The Premier League is back, and Hull City pull off the unlikeliest of wins over the weekend, both Manchester clubs start out with a win, and Arsenal suffers an opening day defeat for the second successive season.
Leicester City is the first reigning Premier League champions to start the defence of their title with a loss after a humbling at the hands of Hull. The Tigers began the game without a permanent manager, and a squad of 13 players, and yet they were able to upset the upset kings thanks to goals from Adama Diomande and Robert Snodgrass in a 2-1 win.
Claudio Ranieri went for pace with Ahmed Musa starting ahead of Shinji Okazaki, and a place in the starting eleven for Demarai Gray, but they didn’t use it. Instead, Leicester laboured in possession, and Hull punished them in first half injury time when Curtis Davies flicked on a near post header and an acrobatic finish by Diomande at the far post sent the Tigers purring into the Hull changing room at half time.
Hull couldn’t have started the second half any worse if they tried. A minute into the restart and Tom Huddlestone brought down Gray in the box and last season’s Player of the Year, Riyad Mahrez, put the ball home from the spot.
You would have expected the champions to go on and secure the win at that point, but this is the Premier League. Hull picked the ball up after a poor clearance from Kaspar Schmeichel in the 57th minute; the corner came in from the right, Leicester defenders cleared, but it fell kindly to Snodgrass to hammered home the most unlikeliest of winners.
Leicester City won the title at 5,000-1 last season.
Hull City is currently 1,000-1.
Bournemouth Battered by a Man United Team in Second Gear
Hull City players went to bed on Saturday night knowing that they were top of the Premier League. Man United players changed all that after a decent day out at Dean Court.
United lost in the league here in December.
Jose Mourinho was in no mood to walk into a repeat performance.
With Paul Pogba missing through suspension, Juan Mata found a place in midfield and thanked his manager’s faith in him by opening the scoring in the 40th minute. It was a fortuitous goal for the Spaniard who was put through after a weak back pass from the Bournemouth skipper, Simon Francis. Artur Boruc raced off his life to deny the onrushing Mata, but the ball rebounded into the path of Francis who kicked it straight back to the little Spaniard to pass into the open goal.
United made it two in the 59th minute. Antonio Valencia broke down the right and was fortunate to squeeze past a soft tackle before crossing to Anthony Martial. The French youngster scuffed his shot, and it ended up on the head of Wayne Rooney who scored from six yards out. It was his 247th goal for the club, pulling him ever closer to the 249 goal record set by the Man United legend Sir Bobby Charlton.
United was in total control. The gear stick was still in second. Then in the 64th minute, Martial squared to Zlatan Ibrahimovic, and the Swede struck a daisy cutter past the outstretched arm of Boruc for his fourth debut goal in different countries. Adam Smith grabbed a consolation goal for Bournemouth in the 69th minute, and could have scored another had it not been for the heroics of David De Gea in the United goal, but it wasn’t Bournemouth’s day. It was United’s day, and with Pogba, Smalling and Rashford still available for the Red Devils, things are looking up for the second favourites.
The Favourites Start With a Win
Man City is the favourites to win the Premier League, and they started with all three points against a plucky Sunderland side unlucky not to escape from the Etihad with a point. Joe Hart started on the bench, replaced by the dodgy looking Willy Caballero, and that’s an ominous sign for the England keeper.
City started so well, the choice of goalkeeper began to look like a muted point. Patrick van Aanholt brought Raheem Sterling down in the penalty area as early as the third minute and the Golden Boot favourite, Sergio Aguero, stepped up to convert the spot-kick with ease.
It was all City from that point forward with Aguero missing a golden opportunity to make it two nil when his shot went wide of the mark from eight yards out. Sunderland made them pay and who else but Jermaine Defoe. Jack Rodwell threading the ball through the eye of the needle, John Stones had gone walkabout, and Defoe made it 1-1.
Welcome to the Premier League, Pep Guardiola.
David Moyes men looked like they would leave Manchester with a well-deserved point until a cross was swung into the box in the 86th minute and the former Man Utd defender, Paddy McNair, headed the ball into his own net, for a debut own goal.
Sunderland has now lost 11 times and drawn twice on their last 13 trips to the Etihad. The favourites begin as they mean to go on.
A Disaster For Arsene And Arsenal
Arsenal has started the Premier League with an opening day defeat for the second successive year, and they lost their inspirational Welsh midfielder Aaron Ramsey, who picked up a hamstring injury in a goal frenzy of a defeat against Liverpool.
It began well. Arsenal was firing on all cylinders despite the absence of Laurent Koscielny and Gabriel at the back. And Theo Walcott was awarded a penalty in the 30th minute after another rash tackle from Alberto Moreno. Walcott jumped up to take the spot-kick but saw it cannon off the body of Simon Mignolet in the Liverpool goal. It was typical of Walcott, but he made amends a few minutes later when he gave Arsenal the lead with a smart finish in the box after good work by Alex Iwobi.
It looked for all the world that Arsenal would go into the interval with the lead, but Philippe Coutinho had other ideas scoring the best goal of the weekend with a sweet free kick from the edge of the box.
That goal gave Liverpool an added impetus at the break, and they came screeching out of the blocks. Georginio Wijnaldum found space in the box, crossed to Adam Lallana to chest down and lob the ball over Peter Cech to give Liverpool a 2-1 lead in the 49th minute. Nathaniel Clyne set up Coutinho to score his second and Liverpool’s third in the 56th minute, and the superb Sadio Mane made both Callum Chambers and Nacho Monreal look like a couple of muppets before blasting Liverpool into a 4-1 lead.
The boos rained down from the terraces.
“You don’t know what you’re doing,” sang the Arsenal fans.
The kick in the ass worked.
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain came off the piece of wood to score an impressive solo goal in the 64th minute, and nine minutes later Chambers set up a grandstand finish after a deft header from a Santo Cazorla free-kick ended up in the back of the net. It was a spirited comeback from a side that looked lost at times, but they ran out of time. Liverpool took all three points, and Arsenal took none.
Here are the rest of the weekend’s results.
Week 1 Results
Hull City 2 v 1 Leicester City
Crystal Palace 1 v 0 West Brom
Burnley 0 v 1 Swansea City
Everton 1 v 1 Southampton
Middlesbrough 1 v 1 Stoke City
Southampton 1 v 1 Watford
Man City 2 v 1 Sunderland
Bournemouth 1 v 3 Man Utd
Arsenal 3 v 4 Liverpool
Chelsea v West Ham
Premier League Title Odds (Courtesy of Bodog)
Man City +200
Man Utd +275