Premier League wrap: Are United back and can Chelsea turn it around? 2 months ago

Premier League wrap: Are United back and can Chelsea turn it around?

The Premier League; the best show on television is back!

The newest season kicked off exactly where we left our heroes last.

Liverpool and Manchester City are still clearly a cut above the rest after their respective demolitions of Norwich City and West Ham United.

Tottenham may have added some new faces but they're still Tottenham and have the exact same makeup; tease a potential bottlejob at home before ultimately pulling it out of the fire in the second-half in a game they were expected to comfortably win.

Meanwhile Arsenal went through the motions away from home with a moment of brilliance from Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang separating the Gunners from Newcastle United, who are under new management in the form of Steve Bruce, but are still very much under the torment of Mike Ashley, much to the dismay of their boycotting supporters.

What's changed, at least from the opening weekend, is that Manchester United have showed signs of life again after an end to last season that saw the club win just two of their last nine league games.

The disappointing end to last season led many to believe their would be a firesale at Old Trafford and that United would initiate the biggest overhaul of the post-Alex Ferguson era.

Instead they sold Ander Herrera to PSG, Romelu Lukaku to Inter Milan and Antonio Valencia back to Ecuador while only replacing the latter.

They did bring in Aaron Wan-Bissaka from Crystal Palace, Harry Maguire for a world record fee for a defender from Leicester City and Daniel James from Swansea but many felt it wasn't enough for were the club feel they should be.

United still need to beef up their midfield and probably need to add another striker but they looked very good in their 4-0 win over Chelsea on Sunday with their new signings very much impressing.

Maguire was man of the match, Wan-Bissaka looked very assured at right-back and a big upgrade on Ashley Young, Paul Pogba reminded everyone of his quality with a beautiful assist for Marcus Rashford's second goal, while Rashford, who has never scored more than 10 league goals in a season, already has two goals to his name.

He also looks like he might now form a productive strike partnership with Anthony Martial up front.

It was the perfect performance from Manchester United but the key for them is what happens when it's not perfect? What happens when they face adversity or suffer a heavy defeat? How will they respond?

This is a team that went on a tear when Ole Gunnar Solskjaer took over last season before completely capitulating towards the back end of the season. United looked good but there's still a lot of games to go before there can even be murmurs of them being back.

Remember, it was only a couple of months ago that Gary Neville joked about Ole Gunnar Solskjaer statues while Rio Ferdinand talked up blank cheques for the Norwegian.

Ole's at the wheel again, let's just see if he can get the car through until the end of September without another flat tyre.

As for Chelsea and Frank Lampard it's back to the drawing board. Lampard opted for youth on Sunday with Tammy Abraham and Mason Mount starting over Olivier Giroud and N'Golo Kante and it didn't look like a bad decision after 20 minutes with Abraham rattling the post.

Chelsea looked much sharper than United before Kurt Zouma conceded a clumsy penalty, and they may still have enough talent to challenge for a top four spot, but they'll have to show it quickly with no Eden Hazard to bail them out this season.

They will still have Willian, Antonio Rudiger and Kante to return so they should get better but a midfield of Mateo Kovacic, Ross Barkley, Mount and Jorginho probably isn't the answer for the club going forward.

Their best bet is probably to play Pedro and Willian on the wings, Barkley or Mount in the hole and Kante and Jorginho/Kovacic in deeper roles alongside each other. Whether that transpires or not is another question entirely.

What about the rest?

Arsenal look like their still in the pre-season and as Jose Mourinho highlighted look like they have three of the same player in Mesut Ozil, Dani Ceballos and Henrikh Mkhitaryan.

Leicester and Wolves played out a goalless draw in a game you were convinced would see goals, and did, until Leander Dendoncker's strike was disallowed after VAR review.

Raheem Sterling and Gabriel Jesus also had goals crossed off after VAR review while Sky Sports News have gone into overdrive to explain how VAR will work this season and some of the technology behind the decisions.

VAR is a good thing. Every major sport, from cricket to basketball to the NFL to rugby has some sort of video review system. Football is the last major sport to fully adopt it and the main line of argument against it generally comes from the likes of Danny Murphy and usually goes like this:

“I know the majority of what VAR did at the weekend was good – corrected some decisions that would not have been – but if you gave me a choice now, I would knock it on the head," Murphy said on TalkSport.

“Do we really want to see goals disallowed for offside when it’s an armpit?

“It’s supposed to be an entertainment business.

“It’s creating too many areas of chat like this. I’d rather be talking about tactics and players.”

Of course, when VAR wasn't there, pundits and managers would instead just go after referees for butchering the very decisions that VAR has been brought in to clarify.

Remember this from last season?

Image result for neil warnock referee

Victor Camarasa gave Cardiff the lead against Chelsea with a strike early in the second half but Cesar Azpilicueta equalised for Chelsea with six minutes left, although replays showed the Blues captain was offside.

Cardiff were ultimately relegated to the championship by just two points. Ask them if they fancy entertainment over correct decisions, even if it is only a matter of millimeters, for some clubs it can be the difference in millions and millions of pounds.

Plus, it's not as if fans aren't getting their value for money's worth. There were 31 goals across 10 matches.

Elsewhere Brighton and Burnley got off to good starts with respective 3-0 wins. Both wins feel like opening day anomalies, particularly Brighton who thrashed last year's FA Cup finalists Watford.

As for the new boys, Aston Villa and Norwich won praise for the manner in which they went about their re-introductions to the Premier League but they quickly learned the difference between the very top tier of the Championship and the very top tier of the Premier League.

Both should fare better next weekend against Newcastle and Bournemouth, particularly Norwich who managed to get off 12 shots at Anfield.

The opening weekend brought us all back to competitive football but week two will give us a much better idea of how the clubs will line up for the season.

Will Wilfried Zaha be drafted back into the Crystal Palace starting XI after trying to force his way out of the club? Will Everton give starts to Moise Kean and Alex Iwobi? Will Arsenal bring David Luiz and record signing Nicolas Pepe into the starting fold?

The biggest takeaways from week one, and bare in mind, it is only week one, but it's that City and Liverpool are still the clear title favourites. Spurs could be in a lot of trouble if they lose Christian Eriksen. Chelsea could be in a lot of trouble after losing Eden Hazard and United may have finally figured out their defence.

The highlight for next weekend is City and Tottenham, a replay of their famous Champions League quarter-final tie, but to be fair to City and Pep Guardiola, after a 5-0 trouncing of West Ham United, there is a case to be made that they're the highlight every weekend.