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What did we learn from the opening weekend of Premier League football?

Wednesday 16th August 2017
The Premier League finally graced millions of football fans with it return on the weekend and, for once, it lived up to the hype. From shambolic defending to meltdowns, we learnt much from this breathless opening weekend of fixtures. 

Shambolic defending

Arsenal, Liverpool, West Ham, Cyrstal Palace and - surprisingly - Chelsea, were all guilty of some unforgivable defending. Arsenal, as one might expect, looked frail at the back and were duly punished by a clinical Jamie Vardy and Shinji Okazaki; Liverpool are so often their own undoing and this one again undermined their attacking flair; the Hammers could not compete with the force of United's attack; Frank de Boer's Palace were punished for sloppy play and Chelsea were exposed by a Burnley side who showed signs of adapting to a more silky style of play.

Conte calamity

It started with Diego Costa. It continued with tensions arising from the sale of Nemanja Matic to direct rivals Manchester United. It worsened when Conte was not given the players he demanded. Conte had warned of avoiding a 'Mourinho second season', but all signs point towards the Blues travelling down the well-trodden path of fallen Champions (in recent years, anyway).

Conte needs to stabilise his Chelsea side and quickly. The red cards to Gary Cahil and Cesc Fabregas will worsen the situation as Conte has a threadbare squad - reinforcements are required.

New boys get off to a flyer

Alexander Lacazette, Mo Salah, Romelu Lukaku and Alvaro Morata all hit the ground running for their new clubs. Lukaku triumphed more, netting twice, but each new signings appeared to warrant their transfer fees. If all can continue their impressive start the Golden Boot race will surely be tightly contested.

A word also for Wayne Rooney who scored on his second-coming to lead Everton to a narrow 1-0 victory over Stoke City.

Newcastle Un-united 

Rafa Benitez, who endeared himself to the Geordie faithful, has seemingly fallen out over eccentric owner Mike Ashley. The reason? A familiar story: not being able to bring in the players Benitez wanted. Sunday's defeat to Spurs was not embarrassing and for a while, the Geordies competed valiantly until a moment of sheer madness from Jonjo Shelvey quashed any hope of an opening day victory. Yet United's squad screamed Championship: Dwight Gayle so often prolific at the Championship, but has failed to do it on the big stage; Shelvey, a player whose scatter brain decision making has hindered his obvious natural talent; the list goes on, and these are two of United's best players.
For the sake of this mammoth club, Ashley needs to sit down with Benitez and address the problems. Is this likely? Probably not.

Terriers come out biting 

Everyone's favourites for relegation came out fighting at Selhurst Park and dispatched of Crystal Palace in emphatic fashion. David Wagner's side cut a disciplined outfit and was effective in their pressing and clinical in their attacking play.

It takes some doing to down an established Premier League team by three goals away from home on the first day of the season. Huddersfield must take this confidence into next weeks' game and exploit the momentum they clearly have.

Michael Jones

Football & political writer with a predictable love of everything retro. English Literature undergraduate at the University of Exeter, looking to pursue a career in sports journalism. For a collection of my work, visit. http://mikejonesmedia.wordpress.com

Follow me on twitter: @jonesmichael_97

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