Who stood out and who had a weekend to forget in the first round of Premier League fixtures?
After a wonderful summer of thrills, spills and controversy at the FIFA World Cup in Russia, the Premier League finally returned last weekend, with Manchester United kicking off the season on Friday night by defeating Leicester City.
The first round of fixtures saw the majority of the big teams picking up three points, as Liverpool, Chelsea, Manchester City and Tottenham Hotspur all started off with wins.
On the other hand, Bournemouth secured their first-ever opening fixture victory in the Premier League, whilst Crystal Palace and Watford also sealed solid starts to the league season.
Each week, we’ll be taking a closer look at the stand-out players and teams as well as the under-performers. Here are our three winners and three losers from game week one.
1) Luke Shaw – Manchester United
The left-back has found it incredibly difficult to please United boss Jose Mourinho, but his performance against Leicester could only be admired.
The Englishman was flying up and down the left-flank and even managed to net with a good finish past Kasper Schmeichel – his first goal in senior football.
What was most impressive about Shaw was his fitness and willingness to have the ball. In previous seasons, it has been clear that he has lacked confidence, but he looked imperious on Friday night. After a performance like that, it’ll be hard for Mourinho to drop him.
2) Richarlison – Everton
After securing a big-money move to the Toffees, the spotlight was shining on the winger against Wolves and boy, did he deliver. The Brazilian was almost unplayable at times and scored twice to earn ten-man Everton a point. His first goal was a matter of being in the right place at the right time but his second was a sumptuous finish into the far corner.
With all the pressure on his shoulders, Richarlison proved that he can be the man to lead Everton’s charge for European football this season and any doubts about him have somewhat been quashed.
After being convincingly beaten by the Sky Blues in the Community Shield, it was crucial for Maurizio Sarri to open his Premier League account with a victory, and they did just that by thrashing Huddersfield Town.
The Blues started without Eden Hazard, but it was no problem as they swarmed all over the Terriers in a brilliant first-half performance. Sarri managed to persuade Jorginho to join the London club and it could turn out to be a decisive move as the Italian bossed the midfield.
There is still plenty to come from this Chelsea side, but they showed their title credentials with a dominant display on Saturday.
1) Phil Jagielka – Everton
Nobody wants to start off the season with a straight red card and suspension, but that was the fate suffered by Jagielka after taking down Diogo Jota five minutes before half-time.
The Englishman’s position in defence is now at risk of being lost to new arrival Yerry Mina and he could find it difficult to get back into the side. He had a good chance to show new boss Marco Silva that he is worthy of starting at the back, but it turned out to be a nightmare first match for the veteran.
2) West Ham United
The Hammers have invested heavily this summer and looked like they assembled a strong squad, however, the east Londoners were toothless against Liverpool and comfortably beaten 4-0.
Manuel Pellegrini’s side can’t be judged on this first game alone, but it was clear to see how disorganised they were in defence as Sadio Mane prodded the ball into an empty net on the stroke of half-time.
There was a real excitement amongst Hammers fans prior to the opener, but the defeat has seemingly knocked them back down to earth.
3) Mesut Ozil – Arsenal
The Gunners had an opportunity to state their intent going into the new season by playing reigning champions Manchester City, but they looked the exact same as they were last term.
No doubt, new boss Unai Emery needs some time to implement his methods into the squad, but he needs senior players like Ozil to help him out with good performances on the pitch.
The German was a peripheral figure for a majority of the match at the Emirates and if Arsenal are to push for a UEFA Champions League spot, he needs to take control of these big matches.
Now @MesutOzil1088 has the ball in the net – but once again, the flag is raised on the far side
— Arsenal FC (@Arsenal) August 12, 2018
Zaha faces Liverpool at Selhurst Park on Monday evening having taken his tally for the club to 23 top-flight goals with his side’s second in Saturday’s 2-0 win at Fulham, in the process equalling Chris Armstrong’s 23-year-old record.
He will do so having also committed his future to the Eagles by putting pen to paper on a deal which will keep him at the club until the summer of 2023 on Wednesday.
Zaha, 25, told the club’s official website www.cpfc.co.uk: “I just wanted to get it over and done with so I can just focus on the season. I’m buzzing that we managed to get it sorted.”
The Ivory Coast international played a major role in Palace’s surge to safety last season after returning from injury, and has started the new campaign in just as impressive form.
Having matched Armstrong’s feat, he is keen to eclipse it at the first opportunity.
Asked if he could break the record soon, he said: “Hopefully Monday! It’s nice to see that I’ve managed to reach that level and I can break it on Monday. It’s nice to know all the effort I’m putting in is actually paying off.”
Zaha joined Palace at the age of 12, although he made four senior appearances for Manchester United during a two-year spell on the books at Old Trafford following a £15million transfer in January 2013.
Chairman Steve Parish was delighted to tie up a man who returned to the club in a permanent switch in February 2015.
He said: “Wilf grew up a stone’s throw from Selhurst Park from the age of four, and has been with the club since he was 12. This agreement is yet another example of his lifelong commitment to the club and our commitment to him.
“This is an amazing day for everyone here at Palace, our supporters and of course Wilf – and is richly deserved.”
However, instead of replacing World Cup-winning Didier Deschamps, the 46-year-old has apparently set his sights on taking up a hotseat in England.