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Pitch-Side Review: Leeds Show Spark; Spurs Lethargic; Wolves Come Out Swinging

Did we hit or miss with our what to watch for prior to week 1?

Craven Cottage, Fulham FC by Nick is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Pitch-Side Review: Leeds Show Spark; Spurs Lethargic; Wolves Come Out Swinging

Estimated Reading Time: 5 Minutes

Game week number 1 of the Premier League is behind us, and it was an interesting one to say the least. Due to scheduling, both Manchester Clubs, Burnley, and Aston Villa haven’t begun their campaigns. The matches were spread out over the course of three days, allowing there to be no overlap and giving us the chance to watch every match without flipping back and forth.

The first London Derby

Fulham hosted the first derby of the season, as Arsenal traveled across town for the season’s opening matchup. Due to the size of Craven Cottage, many of the camera angles made us feel like we were right at the touchline. Alexandre Lacazette got off to a quick start, proving he should be featured often this season. But a strike force isn’t what the Gunners have worried about.

New signing Gabriel started in central defense, and the Brazilian not only helped stabilize Arsenal’s biggest weakness, but he also got on the scoresheet with a thundering header four minutes into the second half. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang rounded out the scoring, giving the Gunners a 3-0 victory.

The jury is still out as to whether Arsenal will be able to have a performance like that against the likes of top 6 clubs, as Fulham didn’t seem up to the task. They’ll have plenty to work on in training, and Scott Parker will for sure be looking for a way to put the loss behind them and help the boys understand what it will take for them to compete at this level.

A Turf “derby”

Ryan Kelly‘s Southampton traveled to South London to kick things off against Justin Colombo‘s Crystal Palace. Our captain’s squad came away with the spoils after a lovely strike by Wilfried Zaha. The 27 year old Ivorian struggled immensely last season, scoring just four goals, so he’s already off to a better start. His finishing was suspect at points, and Palace had the opportunity to double their lead on more than one occasion. However a win is a win, and they’ll be looking to build on that in their quest to challenge for a European spot.

The Saints on the other hand didn’t seem to know where they should be marching. It’s clear that the loss of Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg is a big one for them. James Ward-Prowse became accustomed to playing higher up with Hojbjerg behind him, and Oriol Romeu doesn’t look like he’s going to be able to fill that void. After a strong run in after last season’s restart, the Saints will be looking to put the loss behind them quickly and regain the form they had over the summer.

Leeds prove they belong

I’m going to be honest. I thought Liverpool was going to smash Leeds, but Marcelo Bielsa’s side came at the Champions with a taste of their own medicine. The work rate was impressive, and they forced some uncharacteristic mistakes from the Liverpool back line. Virgil van Dijk gifted Patrick Bamford a goal, Joe Gomez wasn’t up to snuff, and even Trent Alexander-Arnold didn’t look himself.

While Liverpool came away with a 4-3 win, I’d argue that Leeds actually beat themselves. They gave away two silly penalties, which accounted for two of Mo Salah’s three goals. Liverpool need to get past this championship hangover quickly, while Leeds have a lot of positives to take away from this match despite the loss. Jack Harrison was immense, and may spend much of the season putting in man of the match worthy performances.

Regardless, this game was an instant classic. It was a feast of football that was a great watch for the neutrals.

Mourinho blasts ‘lazy’ Tottenham

Everton, while not playing exceptional football, are finding their footing after bringing in so much new blood. James Rodriguez, Allan, and Abdoulaye Doucouré will likely be able to link up quite a bit this season, and as soon as they get used to how to play together Everton may be able to legitimately challenge for a European place. If Richarlison hadn’t missed an open shot, this game could have gotten out of hand in the first half.

Spurs were lethargic and boring. They were lucky to only lose 1-0. The restart gave me some confidence they’d be able to come out of the gate strong, but no dice there. This performance flat out was not good enough. With a trip to Bulgaria coming in the week, they’ll need to be able to pull it together for their trip to Southampton next Sunday. The manager called the squad’s performance lazy, but also talked about how their pre-season training is to blame. Peak Mourinho in week 1.

Wolves have bark and bite

Wolves got off to a very fast start, scoring twice in the first six minutes. The Blades had uncharacteristically lackadaisical defending at the start, before finally gaining some footing in the middle third of the match. However it wasn’t enough, and Wolves took the match.

This could have easily been a 4-0 or 5-0 victory for Wolves, having missed a couple golden opportunities. That said, if they can shore up some of that finishing they’ll be exactly where we think they’ll be come the end of the season. This squad is fun to watch. I’m looking forward to seeing them play Leeds; that may be one of the most exciting matchups of the season.

Kepa, Kepa, Kepa

Chelsea came away with a sloppy victory at Brighton, relying on a penalty and a tough deflection to give them the win. Kepa Arrizabalaga once again showed why there’s speculation of Frank Lampard bringing in a replacement for him. Leandro Trossard lined up a shot from outside the box that bounced under Kepa’s wrist. That was the 19th goal he’s allowed from outside the penalty area since he’s joined Chelsea.

But on a brighter note, Timo Werner and Kai Havertz made their debuts and look to be a dynamic duo as the season rolls on. Werner was making some clever runs while Havertz was an absolute work horse. But the moment of the match came when Reece James found some space and rocketed in the goal of the week.

Kevin is an actor, director, playwright, and musician who works in tech. He is die hard New England sports and an avid Tottenham supporter. His qualifications include scoring 1 point in his elementary school basketball career, 4 years of mixed little league results, and breaking his arm with a skip-it days before pre-season workouts started for Freshman football.

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