Arsenal were foolish to loan out Saliba for so long, Kulusevski picks up the slack for Spurs and Mitrovic proves he CAN cut it… 10 THINGS WE LEARNED from Premier League opening weekend
- The Premier League made its return in thrilling fashion at the weekend
- 28 goals were scored as supporters were treated to 10 enthralling games
- Spurs, Arsenal and Man City were big winners as Erling Haaland shined
- Liverpool and Manchester United however had a weekend to forget
- Sportsmail dissects ten things we learned from an exciting weekend of action
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 as 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.
Supporters were treated to a thrilling weekend of action as the Premier League returned
Liverpool put in a poor display and were held 2-2 by an Alexsandar 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.
Here, Sportsmail dissects the key talking points from a gripping opening weekend of action in the Premier League.
Arsenal were foolish to loan out Saliba
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 for Marseilles 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.
William Saliba put in a man of the match performance on his Premier League debut for Arsenal
The Frenchman (right) kept the tricky Crystal Palace attack quiet as the Gunners won 2-0
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.
Mitrovic can cut it in the Premier League… while Liverpool need to start faster
Following a record-breaking Championship campaign of 43 goals in 43 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.
Alexsandar Mitrovic showed he can cut it in the Premier League with two goals on Saturday
The Serbian striker scored a record 43 Championship goals last season and continued his form
He dominated Trent Alexander-Arnold to power in a header to open the scoring before coolly slotting home a second half penalty he won after being tripped by Virgil van Dijk.
If Marco Silva’s side are to stay up, the form of Mitrovic will be key and Saturday’s double is an extremely positive start.
Meanwhile, Liverpool will be devastated to drop points so early in the campaign but a worrying trend is emerging for Jurgen Klopp’s side.
The Reds have now gone behind in their last five league games and seven of their past nine games in all competitions – it was ultimately draws against sides such as Brentford and Brighton that cost them the title last season.
Kulusevski picks up Son and Kane’s slack
Over recent years the link-up between Harry Kane and Son Heung-min has been rightfully praised with the duo holding the record for the most goal combinations in Premier League history.
However, during Saturday’s 4-1 demolition of Southampton, the pair experienced a rare off day.
Thankfully for Spurs fans, Dejan Kulusevski was there to pick up the slack and put in a superb display with a goal and an assist.
Dejan Kulusevski has been involved in 15 Premier League goals in 19 games since joining Spurs
After arriving from Juventus in January, the attacking midfielder has scored six times and added nine assists in just 19 games, with only Kane, Son and Kevin De Bruyne involved in more goals in the Premier League since Kulusevski’s debut.
With new £60m signing Richarlison absent due to suspension and signed to challenge for Kulusevski’s place in the side, it was a perfect reminder to Antonio Conte of the qualities the Swede possesses.
Villa’s expensive squad fails to deliver
Aston Villa have continued to back Steven Gerrard in the market this summer with additions including Seville centre-back Diego Carlos for £26m and Philippe Coutinho for £17m.
Villa’s starting XI and subs used in Saturday’s drab 2-0 defeat to Bournemouth cost a combined £255.5m but there is yet to be real progress at the club.
Gerrard ended last season with two wins from 11 games and there was little to impress him on the south coast on the opening day. Villa were sluggish from the off and Coutinho was one of a number of players who were largely anonymous.
They need to develop an identity if they are to fulfil the ambitions of the club, with the expensively assembled squad looking disjointed against the Cherries before defensive mistakes cost them.
Steven Gerrard had plenty to ponder following a dismal start to the season for Aston Villa
Brighton show there IS life after Bissouma and Cucurella
Losing their best two players from last season in Yves Bissouma and Marc Cucurella was not ideal preparation heading into the new season for Brighton.
Graham Potter’s side were superb in their 2-1 win at Old Trafford despite selling both Yves Bissouma and Marc Cucurella this summer
However, they continue to impress and evolve under Graham Potter as they secured one of the finest results in their club’s history by beating Manchester United 2-1 at Old Trafford in Erik ten Hag’s first game.
Leandro Trossard almost scored within 15 seconds which was a sign of things to come before Pascal Gross’s double was enough for the win – despite a late fightback from the hosts.
The fact that there were no new signings in the starting XI for the Seagulls is testament to the set-up at Brighton, with canny recruitment, good coaching and a solid structure behind the scenes allowing the club to develop in spite of departures.
Moises Caicedo was recalled from a loan spell at Beerschot in January to ease him into the Premier League with Bissouma’s departure expected and he excelled on Sunday, while Levi Colwill will provide a quality option on the left-side of defence to fill Cucurella’s void.
‘It is not too easy to lose the players we have lost, but we understand why we have lost them and how the fees can help the club progress,’ Potter said after the game.
‘Yves Bissouma and Marc Cucurella are footballers valued at quite a high price, which suggests they are good players. But I always think the collective idea is more important than any individual.’
If Potter’s side can overcome their Achilles heel of being clinical, Brighton could be in for another exciting season.
Problems continue to run deep off the pitch at United
Erik ten Hag got off to the worst possible start at Old Trafford as United put in an aimless and uninspiring performance in their 2-1 defeat to Brighton.
However, the Dutchman’s problems don’t end there – a protest against the Glazers, fans fighting in the stands, players being booed and former players tearing his side to pieces are just some of the other issues facing Manchester United at the moment.
