By Preye Campbell
The English Premier League is back and as expected, a weekend of talking points have emerged right from our screens.
The opening weekend of every season is usually highly anticipated. You get to see your favourite teams line up for the first time in their new kit, with those summer signings and with a new mission.
With an exciting season set for grabs in England, here are five things we have learned in the opening weekend of the 2020/21 season.
There is talk in town that for the first time in a long time, Arsenal could be set for a really exciting season. Of course, it is something that is usually being said at the start of every season and every time that statement is uttered, Arsenal go on to disappoint.
But there is something about Saturday’s convincing 3-0 hammering of Fulham that shows that maybe, just maybe, the North London side could be back! Arsenal kicked-off the season in fashionable style as goals from Alexandre Lacazette, new signing Gabriel Magalhaes and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang sealed the Gunners’ first three points of the season at Craven Cottage.
In the end, things could be short-lived for Mikel Arteta’s men as Saturday’s opponents were weak and the season is still long, but the optimism is high as it should be.
A perfect hat-trick from Mohammed Salah and a goal from Virgil Van Dijk may have changed the headline, but Jurgen Klopp’s men knew they survived a scare against newly-promoted Leeds United.
Leeds under experienced manager Marcelo Bielsa have been branded to be an exciting team that dominated the Championship- England’s second-tier league- with flawless attacking displays against their opponents, little wonder they won the Championship division.
The Premier League is a much bigger ground but Leeds looked to have held their own at the toughest ground in the Premier League. Leeds came from behind thrice as goals from Jack Harrison, Patrick Bamford and Mateusz Klich brought The Peacocks level before Van Dijk scored in the 88th minute of normal time. The performance itself was the story as Leeds dominated Liverpool in terms of possession, passes and forced errors out of Trent-Alexander Arnold and Van Dijk.
It is still early days, but we just might have this season’s dark horse already.
It has become a normal sight to see Wilfried Zaha linked with an exit from Crystal Palace, and it has also become normal to see him stay put with the Eagles in the end.
Zaha once again showed why Palace rate him highly as he scored the only goal to hand Roy Hodgson’s side a win against Southampton on Saturday. Palace, who handed summer signing Eberechi Eze his EPL debut as a substitute, were the second-best side against Southampton but a first-half strike from Zaha was enough to spare their blushes.
The transfer window is still open and Zaha has been linked with a move to Arsenal in recent times, so with a performance like this, Palace are set to battle it out for their prized asset.
Jose Mourinho has begun his first full season with Tottenham Hotspur in losing style as Dominic Calvert-Lewin scored in the 55th minute to hand Everton an away win on Sunday.
Spurs, fresh from their TV documentary, handed Mourinho an unwanted record as he becomes defeated on the opening matchday of a league campaign for the first time in his glittering career.
Spurs struggled to mount any real threat in their first game of the season and but for Richarlison missing chances, the scoreline would have been much bigger than that. The result leaves Spurs in 17th on the table and a response is well expected in the next game against Southampton.
Part of the excitement of opening day matches is seeing how new signings will fit into their teams. And it was a pleasing sight for Arsenal’s Brazilian pair Willian and Gabriel.
Willian joined the Gunners from Chelsea on a free transfer this window and has quickly endeared himself to the Emirates faithful, giving out a hat-trick of assists. The forward was instrumental to the team’s attack and handed another debutant Gabriel his first goal in an Arsenal shirt in the second half.
Although he did not score, Everton’s marquee signing James Rodriguez was an inspiration to the team as he dazzled against Tottenham. Rodriguez joined Everton from Real Madrid for £22 million and with a performance like Sunday’s victory, the Toffees could be set for a major boost from their star player. Carlo Ancelotti also handed out debut games for Allan and Abdoulaye Doucoure while Mourinho gave Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg his first Tottenham game.
Elsewhere, Leicester City’s new signing Timothy Castagne and Newcastle United’s Callum Wilson both scored in their debut games against West Brom and West Ham respectively.