Johnnie’s Judgement: Premier League Matchday 1 review
I’m a Saints fan, you can’t come at me for my opinions.
The first matchday of the new Premier League season is in the books, and there as some conclusions that can already be made for some teams - or at least they can be in my objective opinion.
Check out my thoughts on the results and state of play from the weekend, including the teams who look to be strong contenders, those who will struggle, and those that were rather underwhelming in the first weekend back.
Usual suspects looking strong
Very unsurprisingly, Manchester City waltzed to an easy 3-0 victory in the opening game of the season against newly promoted Championship winners Burnley.
It was a fairly standard performance from Guardiola’s men, with Erling Haaland netting a brace. The only downside was Kevin De Bruyne coming off halfway through the first half with his consistent hamstring injury. He is suspected to be out for some time now.
City’s biggest challenger last year, Arsenal, had a shaky final 10 minutes but for the most part, eased their way to victory against Nottingham Forest. It’s clear to see they are missing Gabriel Jesus, but they should be fine enough until he returns from injury.
But the two teams that impressed me the most from the weekend were Newcastle and Brighton.
Newcastle faced what should have been stiff competition in an improved Aston Villa side, only to brush them aside like they weren’t in the same league. The Magpies certainly are looking to make some waves this year, and with Alexander Isak now finding his stride in the league, they will be more than capable of another top-four finish.
As for Brighton, they made sure Luton knew what they were in for this season. Even after the small scare, conceding late on to put some pressure on for the final few minutes, they handle it well and came away with a deserved and defiant win.
Tough times ahead for some
Not everyone could look so great, though. The new sides struggled, although Burnley can definitely get a pass. They looked decent at points against arguably the best team in the world, and they should prove to be tricky customers for many teams.
Luton were definitely a surprise when they got the promotion last season. I’m not saying they didn’t deserve it, but after the first game, they don’t seem entirely ready for the challenge of the Prem. It’s still early days, but I’m not expecting a whole lot from them this year.
Sheffield United also couldn’t handle their opposition in Crystal Palace, which is not a good sign for them. They’ll have another tester next weekend in Forest, but a convincing loss at home to Palace is not the best start.
Everton were somewhat unlucky in their loss to Fulham, but a loss is still a loss and they can’t afford more of these sorts of games. They looked better than their opponents offensively but weren’t clinical enough when it mattered.
If they want to avoid being embroiled in another relegation battle this year, they’ll need to find a solution to their goalscoring problems immediately.
No strong opinion just yet
Chelsea and Liverpool’s measly draw showed two teams that still need improvement, despite some good showings. Chelsea's almost completely new-look squad did work to an extent, and Liverpool’s very attacking lineup seemed to gel very nicely - although there was a clear lack of a true central midfielder (they can blame their opponents for that one).
I mentioned Villa already, but that was more speaking about Newcastle. Villa could and should improve upon that performance, it may just take some time to see what they can truly do.
Bournemouth and West Ham looked fairly evenly matched in their draw together. I’ll give them both some time to get into the swing of things before saying anything definitively, but West Ham may become challengers for the league once the implement the incredible talents of James Ward Prowse (there may be some slight bias in that statement. Maybe. Possibly.)
Wolves were unlucky to lose to Manchester United, though a loss is a loss. They had their chances but failed to take them properly. They’ll need to sort that out the same way Everton needs to sort out their similar issue.
Speaking on Man United, they weren’t up to their best on Monday night. Antony and Garnacho looked terrible, Martinez was far too rash, and Rashford looks like he needs some time to get back into the swing of things.
There’s some work to do with that side, but they did take some time to get going last year as well, and once they did they were really rolling. Maybe it will be the same again.
Tottenham weren’t bad in their performance against Brentford, but they have clearly taken a step backwards. Losing Kane and Lloris has hit them hard, and it’ll be tough to replace them in this window.
Game of the week
Without a shadow of a doubt, the best game this past weekend was found… in the Championship, Southampton 4, Norwich 4. It was sensational, even though we didn’t deserve to lose. You must check out the extended highlights when you have 10 minutes.
That out the way, the real best game of the week in the Premier League was Newcastle vs Aston Villa. The six-goal romping was a masterclass from Newcastle and if they can play like that every week, they will be an absolute joy to watch this season.
Special mention to Isak for his second goal. It was a moment of true brilliance.