Sport

Premier League naphand: five talking points from Week One

By Antoinette Muller 19 August 2013

Made for TV football returned this weekend and while there weren’t any upsets to get excited about, there’s always plenty to talk about. ANTOINETTE MULLER bravely picks five talking points from the first weekend of the Premier League.

It feels like forever since that theme tune rang out from TV sets across the world. The Premier League is back and weekly agony returns for many football fans, aside from Manchester United supporters. It was a rather subdued first weekend, but the Premier League sized hole left in many weekends has starting filling and it doesn’t take a mind-blowing hat-trick or an underdog upset to get the excitement around the football started. We’ve picked five talking points from the weekend matches.

Who can blame Rooney for wanting to leave?

Before Robin van Persie arrived at Old Trafford, Wayne Rooney was the poster boy striker. Despite all his flaws, the club loved him because he scored goals. Rooney was the man whose mask was worn in the crowd; he was the one whose name was chanted over and over again. But when Van Persie arrived, Rooney had to settle for playing second fiddle. Although he still works hard and still works with the star striker to create goals, he’s not the one basking in the glory. His unrest was clear on Saturday when he didn’t join his teammates in a celebration of a goal he played a part in. Yes, he might still have been picking himself off the pitch, but he wasn’t exactly rushing towards the huddle to join in the fun. It’s hard to blame Rooney for wanting to leave Old Trafford. Just like the old dog who’s forgotten when the cute new puppy arrives, so too has Rooney been forgotten. It’s the tale of modern football, but it’s easy to sympathise with the England striker for wanting to move away from a place where he is probably not feeling all that loved.

One thousand words about Arsenal

This entire feature could have been written about Arsenal and the start to their season. Beating Aston Villa at the Emirates should have been straightforward. Instead, the Gunners misfired and lost on opening day of the season for the first time since 2000. Other than Olivier Giroud’s goal early on, Arsenal looked completely at sea. Wojciech Szcz?sny, usually a picture of calm, was channelling his inner Jens Lehmann far too often, going completely walkabout from his goal. The defence looked dead or completely missing, and the fans jeered their team off the pitch singing: “spend some f****ng money”. That in itself is a sad state of affairs. That Premier League success is equated with the splashing of cash, no matter how ridiculous or worthless. Their frustration is understandable. The club has let go of 17 players since the end of the last season, many of whom were dead weight, but there’s been just one signing. That signing was free. Once upon a time, nobody could fault Arsene Wenger’s magic touch for signing a player who turned out to be quite good and who was sold off for quite a lot. Now, it seems, he’s lost that bit of magic, too.

Should Wojciech Szcz?sny been sent off?

Wojciech Szcz?sny looked like he should have earned himself a red card when he pulled Gabby Agbonlahor down, coming out of his box and throwing himself forward. It earned Aston Villa a penalty, which was saved, but they scored off the rebound. However, the Arsenal keeper escaped with nothing more than a yellow for a clumsy effort. While usually the picture of calm, Arsenal’s entire squad looked completely shaken right from the start. The worst part about Arsenal’s flapping is that they aren’t a bad group of players; they just don’t seem to know how to use their skills at the moment.

Welcome, Nic Anelka

After a profitable year at Chinese club Shanghai Shenhua, for which Nicolas Anelka turned down a chance to join Paris Saint-Germain, the Frenchman is back in the Premier League. It’s not quite his glory days at Arsenal and Chelsea, but he’s back and playing with West Brom. It’s the sixth Premier League side Anelka has played for and he’ll most likely end his career there. Nobody can blame Anelka for his choices, he’s had to try and maximise his earning potential before his career comes to an end. It is, however, another reminder of what modern football (at the top level) has become. It’s a wonder players even sign long-term contracts these days, as they are most likely to move on long before their contracts are up, even if they have nothing but nice things to say about the club that adopts them.

The mesmerising Mourinho

José Mourinho is the apple of the English press’ eye and now he’s back in their playpen. It would be foolish to talk about the impact he’s had back at Chelsea after a game against Hull City, but he certainly knows how to create hype. Chelsea fans swarmed to Stamford Bridge with Mourinho masks and “Special 1” printed on the back of their shirts. It’s clear that the man from Portugal has at the very least added a little bit of extra sparkle to an already bright league. The new boss made sure most of his new signings and youngsters got a run out against Hull. Whether that was to show he has faith in his squad, or simply because the nail was already in the coffin, who knows. His personality alone will be the cause of many headlines over the next few months. Chelsea will be hoping that some of that sparkle will spill out onto the pitch, too. DM

Premier League Week 1 Results:

Chelsea 2-0 Hull

Crystal Palace 0 – 1 Tottenham

West Ham 2 – 0 Cardiff

West Brom 0 – 1 Southampton

Swansea 1 – 4 Manchester United

Sunderland 0 – 1 Fulham

Norwich 2 – 2 Everton

Liverpool 1 – 0 Stoke

Arsenal 1 – 3 Aston Villa

Still to play:

Manchester City vs Newcastle

Photo: Fans unfurl a banner supporting Chelsea’s manager Jose Mourinho during their English Premier League soccer match against Hull City at Stamford Bridge in London August 18, 2013. REUTERS/Toby Melville

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