Premier League: Matchweek 1 Review
Ollie Jones - 15/8/23
The Premier League is back with a bang! The opening weekend didn't disappoint, producing some thrilling action and shock results, giving a teaser for the exciting season ahead. Reigning champions Manchester City and Haaland started this season how they finished the last. The newly promoted sides were given a humbling welcome to the top-flight, with all 3 losing. Chelsea and Liverpool put on a show at the Bridge and Newcastle fired 5 past Aston Villa to kickstart their campaign. In this article I will try to unpick all the action and give my match, player and team of the week, as well as any other conclusions that can be drawn from the first round of matches.
Burnley 0 - 3 Manchester City
Arsenal 2 - 1 Nottingham Forest
Bournemouth 1 - 1 West Ham United
Brighton & Hove Albion 4 - 1 Luton Town
Everton 0 - 1 Fulham
Sheffield United 0 - 1 Crystal Palace
Newcastle United 5 - 1 Aston Villa
Brentford 2 - 2 Tottenham Hotspur
Chelsea 1 - 1 Liverpool
Manchester United 1 - 0 Wolves
New season, same VAR -
It wouldn't be a Premier League matchweek without VAR related controversy, and the opening weekend was no different. The first of which was Everton's disallowed goal vs Fulham, as Tarkowski was ruled to have fouled Bernd Leno, which allowed Michael Keane to roll the ball into an empty net. However upon review, it appears Leno simply drops the ball unchallenged, a simple mistake by the goalkeeper, so the lack of intervention by VAR came as a surprise to Evertonians and Sean Dyche, as he believed his "defender has done nothing" to impede Leno; Everton went onto lose the game 1-0 so can feel aggrieved by another VAR mistake.
This was followed up on Monday night with an arguably more shambolic decision to not award Wolves a penalty at the death against Manchester United. Onana enjoyed a solid debut up until the 97th minute where he rushed out to gather a cross before crashing into Kalajdzic. It looked a nailed on penalty, however, the officials on VAR disagreed, deciding to not even send referee Simon Hooper over to the monitor for another look. This decision has been met with great outrage and fears of another season where those using VAR make inconsistent and unfair decisions that could mask another great season of Premier League action.
Welcome to the Premier League -
It was not a great start for the newly promoted teams from the Championship, as all 3 lost in their opening fixture. It came as little surprise when Burnley were beaten at Turf Moor by Manchester City, as the gulf in quality was evident, however both Sheffield United and Luton Town failed to give a good account of themselves as the Blades lost at home to Crystal Palace and the Hatters away to Brighton by 4 goals to 1. It is predicted by many that especially Sheffield United and Luton will struggle this season, and performances like the that of this matchweek would support this. Highlighting the step-up in quality from the Championship is still vast. However Burnley look a promising outfit and a win against City was never really on the cards for Kompany's young side. But it is still too early to draw many conclusions about where all 3 will finish at the end of the season. Check out where we believe they'll finish in our Premier League 23/24 predictions.
A Kane-less Premier League:
For the first time in 11 years, Harry Kane won't be playing in the Premier League, as Tottenham's highest ever goalscorer, with 280 goals, departs for Bayern Munich. While it may take some time for us Prem fans to get used to Kane in a red shirt, Spurs need to adapt quickly to life without him, as he was sold only days before their season opener to Brentford. It is still unclear who the replacement to him will be, whether this is Richarlison or a new signing, either way it didn't stop Spurs from scoring two at Brentford to claim a draw. This match was the battle of the striker-less, as Brentford have lost key man Toney through suspension. It's unknown how much Tottenham will miss Kane this season, but opposition defences for sure will be sleeping a little bit easier for now when facing Spurs.
Match of the Week -
For hair-raising action, look no further than St James' Park, where Newcastle shocked Aston Villa, running riot to score 5 goals past Emi Martinez. Both Villa and Newcastle have been tipped for great seasons after last seasons 7th and 4th place finishes respectively, however it was Newcastle who laid down a marker, making a real statement of intent for this season. Tonali opened the scoring after only 6 minutes into his debut, with a great volley from an inviting Anthony Gordon cross. Fellow debutant Moussa Diaby levelled the score only 5 minutes later with an even better half-volley past Nick Pope. Aston Villa weren't dominated over on the ball, as they had a fairly equal share of possession at 47%. However, Newcastle exposed Villa's high line, with inch-perfect passes breaking the offside trap, allowing Barnes and Wilson being able to slot home one v one against Martinez. The prolific Isak was on form, showcasing his ability as a poacher in front of goal, converting twice. This wasn't necessarily a bad overall performance by Villa, but Newcastle were afforded too many opportunities, as although they missed 4 'big chances', 5 others were converted. This poor defensive showing may be down to Mings having to be withdrawn after only 30 minutes. Newcastle had the best all round performance this week and the end-to-end action that they provided is what gives this the crown of 'Match of the week'.
Player of the Week -
It isn't often goalkeepers are the ones grabbing the headlines for stand-out performances, however praise has to be heaped onto Bernd Leno for his heroic performance vs Everton at Goodison Park on Saturday. Everton were left ruing there countless missed chances in their 1-0 loss, after a 73rd minute Decordova-Reid goal sealed their defeat. Maupay's torrid form and Calvert-Lewin's fitness problems left Everton without a proven striker, which may have somewhat accounted form the lack of goals, however it can also be largely attributed to Fulham's number 17. He prevented an astonishing 3.21 goals, making 9 crucial saves. He was quick off his line to deny Maupay many times and did well to stop Iwobi. Everton's xG was 2.73, so their actual number of 0 is testament to Leno's dominant performance. He was nearly punished for dropping the ball that allowed Keane to finish into an open net, however Tarkowski was controversially deemed to have fouled Leno, so the goal didn't stand, meaning he kept his clean sheet. Apart from this, he was faultless. He is my 'player of the week'.
Team of the week -
Bernd Leno - My pick for 'player of the week'
Pervis Estupinan - Was once again dangerous offensively but didn't compromise his defensive output. Provided a great assist for Evan Ferguson.
Joachim Andersen - was crucial at the back for Palace's clean sheet at Sheffield United. He was dominant in the air and looked very comfortable on the ball
Axel Disasi - he was thrown right in at the deep end, making his debut for Chelsea against Liverpool, he slotted comfortability into the back 3 and even chipped in with a goal, that earned Chelsea a point
Aaron Wan-Bissaka - he started his campaign strongly at home to wolves, providing an impressive and important assist to Varane
Enzo Fernandez - Chelsea's new number 8 was the man of the match against Liverpool and rightly so. He covered almost every inch of the pitch, linking the defence and the attack very well
Alex Iwobi - was at his creative best on Saturday and Everton's best player. The chances he created could've seen the Toffees win by at least 3 if they had a more prolific goalscorer on the end of them
James Maddison - making his debut for Spurs this weekend after his move from Leicester, Maddison played a crucial part in the 2-2 draw, as he provided both assists for Emerson Royal and Romero
Alexander Isak - was prolific in front of goal against Villa, scoring two fantastic goals that puts Newcastle top of the table
Erling Haaland - the first person on the scoresheet for the 23/24 season with only his first touch of the match, before following it up with a phenomenal strike on the swivel. It wouldn't be surprising to see him feature in this segment many times this campaign
Bukayo Saka - my prediction for Young player of the season in our Premier League season preview opened his account with the winning goal against Forest with a beautiful curling effort, a strong contender for goal of the week
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