Friday, 14 August 2015

City On Top While Reds Start Well

After a pre-season break that saw the traditional flurry of high-profile transfers both in and out of the top flight sides, the chequebooks were downed and the real action with the start of the 2015/16 Premier League campaign.

The season kicked off with a huge clash between Manchester United and Tottenham Hotspur with the sides facing off at lunchtime on Saturday. Both teams were keen to made a good start after finishing in the top six last season but it was the hosts who would claim the first points of the season.

An unfortunate own goal from Tottenham defender Kyle Walker on 22 minutes gave Manchester United the victory with the strike setting a new record as the first own goal to open a season in the league's history.

A dream start was in the minds of newly promoted Bournemouth as they hosted Aston Villa in one of the four 3pm games but despite a good performance their PL debut ended in defeat as summer signing Rudy Gestede sealed the points for the visitors on 72 minutes.

After a poor previous season by their standards, Everton looked to get off the mark with a win as they hosted newly promoted Watford. However, the Hornets had other ideas as Miguel Layun gave them a surprise lead after just 13 minutes.

The visitors held firm until the break but were pegged back in style on 76 minutes by Ross Barkley's equaliser but the equality lasted just seven minutes as Odion Ighalo restored the visitors lead at 2-1. Everton's blushes were spared four minutes from the end of the 90 as Arouna Kone struck to secure a point at 2-2.

Leicester City's superb streak to survival last season boosted their hopes of great start to this one as they hosted Sunderland. The Foxes raced into a 2-0 lead with strikes from Jamie Vardy and Riyad Mahrez inside 18 minutes but the visitors task grew even harder when Mahrez made it 3-0 with a 25th minute penalty. Sunderland replied on the hour through Jermain Defoe but went 4-1 down just six minutes later as Marc Albrighton struck. They did have the last say on the score though with Steven Fletcher making it 4-2 on 71 minutes.

The third of the newly promoted sides, Norwich City started their return to the top flight by hosting Crystal Palace. The Eagles opened the scoring with six minutes left of the first half as Wilfred Zaha struck but were soon two goals to the good as Damien Delaney made it 2-0 on 49 minutes. The Canaries replied with a goal from Nathan Redmond on 69 minutes but it proved to be in vain as summer signing Yohan Cabaye confirmed a 3-1 win in the 90th minute.

The evening kick-off saw defending champions Chelsea host Swansea City in a game that will sadly be remembered for Jose Mourinho's outburst late on against club doctor Eva Carneiro. The Blues made the better start of the two sides with a classy free-kick from Oscar putting them ahead on 23 minutes but Swansea soon drew level with a debut goal from summer signing Andre Ayew on 29 minutes. The equality lasted just seconds as Chelsea regained the lead with a fluke deflection off Federico Fernandez which looped over Lukasz Fabianski for 2-1.

However, the hosts were soon dealt a double blow as Thibault Courtois was dismissed for fouling Baftembi Gomis with the Swans attacker slotting in the resulting penalty for 2-2 which is how it ended leaving the Blues with a mixed start to the defence of their title.

Super Sunday began with a London derby as Arsenal hosted West Ham United with the Hammers looking to bounce back from their recent Europa League exit. A tight first half from both sides saw the visitors go ahead on 43 minutes as Cheikou Kouyate struck for 1-0. The Gunners had been tipped to mount a title challenge this season but will need to improve as they fell to a 2-0 defeat with the second goal coming on 57 minutes from Mauro Zarate.

Last season was one to forget for Newcastle and as they hosted a Southampton side who have already started their Europa League campaign, hopes were high for a good start. The Saints had other plans as they opened the scoring through Graziano Pellé on 24 minutes with the Magpies levelling just before the break through Papiss Cisse. Summer signing Georginio Wijnaldum put the hosts ahead just three minutes after the restart but their jot was soured by a 79th minute equaliser from Shane Long for 2-2.

Part two of Super Sunday saw Stoke host Liverpool with the visitors keen to gain revenge for their 6-1 humiliation at the Britannia Stadium in the final game of last season. Unlike the seven goal thriller in the previous meeting, the game was a very close one with the sides goalless into the half-time interval. However, Liverpool secured the three points late on with an exquisite strike from Philippe Coutinho in the 86th minute to secure a 1-0 triumph.

The opening weekend came to an end with the Monday night offering of West Bromwich Albion hosting Manchester City. The visitors made a superb start with the opening goal coming inside nine minutes from David Silva before Yaya Toure added a second on 25 minutes for 2-0. The three points were sealed just before the hour mark as Vincent Kompany struck for 3-0.