"It's my dugout, my stadium, my people."
The English Premier League (EPL) got off to a blistering and impressive start. In the first week of the season there were big wins for Manchester United and Manchester City, whilst Aston Villa pulled off an upset against Arsenal.
There is no doubt that players are playing this season with one eye on Brazil, hoping to be selected for the 2014 FIFA World Cup.
This has already added extra bite to the Premier League, maintaining its status as one of the most exciting leagues in World Football.
Liverpool 1 Stoke City 0 – 12:45pm KO, Saturday
The Merseysiders began Premier League proceedings with the first match of the season. On a rain swept Merseyside, striker Luis Suárez served the 5th of his 10 match ban.
The home side made an early impression, but Stoke held firm and passed the ball quite neatly.
Liverpool’s debutant Goalkeeper Simon Mignolet had a nervy start, with an error leading to Stoke hitting the woodwork. Liverpool’s passing game eventually paid off when Stoke allowed striker Daniel Sturridge to score with a powerful strike from 25 yards out.
Stoke got a lifeline in the last few minutes of the game. Daniel Agger’s attempt at a clearance ended with a handball. Jonathan Walters stepped up only for Mignolet to pull off a magnificent double save, prompting rapturous celebrations around the ground. Liverpool deservedly took all three points.
Arsenal 1 Aston Villa 3 – 3pm KO, Saturday
Under pressure boss, Arsene Wenger was humbled at home by Aston Villa. The West Midlands team seized the opportunity with goal machine Christian Benteke on fine form.
Arsenal went 1-0 up through Olivier Giroud before a Benteke equaliser from a saved penalty sent both teams level at half time. The Villans kicked on in the second half as Benteke made no mistake in converting a penalty after an hour to send the away fans wild.
Hawk-Eye technology was used for the first time in the Premier League when Villa’s Fabian Delph hit the post, with replays clearly showing that the ball didn’t cross the line.
Antonio Luna compounded Arsenal’s misery by scoring Villa’s 3rd. The match finished with a near empty stadium; such was the frustration of the home fans.
It appears there is a negative feeling amongst the Arsenal fans worldwide. A fan from an ‘Arsenal fans India’ group harshly retorted: “If u (sic) make a list of worst managers in the premier league U (sic) will also find Wenger at the top.”
In a letter drawn up by The Arsenal Supporters Trust (AST) to its members, they stated:
“Arsenal supporters pay some of the highest ticket prices in world football, providing the club with considerable financial resources, but the ambition and ability to use them appear to be missing.”
Swansea 1 Manchester United 4 – 5.30pm KO, Saturday
New Manager David Moyes’ side romped to a 4-1 away win against Swansea. Swansea started well, but their momentum was short lived with two quick goals by the Champions silencing the home fans. Robin Van Persie broke the deadlock with Danny Welbeck following with another.
Striker, Wayne Rooney came on in the second half and set up Van Persie to score with an excellent strike.
Swansea’s record signing Wilfried Bony scored late on, but it was too late. Welbeck scored his 2nd in the last minute, with Rooney assisting again. It was interesting to note how want-away striker Rooney didn’t join in any of the goal celebrations.
This win would have delighted Indian Cricket Captain, MS Dhoni who is an ardent fan of Man Utd and ambassador for the EPL in India.
Crystal Palace 0 Tottenham Hotspurs 1 – 1.30pm KO, Sunday
Tottenham’s new £26 million signing Roberto Soldado scored a penalty giving Spurs the advantage. Spurs hadn’t won a single penalty last season.
Newly promoted South London outfit Crystal Palace were left frustrated in the first half.
Eccentric Palace boss Ian Holloway made a treble substitution in the second half that made Palace livelier. However the home team could not get past the Spurs rear-guard and had to settle for an opening day defeat.
Spurs didn’t miss Gareth Bale on this occasion. But things may not be so smooth if he does end up at Real Madrid this summer.
Chelsea 2 Hull 0 – 4pm KO, Sunday
The home side were quick out of the dugout, as Oscar put the Blues 1-0 up. Lampard then rifled in a wonderful free kick to make it 2-0. Hull boss Steve Bruce made a double substitution at half time with new signings Tom Huddlestone and Jake Livermore.
Hull just couldn’t find a chink in Chelsea’s armour, as Jose Mourinho’s second coming at Stamford Bridge resulted in a fine home win. Delighted with a winning start, Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho happily quipped: “It’s my dugout, my stadium, my people.”
Manchester City 4 Newcastle United 0 – 8pm KO, Monday
New boss Manual Pellegrini sent a resounding message to the premiership as City thumped Newcastle Utd 4-0. The Magpies were left stunned as City pounced early with a David Silva goal. Aguero doubled the score soon after.
To make things worse, Steven Taylor was sent off for Newcastle for a foul. A brilliant free kick by Yaya Touré and a goal by Sami Nasri completed the rout to leave City at the top of the league after the first round of fixtures.
Elsewhere, new Fulham owner Shahid Khan saw his team get a winning start away to Sunderland [0-1]. Their big test comes against Arsenal at Craven Cottage on the weekend. In the midweek match Chelsea beat Aston Villa 2-1 at Stamford Bridge.
All in all, the first week of the new season didn’t fail to impress. Newly promoted teams did better than expected, bitter old rivalries resumed and new faces at various teams showed that they mean business.
There’s a general feeling from fans that this will be a blockbuster season and one that may well go to the wire in deciding the Premier League title.