What We Learned From Matchday One of The Premier League

Etihad Stadium

The Premier League has returned and, unlike last year, it actually feels real. Brentford opened the season with a remarkable 2-0 win over Arsenal, but that wasn’t what made the game special: it was the first Premier League game in almost two years held at full capacity. With fans backing the newly-promoted Bees at home, some of the best of the Premier League was on display. But what are some key takeaways of matchday one?

Good Start For Promoted Sides

Brentford started their first-ever Premier League season on a high. Up against Arsenal, Sergi Canos and Christian Nørgaard scored in a game that the Bees looked in control of for the entire 90 minutes. Of course it’s only one game, but Brentford showed that they’re capable of staying in the Premier League.

Similarly, Watford looked strong against Aston Villa. A team that I said had one of the best early transfer windows stormed to a 3-0 victory over a Villa team that has spent over $115 million on new players. Two late goals were conceded by Watford, but one of them was a penalty kick. Watford have a better squad than people are giving them credit for.

Norwich struggled some in a 3-0 loss to Liverpool, but performed well all-round. They out possessed Liverpool and almost had as many shots, but they weren’t lethal and Liverpool were.

Surprise Title Candidates?

Favorites Manchester City struggled to achieve much in a 1-0 loss to Tottenham. Obviously Manchester City can still be considered favorites as it’s the first game of the season and they were playing a solid Tottenham side, but who else could be considered candidates?

Liverpool ultimately deserved to beat Norwich and have one of the best sides in the Premier League when they aren’t dealing with injuries. Chelsea are another team with one of the best teams in the league, as they are the defending Champions League winners.

Manchester United put five past Leeds United and showed that they can be lethal at times. The Red Devils have also invested heavily in positions of need, bringing in Raphael Varane at center-back and Jadon Sancho as a winger. A team to watch, for sure.

Just like Manchester United, Tottenham have had a big transfer window, bringing in winger Bryan Gil, a goalkeeper in Pierluigi Gollini, and a star center-back in Cristian Romero. Add a new coach in the mix (former Wolves man Nuno Espírito Santo) and this team can be legit. However, the transfer decision of striker Harry Kane will be important as he is one of their best players.

Players To Watch

Manchester United duo Paul Pogba and Bruno Fernandes stick out, with Fernandes scoring a hat trick against Leeds and Paul Pogba assisting four.

Mohamed Salah continues to lead Liverpool’s attack, scoring once and assisting the other two against Norwich.

Fresh off of claiming Gold at the Olympics with Brazil, Richarlison looks likely to star for an Everton side that has not made many moves so far this window and are likely to lose a few more attacking players by the end of it.

Finally, Emmanuel Dennis could be a surprise star as the former Club Brugge man has always had talent. With a goal and an assist on opening day, he could realize his potential in England.

With all English clubs spending money at previously unseen rates (well, not Everton), we could see more than a few surprises this season. Five sides – Manchester City, Chelsea, Aston Villa, Brighton, and Brentford – have already broken their record transfers despite the window not ending until the end of August. This could see some traditional “top” teams flounder whereas other “smaller” teams might succeed.

What are your takeaways and surprise picks for this Premier League season? Let me know in the comments!

Image Courtesy of Ank kumar, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons.

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