Chelsea made a dramatic start to their Premier League title defence after falling to a 3-2 defeat by Burnley at Stamford Bridge that featured red cards for Gary Cahill and Cesc Fabregas.
Cahill was sent off by referee Craig Pawson after only 14 minutes for lunging at Steven Defour with a high tackle and Burnley’s response was to storm 3-0 ahead through two goals from Sam Vokes and a terrific strike by Stephen Ward.
Goals from Alvaro Morata and David Luiz sandwiched a second red card, this time for Cesc Fabregas who had been booked twice, in a second half dominated by the champions.
“Thanks for a great second half and I hope this spirit will drive on” – Former Chelsea defender Mario Melchiot (@mariomelchiot) is determined to find positives in the result.
Take a bow Sam Vokes, the Burnley striker who opened the visitors’ account and fired his second for a goal that ultimately proved to be the winner.
Visiting fans celebrated wildly at seeing their underdogs power 3-0 ahead and it was Vokes who spearheaded the upset.
Cahill is the obvious candidate on the grounds of his early red card, but it was the shortcomings of Chelsea’s entire defence that resulted in one of the greatest opening day upsets in Premier League history.
Burnley were outstanding but on each occasion they were given a helping hand by a leaky Blues rearguard who played as though they were strangers.
Dapper Italian Antonio Conte usually cuts a suave figure in the technical area but he was clad in a full Chelsea tracksuit for his side’s opening day defeat.
He made clear his disgust at the dismissal of Cahill, but the Blues boss was every exasperated with the performance of his players, although he can at least take heart from the fightback that fell short.
Thibaut Courtois : 5
Antonio Rudiger : 4
David Luiz : 4
Gary Cahill : 3
Cesar Azpilicueta : 5
N’Golo Kante: 5
Cesc Fabregas : 5
Marcos Alonso : 5
Michy Batshuayi: 5
Jeremie Boga : 6
Andreas Christensen (Boga, 18 and Musonda 92): 5
Alvaro Morata (Batshuayi 59): 7
Tom Heaton : 6
Matthew Lowton : 7
Jack Cork : 7
James Tarkowski : 7
Ben Mee : 6
Sam Vokes : 9
Robbie Brady : 7
Jeff Hendrick : 7
Steven Defour: 7
Johann Berg Gudmundsson : 6
Stephen Ward : 7
Jonathan Walters (Defour 75): 6
Scott Arfield (Gudmundsson 75): 6
Tottenham v Chelsea (Premier League, August 20 )
Burnley v West Bromwich Albion (Premier League, August 19 )
The 2017/18 Premier League season is underway and some of the Arab football stars on show have made it a point to leave their mark on the opening weekend.
Algerian attacking midfielder Riyad Mahrez and Egyptian defensive midfielder Mohamed Elneny were both in the thick of things as Arsenal beat Leicester City 4-3 in the opening fixture.
Meanwhile, Mohamed Salah impressed on his competitive debut for Liverpool as did Ahmed Hegazi who proved to be the match winner for West Brom.
Here’s a look at how these Arab footballers fared this weekend.
The Algerian was a constant threat during a pulsating game. He was a bit shackled in the first half but came alive in the second period.
He forced Petr Cech into a great save in the 56th minute but his resultant corner saw Jamie Vardy score.
Rating – 7/10
Shots – 2
Assists – 1
Key Passes – 1
Passing Accuracy – 76.7%
Touches – 62
Passes – 30
Dribbles – 2
In the same fixture, Elneny wound up on the winning side of this opening day thriller. He made an impact as early as the first minute with his inviting cross headed in by new signing Alexandre Lacazette.
No player had more tackles (4) than the Egyptian despite the midfielder coming off in the 66th minute.
Rating – 6/10
Shots – 1
Assists – 1
Key Passes – 2
Passing Accuracy – 90.3%
Touches – 87
Passes – 72
Tackles – 4
Liverpool’s new star winger had a difficult first half but won a penalty early in the second to drag Liverpool back into the game.
Roberto Fimino converted from the spot before then returning the favour with an assist for Salah to score on his competitive debut at his new club.
