Opening Weekend Talking Points

A 31 goal haul in the opening weekend included a dreadful start for reigning champions Chelsea, a glorious performance from new boys Huddersfield and a predicable south coast bore draw. Below are some of the biggest talking points and questions from the first weekend of the 2017-18 season.

The New Boys

It’s long been said that it takes time to adjust to the Premier League and to new teams. 9 of the 31 scored however were from new signings, and 6 of those were from players starting this year in a new league. There were also 7 assists from new players (this excludes Mooy who was on loan at his current club last season).

Big money signings Lacazette, Salah and Morata all found the net but with varying outcomes for their respective teams, while both Lukaku and Mounie bagged braces on their debuts. Could a player in their debut season win the golden boot for the first time since Van Persie in 2012-13?

The Underdogs

Brighton and Newcastle gave quite good accounts of themselves despite losses (and Shelvey’s actions). To lose 2-0 against potential league winners isn’t bad. The Seagulls will struggle this season and the Magpies must strengthen to avoid joining them, especially given injuries to both Dummett and Lejeune.

Huddersfield are another prospect altogether. Not many expect them to survive and they came up with a negative goal difference but despite that they kept an away clean sheet and beat a new-look Palace with ease. They played the same 4-2-3-1 system from their promotion season and pegged the Eagles back with Wagner’s gegenpressing tactics, using the front four’s fearsome pace. Will better teams play their way out of this trap or could they find success in the Leicester way?

Leadership

Is this quality diminishing in the Premier League? Gone are the days of Terry, Viera, Gerrard and Keane. This weekend both Cahill and Shelvey got themselves unnecessarily sent off (along with Fabregas). These two captains, in one way or another, let themselves and their team down.

Only three captains missed the opening weekend; one through injury, one suspension and one because he’s really old. Sorry Carrick. Even if 19 start every week you have to question some of the choices like Henderson, Puncheon and Davis. Is captaincy merely a symbol now?

Guardiola’s Gameplan

Brighton was arguably an easy start for City but they executed Pep’s plan to perfection. They set out to dominate the ball, controlling 78% of possession, more than any other team this weekend.

As a team they recorded 768 passes, with five of their players making up the top ten passers this game week. Three of those were their centre backs. This system allowed their full backs to get high up the pitch and deliver balls into the box – in turn making them the team with the second most crosses (27). Stretching the pitch allowed more room in the middle for De Bruyne to dictate the game and one of the strikers to drop into a #10 role.

Fantasy Football

A couple of things worth noting for your teams:

  1. Firminho seems to be on Liverpool penalty taking duties.
  2. Mounie may be a cheap third striker option with a good run of games.
  3. City started with both Aguero and Jesus but Aguero seemed to be the focal point.
  4. With Cahill banned for three games Rudiger or Christensen may be a cheaper way into their defence – if you trust them.
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