The new Premier League season kicked off on Friday and the first round of fixtures certainly didn’t disappoint. A total of 34 goals were scored across the 10 games, which did not feature a single stalemate.
Without further ado, let’s take a look at the talking points over the course of the weekend action.
#1 Bruno Fernandes shakes off funk as Manchester United kick-start title challenge
After a hugely impactful season with Manchester United, Bruno Fernandes was expected to be the driving force behind Portugal’s Euro 2020 challenge. But the 26-year-old playmaker looked a shadow of his usual dominant self on international duty and was even dropped for a couple of games.
However, he looked to be back to his best in United’s opener, putting Leeds United to the sword. Fernandes’ off-the-ball movement was exemplary and netted his first hat-trick for the club. However, what manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer might be most pleased about is the performance of the mercurial Paul Pogba. The Frenchman put in arguably his best-ever display in a United shirt, registering four assists.
There have been plenty of questions over whether Pogba and Fernandes can function together, but if the two continue playing the way they did against Leeds, United will be a hard team to stop.
#2 Home advantage is back in the Premier League
With games played behind closed doors for most of the 2020-21 season, away teams enjoyed plenty of success. In the absence of a raucous crowd, home teams registered fewer wins than away sides for the first time in the history of the English top-flight last time around.
However, this season promises to be a different story. With stadiums at full capacity once again, the Premier League witnessed as many as seven home wins to just three away victories. Home teams also outscored visiting sides 21-13 across the 10 games.
#3 Manchester City’s struggles highlight need for Harry Kane
Manchester City have been linked with a move for Harry Kane this entire summer, and their 1-0 loss to Tottenham Hotspur in their Premier League opener might force them to step up their pursuit of the England captain.
The Sky Blues enjoyed plenty of success without an out-and-out striker for most of last season due to goals from midfield, but that might not be the case this season. City lacked a cutting edge against Spurs and despite dominating possession, they managed just four shots on goal.
We'll be watching this on repeat all day! 🙌
— Tottenham Hotspur (@SpursOfficial) August 16, 2021
With clubs like Chelsea and Manchester United strengthening their squads, and Liverpool’s players returning from injury, City might just have to break the bank for Kane to stand a chance at defending their Premier League title.
#4 Van Dijk returns, Salah entertains as Liverpool dominate Norwich
An injury-hit Liverpool side endured a horrific title defence last season, finishing a whopping 17 points behind champions Manchester City. Jürgen Klopp’s side were without the likes of Joe Gomez, Virgil Van Dijk, Jordan Henderson and Joel Matip for a majority of the campaign and struggled to stay competitive.
But with their big names back, Liverpool are among the favourites to challenge for the crown this year. They got their campaign up and running with a 3-0 win at Norwich. Van Dijk made his first appearance in over 300 days and looked solid as ever apart from a few minor mistakes.
Klopp will also be pleased with Liverpool’s attackers who barely put a foot wrong. Mohamed Salah, Diogo Jota and Roberto Firmino all got on the score-sheet, with the Egyptian becoming the first player in the Premier League to score on the opening day of five straight campaigns.
#5 Arsenal in dire straits, Brentford here to stay
One game in and the knives are already out for Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta. The Gunners looked completely toothless against newly-promoted Brentford and were outplayed for a majority of the match. Despite making additions in the off-season, Arsenal showed no improvements from their performances that led to an eighth-place finish last season.
With games against Chelsea and Manchester City to come, Arsenal are staring at the possibility of having 0 points next to their name after three games. Arteta is now the odds-on favourite to be the first manager to get sacked, with reports suggesting Arsenal could make a move for Premier League-winning manager Antonio Conte.
As for Brentford, they proved they are not here just to make up the numbers. Thomas Frank’s side were hailed for their vibrant, attacking football in the Championship and the initial signs are that the Bees will not abandon that style of play in the top-flight.