I hope everyone had fun watching the first week of English Premier League Football! I was traveling and only got to check out snatches of the action on the corner TV at the hotel bar, but I did see all three Spurs goals in their 3-1 comeback win over Aston Villa. There weren’t too many surprises in the opening week. Liverpool and Manchester City dispatched their opponents handily, setting up a duel for the top spot made more intriguing by Liverpool keeper Alisson Becker’s freak injury, that. will cost the Brazilian a few weeks.
Manchester United put an offseason of drama behind them and smashed a befuddled Chelsea squad 4-0. The BHA Seagulls invaded Vicarage Road to upset Watford 3-0, and an equalizer late. from Billy Sharp helped Sheffield United to claim the only point for a newly promoted team this week, 1-1 against AFC Bournemouth.
The Top Four: It’s Man City’s World, We Just Visit
Manchester City had their back turned for a good portion of last year. Liverpool took their shot, and missed. The Citizens, uncomfortable with last year’s squeaker of a finish, added to an already formidable lineup and look like odds on favorites to become the second team to win three straight Premier League titles. Spanish midfielder Rodri was brought in to eventually succeed midfield stalwart Fernandinho, Joao Cancelo was brought in from Juventus, swapped for Danilo, and they finally ended young defender Angelino’s globe-trekking loan spell with a four year deal with his parent club. The only big loss from last years squad will be German winger Leroy Sane, who suffered a terrible knee injury in the Community Shield match against Liverpool. City will be the team to beat in 2019.
After spending most of two years crashing on the couch at Wembley Stadium, Spurs finally have a place to call their own at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium (lucrative naming rights impending.) To celebrate Mauricio Pochettino was finally able to spend some cash to upgrade his squad. Tanguy Ndombele arrived from Lyon and the 22 year old from Cote d’Ivoire and already paid dividends with a wicked strike to open the scoring against Aston Villa. And the long awaited move for Ryan Sessegnon came to fruition, and Spurs hope the young English winger can make the same transition as Gareth Bale once did from from talented fullback to world class forward. It’s a good look for this most English of Premier League sides and they will bee chasing City all year.
3) Liverpool “You’re missin’ the point. The success of the band was irrelevant – you raised their expectations of life, you lifted their horizons. Sure we could have been famous and made albums and stuff, but that would have been predictable. This way it’s poetry,” Joey ‘The Lips’ Fagan, The Commitments, 1991.
It’s hard to consider a year that ended with your team crowned champions of Europe a failure, nor is second place to Man City by one measly point anything to sneeze at. But last year might have been the Reds best shot for a while. Their only big signing was the now indispensable backup keeper Adrian, while a lot of their bench moved on or were released. They still possess one of the best front lines in the game with Mane, Firmino and Salah, as well as possibly the best center back in the league in Virgil Van Dyke. I just see this as a step back season, but they could surprise us.
There will definitely be a scrum for this last Champions League spot. Arsenal added prolific winger Nicolas Pepe to their attack, but neglected a leaky defense. Manchester United spent plenty of cash, including breaking records to snag Harry Maguire, but remain a team with chemistry and character issues. And it’s too soon for Wolves to reach this high. That opens the door for Leicester to bounce back into the top four. The Foxes made young midfielder Youri Tieleman’s move from AS Monaco permanent. He’ll join up and coming Englishman James Maddison to give Britain’s most aggrieved woodland creature Jamie Vardy the kind of service he had in their surprise championship season five years ago.
The Bottom Four: Hey Man Nice Shot, Nice Shot Man
18) Norwich City
It’s rare for all three promoted teams to stay up the next year. The Canaries won’t be boring to watch, featuring some exciting players and a fearless manager. But they haven’t added the talent necessary to play up to this level. Surprising Championship teams like this are usually just happy to be here.
19) Aston Villa
The history of promotion playoff winners isn’t kind either. The Villains certainly spent plenty over the summer, but will all those new faces gel in time? The fate of Fulham, who probably rushed their promotion plan once they won their way up looms.
20) Newcastle United
There is a supporter revolt at St James Park. Following the departure of Rafa Benitez, several supporter groups have called for a boycott of their opener against Arsenal, a game they lost 0-1. It’s the kind of chemistry killing environment that will spoil the return of Andy Carroll and the acquisition of Allan Saint-Maximin over the summer.
“From our Haus to Yours”