Arsenal, Chelsea and Tottenham were all victors in the early race for the top four, but Manchester United began the season the same way they ended last year with a 2-1 home defeat to Brighton in Erik ten Hag’s first match in charge. AFP Sport examines three talking themes from the Premier League’s first two games.
The excitement around Haaland is justified. Manchester City waited after missing out on Harry Kane as Sergio Aguero’s replacement last summer and were rewarded by fighting out competition from around Europe to get Haaland from Borussia Dortmund for a bargain £51 million ($63 million).
Adding one of the world’s most feared strikers to a team that has won back-to-back titles without a natural goalscorer proved as terrifying as it promised on the first weekend.
West Ham scarcely received a kick in the first half at a stadium where City nearly threw away the title in the final game of last season. Haaland’s appointment was intended to end the day when City failed to show their dominance on the scoreboard, and he delivered right away, luring Alphonse Areola into committing a penalty for the opening goal. Scoring penalty kicks is another issue the Norwegian wonderkid might fix for his new club, as he slotted a penalty and showed his pace again to rush onto Kevin De Bruyne’s ball to end the game after halftime.
“It could have been more,” Haaland warned ominously for the other title contenders. Ten Hag’s troubled start
Within 45 minutes of the Ten Hag era at Old Trafford, any notion that a new manager would quickly signal a turnaround in Manchester United’s fortunes was dashed. Brighton were unable to repeat the humiliation they inflicted on the Red Devils at the end of Ralf Rangnick’s disastrous caretaker term with a 4-0 triumph at the end of last season.
With 45 minutes of the Ten Hag era at Old Trafford, any notion that a new manager would quickly signal a turnaround in Manchester United’s fortunes was dashed. Brighton were unable to repeat the humiliation they inflicted on the Red Devils at the end of Ralf Rangnick’s disastrous caretaker term with a 4-0 triumph at the end of last season.
However, courtesy of a double from Pascal Gross, the Seagulls earned their first ever victory at Old Trafford. After some promising pre-season performances, there was little to separate United under the Dutchman from the disaster that ended sixth in the Premier League last season. United’s wide-open midfield did not help their disorganized defence, and they were dulled up front without a natural striker.
Klopp happy, sloppy Liverpool punished
Jurgen Klopp did not sugarcoat Liverpool’s surprise poor start, stating that Fulham deserved at least a point on their return to the Premier League. The Reds showed the same zest and drive as the team that came so close to an unprecedented quadruple last season, beating City 3-1 to win the Community Shield the week before.
‘I am happy for the punishment we got with losing two points,” said Klopp. “I would have loved to get three points, but I would have loved much more to play really good, to be honest, and we didn’t do that.
“The performance was a defeat – the result is not a defeat but the performance was a defeat and that’s why we have to figure out what happened.”