Premier League returns: goals galore for the big guns
Five of the big six win as Liverpool, Man City and United hit 13 between them
There were goals galore on the first weekend of the Premier League with wins for five of the Big Six. Only Chelsea were left feeling blue as the Frank Lampard reign began with a thrashing at Old Trafford
Chelsea left Blue by United
Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer began his first full season at Old Trafford with a thumping 4-0 win over Chelsea with goals from Marcus Rashford (two), Daniel James and Anthony Martial. It was United's biggest win at Old Trafford over Chelsea since 1965, and for new Blues' boss Frank Lampard, it was the heaviest defeat for a new Chelsea manager since Danny Blanchflower lost 7-2 at Middlesbrough in December 1978 in his first game in charge. “We are missing internationals and big players but I don't want that to be an excuse,” reflected Lampard. “We made four mistakes and they put them away. It is a reality check for us all... It hurts but we shouldn't let it consume us or affect us going forward. I have lost by a few goals here a couple of times. We will bounce back.”
For Solskjaer, the result is a vindication of his summer transfer activity, particularly the goal from new boy Daniel James and the man of the match performance from £80m signing Harry Maguire. The former Leicester central defender looked composed on his debut and told reporters: “I felt good. I've only had three or four days with the lads. I am going to get fitter and better.... we knew there were only two clean sheets last year here [and] we need to make it a fortress.”
1-0 to the Arsenal
There was grit if not much glamour from the Gunners at a sodden St James' Park as they started the season with a spirited 1-0 win over Steve Bruce's Newcastle. The pre-match build-up had been dominated by the news that Mesut Ozil and Sead Kolasinac had been stood down for security reasons, and with a raft of other injuries manager Unai Emery was forced to field a patched-up starting XI that included two 19-year-olds in Joe Willock and Reiss Nelson, and Callum Chambers, last seen in an Arsenal shirt in April 2018. Nevertheless, a disciplined defensive performance and a smartly-taken second-half goal from Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang sealed victory for the Gunners. “We fought today a lot,” said Aubameyang, whose strike partner, Alexander Lacazette was missing through injury. “It was important to start with a win, last season we started bad, so we are happy.”
Hammers battered by Sky Blues
Raheem Sterling was City's hero in their 5-0 thrashing of West Ham at the London Stadium. The England striker scored a hat-trick to continue the rich vein of form he showed in the pre-season warm-up matches. Asked to pinpoint Sterling's strengths, City manager Pep Guardiola said “consistency, physicality, the finishing” before issuing a warning for the rest of the Premier League. “He is in his first days playing as a striker but for me striker will be an incredible position for him.”
Gabriel Jesus and Sergio Aguero also got on the scoresheet as the video assistant referee [VAR] featured prominently in its first season in the EPL. First, it ruled out a Jesus effort because of Sterling's offside, and then it proved that Declan Rice had encroached into the penalty area as Lukasz Fabianski saved Aguero's penalty. The Argentine made no mistake with his second attempt from the spot. Hammers' manager Manuel Pellegrini had no complaints with the VAR decisions, saying: “It will be good for the referees. I think it is useful for the results. It is not easy to accept... but if it is used in the correct way I think that it will improve [matches].”
So easy for Liverpool
City's resounding victory came less than 24 hours after Liverpool had caned the Canaries 4-1 at Anfield. The Friday fixture was grimly predictable for the Premier League new boys, who were four down at the break, and only avoided a heavier thrashing when the Reds eased off in the second half. “It was tough to take but I felt we were not too far away from a good result,” said Norwich manager Daniel Farke, doing his best to put a positive if unrealistic spin on the 90 minutes.
Kane rescues Spurs
Tottenham struggled to break down Aston Villa after the visitors took an early lead through John McGinn. They eventually levelled through new signing Tanguy Ndombele on 73 minutes before Harry Kane scored twice in the last five minutes. “We have a lot of work to do,” said Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino, whose next challenge is a trip to Manchester City on Saturday. “We made a lot of mistakes and didn't work well in the first half... we were a bit confused and that is my fault, I'm the manager.”
In other results, Burnley beat visitors Southampton 3-0 thanks to a brace from Ashley Barnes, while Brighton produced a similar scoreline at Watford, prompting new boss Graham Potter to exclaim: “To score three away from home and not concede is a dream.” Crystal Palace and Everton finished goalless, as did Leicester and Wolves, while it ended one apiece between Bournemouth and Sheffield United.