Add to that the uncertainty over Cristiano Ronaldo’s future and the protracted transfer saga surrounding Frenkie de Jong and it has been a baptism of fire for Ten Hag.
Erik ten Hag made the worst possible start to his Manchester United career with a 2-1 defeat
Fans clashed in the stands as United put in an uninspiring performance against Brighton
It came during a poor day for the Red Devils as they continue to face problems off the pitch
All the Dutchman can do is focus on football, but it is not an easy backdrop for your first job in a major European league.
The experience in English football of assistant coach Steve McClaren will be key and he will hope his side will put in a better performance next Saturday evening at Brentford.
Howe spoils Forest return party as Toon feel-good factor continues
Much anticipation awaited Nottingham Forest’s return to the Premier League after 23 years, especially with Steve Cooper’s side spending £85m on 12 new signings.
For Eddie Howe, entertaining Forest first up therefore had the potential to be a banana skin but there were no such problems for the Toon army as they ran out 2-0 winners at St James’ Park.
Eddie Howe has revitalised Newcastle since arriving last November, winning 14 out of his 28 Premier League games at the helm
A long-range screamer from Fabian Schar and a neat finish from Callum Wilson were enough, with the visitors understandably looking incoherent with so many new faces.
Howe has won 14 games out of 28 Premier League games since he arrived last year, at an average of 1.68 points per game – this works out as 64 points across a 38 game campaign which would have placed Newcastle sixth last year.
Howe has spoken about Financial Fair Play restrictions limiting Newcastle’s spending, but the new additions since he took over have been integral with Bruno Guimares, Dan Burn, Matt Targett, Kieran Trippier and Nick Pope all impressing on Saturday, while £35m addition Sven Botman made a late cameo appearance.
With a boisterous St James’ Park and an exciting, dynamic team, it is a far cry from the beleaguered Newcastle side seen at the end of Mike Ashley’s tenure.
Sluggish Chelsea need to pick up the pace
A Jorginho penalty was enough for Chelsea to pick up three points in an uninspiring clash against Everton.
It was a solid start to the season for Thomas Tuchel’s side as they have experienced an uncertain summer following the new ownership and departures of several important players.
New owner and interim sporting director Todd Boehly has done his best to support Tuchel in the transfer market with Raheem Sterling, Kalidou Koulibaly, Marc Cucurella, Carney Chukwuemeka and Gabriel Slonina arriving for more than £150m.
Jorginho’s first half penalty was enough for Chelsea to pick up three points against Everton
Thomas Tuchel wants more signings and noted that ‘pace and speed is an issue’ at the club
However, there are still holes in their squad that Tuchel needs to fill and the club missed out on key targets such as Jules Kounde and Raphinha.
And on Saturday they lined up with a back three of Koulibaly, Thiago Silva and Cesar Azpilicueta – the trio have a combined age of 100.
While a clean sheet was secured, Everton were playing without a recognised striker and there were examples of Silva being outpaced by Demarai Gray and Azpilicueta having to strain every sinew to prevent Anthony Gordon racing away from him – Koulibaly also succumbed to cramp after 75 minutes.
If Chelsea are to compete on all fronts, pace will need to be added and Tuchel admitted as such after the game. The German said: ‘Pace and speed is an issue. In all signings, this is the demand of the game that you can play one on ones, that you can defend space if needed with high-speed runs.’
Same old problems at the back for Leicester
After an impressive start, Leicester would have been disappointed to let a two goal lead slip at home to Brentford.
It was a familiar feeling for the Foxes who had the seventh worst defence in the league last season, shipping 59 goals and more than relegated Burnley.
With Wesley Fofana attracting interest from Chelsea, Jonny Evans injury prone and other centre-backs Daniel Amartey, Caglar Soyuncu and Jannik Vestergaard unreliable last season, it is a worrying time for their defensive options.
Wesley Fofana is attracting interest from Chelsea but Leicester are reluctant to let him leave
Added to the fact no new signings have been added despite Brendan Rodgers’s desire for a significant rebuild this summer, he will hope to get his attacking assets firing to alleviate their defensive troubles.
If not, there is a worry without additions Rodgers could become a victim of his own success after an extremely impressive three and a half seasons at the King Power stadium.
Manchester City are a cut above the rest after snapping up Erling Haaland
There was no hangover from an under par performance in the Community Shield from Man City on Sunday as they showed they are a cut above the rest during their 2-0 win over West Ham.
They looked a different side from the one that lost 3-1 to Liverpool, and despite occasionally seeming a little sluggish, cruised to victory against last season’s Europa League semi-finalists.
The Hammers couldn’t get near City with Declan Rice having the most passes of any home player yet this was still fewer than City keeper Ederson.
And if winning four of the last five Premier League titles wasn’t enough, Pep Guardiola’s side now have arguably the world’s best striker in Erling Haaland.
The Norwegian was blistering on his debut, showing his pace to win a penalty he finished, before latching on to Kevin De Bruyne’s sublime through ball and slotting home to score a brace.
City scored 99 goals in the league last year and now adding someone who scored 86 times in 89 games for Borussia Dortmund, you do fear for Premier League defences this season.
Erling Haaland dazzled on debut as he scored both goals to help Man City beat West Ham 2-0