#360view: Slow start for top teams

It was a competitive start for many clubs in the Premier League. The newly promoted sides only picked up one point between them and there were some upsets involving the top teams. Time to see how Manuel Pellegrini's Manchester City perform.

Alex Rea
by Alex Rea
10th August 2015

article:10th August 2015

Opening day blues: The EPL title contenders were unconvincing.
Opening day blues: The EPL title contenders were unconvincing.

For some, namely Manchester United and Liverpool, at least it was better than last season. For others, that’s you Chelsea and Arsenal, there’s work to do and a degree of pressure on already.

It’s early days but not one of the top sides has laid down a marker on opening weekend – though Manuel Pellegrini’s Manchester City could spring out the stocks at West Brom on Monday night after others stumbled.

On Saturday, United got off to a winning start but they needed a Kyle Walker own goal to do it. Louis van Gaal’s side were ponderous and leggy, a stark contrast to a side who might challenge for the title, and given their £80 million (Dh455m) outlay over the summer, there was not a lot to show for it.

They were not terrible against Tottenham, that mantle was taken by the Gunners on Sunday, but the result was far from convincing.

It was better than this time last year when the new dawn of the Dutchman’s reign ended with a 2-1 defeat to Swansea at Old Trafford but his new-look side have not resolved all of their past problems.

They still look uncertain at the back and the forward line did little to support the argument that they don’t need any attacking additions.

There were some genuine positives, though. Memphis Depay looked sharp in the first half and Matteo Darmian’s bursting runs are sure to be a feature this season.

And that’s plenty more than can be said of Arsene Wenger’s men, who had the rude awakening that there’s more to plotting a genuine assault on the league title than signing a prized goalkeeper from the current champions.

– Jose Mourinho: ‘Chelsea medical staff were naive’
– De Gea: Van Gaal hopeful ‘keeper will stay at Utd
– GALLERY: The EPL’s biggest opening day upsets

There’s been a cauldron of optimism around the Emirates Stadium since Petr Cech’s arrival. But when the real business started, it was West Ham who showed up. That optimism now replaced with the lingering concerns about the same old problems.

Cheikhou Kouyate’s opener shows they’re still flimsy at the back and their missed opportunities prove the Gunners are lacking a punch up front when Alexis Sanchez is not in the side. Most depressingly for Arsenal fans was Cech. Exposed for both goals he is going to find this season tough in a side designed to pour forward. 

It will be a major shift for a goalkeeper so used to a goal area as secure and well-protected as the one at Stamford Bridge. But even there was a reminder of how difficult it will be for Jose Mourinho to retain the Premier League crown.

The Blues were rattled by Swansea and with three weeks before the transfer window shuts, surely the Portuguese is contemplating opening Roman Abramovich’s chequebook.

That’s something Brendan Rodgers has done over the summer and even though vengeance was theirs against Stoke, it’s clear more work is needed if they are going to compete at the top end.

Philippe Coutinho bumped the monkey off Rodgers’ back in a match of huge significance following their embarrassing 6-1 battering on the final day of the season.

But there was caution in their play and it’s clear they’ll need to learn how to get the best from Christian Benteke.

Sat in the stands was Xherdan Shaqiri, and his imminent move to Stoke is an example of the impressive business done by teams considered as mid-table operators.

There’s plenty of stutters and tumbles from the front-runners to come but will anyone emerge as the sole thoroughbred this season?

Over to you, Manuel. 



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