What did we learn on Week 1 of the 2022-23 Premier League season? We’ll try to avoid sweeping generalizations from this terribly small sample size… but we learned quite a bit.
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Here’s a look at 10 things which stood out, as our writers Joe Prince-Wright (JPW), Andy Edwards (AE), and Nicholas Mendola (NM) share their observations from across the most recent PL games.
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Let’s get to it.
10 things we learned in the Premier League: Week 1
1. Erling Haaland has arrived in the Premier League (West Ham 0-2 Man City) — This is more confirmed than learned because most observers believe Erling Haaland will do just fine in the Premier League, but seeing is believing as a combination of Erling Haaland’s limitless motor and physical blessings is almost too much to fathom. The big Norwegian was a threat to score in nearly every possession. He didn’t look super tidy in the small spaces but he was in the right places and that should send fair warning to the rest of the continent that the move from Borussia Dortmund to Manchester City’s going to be a very, very productive one. (NM)
2. Darwin Nunez inspires sloppy Liverpool (Fulham 2-2 Liverpool) –Early in the second half Darwin Nunez jumped off the bench and Liverpool’s attack sparked into life. He scored one and set up another as his presence in the penalty box caused Fulham so many problems. The Uruguayan made a huge impact and Roberto Firmino’s days as a starter are surely numbered. Nunez is already a fan favorite and his first PL appearance showcased exactly what he’s all about. (JPW)
3. Godfrey injury, loss start Everton season with woe (Everton 0-1 Chelsea) — Jordan Pickford couldn’t save an errant pass that crossed the back line but the assistant referee did not spot it and Kai Havertz instead grabbed the loose ball and was only stopped from a shot toward goal by Ben Godfrey’s hard sliding challenge. But Godfrey came off very worse for wear as a stretcher was immediately requested and Mason Holgate, who played well enough, was put into the game. A Toffees side without depth will not be in good shape without Godfrey for a long period of time. And Yerry MIna would later limp off the pitch. (NM)
4. Brighton understands Potter’s system and still-fragile Man Utd needs finishers (Manchester United 1-2 Brighton): While Manchester United still has plenty of learning to do under Erik ten Hag — especially mentally, according to Harry Maguire — Sunday’s visitors have a keen understanding of what Graham Potter expects from them. Brighton was well-spaced and lethal on the counter, even if United did very little to limit the danger provided by the Seagulls. It’s not all doom and gloom for United, who will know it needs to find ways to get the ball to its attackers as Jadon Sancho and Bruno Fernandes were lively going forward. So, too, was Marcus Rashford, but the Englishman is still working to find his finishing touch and might’ve had a brace on another day. (NM)
5. Tottenham much more than just the Kane and Son show (Southampton 4-1 Tottenham): Spurs scored four goals on the opening day of the season, and all Harry Kane and Heung-min Son contributed to the cause was one measly assist between them. After combining for 40 goals and 16 assists between them last season, Spurs’ dynamic duo took a comfortable backseat on Saturday. Dejan Kulusevski largely ran the show from the right side. After conceding the early goal, Tottenham was a constant threat to win the ball high up the field and create scoring chances off one or two simple passes. Typically, Kane and Son gorge themselves on goals and assists in that scenario, but perhaps this season they’ll be a bit more balanced and multi-faceted in their approach. (AE)
6. Leeds’ USMNT duo quickly finds footing (Leeds 2-1 Wolves): Brenden Aaronson was involved in Leeds’ opener as his pressing led to the ball being won back and Rodrigo firing home at the near post. He then forced the winner as he would have scored had Ait-Nouri not tapped home and the ‘Medford Messi’ kept popping up in smart areas. Tyler Adams was comfortable on the ball and played a great forward pass in the build-up to Leeds’ winner. Both looked unfazed and at home in the Premier League. The brute strength of the Premier League may be too much for them at times but both showed they can make their mark quickly. (AE)
7. Arsenal possession mouthwatering in solid win over Palace (Crystal Palace 0-2 Arsenal): The technical ability of every player in the Arsenal squad is rarely, if ever, questioned, yet it’s still downright mesmerizing to watch the way they scoot the ball around the field, playing casual one-touch passes and continuing their run to receive the next one in the same motion. Technically and creatively, they’re every bit Manchester City and Liverpool’s equals, and it was on display very early on Friday. The irony of Arsenal opening the scoring, after such a period of possession play, from a cleverly designed and drilled set-piece routine lands just right. The ability to simply put the ball over the line when the pretty possession isn’t paying dividends has been missing from Arsenal for a number of years. Perhaps they’re not yet ruthless, but opportunistic would still be a step forward for the young Gunners. (AE).
8. Defensively-sound Cherries get surprise three points (Bournemouth 2-0 Aston Villa): All credit goes to Bournemouth, who conceded 65 goals (3rd-most) the last time they were in the Premier League (2019-20), as well as manager Scott Parker for the way the Cherries defended and made Saturday’s game as uneventful as possible. The three center backs — Chris Mepham, Lloyd Kelly, and goalscorer Jefferson Lerma — were timely inside the penalty area (27 clearances between them) as they sat deep with plenty of red shirts surrounding the ball. (AE)
9. Leicester City’s midfield leads the way In draw (Leicester 2-2 Brentford): Castagne put Leicester in front off a corner kick, racing to the front post to meet James Maddison’s service and put an unmarked header past David Raya. And Dewsbury-Hall’s made a habit of scoring beautiful goals, but there’s more to this story. Dewsbury-Hall’s industrious midfield work and Maddison’s almost-unrivaled creativity have two things in common: Incredible confidence. Both men look prepared to pull off any feat, however improbable or long-bursting, at any time. (NM)
10. Newcastle shows off style, substance, then finally finish (Newcastle 2-0 Nottingham Forest): Newcastle was all over Nottingham Forest but just missing the finishing touch over the first 58 minutes at St. James’ Park, which was a powder keg as Bruno Guimares pulled the strings and Miguel Almiron ran his shorts off only to be flummoxed time again by the Paraguyan’s hesitance to shoot (and Dean Henderson’s collected nature between the sticks for Forest). That changed when Fabian Schar was given time and space to unleash a combination of power and placement from 18 yards, sending the stadium where it wanted to go all morning. (NM)