What did we learn in Week 1 of the 2022-23 Premier League season? We’ll try to avoid generalizations from this terribly small sample size…but we’ve learned a lot.
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Here’s a look at 10 things that stood out, as our writers Joe Prince-Wright (JPW), Andy Edwards (AE) and Nicholas Mendola (NM) share their observations of the most recent PL games.
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1. Erling Haaland arrived in the Premier League (West Ham 0-2 Man City) – This is more confirmed than learned as most observers think Erling Haaland will do just fine in the Premier League, but seeing is believing as a combination of the limitless motor and physical blessings of Erling Haaland, it’s almost too much to fathom. The tall Norwegian was threatening to score in almost every possession. He didn’t look super tidy in the tight spaces but he was in the right places and that should send fair warning to the rest of the continent that Borussia Dortmund’s move to Manchester City is going to be very, very productive. (NM)
2. Darwin Nunez inspires sloppy Liverpool (Fulham 2-2 Liverpool) – At the start of the second half, Darwin Nunez jumped off the bench and Liverpool’s attack came to life. He scored one and created another because his presence in the penalty area caused so many problems for Fulham. The Uruguayan has made a huge impact and Roberto Firmino’s days as a starter are surely numbered. Nunez is already a fan favorite and his first PL appearance showed exactly what it’s all about. (JPW)
3. Godfrey’s injury and loss start Everton’s season with misfortune (Everton 0-1 Chelsea) – Jordan Pickford couldn’t save an errant pass that crossed the back line, but the assistant referee didn’t spot it and Kai Havertz instead grabbed the loose ball and didn’t was stopped only on a shot on goal by Ben Godfrey. difficult sliding challenge. But Godfrey fared much worse as a stretcher was immediately requested and Mason Holgate, who played reasonably well, was put in the match. A Toffees side without depth won’t be in good shape without Godfrey for a long time. And Yerry Mina later limped off the pitch. (NM)
4. Brighton understand Potter’s system and ever-shaky Man Utd need finishers (Manchester United 1-2 Brighton): While Manchester United still have a lot to learn under Erik ten Hag – especially mentally, according to Harry Maguire – Sunday’s visitors have a good understanding of what Graham Potter expects of them. Brighton were well-spaced and deadly on the counter, although United did little to limit the danger provided by the Seagulls. It’s not all bleak for United, who will know they need to find ways to get the ball to their forwards as Jadon Sancho and Bruno Fernandes were keen going forward. Marcus Rashford too, but the Englishman is still working to find his finishing touch and might have had a brace another day. (NM)
5. Tottenham much more than the Kane and Son show (Southampton 4-1 Tottenham): Spurs scored four goals on the opening day of the season, and all Harry Kane and Heung-min Son contributed to the cause was a meager assist between them. After combining for 40 goals and 16 assists between them last season, Spurs’ dynamic duo took a comfortable backseat on Saturday. Dejan Kulusevski largely ran the show from the right side. After conceding the opening goal, Tottenham were a constant threat to collect the ball high up the pitch and create scoring chances on one or two simple passes. Typically, Kane and Son binge on goals and assists in this scenario, but maybe this season they’ll be a bit more balanced and multi-faceted in their approach. (EA)
6. Leeds’ USMNT duo quickly find footing (Leeds 2-1 Wolves): Brenden Aaronson was involved in Leeds’ opener as his pressing helped win the ball and Rodrigo fired home at the near post. He then forced the winner because he would have scored if Ait-Nouri hadn’t kicked home and the ‘Medford Messi’ kept popping up in the smart zones. Tyler Adams was comfortable with the ball and played an excellent forward pass in the build-up to Leeds’ winner. Both seemed unfazed and at ease in the Premier League. The brute force of the Premier League can sometimes be too much for them, but both have shown they can make their mark quickly. (EA)
7. Mouth-watering Arsenal possession in solid win over Palace (Crystal Palace 0-2 Arsenal): The technical ability of each player in the Arsenal squad is rarely, if ever, questioned, but it’s always fascinating to watch the way they spin the ball on the pitch , playing casual one-touch passes and continuing their run to receive the next in the same motion. Technically and creatively they are quite equal to Manchester City and Liverpool, and that was revealed very early on Friday. The irony of Arsenal opening the scoring, after such a period of possession play, from a cleverly designed and drilled set-piece routine, is perfect. The ability to simply put the ball over the line when the pretty possession doesn’t pay dividends has been lacking at Arsenal for several years. Maybe they’re not ruthless yet, but opportunistic would still be a step up for the young Gunners. (AE).
8. Defensive Cherries get three surprise points (Bournemouth 2-0 Aston Villa): All credit goes to Bournemouth, who conceded 65 goals (3rd most) the last time they were in the Premier League (2019-20), plus manager Scott Parker for the way the Cherries defended and made Saturday’s game as easy as possible. All three centre-backs – Chris Mepham, Lloyd Kelly and striker Jefferson Lerma – were timely inside the penalty area (27 clearances between them) as they sat deep with plenty of redshirts surrounding the ball. (EA)
9. The Leicester City midfielder leads the way (Leicester 2-2 Brentford): Castagne put Leicester ahead from a corner, rushing to the front post to meet James Maddison’s serve and put an unmarked header past David Raya. And Dewsbury-Hall is used to scoring great goals, but there’s more to this story. The Dewsbury-Hall midfielder’s hard work and Maddison’s near-unrivaled creativity have two things in common: incredible confidence. Both men seem ready to pull off any feat, however improbable or long, at any time. (NM)
10. Newcastle show style, substance, then finally finish (Newcastle 2-0 Nottingham Forest): Newcastle were everywhere Nottingham Forest but narrowly miss the finishing touch in the opening 58 minutes at St. James’ Park, which was a powder keg as Bruno Guimares pulled the strings and Miguel Almiron took off his shorts to be baffled again by the Paraguyan’s hesitation to shoot (and the collected nature of Dean Henderson between the sticks for Forest). That changed when Fabian Schar had the time and space to unleash a combination of power and placement from 18 yards out, sending the stadium where he wanted to go all morning. (NM)