The first Premier League weekend has come and gone in a flash and while Manchester City, by many considered this season’s favourites, are still to open their campaign, the first nine games on the opening weekend have already provided plenty of food for thoughts.
Here are our five talking points from the weekend.
1) Spend, spend, spend.
That was the message scribbled on a piece of cardboard held aloft by an Arsenal fan at the Emirates where Arsene Wenger’s men crumbled to their first defeat on opening day in 12 years.
The Arsenal manager has come under intense pressure this summer to bolster his depleted squad but, so far, he has kept his cheque book firmly in the drawer, despite belligerent statements from the Arsenal board announcing that a new financial era had begun in North London.
The results were there for all to see on Saturday as Arsenal squandered an early lead before being taken apart by Paul Lambert’s Villa and a chorus of “spend some f*****g money” rang loud around the Emirates.
The fans might be desperate for a world class signing, but after the summer exodus during which seven players have left the club, Arsenal may well be forced into buying simply to have enough players to field on the pitch.
Injuries to Mikael Arteta, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Thomas Vermaelen have complicated things even further for Wenger, who will be desperate to repeat another barren August. Over the last two seasons the Gunners picked up a mere three points from an available 15 in the first month of the campaign.
2) Jose’s return off to a good start
Jose Mourinho’s return to Stamford Bridge unfolded without any twists in the plot that had so carefully been scripted since he agreed to take on the Chelsea job for the second time in his career.
The Happy One was given a hero’s welcome in South West London, before his Chelsea 2.0 took only 26 minutes to put Hull and the game to bed.
The game might have petered out in the second half and the opponent might not have been the most glamorous, but yesterday football was always going to play second fiddle to the Portuguese’s first Premier League game since a 0-0 draw against Blackburn Rovers in September 2007.
Chelsea have undoubtedly been given a huge lift by Mourinho’s return, but even the Portuguese himself knows that yesterday was as gentle a start as he could have been hoping for. The Blues host Aston Villa on Wednesday, who are likely to provide an already sterner test, as will a trip to Manchester United a week from today.
3) Smooth transition for Moyes
The knives were out for David Moyes ahead of his official debut as Manchester United manager. An unimpressive pre-season couple with the failure of landing a couple of big signings and the rumours linking Wayne Rooney with a move away from Old Trafford did very little to boos the former Everton manager’s confidence ahead of what looked to be a tricky trip to Swansea.
Moyes, however, handed the first test brilliantly and emerged triumphant from the Liberty Stadium thanks to a wonderful performance by Robin Van Persie and Danny Welbeck.
While United exposed some familiar weaknesses in midfield, where a couple of major signings could make a huge difference, a 4-1 win away from home leaves very little to debate and offered a timely reminder that United still have quality in their ranks to be serious challengers this season.
Swansea are an infinitely better side than Hull, however, much like in Mourinho’s case, Moyes knows bigger and more important tests await.
4) Di Canio’s revolution stutters
Expectations were high on Wearside as Paolo Di Canio began his first season in charge of Sunderland, having steered the club to safety last year.
Hosting Fulham looked to be the perfect opportunity to inaugurate the new regime – no political puns intended – with three points, but Di Canio’s men fluffed their lines at the crucial moment and the Cottagers – who have kept a clean sheet in the last five games on the opening weekend – emerged with a win.
Di Canio has spent the summer putting his men through their paces and a grueling pre-season might have taken the sting out of Sunderland, while gelling together 10 new signings could prove trickier than the Italian expected.
Sunderland, however, showed promising signs and Di Canio’s efforts could well pay off sooner rather than later.
5) New kids on the block
Judging a new signing on the basis of a game is an incredibly shortsighted exercise, regardless of the player’s performance, yet one many fans indulge into. However, the opening weekend was particularly kind to some of the Premier League’s new faces, as Roberto Soldado, Wiflried Bony, Ricky van Wolfswinkel and Antonio Luna all found the net for their new clubs, putting in impressive performances.
Their fans will hope the weekend was a taste of more to come.