PREMIER LEAGUE ROUND-UP: CR7 DELIVERS BIG, EDOUARD'S DREAM DEBUT & ELLIOT SUFFERS HORROR INJURY
It was a Premier League game weekend dominated by impressive debuts, none more so than the fabled return of Cristiano Ronaldo to Old Trafford.
After a decade and a bit away in Madrid and Turin, and with 5 Ballon D’Or’s under his belt, one of the world’s most iconic footballers demanded all eyes were on him for his second debut back in a Manchester United shirt.
He didn’t disappoint, lapping up the anticipation in the air and scoring 2 goals on his return to where it all began as a kid from Lisbon. His first back in Manchester red won’t be the best he’ll score this season, a deflected effort scooped up poorly by Woodman into the path of the Portuguese attacker who tapped in for 1-0.
The trademark celebration of the number 7 came straight out even with the scrappy nature of his first, the Old Trafford faithful playing a part in audible jubilation. Javier Manquillo’s goal from a Magpies counter-attack could have spoiled the script, great feet from Almiron working its way to the Spanish defender to slot past David De Gea.
The script, however, reverted back to normality when an on-running Ronaldo breezed past Newcastle shirts, after Luke Shaw darted forward to play him in, and The Red Devils’ iconic number 7 placed a finish through Woodman’s legs.
The best goals of the day came through players already mainstays under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, Bruno Fernandes’ long range strike the pick of the bunch alongside a quick passing move allowing for Lingard to score an emphatic fourth.
All-in-all, Ronaldo’s 2 goals in a 4-1 win is typical of the Portuguese icon - always outperforming those around him, even at the age of 36. It wasn’t the only impressive debut, Edouard coming off the bench with 5 minutes to go and scoring 2 to kill off an out-of-sorts Spurs side at Selhurst Park even after a Manager of the Month win for Nuno. Crystal Palace, even before the new ex Celtic boy was introduced into the fray, dominated proceedings - Wilfried Zaha giving Emerson Royal a headache all match, Conor Gallagher impressing again as a loanee for Vieira’s men.
Zaha would open the scoring here, Palace taking advantage from a Ben Davies’ handball and slotting a penalty past Lloris. Edouard’s introduction would make Palace’s domination more obvious, another Zaha run finding the Frenchman who slotted past his fellow compatriot Lloris with his first touch on the pitch.
25 seconds on the pitch before slotting past the Spurs keeper, the fastest ever goal scored by a debutant in the top flight. He wasn’t done there, a second nearly palmed away but finding its way in to secure a convincing win for Vieira and his first in the Premier League as a manager. Used to beating Spurs as a player, Vieira would have been pleased with the domination served up. 0 touches or shots by Kane for Spurs is a worry, Tottenham toothless throughout. Other talking points did arise from this game weekend just gone, Lukaku adding another two to his Chelsea tally in a game where Aston Villa tried to break down a resilient Chelsea side but were denied by Blues keeper Mendy numerous times.
A great buy by Tuchel, Mendy is one of the best shot-stoppers in the Premier League currently. With Chelsea and Manchester United vying for the title, the title holders Manchester City ensured they weren’t forgotten - going to a tough ground in the King Power and returning up North with a clean-sheet and a win, Bernardo Silva’s goal on the hour mark clinching 3 points.
Away from the top of the table, Arsenal managed to find their first 3 points of the season up against a Norwich City side still searching for any points of their own. Aubameyang netted the only goal of the contest, an almighty scramble seeing Saka and Pepe miss before the former Dortmund striker tapped it in.
Another encouraging takeaway from the game at The Emirates was the debut of Tomiyasu, the former Bologna defender joining the red side of North London over Spurs and impressing before being substituted off. The final game of the weekend fixtures was overshadowed somewhat by a horror injury for young Liverpool talent Harvey Elliott, a freak tackle by Struijk crunching young Harvey with his ankle the main point of obvious discomfort.
A club used to long-term injuries impacting upon their first team, Jurgen Klopp will readjust with Elliott’s absence expected to be some time. On the pitch, away from Elliott being stretchered off, Liverpool won convincingly. Salah’s tap-in after an impressive passing move got Liverpool off the mark, a Fabinho header just after half-time all but securing a victory at a hostile Elland Road.
Sadio Mane’s stoppage time strike means Liverpool, alongside Tuchel’s Chelsea and Solskjaer’s Man Utd, all occupy top spot with 10 points apiece and the same goal difference.
With all three firing on all cylinders, expect a wide-open title race this season in the Premier League. Don’t discount Manchester City just yet, 1 point behind the three horsemen above them.
Still, it proves to be a highly entertaining league this season with Ronaldo back at Old Trafford for good and numerous other players dazzling for their respective sides.