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What We Learned From The Opening Weekend Of The Premier League

Erling Haaland scores his first for Manchester City
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The Premier League is back. Top-flight football returned to English shores, and plenty of drama and action unfolded across the country on the opening weekend. The Erik Ten Hag era at Manchester United got off to a slippery start, strikers Erling Haaland and Darwin Nunez made their mark with debut goals, Liverpool were held to a 2-2 draw against newly promoted Fulham, while North London clubs Tottenham and Arsenal made winning starts to their season.

If round one is any indication of what is to come, the 2022/23 Premier League campaign promises to be an exhilarating campaign.

Here are 5 things we learned from the opening weekend of the  2022/23 Premier League

1. Erling Haaland will dominate the Premier League


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Erling Haaland did what he always does on his Premier League debut for Manchester City, score goals. The former Dortmund striker arrived in the Premier League after bagging 62 goals in 67 games in Germany, and if there were any doubts over whether the Norwegian’s skills were transferrable to the Premiership, they were duly squashed on his debut.

Haaland calmly tucked away his penalty to open his account in England before giving English crowds a small taste of what he can do when afforded a yard of space. In the second half, the 22-year-old stormed past Kurt Zouma to get to the end of de Bruyne’s through ball and placed a neat side-footed finish into the bottom corner to double his tally.

Pep Guardiola and Manchester City slightly altered their tactics to feed Haaland more opportunities at the London Stadium, with the two eights, Gundogan and de Bruyne, playing further up-field. Most sides will not give City as much space as West Ham did on matchday one, but if the opening game was a sign of things to come, it will be terrifyingly difficult to stop Haaland and Manchester City this season.

2. Tottenham are more than just Kane and Son under Conte


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The biggest plus point for Tottenham fans from their opening day victory over Southampton was that neither Harry Kane nor Heung-Min Son got on the scoresheet in a 4-1 victory. In recent years, Tottenham’s effectiveness and ability to win matches have been firmly linked to the form and fitness of their two superstar forwards.

However, under Antonio Conte, that is no longer the case. Although Kane and Son remain vital for their success this season, Tottenham have other weapons in their arsenal. Conte’s 3-4-3 system has placed a big emphasis on the wing-backs to support the offence, and against Southampton, Ryan Sessegnon and Emerson Royal were deadly while going forward. In addition, Dejan Kulusevski ran the show from the wings, with the Swedish winger supplying a goal and assist against the Saints to give Tottenham a potentially third elite forward in their front three.

3. Same Old Manchester United 


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New season, same old problems. Manchester United were supposed to turn a new leaf under Erik Ten Hag, ditching the old, stale regime and creating a winning environment to compete with the giants at Manchester City and Liverpool.

However, the Red Devils’ defeat against Brighton on the opening day and activities in the transfer window have confirmed the worst fears of the Manchester United faithful, the club is a rudderless ship.

United have had three months to deal with the entire Cristiano Ronaldo situation, sign a midfielder and striker, and supply Erik Ten Hag with the right squad to win Premier League matches. However, the Red Devils entered the first matchday with the Ronaldo situation unresolved, starting Christian Eriksen as a false nine and Fred and McTominay as the only two senior midfielders in the squad.

Erik Ten Hag might be a great manager on par with the likes of Klopp, Tuchel, and Guardiola. But until United sort the mess behind the scenes at an executive level, they will not compete with the clubs at the top of the table.

4. Arsenal passed the first test


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Wilfried Zaha. Selhurst Park under lights. The Premier League curtain raiser. Arsenal’s trip to Crystal Palace on Friday night had all the makings of a banana skin. The Gunners previously slipped up against Brentford 12 months ago, and those at the Premier League headquarters may have been secretly hoping for a similar outcome against Patrick Vieira’s side.

However, Mikel Arteta’s team have grown in stature and quality since that night at West London in August 2021. The young players have matured under the spotlight for the past 12 months, and the new signings – Gabriel Jesus, Oleksandr Zinchenko, and William Saliba – have given the team some much-needed quality to deal with the adversities of a tough away crowd.

5. Players who stood out on the opening weekend


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Aleksandar Mitrovic broke the record for the most goals scored in a single Championship term last season, 42 goals in 43 matches, and the Serbian continued his flying form in the top-flight on opening day. Mitrovic dominated arguably the best defender in the world – Virgil van Dijk – at Craven Cottage, grabbing a brace to help Fulham secure a 2-2 draw.

Fulham summer signing Joao Palhinha also starred against the reigning Champions League finalists, winning the midfield battle against Liverpool stars Jordan Henderson and Thiago in midfield following his £17.2 million move from Sporting Lisbon. The Portuguese was tidy in possession and broke up the play consistently in the first half with his aggression in midfield, helping Fulham sustain pressure in the opposition half for long periods.

Another summer transfer that stood out in the middle of the park was Romeo Lavia. The Manchester City academy product produced a fine display at the base of midfield on his debut against Tottenham.


[Featured Image Credit: Manchester City]