Well, here we are and the Barclays Premier League is back. However, it wasn’t quite back with the back we were all hoping for, as there seemed to be a bit of a post-World Cup slump from most of the teams. Players were tired and teams seemed more content on not losing rather than going for the win.
The biggest surprise did of course occur at Old Trafford where Swansea City managed to spring a shock and inflict upon Manchester United, a first home opening league defeat since 1972 when Ipswich Town went back home with a 3-2 win under their belts. Manager Louis van Gaal seemed as downbeat as everyone leaving the ground on Saturday afternoon and he quickly acknowledged responsibility for the defeat while assertively reminding vice-chairman Ed Woodward of the need for reinforcements.
Meanwhile, there were wins for Arsenal, Liverpool and Manchester City who all made hard work of their victories but ultimately managed to get the 3 points to kick-start their league campaigns. There was mixed emotions for two of the promoted sides while Leicester managed to hold Everton to a 2-2 draw at the King Power Stadium while QPR fell to a 1-0 home defeat against Hull City.
Lambert deserves this award, as before the season started no one would have given his side a win against the local Sunday league side, never mind against Stoke City. However, Lambert skilfully managed his side to a tough away victory, which ensured Villa started the season with a vital win.
The goal came from Andreas Weimann, Villa need him to have a good season and while Villa need to desperately have a season that is progressive, they began it in the right way. The appointment of Roy Keane as assistant manager may prove to be another masterstroke from Lambert.
Another coming of the Messiah for United fans and another…defeat at home. Louis van Gaal is clearly a world class manager and while there is belief he will get it right and there is a clear vision for how he wants United to play, in vast comparison to David Moyes it has to be said, ditching his 3-4-1-2/5-3-2 formation after only 45 minutes represented something of a desperate act from the Dutchman.
The formation change seemed to represent that what needs dispersing at Old Trafford – the idea that United cannot play any other way. Any other formation, tactics are useless due to the need to play 4-4-2/4-4-1-1. While it’s true van Gaal needs help with new signings, he needs to instil his solid blueprint, as there is evidence for it working rather effectively at his previous club's and with Holland at the World Cup.
As much as United were disappointing, Swansea were equally solid and at some points industrious. While they didn’t really have to do much to successfully get at United, what they did do, they did very well. The finish from Ki Sung-Yeung was exquisite while the build-up to the goal was also very good.
They defended the sporadic attacks from United well while nullifying the 3-4-1-2 formation to great effect. Juan Mata, Wayne Rooney and Javier Hernandez were hardly given a sniff all afternoon and while it is only the first game, Swansea have claimed the first shock of the season and great credit to them.
A surprising recipient as he usually is on the end of a gripe somewhere! However, Lee Cattermole pulled a rabbit right out of the hat with this strike as he picked the ball up around 25-yards from goal and proceeded to arrow the ball right into the top right-hand corner. Splendid.
A major gripe for all concerned was the apparent rustiness from all involved throughout the weekend. While there were periods of good play and flourishes of brilliance, there wasn’t anything to really make the opening weekend stand out.
All teams seemed to be suffering from a post-World Cup hangover and the major sides with the exception of Manchester United, seemed to be content to grind their way to victory rather than go all out. We can only hope that its get back to the Premier League we know and love soon.
Categories: Premier League