With the passionate football fans around the globe filled with excitement, the 2015/16 Barclays Premier League finally kicked off on Saturday. With new kits, new sponsors, new players, new managers and perhaps some new fans, the first round of entertaining games gave us 27 goals and also some surprising results. But then again, why be surprised? The Premier League was, is, and always will be the most unpredictable football league in the world.
Manchester United 1 – 0 Tottenham Hotspur
The de Gea saga did not end as the season began as United faced Spurs at Old Trafford and Louis van Gaal gave Sergio Romero his first start for the club. New signings Matteo Darmian, Morgan Schneiderlin, and Memphis Depay were also included in the starting line-up. Bastian Schweinsteiger was on the bench and came on as a second half substitute.
Fans were still unhappy with United’s defensive problems as Daley Blind and Chris Smalling started as center backs.
The only goal of the match came in the form of an own goal from Kyle Walker midway through the first half.
United are known to be slow starters in the Premier League, but when you look at the defence and the opponents, it seems like a job well done as the Red Devils came out on top with 3 points and a clean sheet.
Norwich City 1 – 3 Crystal Palace
French midfielder Yohann Cabaye was re-united with former Newcastle United manager Alan Pardew as he was given his debut against newly promoted Norwich City. He went on to score the third and final goal for Crystal Palace in the 94th minute.
Palace went in at half-time with a 1-0 lead courtesy of a goal from Wilfried Zaha. Skipper Damien Delaney then made it 2-0 as Palace started to get comfortable at Carrow Road.
The deficit, then came down to one as substitute Nathan Redmond’s long range drive ended up in the back of the net 21 minutes from time.
Controversial decisions were made as Cameroon Jerome’s acrobatic equalizer was disallowed for a high boot. A potential penalty to Norwich was not given after Sebastian Bassong went down after a challenge from Conor Wickham.
Just moments later, Yohann Cabaye sealed the victory in the 94th minute as Palace left Carrow Road with all 3 points.
Leicester City 4 – 2 Sunderland
This was the highest scoring match of the weekend. Leicester manager Claudio Ranieri returned to England after 11 years. The Foxes were on song under their new manager as they went three up inside 25 minutes courtesy of a goal from Jaimie Vardy and a double from Riyad Mahrez.
Lee Cattermole was instantly taken off just before the half hour mark and replaced by striker Steven Fletcher as Sunderland manager Dick Advocaat switched to a 4-4-2. The score-line remained 3-0 at half time.
Jermaine Defoe pulled one back for the Black Cats in the 60th minute to give them some hope. But Leicester re-established the three goal cushion just 5 minutes later as Marc Albrighton took full advantage of the poor Sunderland defence to make it 4-1. Substitute Steven Fletcher put the ball into the Foxes’ net 5 minutes later to make it 4-2 and the score stayed the same till the final whistle.
A brilliant and balanced performance put in by Leicester City as their attack was formidable and the defence stayed strong with Kasper Schmeichel making some beautiful saves to ensure Sunderland couldn’t get more than two goals.
Everton 2 – 2 Watford
The stage was set at Goodison Park as The Toffees were set to host Premier League newbies Watford. Miguel Layun gave the visitors an early lead after his strike beat Tim Howard in the 13th minute. It was sort of a cagey game as Watford went into half time with their precious one goal lead.
Things weren’t going to change till the 75th minute of the match when Everton’s hard work paid off as Arouna Kone set up Ross Barkley, who unleashed an unstoppable strike straight into the top right corner to make it 1-1. Just as the fans thought the hosts would complete the turnaround, substitute Odion Ighalo cancelled out Ross Barkley’s equalizer to give the visitor’s the lead again and the hope to win their first top flight game since 2007.
Arouna Kone had different plans as he pounced on a pass from Romelu Lukaku to make it 2-2. It was a very special moment for the Ivorian international, as he returned after a 14 month break due to a knee injury.
AFC Bournemouth 0 – 1 Aston Villa
In the past few years, Aston Villa have sold many good players – James Milner, Gareth Barry, Stewart Downing, Ashley Young. And now Christian Benteke was sold to Liverpool. The Villains were a bit concerned before their trip to the Vitality Stadium to face Premier League debutants AFC Bournemouth.
It was a cagey game and both the teams failed to score in the first 45.
The only goal of the match came from new recruit and substitute Rudy Gestede who scored in the 72nd minute, 15 minutes after coming on.
Not a very satisfactory win for Tim Sherwood’s men, but 3 points and a clean sheet after the first round of fixtures could really be a good morale booster for players and fans, especially after losing their star striker to Liverpool.
Chelsea 2 – 2 Swansea City
The defending champions came into this game after a disappointing loss to local rivals Arsenal in the Community Shield. Jose Mourinho fielded his first choice starting 11 against an unpredictable Swansea City who had a pretty decent side as well.
Oscar put the hosts in front after 22 minutes, scoring the first goal of this thoroughly entertaining match, from a free-kick. Swansea didn’t sit back as Andre Ayew put the ball past Thirbaut Courtois just 6 minutes later to make it 1-1. Chelsea came back with an instant response as Willian’s cross took a nasty deflection of Federico Fernandez and went over Fabinski and into the net as the Blues had their lead back after just 90 seconds. The turning point of the match was the controversial penalty which was awarded to Swansea after a challenge on Bafetimbi Gomis by Courtois, which saw the Belgian goalkeeper getting a red card. Gomis then converted the penalty to make it all square.
Even with 10-men, Chelsea posed a major threat, but the score-line remained 2-2 after the final whistle.
His name is Oumar Aga, he is neither the fastest man alive nor was he stuck on a hellish island for five years only to return and save his city. He is merely a student of Pharmacy, residing in Pune, Maharashtra. He is involved in various social and extracurricular activities – Content writing being one of them. He is a part of the admins panel of Manchester United Fan Club Pune and an organiser for regular football meets and tournaments.