English Premier League 19/20 Analysis, By FutbalAlhaja

NEWS DIGEST – England ruled Europe once again as the season kicked off with the UEFA Super Cup clash between Europa League winners Chelsea and Champions League winners Liverpool at the Vodafone Arena in Istanbul. In a thrilling encounter, it took penalties to settle the tie which went in favour of Liverpool as they maintained their status as The Kings of Europe. Back in England, they raised the Premier League curtain when they hosted newly promoted Norwich City at a buzzing Anfield atmosphere. The Canaries exhibited bravery as they went with an attacking mentality to the surprise of many. Their hopes were to be short lived however, as Liverpool ran out comfortable winners.

In the traditional big six first encounter of the season, Manchester United entertained Chelsea in what was Frank Lampard’s first Premier League game as the Blues boss. The mood from the Red Devils fan base was hardly encouraging given the circumstances in which the previous season ended, coupled with a substandard transfer window. The 4-0 scoreline was harsh on the visitors as they outplayed United for most parts of the game. It was a miserable start for Lampard, but one he has recovered well thus far, with Chelsea sitting in 4th place, just 2 points behind reigning champions Manchester City. Speaking of the champions, their campaign took off away at the famous bubble ground, West Ham’s London Stadium. It was ‘normal services resume’ for Pep Guardiola’s side as the Hammers were hammered by 5 goals to nil with a Raheem Sterling masterclass.

Just 9 games into the season and surprises have already sprung to life. Manchester City have fallen below expectations, well according to their standards. Two losses at this stage is a worrying sign for a side of this pedigree. Premier League fans are hoping to see another intriguing title campaign between the two best clubs in England, and as things stand, Manchester City are failing to deliver. No cause for concerns though because City have a good history of recovering, especially the famous one during their first premier league winning campaign against Alex Ferguson’s trophy laden Manchester United. However, Liverpool’s hunger and desire which is fuelled by their title barren run of 29 years will hardly allow such an event to unfold again.

Over in North London, Champions League finalists Tottenham Hotspurs are experiencing a turbulent spell emphasised by a 7-2 battering at the hands of German giants Bayern Munich. This has left speculations surrounding the future of their manager Mauricio Pochettino, with reports that Manchester United are lurking around for the signature of the Argentine should he be the first managerial casualty of the season. Their biggest rivals Arsenal are having a decent campaign so far, albeit their supporters calling out for an entertaining style of football, which club legend Arsene Wenger has spoiled them with over the years. In Merseyside the spirit at Everton is gathering momentum after a depressing start to the season which saw them in an unfamiliar territory far down in the relegation zone. On the bright side of things however, and to the amazement of a few, Brendan Rodgers is elevating Leicester City, they sit pretty comfortable in a Champions League spot and don’t look like slipping down.

There have been some outstanding performances from quite a number of players, but Sadio Mane stands out as the most influential of them all. Pierre Emerick Aubamayeng’s game to goal ratio is of spectacular reading, while Sergio Aguero continues what he does best. Leading the score chat, young sensation Tammy Abraham is proving to be a name to be remembered among the Chelsea faithful. Teemu Pukki of Norwich City has also caught some attention.

The much awaited end to the International break was over, and with it the return of club football. The matchweek was full of controversies surrounding the Video Assistant Referee, and with this being its debut season, one must expect plenty of drama. The first game took us to Goodison Park where Gylfi Sigurdsson’s 92nd minute cracker sealed the points for the Mersyside club in an enticing clash against Pellegrini’s West Ham United. Frank Lampard’s Chelsea continued to impress with a routine win against Newcastle, while Tottenham Hotspurs had to wait for a contentious VAR decision to bail them out at the hands of Watford who sit bottom of the table.

The highlight of the weekend was at the red part of Manchester, as the two most successful clubs in England and renowned rivals went head to head on Sunday. Manchester United welcomed Liverpool in what was the 57th time they faced each other since the dawn of the Premier League. Manchester United were having their worst start to a season in 30 years, while Liverpool were brimming with confidence atop the table. As such, the bookies tipped Liverpool to run out comfortable winners at Old Trafford, forgetting that a fixture of this magnitude and history often throws form out the window, which was proven as the league leaders only managed to escape with a point ending their perfect start to the campaign.

It was a fair result for Manchester United, however Ole Gunnar Solksjaer was once again criticised for his reluctance to impact change during the course of a game, with a large group of fans still calling for the sacking of the Norwegian. So far though, the message from the Manchester United hierarchy is that Ole’s at the wheel, but for how long till the tyres run flat? Time is running out.