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Premier League

English Premier League talking points



Premier League - Chelsea v Liverpool - Stamford Bridge, London, Britain - August 13, 2023 A big screen displays a VAR decision message Action Images via Reuters/Peter Cziborra

Talking points from the opening weekend of the Premier League season:


Manchester City’s Erling Haaland needed only four minutes to open his account for the new season and ended up with a brace in a 3-0 win for the champions at Burnley on Friday.

After ripping up the record books last season with 36 goals in the Premier League and 52 in all competitions, logic suggested he may find his second season a little tougher as teams figure out ways to shackle the Norwegian.

But on the evidence of his display at Turf Moor, Haaland will again be almost impossible to stop.

Not that it spared him a reprimand from manager Pep Guardiola at halftime, with the Spaniard annoyed that Haaland had risked losing possession, but those are the standards that make it hard to bet against City mounting another treble run.



One of Arsenal’s major problems last season as they let the Premier League title slip from their grasp was an inability to kill off games after taking the lead.

Arsenal saw two-goal advantages slip in consecutive draws against Liverpool and West Ham United in April which allowed Manchester City to catch up and overhaul them.

They made things frantic for themselves again in a 2-1 home win over Nottingham Forest on Saturday despite cruising for most of their league opener.

“When you are 2-0 up and have some chances to kill the game, we didn’t,” Arteta said.

“It was more about the feeling than actually what happens. The reality is we didn’t concede anything but you are running the clock down and in this league that’s a very dangerous thing to do.”


If they are to mount a title challenge again this season Arsenal will have to make sure they shut games down.


New Chelsea coach Mauricio Pochettino said Sunday’s 1-1 draw with Liverpool was “just the start” of the turnaround he wants to engineer at Stamford Bridge after last season’s shocking slump in form for the high-spending Blues.

The Argentine, who used to manage rivals Tottenham Hotspur, gave Chelsea debuts to four of his starting 11 and the way the side grew in confidence, after conceding an 18th minute Luis Diaz opener, suggested the club might be getting back on track.

Axel Disasi marked his first Chelsea game with a goal while fellow debutant Nicolas Jackson, a striker, used his power to create chances. Academy graduate Levi Colwill recovered from a testing first few minutes in a Chelsea shirt to frustrate Mohamed Salah and goalkeeper Robert Sanchez looked confident.

Chelsea fans responded with the kind of vocal support that became increasingly rare last season as the team misfired, and the team were applauded off at the final whistle as they looked forward to a more promising season under their new coach.



Newcastle United’s new signing Sandro Tonali set the tone with a goal after six minutes, instantly showcasing what he can contribute to the Tyneside club as they seek to compete for the Premier League title.

The 23-year-old arrived in England on the back of a brilliant season for AC Milan where he combined creative passing and crunching tackles, and he showed the full register in his first league appearance in front of his new home crowd.

Alexander Isak may have scored twice, including a tremendous second-half chip to make it 3-1, but that Tonali was still given the man of the match award for his work in the centre says everything about his performance.

The 5-1 win puts the Magpies top of the table for now; whether or not they can stay there will depend greatly on how well Italy international Tonali can continue to shoulder the role of midfield motor as well as he did on Saturday.


Club record scorer Harry Kane’s move to Bayern Munich on the eve of Tottenham Hotspur’s first game of the season left fans crestfallen but a 2-2 draw at Brentford offered some hope of better things to come for the north London club.


New manager Ange Postecoglou said he had planned for a season without the England striker as he looks to put his thumb print on the club and a new-look Spurs side responded well to the departure of their talisman.

Playmaker James Maddison impressed on his debut, setting up the opening goal for Cristian Romero, while Yves Bissouma offered the sort of high-energy midfield performance that Australian Postecoglou demands from his teams.

Only time will tell, however, if Brazil forward Richarlison, who was a bit-part player last season, can fill the gap left by Kane. On the evidence of Sunday that looks unlikely.






Kunle Solaja is the author of landmark books on sports and journalism as well as being a multiple award-winning journalist and editor of long standing. He is easily Nigeria’s foremost soccer diarist and Africa's most capped FIFA World Cup journalist, having attended all FIFA World Cup finals from Italia ’90 to Qatar 2022. He was honoured at the Qatar 2022 World Cup by FIFA and AIPS.

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