Side Kick

EPL, European major leagues are back again!


With Adebayo Olodan

After a long break, it was cheering to see the most glamorous league in the world – the English Premier League – back on our screens last weekend.

While some of the EPL clubs took off from where they left off last time, it was interesting to see more than half of the big teams struggling for results against less fancied opponents.

Interestingly, the trio of Arsenal, Chelsea and Liverpool conceded three goals each on the opening day.

Arsenal showed character by securing the three points against a resolute Leicester City side. Leicester thought they had the points in their bag with the Foxes leading 3-2 and barely 10 minutes left until a certain Aaron Ramsey rose from the substitutes’ bench to level scores at 3-3 before another Oliver Giroud’s headed goal; 4-3 it ended in favour of Arsenal. Beyond the result, Arsene Wenger may have finally secured his ideal N0 9 as it took Alexander Lacazette only 60 seconds to score on his Premier League debut. The fact that the Frenchman can operate from the flanks like Thierry Henry makes him more suited to the Gunners and he will ended up on double figures if he is able to repeat the performance he displayed on Friday.

Lacazette was however not the only debutant to have scored as Romelu Lukaku, Alvaro Morata, Wayne Rooney and Mohammed Salah all found the back of the net for their new clubs too.

For Lukaku, he showed Chelsea what they would be missing as he scored twice for Man Utd in the 4-0 drubbing of West Ham. No one predicted such outrageous result but United proved too tough to handle for the Hammers. Nemanja Matic offered record signing; Paul Pogba, the freedom to operate and the former Chelsea man more than deserved the Most Valuable Player award. Like NGolo Kante, Matic may become another player to win the Premier League back to back with two different clubs. The arrival of Matic has provided United with defensive stability and the team is likely to concede fewer goals compared to last season when Marouane Felllaini and Michael Carrick could not provide the back four the needed shield. Should Matic remain fit for the larger part of the season, it will be difficult for teams to get goals against United.

Even though these are still early days, I believe Manchester United stand a better chance to win the league than any other team in the league. Besides, Mourinho has always come good in his second season at a club. At FC Porto, Chelsea, Inter Milan and Real Madrid, Mourinho turned out to enjoy more success in his second season than his first. The Portuguese tends to spend the first 12 months to study his players and the environment and it is in his second year that he is able to achieve better feat.

After back to back defeats against Arsenal, the Blues got another reality check losing 2-3 to Burnley. For Antonio Conte, he needs to critically address the issue of recurring red card(s) for his players.

In the FA Cup final against Arsenal in May, it was Victor Moses that was shown the exit in the second half. The scenario repeated itself last week when Pedro was shown a straight red in the Community Shield defeat to the Gunners. Just as Conte and his players were mourning the loss, it was the turn of team captain, Gary Cahill and Cesc Fabregas to be shown red card on the opening day of the EPL.

Except Conte makes a few more addition to his squad, Chelsea are more likely to finish outside the top four especially as the club is competing on four fronts this season.

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