Three winners and three losers from Premier League gameweek one

LONDON, ENGLAND - AUGUST 12: Antonio Conte, Manager of Chelsea gives his team instructions during the Premier League match between Chelsea and Burnley at Stamford Bridge on August 12, 2017 in London, England. (Photo by Dan Mullan/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - AUGUST 12: Antonio Conte, Manager of Chelsea gives his team instructions during the Premier League match between Chelsea and Burnley at Stamford Bridge on August 12, 2017 in London, England. (Photo by Dan Mullan/Getty Images) /

These are some of the winners and losers from an entertaining first weekend of Premier League action.


Henrikh Mkhitaryan

The Armenian playmaker looked liberated as he was able to thrive in the high-tempo, quick transition style. Last season, the Red Devils were a lot more static as they tried to get the best out of Zlatan Ibrahimović. However, with him gone and Romelu Lukaku in his place they are able to play a much faster style which suits Mkhitaryan.

His well-timed through balls on the counter-attack were reminiscent of his days at Borussia Dortmund. Under Jurgen Klopp, he played in a similar style as he was part of a fluid front three with Marco Reus and Robert Lewandowski. His decision-making on the move is smart which enables him to find the intelligent runs of Lukaku and Marcus Rashford.

It has to be noted that they were playing West Ham, and José Mourinho is likely to play a lot more defensive against the big teams. However, against the smaller teams they are probably going to play in this manner, which will get the best out of the talented Armenian. Therefore, his season looks a lot more promising than last year.

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Marco Silva

Watford got off to a great start with a draw at home against Liverpool. This has helped bolster Silva’s already burgeoning reputation. He nearly pulled off a miraculous survival with Hull City last season. They looked doomed when he took over and certain pundits questioned his credentials. This didn’t faze him as he built an organised side which relied on being strong at home. It looks like he has continued this with the Hornets.

They needed a last-minute equaliser to salvage a draw, but on the balance of play the draw was deserved. The Hornets exploited Liverpool’s set-piece weaknesses, and could easily have won if it wasn’t for Heurelho Gomes’ errors. Liverpool struggled to break down Watford’s midfield block as Silva’s team didn’t press the ball high up the pitch.

It was an impressive first Premier League game for Silva’s Watford. If they can keep up this standard of performance then they should be on track to beat last season’s points total. The only issue was the general tiredness of the team in the closing stages, but that is likely to be early season rustiness rather than anything major.

Tottenham’s academy players

Mauricio Pochettino reaffirmed his commitment to bring through youth players. His decision to start Kyle Walker-Peters against Newcastle United shows the trust he puts in his young players. He didn’t buy a replacement for Kyle Walker, and he didn’t play Eric Dier as the right-back due to Kieran Trippier being ruled out of contention because of injury.

This confidence was justified because Walker-Peters had an excellent game and he looked composed on the ball. Even in 1v1 situations against the tricky Christian Atsu didn’t seem to faze him. It was a mature performance from such a young player, and suggests that other managers of big teams should give their academy graduates a chance because they might be positively surprised by the result.

Pochettino’s inclination to give academy products a chance is refreshing in a league which is dominated by short-term thinking. It must give the other young players on the fringes of the squad a lot of confidence. Therefore, they have to be seen as winners because Pochettino has shown that a new season hasn’t changed his thinking.

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Antonio Conte

One of the major losers from the first round of games was the Chelsea manager because his team were beaten by Burnley who are tipped for relegation by many. It was an abysmal start to their title defence especially considering they were playing at home. Having such a bad result in the first game means that his pre-season decision-making is being put under scrutiny.

His treatment of Diego Costa and the decision to sell Nemanja Matić are being severely questioned. Not only do have limited squad depth, which hasn’t being helped by the fact that promising young players have been loaned out or sold, but their team looks weak for the Spurs match. Suspensions for Gary Cahill and Cesc Fàbregas as well as injuries to Tiémoué Bakayoko, Eden Hazard and Pedro mean that Tottenham have the advantage going in to the match.

Losing against Pochettino’s men would already leave them six points behind the leaders, so the pressure is on the Italian manager. A less than auspicious start could get significantly worse. Having a chairman as trigger-happy as Roman Abramovich in regards to managerial changes doesn’t help either.

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West Ham

The Hammers had a poor start to the season as they were trounced 4-0 by Manchester United. Their performance was worrying as they lacked organisation and looked chaotic at times. They were never likely to get a result at Old Trafford, but playing so poorly is never a good sign. Slaven Bilić has bolstered multiple areas of his squad, but this game didn’t reflect that.

They have a relatively kind start to the season, so this game could amount to nothing. Regardless, it was a poor start considering that last season was seen as an anomaly by the board due to how poor they were.

Mourinho’s team limited them to one shot on target, and West Ham rarely threatened the opposition goal. Their attacks were dependent on individual creativity rather than an organised style. They weren’t solid defensively either as the smart movement of United’s front three pulled them apart. The scoreline could have been embarrassing if it wasn’t for Joe Hart. Bilić has a lot of work to do if West Ham are to reach the ambitious targets set by the board.

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Premier League’s reputation

It was an exciting start to the new season, but it didn’t help the reputation of the league. Top teams such as Arsenal and Liverpool looked awful defensively. Their attempts to defend set-pieces were really poor. It’s even more remarkable that they were playing Leicester City and Watford. This wasn’t helped by baffling decisions such as Arsène Wenger playing three at the back even though he only had one fit centre-back.

The Premier League labels itself as the best league in the world, which many fans and pundits believe. However, the defensive standard of the teams in the first weekend was poor in comparison to the other top leagues in Europe.

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Technically and tactically, the Premier League has a significant gap to make up before it can become the best league. Some teams such as Manchester City and Manchester United aren’t far off the top teams, so they could do well in Europe. However, the general standard of the Premier League needs to improve.