Monday, October 3, 2022

Who were the big losers from the Premier League’s opening weekend?

Tom Dunstan in Editorial, English Premier League 9 Aug 2022

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With all eyes from across the footballing world falling on England’s top-flight over the weekend, the 2022/23 Premier League campaign got underway with plenty of major talking points.

While defending champions Manchester City and Tottenham might have opened the New Year with a pair of routine victories, others failed to hit the ground running.

Watching both Manchester United and Liverpool drop shock points in their opening showdowns, there could be some early-season nerves kicking in behind the scenes.

With the first weekend of the 2022/23 campaign now behind us, we have taken a look at a few of the big losers of the Premier League’s return.

Manchester United

Enjoying what was an eye-catching pre-season run while on their tour of Australia this summer, Manchester United opened Sunday’s showdown against Brighton looking to lay down an early marker.

However, while Erik ten Hag might have been desperate for his new squad to come flying out the traps on his first competitive contest in the Old Trafford dugout, it was a nightmare start for the Red Devils.

Eventually slumping to a 2-1 loss against the Seagulls on home soil and met by a chorus of boos at both the half-time and full-time whistle, there appear to still be some glaring issues in Manchester.

Heavily outplayed by Brighton from the opening whistle and with Sir Alex Ferguson watching on from the stands, ten Hag was hugely critical of his side’s dreadful start.

Largely selecting the same starting XI that so publically struggled last season, Brighton’s victory in Manchester was their first ever win at Old Trafford.

Still dealing with the ongoing saga regarding Cristiano Ronaldo and a potential departure this summer, the mood in ten Hag’s camp will already be worryingly fragile.

Liverpool

Although Liverpool might have managed to go one step further than Manchester United in getting a point on the board, Jurgen Klopp’s men will know that they missed out on a real chance.

After missing out on reclaiming the Premier League title last season by just a single point, the one-time Borussia Dortmund boss saw his side get off to a stuttering start on Saturday lunchtime.

Making the trip to top-flight returners Fulham and tipped as a landslide pick by many, Liverpool eventually had to settle for a 2-2 draw in west London.

Despite lifting the Community Shield thanks to a 3-1 victory against Manchester City last month, Klopp’s side would have preferred to lay down an early marker away from Anfield.

While fans around Merseyside might have been glad to see both Darwin Nunez and Mohamed Salah open their accounts at Craven Cottage, Thiago’s suspected hamstring injury will be a major worry.

Limping off after 50 minutes, Klopp confirmed that he is concerned that the Spanish midfielder could face a lengthy stint on the sidelines.

Aston Villa

After having to settle for a disappointing 14th-place finish last season, Aston Villa have been vocal about their desire to potentially mount a European charge this time around.

However, although Steven Gerrard’s side might have enjoyed their own impressive pre-season run over the summer, the former Rangers boss will now have some growing pressure on his shoulders.

Despite welcoming Philippe Coutinho back to Villa Park on a permeant basis and also adding the likes of Diego Carlos and Boubacar Kamara, the Clarets put in a worrying display over the weekend.

Despite smelling the chance to make an early statement as they made the trip to Premier League returners Bournemouth, Villa were eventually hit with a shock 2-0 loss.

Mustering just a pair of shots on target and offering little in the final third, Gerrard also found himself on the end of some rather scathing criticism.

Signing off the 2021/22 campaign by collecting just a pair of wins from their final 11 Premier League appearances, Saturday’s display would have undone all Villa’s hard work over the summer.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Tom Dunstan


Formerly of The Independent, Tom is a freelance football and boxing journalist from Essex, England. Currently working for three online publications, Tom is a graduate of the University of Falmouth and has spent the last two years writing across Australia, New Zealand and Asia. He can be followed at @IamTomDunstan

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