it did highlight some areas of concern for Bournemouth’s manager Eddie Howe to focus on before their away trip to Aston Villa next week.
Sheffield United will be full of confidence heading into a winnable first home game of the season against Crystal Palace next weekend.
The Villans will probably feel that the result, a 3 – 1 loss to Tottenham to be an unfair reflection of how the game actually went. Spurs fans may argue it should have been more, having mustered more shots than Villa — 31 to 7.
Aston Villa took a surprise lead to silence the home fans in the 9th minute thanks to John McGinn, and the Lions did well to head into half time with a cleansheet. This lasted until Spurs new boy Tanguy Ndombele struck a wonderful curler in the 73rd minute. Harry Kane then scored a brace to secure the three points for the Lilywhites.
Dean Smith’s side started brightly with El Ghazi and Trezeguet showing blistering pace down their respective wings. McGinn with Jack Grealish and Connor Hourihane, controlled the midfield over their Tottenham counterparts in the first half. Allowing time for this new Aston Villa team to gel is important, and like Norwich, they showed a lot of promise.
Out of a possible 9 points these three new teams could have collectively achieved, the actual outcome was a sole point. Aston Villa and Norwich showed great attacking flair and composure on the ball against the two clubs who competed in the UEFA Champions League Final last season.
Sheffield United came up against an opponent that could be languishing near the bottom of the table themselves, coming away (late) with the point in a very even contest.
Norwich’s Pukki and United’s Sharp managed to get on the scoresheet, and maybe having the recognised or proven goal-scorer is going to be their saving grace, but who will be Aston Villa’s?