All of a sudden, we’re a week into the Premier League season, and Matchday One is behind us. This is no time to make assumptions about the season to come, nor to suggest any decisive conclusions about the teams. At the same time though, it’s pointless to pretend fans around the world aren’t drawing some impressions from their first glimpse at 2019/20 EPL action. So we’re marking down a few of our early impressions as well.
Man Utd May Exceed Expectations
We may as well start with what’s on the mind of every last Man Utd. supporter following Sunday’s match: the Red Devils looked tremendous. Now, the match was at Old Trafford, and Chelsea is sorting out some potential new lineups, so it’s important to keep the 4-0 result in the proper context. But we asked the question in the preseason of whether or not Man Utd. could contend in the EPL, and after one week the answer appears to be that they just might be able to. At least when the attack is working, United showed it can be as good as anyone – though we don’t expect to see quite the same quality with consistency just yet.
Arsenal Has The Inside Track On Top Four
We can safely claim that with Man City and Liverpool expected to finish first and second in some order, there are four teams most likely to battle for the last two Champions League slots: United, Tottenham Hotspur, Chelsea, and Arsenal. Clearly, Man Utd. looks the part of a top-four finisher after one week, and beyond the Red Devils we’d say Arsenal looks to be the strongest of the bunch. Chelsea was demolished at Old Trafford, and Tottenham flirted with opening match disaster, trailing Aston Villa for more than 60 minutes in London before pulling out a 3-1 win. Arsenal, on the other hand, was solid if imperfect in a tidy 1-0 victory at St. James’ Park. Again, this is not a time for sweeping conclusions, but the Gunners certainly looked tougher than Tottenham or Chelsea.
EPL Offense Was Ugly
Look back at the scores from across league play and you see a pretty ugly offensive picture. It’s not the sort of thing you always notice when watching match by match (or if you mostly had eyes for Man Utd.’s beatdown of the Blues). But across the 10 matches played, nine clubs were held scoreless, five more managed just one goal, and there were two scoreless draws. Week one tension, as well as adjustment to new lineups and schemes, can likely account for some of this. But it was an unusually weak start for the league’s offence – possibly boding well for the small handful of teams capable of pouring in goals.
Wolves’ Defence Looked Elite
The scoreless draw between Wolves and Leicester at King Power Stadium wasn’t exactly full of fireworks. But of the aforementioned low-scoring affairs, it may have been the most interesting. Both of these teams appear to be on the lower end of the top 10, with hopes of breaking into the top six – and it looks as if Wolves in particular may have the elite defence to get there. Leicester’s coverage included high marks for defenders as well, and with good reason. But Wolves’ trio of Conor Coady, Ryan Bennett, and perhaps most of all Willy Boly, was sensational. They held Leicester without a goal (or even a particularly great chance) despite a fit Jamie Vardy and a newly imported Ayoze Perez. And Leicester had 70% of possession.
The Favourites Stand
We don’t have to get too far into this last observation because it speaks for itself. However, aside from Man Utd.’s own victory, results from Liverpool and Man City were the most impressive of the opening matchday. It appears neither side is going to be inclined to slip in the quest to dominate the 2019/20 action.