10 things learned from opening EPL weekend

Tuesday, August 9th, 2022 20:21 | By
Arsenal’s William Saliba (right) wins a tackle against Wilfred Zaha of Crystal Palace in their season opening match on Friday. PD/ FILE
Arsenal’s William Saliba (right) wins a tackle against Wilfred Zaha of Crystal Palace in their season opening match on Friday. PD/ FILE

The new Premier League season kicked off in thrilling style over the weekend, with 28 goals scored across the 10 top-flight games.

As we head into what is set to be the strangest campaign in the league’s history, with a six-week break for the World Cup this winter, we saw a shock at Old Trafford.

Erik ten Hag’s reign couldn’t have got off to a worse start as the Red Devils went down 2-1 to Brighton.

Elsewhere, there were dominant wins for Tottenham and Arsenal, while we witnessed a sparkling Premier League debut from Erling Haaland.

Liverpool put in a poor display and were held 2-2 by an Aleksandar Mitrovic-inspired Fulham with Jurgen Klopp blaming the ‘dry’ Craven Cottage pitch afterwards. Chelsea, Newcastle and Leeds also picked up three points, along with newly promoted Bournemouth, who stunned Aston Villa.

After three successive seasons spent out on loan, it has been a long time coming for Arsenal fans to see William Saliba feature in the Premier League.

Originally signed in 2019, the centre-back won Young Player of the Year in Ligue 1 last year after impressing Marseille, while he also won a place in the division’s Team of the Year.

And the Frenchman carried on his good form into Friday night’s Premier League opener against Crystal Palace as he starred at Selhurst Park, and was awarded man of the match in the Gunners’ 2-0 win.

He dealt with the tricky Palace frontline exceptionally well, which included a couple of crunching sliding tackles on Wilfried Zaha.

The fact Ben White was moved to right-back to accommodate Saliba was a significant show of faith by Mikel Arteta and the 21-year-old demonstrated composure and finesse throughout his debut.

With defensive problems haunting Arsenal at the back end of last season and ultimately leading to their quest for Champions League qualification failing, it raises questions as to why Saliba was loaned out for so long.

Following a record-breaking Championship campaign of 43 goals in 44 games for Aleksandar Mitrovic, there has been much talk of whether the Serbian is another player too good for the second tier but not quite talented enough for the Premier League. The striker had netted just 24 goals in 104 Premier League games before the weekend but showed his determination to prove the doubters wrong with a stunning performance against Liverpool.

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