The 2018/19 Premier League season kicked off over the weekend with plenty of drama and intrigue.
Managers were faced with the tough task of selecting squads despite a quick turnaround from the World Cup. Most teams weren’t fully fit, with players arriving from holiday late, and the transfer window slamming shut on Thursday.
However, the games took place all the same, and the results were close to what everyone expected.
Here are three takeaways from the Premier League’s opening weekend:
1. Manchester City looked comfortable as champion; Arsenal looked like Arsenal — After breezing through the Premier League last season, easily earning the title, Manchester City again looked poised and dominant in a 2-0 win against Arsenal. Raheem Sterling and Bernardo Silva, a player lauded by manager Pep Guardiola during the offseason, found the scorer’s sheet for Man City, neatly tucking away shots on either side of halftime. Man City looked the dominant force all afternoon, and didn’t even start Kevin De Bruyne, David Silva or Leroy Sane.
On the other hand, Arsenal, with new manager Unai Emery, looked similar to the hapless squad Arsene Wenger had been heading in recent seasons. The Gunners lacked a certain punch in the midfield, and their wide players were nonexistent, leaving ample space for City to streak down the sidelines. It could be a long season for Arsenal fans, and even sixth place isn’t guaranteed with Everton and Wolverhampton looking potent.
2. Chelsea looks more confident under Maurizio Sarri — It took forever to get Sarri’s contract sorted at Napoli before eventually arriving in London for his Chelsea switch. Subsequently, he received little time to incorporate his up-tempo approach, which has been named “Sarri-ball”. Sarri’s appointment helped the Blues keep Willian and Eden Hazard, and new signing Jorginho looked top class in central midfield.
Chelsea defeated Huddersfield 3-0 on the road, thanks to goals from N’Golo Kante, Jorginho (penalty) and Pedro, but it was Hazard’s late arrival that really had Chelsea fans watering at the mouth. Though not fully fit after vacation, Harzard looked a threat, making his usual pacy runs at defenders and creating scoring chances. If forward Alvaro Morata can regain some confidence, this Chelsea squad could be dangerous.
3. Watch out for Wolverhampton — The once-glorious franchise made its way back into the Premier League this season, and Wolves made their presence felt before the first whistle Saturday with a brilliant fire display before the game. Once the whistle sounded, they looked just as impressive incorporating all their new and surprisingly quality signings onto the pitch.
Wolverhampton drew an impressive-looking Everton side 2-2 even though it was up a player most of the game, but Ruben Neves, Joao Moutinho and Raul Jimenez looked top class. Adama Traore and Belgian international Leander Dendoncker are still waiting to get acclimated, and should make this team worthy of top-six contention.