Gameweek 1 kicked off the 2023/24 Premier League season this weekend and with all of the games in the rearview mirror, here are the main talking points.
Hard to stop Haaland
The opening match on Friday night saw Burnley welcome treble-winning Manchester City to Turf Moor in a game that many home fans were not hopeful for.
That pessimism was duly affirmed as the Cityzens held a two-thirds majority of the possession for the full 90 minutes, fired eight shots on-target towards James Trafford’s goal, and waltzed to a 3-0 victory.
As expected, the main influence of the City attack, Erling Haaland, found himself on the scoresheet twice within the first 45 minutes, and it took him less than 240 seconds to hit the back of the net.
Last season’s golden boot winner is level with Newcastle’s Alexander Isak in the race to be this campaign’s leading scorer, but if Friday’s match is anything to go by, he will be tough to stop.
No one-season wonder
Newcastle United are top of the Premier League.
Having secured Champions League football last season thanks to their fourth-placed finish, just four points behind Manchester United, The Magpies continued their rapid progression into a top-of-the-table side on Saturday thanks to their 5-1 victory over Aston Villa.
Although a scoreline of that size can sometimes exaggerate how one-sided a match was, Newcastle deserved every goal with 13 shots on target from 17 taken and having enjoyed 53% of the possession.
Eddie Howe’s side couldn’t have asked for a better start to their season with the need to fight in four competitions this year, and with a game at the Etihad next on their agenda, we could be set for a cracker between two in-form teams.
A costly late decision
In the final game of gameweek one between Manchester United and Wolverhampton Wanderers, it was the hosts that ground out a victory under the lights at Old Trafford.
Coming into the evening, it was expected that the Red Devils would glide past Wolves in a facile manner, however, that assumption was far from the truth.
Gary O’Neil’s side largely out-battled United in key moments of the match, and yet, thanks to the multitude of saves from Andre Onana between the stick and Raphael Varane’s headed goal in the 76th minute, Erik Ten Haag’s men collected the much-needed three points.
However, one moment that caused controversy late into added time was a penalty appeal from the visitors after United’s keeper collided with Sasa Kalajdzic in mid-air.
Despite VAR taking a look at the incident, no penalty was awarded and United kept hold of their lead.
Since then, referee Simon Hooper, VAR Official Michael Salisbury, and VAR assistant Richard West have not been selected to officiate in the next round of Premier League fixtures.
Luton already in trouble
Having clawed their way into the top-flight of English football after a dramatic Championship play-off final, Luton Town will find the next nine months of football very challenging.
This idea has been widely reported within the footballing community, and Saturday’s 4-1 defeat at the hands of Brighton & Hove Albion confirmed this.
With the Seagulls without Moises Caicedo, who is on the brink of completing a move to Chelsea for a British record transfer fee, they still dominated play from the front foot with 27 total shots, 12 of which were on target.
The hosts also controlled possession with a 71% majority to go alongside their 91% pass accuracy and four goals.
Admittedly, Brighton were one of the most consistent teams in the league last season, so this result didn’t come as a surprise, but the Hatters could only muster three attempts on goal and never looked like winning the game.
A change in luck and character is needed to help Luton turn things around because, based on their opener, it looks like the writing could already be on the wall.
Wissa holds Brentford’s hopes
Although they were held to a draw by Tottenham Hotspur, fans of Brentford should be pleased with how their side performed at the weekend.
Just one point that separated the Lilywhites and the Hornets at the end of last season, and that evenly matched ability was on display at the Gtech Community Stadium as the game finished 2-2.
One player who made it onto the scoresheet for the hosts was Yoane Wissa who joined the club in 2021 and has 15 goals for the London-based team.
Alongside teammate Bryan Mbeumo, he linked up well with the players around him and having started and scored in the opening game of the season, his deployment into the starting XI could be crucial to see Brentford their good form from last season.