New Premier League Season Commences With Goals Galore
The Premier League returned this week with the first round of fixtures for the 2017/18 season. Goals were at a premium with no less than half the games featuring three or more goals.
The action began on Friday night with an enthralling match between Arsenal and Leicester City, in which the hosts came from behind to win 4-3. Headed goals from Alexandre Lacazette and Shinji Okazaki made it 1-1 inside the first five minutes, before Jamie Vardy gave the Foxes the lead. Danny Welbeck equalised just before half time, only for Vardy to head home his second after the break. However, the final twist came in the last ten minutes when substitutes Aaron Ramsey and Olivier Giroud both scored to complete a remarkable turnaround for the North London side.
Top flight debutants Huddersfield Town and Brighton and Hove Albion began the campaign against Crystal Palace and title favourites Manchester City respectively, while Newcastle United returned from the Championship with a home game against Tottenham Hotspur.
The Terriers were the only newly promoted side to record a victory on opening day, shocking the Eagles as Frank de Boer made his Premier League bow. Palace defender Joel Ward’s own goal was followed by a Steve Mounie double either side of the break.
Brighton and Newcastle both fell to 2-0 defeats in their season openers. On the south coast, City struggled to break down a resilient Seagulls defence and it took until the second half for Sergio Aguero to open the scoring. Brighton centre-back Lewis Dunk then headed into his own net. Meanwhile, Newcastle were heading for a draw against Spurs before Jonjo Shelvey’s petulant stamp on Dele Alli saw him correctly sent off, and Tottenham made the most of the man advantage as Alli and Ben Davies each scored late on.
Last season’s champions Chelsea got off to the worst possible start as they were beaten at home by Burnley. In the most controversial game of the weekend, Gary Cahill was sent off early on when referee Craig Pawson adjudged his challenge on Steven Defour to be endangering the Clarets midfielder. However, on second viewing it seemed the Blues defender made very minimal contact, despite the robust nature of the tackle, and should probably have only been shown a yellow card.
Sean Dyche’s side took full advantage, though, and were amazingly 3-0 up at half time thanks to Sam Vokes’ double and Stephen Ward’s half-volley. David Luiz pulled a goal back for the hosts but they were then reduced to nine men when Cesc Fabregas’ lunging tackle earned him a second yellow card. Debutant Alvaro Morata headed in a second but it was too late for Antonio Conte’s side to complete the comeback.
Romelu Lukaku was one of a number of debutants to score for their new clubs. The Begium international’s brace set Manchester United on their way to a comfortable 4-0 win against West Ham United. Paul Pogba and Anthony Martial also scored as the Red Devils finish the weekend at the division’s summit.
Meanwhile, the new era at Watford under Marco Silva almost got off to the perfect start against Liverpool. Stefano Okaka and Abdoulaye Doucoure scored either side of Sadio Mane’s goal, although the Hornets fell behind in the second half when Roberto Firmino and Mohamed Salah scored for Jurgen Klopp’s side. Watford, however, eventually earned a point in added time courtesy of Miguel Britos but will certainly feel that they could have won the game. The Reds were without influential midfielder Phillippe Coutinho with an apparent injury, although the Brazilian looks set to leave the club soon after he handed in a transfer request with Barcelona his likely destination.
Elsewhere, Everton and West Bromwich Albion recorded narrow 1-0 victories against Stoke City and AFC Bournemouth respectively. Wayne Rooney’s header was his first goal for the Toffees since re-joining the Merseyside club after thirteen record-breaking years at United, while the Baggies new signing Ahmed Hegazi netted the only goal in the their win.
Finally, the only goalless draw of the weekend came at St. Mary’s where Swansea City held Southampton without star man Gylfi Sigurdsson, who looks set to join Everton before the end of the transfer window.