Premier League opening weekend brings thrills, hopes, feistiness, drama, hilarity

By Hilton Yip Source:Global Times Published: 2014-8-18 23:38:01

The opening weekend of the Premier League hardly failed to disappoint with a mix of the exciting, the dramatic and even the hilarious. There were memorable moments, though for Manchester ­United's new coach Louis van Gaal, not in a good way.

The very first game brought us the first upset of the season as Manchester United went down to Swansea at home. Manchester United are supposedly in a new era, but the loss brought back ­uncomfortable memories of the last one.

As for Arsenal, who should be aiming for higher than last season's fourth place, they gave up a goal against Crystal Palace before doing well to equalize, then win in the final minutes of added time. No repeat of last season's opener where they were beaten in a shocking loss to Aston Villa. Still, the labored victory left coach Arsene Wenger contemplating bringing back his German ­players, who he's giving a rest due to their World Cup exertions when they went all the way to the final and won, ahead of schedule. ­Arsenal face a must-win match this week when they play Besiktas in the first leg of a European Champions League qualifying playoff.

Crystal Palace did quite well considering the drama surrounding them. They were in the ignominious position of having the season's first managerial change, which happened before the season even started. Their former coach Tony ­Pulis suddenly resigned Thursday, citing ­issues with targeting new ­players, which the club's chairman denies. ­Pulis won the Manager of the Season for his ­miracle job last season for Palace, ­joining them in November and pushing them up from dead last to 11th, their best finish in the top division since 1992.

Tottenham made sure to snatch the jaws of victory from … a draw, as like crosstown rivals Arsenal, they also got a winner in the final minute of added time against West Ham.

Having said that, the best moment of the match came when a spectator ran onto the field as Spurs were about to take a free kick and, being hotly pursued by security, took a free kick that was actually on target. In fact, it was good enough that when I saw it unfold on TV, I momentarily thought it was a genuine free kick taken by a player, though I ­wondered why besides the goalkeeper, all the players were standing still.

Though Southampton were the victims of a purge instigated by bigger clubs buying up their best players over the summer, they did well against Liver­pool, who bought three of those good ­players, in a tight 2-1 defeat. ­Liverpool played their first competitive fixture since losing Luis Suarez in the ­off-­season, but Raheem Sterling and Daniel Sturridge made sure he wasn't missed.

As it is, it is much too early to tell how the season will unfold. It is too early to panic or feel too exuberant about any team. Unfortunately, the English ­media has already started focusing on the ­supposed failure of United and Van Gaal ­after their opening loss, but there is still a lot of soccer to be played.

The author is an editor with the Global Times.

Posted in: Extra Time

blog comments powered by Disqus