Premier League Opening Weekend: Goals, Shocks And An Inspired Return Of Fans To Grounds
After the middle gap of the Euro’s filled any absence of football, it was great to return to football action again at club level when the Premier League kicked off again on Friday night. With 34 goals scored over 10 matches, plenty of discussion points have arisen from these opening clashes in the top tier. From Pogba’s four assists against Leeds ripping Bielsa’s team apart, to Trevoh Chalobah’s emotional debut goal for Chelsea, the opening weekend failed to disappoint.
The best place to start when discussing the goals from the opening weekend is of course the Brentford Community Stadium, where Thomas Frank’s Bees provided the shock of the round with an impressive 2-0 win over Arteta’s faltering Gunners. Undone by a long throw-in for Brentford’s second, Arsenal looked out-of-sorts for much of the contest. For as comical as it was for a team to be undone by a long throw-in in 2021, flashbacks to prime Rory Delap, Sergi Canos’ curled shot beating Leno at his near post showcases Thomas Frank’s attractive brand of football better than Norgaard’s fumbled in second.
Thankfully, in most of the other matches, the players from the first round of matches featuring favoured the sublime over the scrappy in terms of goals. Luke Ayling’s strike at Old Trafford for Leeds, nothing more than a consolation, was a sweetly struck shot from outside of the box that sent the Leeds fans into raptures momentarily. Their ecstasy would turn subdued when Bruno Fernandes turned on the style, securing a hat-trick on the opening day to rubber-stamp his huge importance to the Red Devils.
After the controversy of initially appointing Rafa Benitez, Everton coming back from behind at home to Southampton might just quell some nay-sayers to the new regime at Goodison Park. The pick of the bunch from the 3-1 win came courtesy of a Doucoure long-range strike, swivelling on the ball after a neat exchange of passes before leathering it past Alex McCarthy in the Saints net. It was also great to see Adam Armstrong net on his Southampton debut, a notorious goalscorer at EFL level bagging his first Premier League strike.
Speaking of Chalobah’s strike early on, it’s great to see Trevoh in the Chelsea first team picture - featuring in the European Super Cup Final, now in the lineup versus Crystal Palace. Often loaned out like many Chelsea youngsters season upon season, the emotion when Chalobah scored past Guaita was a heartwarming moment from this first game weekend.
Obviously Brentford shocking Arsenal at home was the biggest upset of the opening game weekend, Arsenal unable to pick up an opening victory with a younger side than liked by Arteta with Lacazette and Aubameyang absent.
Other Premier League new boys Watford provided an upset too, beating Aston Villa in Dean Smith’s first test without star-boy Jack Grealish present. With new signing Emmanuel Dennis getting on the scoresheet, alongside Ismaila Sarr impressing throughout, Xisco Munoz’s managerial debut in the top flight was a successful one even with two late Aston Villa goals finding their way in at Vicarage Road.
The last real shock came in the Tottenham match arguably, the defending Premier League champions looking tired and out of ideas even with the aforementioned Grealish swapping Birmingham for Manchester present. Tottenham’s counter attacking persistence won the game for The Lilywhites, Lucas Moura sticking out with his ability to push Nuno’s Spurs forward at every opportunity. Even with Harry Kane out, another reliable source of Spurs goals won the contest courtesy of Heung-Min Son. Plagued by a terrible record at Tottenham’s new ground, Pep never winning at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, it was still a shock to see a lack of creative spark amongst a Man City team known for scoring by the bucket load.
Fans back in
With fans back in at stadiums up and down the Country, from Old Trafford to The King Power, players seemed inspired to put on better displays - entertainment the main take-away from this first round of fixtures, fans driving goals into the nets for their respective sides. It was great to see, too, the connection between fans and players return.
This was evident in the Brentford match - Thomas Frank pictured celebrating with a young fan at the final whistle, something missing from the rather passionless ritual of watching football from afar in COVID times. Now, fans are here to stay in grounds and passion has returned in abundance. In the Watford game, Hernandez Suarez’s game-clinching third for the Hornets was a personal highlight for the Colombian - his first game for Watford after three seasons out on loan, able to cherish his first goal in Watford colours with fans watching on. With fans back in, and the goals flooding in with 34 in total, the Premier League looks to have a very exciting season in store. No doubt, with the next match-week soon coming, more goals, shocks and fan passion will be served out in due course.