Well, well, well, that was one helluva opening weekend. Between the goalapalooza of Friday afternoon and Saturday morning you could’ve expected most of the rest of the matches to go the boring ass 1-0, 1-1 route. Quite the opposite: on the weekend the EPL averaged 4.9 goals per game, which is phenomenal.
This week we’ll look back briefly on a few of the matches from last week, briefly look at a few of the other leagues kicking off this weekend, and as always preview a few of the top matches this upcoming weekend
Arsenal 4 – 3 Leicester City – Jamie Vardy scored two, but that wasn’t quite enough as Arsenal managed to snag victory from the jaws of defeat. Lacazette scored on his Arsenal debut and Wenger’s men managed to walk away with all three points.
Watford 3 – 3 Liverpool – Early Saturday morning Liverpool went down early only to battle back and hold a lead late into stoppage time. A controversial offside non-call gave Watford the equalizer and a point at home. Just like clockwork, the sun rises in the east and Liverpool concedes a goal and points in stoppage time.
Chelsea 2-3 Burnley – Gary Cahill straight red in 14th minutes, Burnley up 3-0 at halftime, Morata’s first goal for Chelsea, and Chelsea lose Fabregas late (probably should have been sent off earlier). They almost equalized in the dying minutes but this was definitely not the way that Chelsea wanted to start their title defense.
Everton 1-0 Stoke – Wayne Rooney scores with nearly 5,000 days between goals with the same club.
Crystal Palace 0 – 3 Huddersfield Town – In another shocker, David Wagner’s Huddersfield Town gets their first Premier League win at the expense of Crystal Palace.
Southampton 0-0 Swansea – Because of course there was bound to be a clunker this week!
West Brom 1-0 Bournemouth – That was the West Bromiest win of all-time. Fuck you, Tony Pulis.
Brighton 0-2 Man City – Brighton hung for as long as they could and before the two City goals had two great chances. Still, Brighton probably had the ball in the City half for all of 10 minutes.
Newcastle 0-2 Tottenham – Tottenham had little problem with Newcastle on the road, partially thanks to Jonjo Shelvey losing his goddamn mind and Harry Kane getting preferential treatment and not a straight red card on a pretty egregious tackle.
Man United 4-0 West Ham – Lukaku with a brace in his first Man U appearance, West Ham looked feckless for the majority of the match and Joe Hart back from exile looks pedestrian.
Some Other European Previews
I do not pretend to know much about other European football outside of the top teams in each league, so let’s look at some of those big name teams and see what they did to improve/fuck up their chances at the thing that actually matters: Champions League.
Bayern Munich should once again be favorites to win the league. They brought in high profile signing James Rodriguez from Real Madrid. Munich did also lose Douglas Costa to Juventus and have not looked great in preseason. That might open the door for Borussia Dortmund, but only if they can hold onto at least one of Ousmane Dembele (rumored to Barcelona) and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (sending weird instagrams about AC Milan). The fight for the two remaining Champions League spots will more than likely come down to RB Leipzig, Hoffenheim, and Schalke 04. Both Leipzig and Hoffenheim will be dealing with Europe for the first time while Schalke doesn’t have continental distractions. Look for Schalke to sneak into that third spot.
Zinedine Zidane has been managing Real Madrid for a little over 20 months and he has lost just seven matches in total. He has two Champions League trophies and just dispatched his biggest rivals in the Spanish Super Cup by an aggregate score of 5-2. Madrid just lost Ronaldo for four more matches but that shouldn’t be that big a deal considering what was probably the biggest story of the European offseason. That’d be Barcelona losing their star Neymar to PSG for a world record transfer fee of $263 million dollars. Barca has made overtures to both Dortmund’s Dembele and Liverpool’s Coutinho and they seem to expect to sign both; however, neither BVB or Liverpool have much motivation to sell this late in the window. Atletico Madrid is happy to be in contention for at least a third of the year and Sevilla should round out the Champions League spots in Spain.
Perhaps the biggest story in Serie A this year is not Juventus’ run to the Champions League Final and whether they can do it again, but how much fucking money AC Milan spent in lieu of Financial Fair Play. Basically one big fuck you to FIFA (which, hey, I’m all for telling FIFA to fuck right off). They’ve spent close to €200m on transfers so far and might not be stopping. Leonardo Bonucci, a center back, was probably the coup of those signings, stealing him from current title holders Juventus. Speaking of Juventus they should still be the odds on favorite after bringing in Douglas Costa and Blaise Matuidi. Also of note this is Gigi Buffon’s final year. Everyone at the Old Lady wants to send Buffon out a winner. Roma and Napoli don’t seem to have done enough to challenge Juventus and if the AC Milan side can gel quickly they might have the best shot. A long shot is Lazio who just beat Juventus in the Super Cup.
What’s on Tap?
Bayern Munich v Bayer Leverkusen (1:30pm) – The Bundesliga kicks us off this week with a Friday afternoon match. Leverkusen lost Chicharito among others after a disappointing 2016 performance. The Allianz should be rocking and since it’s Bundesliga there should be a bunch of goals, so get that afternoon meeting scheduled ASAP.
Swansea City v Manchester United (6:30am) – This match was a lot more interesting before Gylfi Sigurdsson was shipped off to the friendly confines of Goodison Park. United looked really fucking good against Wet Ham at Old Trafford last week and no reason to expect any thing different at Swansea.
Wolfsburg v Dortmund (8:30am) – Another game that was a lot more interesting before a player had to be left out. John Brooks is out with a thigh injury and in addition to missing the rest of the USMNT World Cup qualifiers will also miss three months in the Bundesliga, which is not great for Wolfsburg, who barely escaped relegation last year. BVB, who seem to be perennial also-rans have actually only finished second once in the last five years. I can’t imagine this match will be a problem.
RB Leipzig v Schalke (11:30am) – Surprise title contenders Leipzig start their campaign against a reinforced Schalke. These two teams should be battling it out all year, so this a great little appetizer for the season.
Tottenham Hotspur v Chelsea (10:00am) – What looked like a tasty fixture at the beginning of the season should be a run of the mill affair for Spurs. For Chelsea, Fabregas and Cahill are serving red card suspensions. Eden Hazard and Pedro are still out with injuries which means David Luiz has to step into the midfield. Victor Moses is back from suspension and Morata looked good in limited time last week. Spurs, on the other hand, benefited from Jonjo Shelvey losing his fucking mind and the refs looking the other way when Kane had a clear red card. The only doubt over Spurs is that they are playing their matches at Wembley this year. A place they had let’s say less-than-great success last year.
There’s actually some other great EPL matches including Liverpool v Crystal Palace and Arsenal v Stoke on Saturday, so get up early, drink all day and enjoy the first weekend with all of the European leagues in action. So raise a Beermosa and enjoy the action!