I’m sorry, Sunderland fans.
Starting today and running through the Premier League season, we’ll center our focus on the most intriguing storyline from the week that wasa��whether it be a particular matchup or a player’s performance, and anything in between. What better place to start than from the beginning?
For football fans everywhere, this past weekend marked a joyous occasion with the return of the English Premier League. Before the action kicked with a whimpera��a 1-0 final between Manchester United and Tottenham Hotspur in which the only goal was an own goala��supporters of all clubs had one last chance to believe this year was going to be extraordinary. All without having to feel silly for it.
For those who follow AFC Bournemouth, they shouldn’t ever be made to feel silly for their enthusiasm. After all, Saturday marked the first time in which they competed at England’s highest level, and regardless of the resulta��a 1-0 loss to Aston Villaa��manager Eddie Howe and his men displayed the confidence needed to stick around. Now it all comes down to execution. They will not go quietly, which might not be so easy to say about Sunderland. Is it ever?
How many times are we going to do this? It’s not 2010 anymore, when the club finished 10th in the table followed by a 13th-place finish in 2011. The very next season saw them fall to 17th, avoiding relegation by only three points. They seemed destined for the drop in 2013 but took points late in the year against the likes of Chelsea and Manchester City (because of course), ultimately salvaging a 14th-place finish. It was the same story last year, too, as they were involved in a relegation battle for most of the season before securing 16th place and again avoiding the drop by only three points.
Sunderland seem to enjoy this pattern they’ve created where they play fairly terribly for the majority of the season then turn it on during the final four-to-six weeks in order to save themselves. And the thing is, with the clubs that are coming up this season there’s a very real chance they could do it again. They are nowhere near good enough to break into the upper echelon of the lower half, but they may be just okay enough to hang on. That said, if their opening performance against Leicester Citya��you know, that club almost everyone is picking to finish dead lasta��is any indication of how things will go, it’s going to be excruciating.
The club has brought in five new players so far this summera��including former Tottenham center back YounA?s Kaboula��but in the process parted with promising striker Connor Wickham who set off for Crystal Palace. Kaboul wasn’t the only defender signed for the 2015 campaign, but after 25 minutes in their opener against Leicester, the new arrivals mattered very little as the Black Cats found themselves down 3-0, before eventually 4-2.
I’d like to say the 2015-16 season won’t be more of the same for Sunderland, but I wouldn’t want to mislead you. In a way though, they can only go up from here, and their next match comes against freshly promoted Norwich City. In other words, I’m saying there’s a chance.
This past weekend was a strange one for the bigger clubs, but as we always say, only the results matter. So without further ado…
Manchester United did next-to-nothing in their home opener, but as mentioned above walked out of Old Trafford victorious through a Kyle Walker own goal. Spursy, indeed.
Arsenal, for all the preseason hype, fell flat at home against West Hama��you know, who just recently lost their Europa League playoff qualifier against Romanian club Astra Giurgiua��with a lack of attacking threat, mistake-prone defending, and new signing Petr A?ech largely to blame. But let’s give West Ham some credit, especially the 16-year-old debutant who controlled German midfielder Mesut A�zil for the duration of the contest. Oh, and he was passed over by Arsenal’s academy and rejected by Tottenham’s as well? Grade-A banter.
Elsewhere, defending champions Chelsea finished 2-2 against a scrappy Swansea City, ultimately finishing a man down when goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois was sent off. Additionally, he will serve a one-match suspension as the club’s appeal to rescind the red card was rejected.
It took a moment of Coutinho magic for Liverpool to take three points against Stoke, while rivals Everton came back from two separate deficits to draw level with Watford.
Southampton also drew while Crystal Palace welcomed Norwich back to the EPL with a tidy 1-3 victory. The only top club that cruised in our first match week of the season was Manchester City, who bossed West Brom around on Monday to the tune of 3-0.
Our most intriguing matchup on paper next week? A very early title-contender clash in City versus Chelsea. See you next time.