By Niall Clarke
- Five lessons learned from the second round of fixtures in the Premier League
- Full results from the weekend
Week two of the Premier League had it’s share of surprises, but the title favourites remain untouched along with Hull City. Here are our five lessons learned from match-day two.
The promoted teams proved they belong
Many were quick to write off the chances of Hull and Burnley staying in the Premier league. It seems many of us had not learned anything from last season, but match-day two taught Premier League fans a lot about the newly promoted clubs.
Burnley, many people’s tip to finish last, took advantage of more calamitous Liverpool defending to secure a 2-0 victory as the Premier League returned to Turf Moor. First-half goals from Sam Vokes and Andre Gray was enough to seal the surprise victory, and show that Burnley will be no pushovers.
With just 13 first team members, a caretaker manager and nothing seemingly being spent, Hull claiming six points out of six was only a distant dream before kick off against Leicester last week. The 2-1 victory raised spirits, and now Hull City fans are seemingly in dream land. A 2-0 victory over Swansea, thanks to two late goals by Sean Maloney and Abel Hernandez, kept the Tigers 100% in their Premier League return. Next up, Manchester United.
With some good signings over the summer, Middlesbrough were favourites out of the three promoted clubs to stay in the Premier League. A 2-1 away win at North East rivals Sunderland did nothing to damper that optimism.
It was three wins for the newly promoted clubs, and they proved they belong in the Premier League with their performances.
The Golden Boot race will be fascinating
As if you did not know already. It was a great week for strikers in predicted title challenging clubs, thus further intensifying the early race for the Golden Boot.
It started on Friday as a Zlatan Ibrahimovic brace helped Manchester United to a 2-0 victory over Southampton. The Swede netted his second and third goal of the season with a header and penalty respectively.
Sergio Aguero continued his fine goal scoring form with a brace of his own in Manchester City’s 4-1 victory away at Stoke. The Argentine put his midweek woes from the spot behind him to convert a controversial penalty before heading home a second off Kevin De Bruyne’s free kick.
Diego Costa reminded everyone that he is still around, not that you needed it. The Spaniard was involved in his usual controversy after his dive went unpunished- a second yellow would have seen him be dismissed. Costa however would go on to score a late winning goal for his side for the second week running. The Chelsea striker is showing more of the form we saw in his first season in England.
The new emphasis on shirt pulling will spark much debate and controversy
Shirt pulling and pushing in the penalty area as the a dead ball is delivered was something referees tended to ignore due to the persistent nature of it by all teams. However, new ruling says that officials must clamp down on this behaviour, something that came to the forefront in Saturday’s game at the Britannia between Stoke and Manchester City.
Mark Hughes was furious after referee Mike Dean awarded City a penalty in the first half and Ryan Shawcross‘s shirt pull on Nicolas Otamendi. The Potters received a penalty of their own for the same offence with Raheem Sterling being the culprit.
Impeding a member of the opposing team is an offence, but the key here is consistency. Will the referees be able to keep that during the course of 90 minutes, never mind a whole season?
It is an issue that will no doubt raise the temperatures of managers up and down the table and spark controversy. It will be interesting to see how that develops over the course of the season.
It is amazing how much difference one defender makes
Arsenal and Leicester City battled to a goalless draw at the King Power stadium in a match that was expected to provide goals. Leicester did not look like the defensive unit they were during the second half of last season in the opening fixture, whilst Arsenal were torn to shreds by Liverpool.
However, both teams looked steadier at the back this time around. That is thanks, in large part, to the return of Laurent Koscielny and Robert Huth respectively.
The Frenchman and German missed the opening weekend where their sides flopped to defeat, but in their return the two sides defence improved tenfold. You could guarantee there would be numerous goals if this fixture was played a week earlier, but as it happens it finished 0-0 – a rather disappointing score-line for a much hyped match-up.
Their leadership in defence made for better organisation and their ability to read the game often broke down opposition attacks. If that match taught us anything, it is how important these two players are for their clubs.
This season really is going to be difficult to call
No matter which area of the table you try and predict, you end up changing a week later – such is the unpredictability of this season. The two Manchester clubs and Chelsea have all started with 100% records in completely different styles. They have shown quality, but also enough weakness to show they can be gotten at.
The promoted clubs have proven their worth this weekend, making the relegation battle much more interesting. And the battle for European places could feature almost anyone.
Nobody is certain of finishing anywhere and that is what makes this season so intriguing. It is going to be a ride that is full of twists, turns and unpredictable action. So kick back, relax and enjoy the rollercoaster.
Manchester United 2-0 Southampton
Stoke City 1-4 Manchester City
Burnley 2-0 Liverpool
Swansea City 0-2 Hull City
Tottenham 1-0 Crystal Palace
Watford 1-2 Chelsea
West Brom 1-2 Everton
Leicester 0-0 Arsenal
Sunderland 1-2 Middlesbrough
West Ham 1-0 Bournemouth
The Premier League continues on August 27th.
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