Rating – 7.5/10
Shots – 5
Assists – 1
Crosses – 1
Passing Accuracy – 77.8%
Touches – 32
Passes – 18
Dribbles – 1
The centre-back scored on his West Brom debut to earn all three points against Bournemouth.
The Egyptian defender powered home a header in the 31st minute from Chris Brunt’s corner kick. He also made a whopping 10 clearances at the other end of the pitch.
Rating – 8/10
Shots – 3
Aerials Won – 4
Key Passes – 1
Passing Accuracy – 72%
Touches – 41
Clearances – 10
Interceptions – 1
On paper, a winning goal for Wayne Rooney on his second debut as an Everton player in Premier League football, is as good as any script line could get.
And while the boyhood blue’s fabulous first-half header proved to be the vital difference for Ronald Koeman’s men as they beat Stoke City 1-0 on Saturday afternoon, Rooney’s performance was certainly mixed.
Here, we analyse the former Manchester United star’s second-coming for the Toffees.
What did you make of Rooney’s performance?
For the most part, he was too deep, stepping on the toes of Everton’s two defensive midfielders Morgan Schneiderlin and Idrissa Gueye. While he has never been an out-and-out striker, his decline in pace and movement has obviously contributed to this.
In fact, he was dispossessed four times in key midfield areas and was often slow in possession.
His goal obviously arrived courtesy of a run from deep but Everton need to play with more of a genuine threat in the final third, given Sandro Ramirez is the only other attacking option.
Rooney still seems to be getting back to his top fitness level and with tough tests to come against Manchester City, Chelsea, Tottenham and Manchester United, as well as a two-legged Europa League first-round play-off tie against Hajduk Split, he is sure to be tested to the max.
While Leighton Baines’ delivery from a deal-ball situation wasn’t as consistent last season as it has been in previous years, it’s been a surprise to see the left-back now only take a handful of set-pieces.
Rooney now seems to be Everton’s main free-kick and corner taker, from either side, but struggled to find any rhythm at Goodison.
A free-kick from 35 yards out in the 33rd minute, which he ballooned way over the bar when looking to steer the ball towards the back post, was proof of that.
Other than Baines, expect Rooney to take most dead ball plays when he’s on the pitch, with Kevin Mirallas being the only other player in the mix. That could all change though if Gylfi Sigurdsson pens his long-awaited transfer to the Blues.
England’s record goalscorer has been written-off by many, especially from a physical perspective, but the 31-year-old is still better than most when it comes to reading the game and adjusting his movement accordingly.
Having endured a largely anonymous 45 minutes, where sloppy possession and footwork characterized his afternoon in the Merseyside sun – suddenly, Rooney came to life.
Idrissa Gueye and Everton’s No.10 exchanged passes 30 yards out, and then eventually found the otherwise quiet Sandro who slid the ball to striker-turned-right-wing full-back Dominic Calvert-Lewin.
The England under-20 star hit a first time cross from the right which Rooney met with a bullet header, that was slightly behind him, to nod home his 199th Premier League goal and cue an emotional celebration.
The key was the way Rooney continued his run into the box, showing his desire to make an impact and get on the end of the cross. It has to be said, Mark Hughes won’t be pleased with his side’s defending.
If Rooney produces 10-15 moments of this magnitude this season then you would have to say it’s been good business to bring him back to the club by Koeman.
As Stoke tired and Everton controlled the lion’s share of the possession, Rooney began to thread forward-thinking ideas together and certainly looked more at ease with himself – the goal massively helping his confidence levels.
Indeed, he linked-up well with Calvert-Lewin and started to get the crowd behind him.
However, in truth, it was a dire contest – not one to fully judge Rooney on. It also served to heighten predictions made by many that Stoke could be relegated this season.
It’s one match, yes – but Rooney is of course a more effective player when playing a) regularly and b) knowing he is the main man in the starting line-up.
Defensively, Rooney manned the front post from opposition set-pieces to good effect – making a string of crucial interceptions.
He was again there in injury-time, winning tackles and helping Everton get up the other end of the pitch.
7 – A winning goal on his return to Goodison Park – his only effort on goal in the match – and three points to the Blues made it an afternoon to remember for Rooney.
He’s not the player of old by any stretch of the imagination and Everton need to find other alternatives, instead of relying on the boyhood blue to deliver on a frequent basis this season.