The English Premier League is the first of the major European leagues to kick off their 2019-20 campaigns and there was plenty of action and drama in Week One for fans who tuned in to watch the first round of competitive Premier League fixtures on Sky Sports.
Title Contenders Still Strong
Last season’s Premier League produced one of the competition’s most gripping conclusions, as Liverpool and Manchester City wrestled for supremacy. Both were faultless under pressure. City won their last fourteen, while Liverpool won their last nine. In fact, the Reds only lost once all season, but were ultimately pipped to the title by a point.
Significantly, Liverpool in second place finished an incredible 25 points ahead of Chelsea in third, and there is no sign of that gap closing after one game of the new season. Against Norwich on Friday, Liverpool were far from their best and looked a little shaky at the back at times, but still ran out as 4-1 winners. A day later, City went one better, putting five past West Ham. The reigning champions are currently rated as 4/5 Premier League favourites, with Liverpool at 3/1 and the next nearest challenger, Tottenham Hotspur is as big as 16/1. Right now, it is hard to argue with those odds.
Positive Signs at Old Trafford?
The post Sir Alex Ferguson era at Manchester United has brought a few highlights, but mostly disappointment and a steady decline. After a poor conclusion to last season, and a summer dogged by rumours about the future of Paul Pogba, expectations were low for this campaign. But some of that pessimistic gloom was lifted by a positive display at Old Trafford on Sunday, in which the pace and skill of Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial were complemented by the strength and composure of new signing Harry Maguire at the back in a 4-0 victory over Chelsea.
Work to do for Lampard
The appointment of Frank Lampard as Chelsea manager was warmly welcomed by Chelsea fans, but the inexperienced manager has inherited a squad in transition and a frustrating two-window transfer ban. There is talent among the Chelsea squad but there were alarming defensive failings on show in their Old Trafford humbling, along with a general lack of intensity and solidity without the ball. Lampard will be given more time than most, but there is much to do at Stamford Bridge.
Unpredictable Mid-Table Race
Week One also showed us how unpredictable the Premier League is outside the top six. Punters checking out the best odds on Bigbetbookmakers.com may have been tempted to back FA Cup finalists Watford or Marco Silva’s Everton to close the gap on the Big Six, but the Hornets were humbled at home by supposed relegation-contenders Brighton, while Everton were held to a draw at Crystal Palace, and newcomers Sheffield United earned a creditable point away to Bournemouth on their Premier League return. All the signs are that the tussle for mid-table safety could be even more competitive than usual this season.