By Ryan Oldham
Week 2 of the Premier League came and went faster than you could say Chino’s, which led to me being a little upset Sunday evening, knowing that there’s only 36 games to go, with each weekend going faster than the last. I’ve got my fingers crossed for a long and brutal Minnesota winter so I can savor the season just a bit longer. That’s probably the first and last time I’ll ever say that!
On the upside (for me at least) Manchester United are still top of the table, have scored eight in two, and every “Top Six” team has already dropped points. Of course, it’s only early doors and I don’t want to get too carried away, but this Manchester United side might be the greatest of all time ever.
In an effort to not let my bias show too much, though, I’ll be making sure to mix it up each week and cover different games, in an effort to give equal column inches to each of the 20 teams in the Premier League. Things may undoubtedly change throughout the season as things happen on the pitch, but for these first few weeks, there will definitely be some variation.
After Saturday’s early game between Swansea and Manchester United (which ended 4-0 to the Red Devils), Liverpool faced a Crystal Palace team who were on the back of a lackluster performance and a brutal defeat at the hands of Huddersfield the week before.
Liverpool didn’t exactly steal the show Week 1 either in their draw with Watford. It seemed like one point might have been all Liverpool would get out of the game again, until the 73rd minute strike by Sadio Mane to get the three points.
Liverpool had most of the ball, as you would expect, but their performance was below par for a side that many have tipped to improve on last season. Only Jordan Henderson put in a performance worth noting, but the absence of Philippe Coutinho is causing the Reds more problems than it should, especially with the addition of Mohamed Salah to the team, who came off the bench and did nothing to match his price tag.
Wayne Hennessey was unlucky to not get a clean sheet after performing very well between the sticks, but Liverpool’s pressure got the better of the Palace defense in the end, and 1-0 was the final score.
It remains to be seen whether Coutinho will return for Liverpool this season, but if Jurgen Klopp is to be believed, he will, and it really can’t come soon enough. Unfortunately, one injury to Coutinho could see Liverpool slump down the table, as they’ve been too dependent on him in the past, and if they don’t improve the squad before the transfer window shuts, they could be too far off the top four by January to do anything about it.
Prediction: Liverpool w/ Coutinho 4th, w/o Coutinho 6th, Crystal Palace 15th
The weekend continued with a five-goal thriller at St. Mary’s, where Southampton entertained West Ham, winning with the last kick of the game from a Charlie Austin Penalty that took the score to 3-2.
It was Javier Hernandez’s second game after returning to the Premier League, and his two goals for the Hammers looked to be enough to get a point, but Premier League old-boy Pablo Zabaleta carelessly nudged Maya Yoshida in the box, and Austin dispatched the penalty to take the three points.
Earlier in the game, Marko Arnautovic was sent off for an idiotic and quite violent elbow to the face of Jack Stephens as his West Ham career continues to start slowly.
The win puts Southampton in to the top seven, but it leaves West Ham United dead last in the Premier League, with questions already circling about manager Slaven Bilic’s future at the club.
Southampton play the impressive Huddersfield town next, while West Ham continue their Premier League season away from home against Newcastle, not playing at home until September 11th.
Prediction: Southampton 7th, West Ham 8th
Sunday morning saw Newcastle United drop points yet again, this time to fellow newly promoted Huddersfield, who currently sit in second place in the Premier League after a wonderful start.
Huddersfield are yet to concede a goal in the Premier League, the first newly promoted team to do so since Charlton Athletic in the 1997/98 season, and after manager David Wagner laughed away suggestions that his Huddersfield side were favorites going in to this game, he came away delighted with his team’s performance.
Aaron Mooy was the goal scorer for Huddersfield, and continued his superb form over from last season, now a permanent member of the Huddersfield squad after his Summer transfer from Manchester City. The Australian received the man of the match award, and rightly so, after his excellent goal gave them the lead on 50 minutes.
If these first two fixtures are anything to go by, these two teams have quite the juxtaposition in terms of whether their future is bright or dim.
Huddersfield don’t play a “big team” till the end of September when they host Tottenham, so the good run could continue, but the future might be bleak for Newcastle, especially after owner Mike Ashley declared that there simply wasn’t money available to spend to improve the squad.
Prediction: Huddersfield 13th, Newcastle 16th
An honorable mention must go to Manchester United, who played well in all areas of the pitch against a Swansea side that simply do not look the same without Gylfi Sigurðsson, who left to Everton last week. Paul Pogba and Romelu Lukaku yet again found the scoresheet, and the future looks bright at Old Trafford. Chelsea took three points at Tottenham’s temporary home, Wembley Stadium, with a masterclass from Marcus Alonso, and to round out the weekend, Manchester City drew 1-1 with Everton after Wayne Rooney returned to haunt the Etihad yet again with a first half strike.
In Week 3, the weekend starts with Bournemouth hosting Manchester City, but the main entertainment will be found on Sunday when Liverpool face Arsenal, and Chelsea face Everton.
It is also worth noting that the next round of fixtures are the last before the transfer window slams shut, so expect plenty of action between now and August 31st.