One day into the new Premier League season, we already have a number of surprising results.
Hull City and West Bromwich Albion – teams who both struggled through bad press, managerial turmoil, and a frustrating transfer window this summer – both picked up wins over teams who seem to be trending upwards.
Nobody thought Leicester City’s title defense would be easy, or even possible, but most expected them to ease past managerless and transfer-less Hull City on opening day. Most thought wrong. Robert Snodgrass was creative and scored the winner as the Tigers, under caretaker manager Mike Phelan, picked up a confidence-building win over the defending champions.
Building on Hull’s win, West Brom surprised a rising Crystal Palace squad at Selhurst Park behind a header from Salomon Rondon, who looked most dangerous during an otherwise listless match. Similar to Hull, West Brom has had a rocky summer, stymied on a number of transfers and forced to question if Tony Pulis would stick around. However, they faced a Palace side that looked timid in the final third and Rondon, last year’s leading scorer for the Baggies, started off on the right foot.
Pep Guardiola made a statement when he benched incumbent goalkeeper Joe Hart, but it didn’t matter as the City attack was in charge. For much of the match City was in control, and while Jermain Defoe thought he earned Sunderland a point with a 70th minute equalizer, pressure from the hosts was too much at the end amid defensive tactics from David Moyes. A Paddy McNair own-goal with four minutes was the difference as City survived.
Boro looks like an exciting and stout Premier League side, and went ahead through new signing Alvaro Negredo. Unfortunately, it wouldn’t last as Xherdan Shaqiri – invisible for much of the early going – deposited a beautiful free-kick into the back of the net to equalize.
Leroy Fer produced a late, 82nd minute winner to give Swansea all three points at Turf Moor. The goal was just after Swans defender Federico Fernandez should have scored earlier in the second half but missed poorly from close range. Goalkeeper Lukasz Fabianski was also needed as he denied Sam Vokes just after halftime.
The two sides finished level in a matchup of first-time Premier League managers. Nathan Redmond scored an impressive volley on his Saints debut to peg Watford back after Etienne Capoue had given the visitors the lead with his first goal for the club. Watford’s Ben Watson was sent off late after a last-man foul, a selfless sacrifice after Southampton was threatening on the break.
Ross Barkley put the hosts in front, but Erik Lamela headed home an equalizer in the second half as both teams had to settle for a disappointing draw. Spurs will be even more concerned that goalkeeper Hugo Lloris went off injured, as the club announced he had a hamstring problem and will be assessed in the coming days.
A Dutch international, Fer shone and scored some spectacular goals for the Hoops but missed plenty of the season through injury as the west London club were relegated.
Fer has the ability to play both in a central and wide position, but he does have the unwanted record of being relegated from the Premier League in each of the the last two seasons with first Norwich City in 2013-14 and then QPR in 2014-15.
Swansea — who currently sit four points above the drop zone — will be hoping lightning doesn’t strike three times.
The acquisition of Fer, a player who has proven himself in the PL with 10 goals in 63 appearances, will soften the blow of Jonjo Shelvey‘s departure earlier in the January window to relegation rivals Newcastle United.
Pedro, 28, has been at the Catalan club for over 10 years but with Neymar and Luis Suarez arriving in recent season to partner Lionel Messi in attack, his role has diminished at the Nou Camp in recent months. The release clause in his contract was recently lowered to $30 million, fueling talk of a move away from Barca, and head coach Luis Enrique has been tight-lipped on Pedro’s future. The Daily Telegraph claim that Pedro has agreed to be part of a new-look three-pronged attack at Old Trafford alongside Wayne Rooney and Memphis Depay. As for United, the imminent sale of Angel di Maria to Paris Saint-Germain for $68 million will free up plenty of cash and a spot in their attacking unit, with Pedro seeming much more likely to slot into Louis van Gaal’s strict system than Di Maria.
Fabio Borini is said to be closing in on a move to Fiorentina, according to Sky Sports. The Italian forward made just 18 appearances for Liverpool last season, scoring once, after spending the entire 2013-14 campaign on loan at Sunderland. He arrived at Anfield for $16 million in 2012 and was Brendan Rodgers’ first signing as the new manager of Liverpool, but a permanent return to Serie A for $7.5 million looks set to happen.
Sky Sports are also reporting that Leroy Fer’s proposed loan move from Queens Park Rangers has collapsed after the Dutch midfielder failed a medical at the Stadium of Light. Fer, 25, showed plenty of promise for the R’s last season but was injured for most of the campaign and it seems like that poor fitness record may have scuppered his chances of returning to the PL after QPR were relegated to English soccer’s second-tier last season.
One player Sunderland could snap up is Manchester United’s Adnan Januzaj. The 20-year-old winger struggled to get minutes last season with the Red Devils and the Sunderland Echo believes Januzaj could arrive on Wearside to play regularly in the PL. With Jeremain Lens on board this summer too, the Black Cats could have a new-look attack for next season.