With the batteries well and truly recharged over the summer, the Premier League was back in full swing at the weekend, and with Manchester City top and Liverpool 2nd at the end of the first Saturday of the season, it was like it had never been away.
Of course, the table doesn’t mean too much yet, although Burnley and Brighton fans will wish the season was over already, as they are sitting in the top five after emphatic opening day wins.
Predictions at this time of year can be made to look silly come May. It is a 9-month marathon, not a sprint, as proved last season when the title race came down to the final day.
However, it would be a huge surprise if Man City don’t retain the title again. They started with a bang, beating West Ham 5-0 away from home. It could have been more too. VAR was needed for the first time in the Prem to disallow another goal when Raheem Sterling (scorer of a hat-trick) was adjudged to have been offside by the smallest of margins.
Liverpool started with a big win too, 4-1 against newly promoted Norwich. But their brilliant goalkeeper Alisson limped off and will be missing for a few weeks. This could prove to be a big blow and may show up a significant difference between the two clear favourites for the league.
Can Liverpool cope without some of their first-choice players if they are missing for a while? It’s a long season, and they were quite lucky with injuries last time around.
Man City have already shown that they have the strength in depth to get by comfortably when star names are out. At the weekend, their record goalscorer, Aguero, was sitting on the bench. Fernandinho, Bernardo Silva, new signing Joao Cancelo didn’t feature and the recently departed captain Kompany wasn’t missed. These are all players that would walk into other teams’ starting line-ups.
The Champions League may be City’s number one target for a trophy, but the crunch games in that competition aren’t until March/April, and they could well be out of sight in the league by then.
Much stranger things have happened in football, there will be twists and turns and plenty of surprises throughout the campaign, including the usual scrap for the top four positions, and the battle to avoid relegation also, which is why it is the most watched league in the world.
Written By Matthew Drew