English Premier League 2020/2021 Gameweek 1 Review
The English Premier League is finally back with its 29th season, less than two months after the previous campaign ended. Pushed a month back due to the Coronavirus problems that have plagued the year 2020, the new EPL season promises to be an extremely captivating one and help fans and lovers get past the negativity brought by the virus.
Although fans haven’t yet been allowed back into the stadiums, Matchday 1 still provided so much excitement, just as you would expect. With all the clubs having each conducted a transfer or two, there were high expectations from respective fans to see their new boys in action, and for the most part, they delivered.
Fans of Aston Villa, Burnley, and the Manchester clubs would have to wait till Matchday 2 to see their own clubs in action though.
- 6 of the 8 matches in Matchday 1 featured a clean sheet for the winning side.
- 6 of the 8 matches in Matchday 1 were won by the Away team. In 5 of these 6 matches, the Away team walked away with a clean sheet.
- 4 of the 8 matches in Matchday 1 saw the Away team score 3 goals.
Below is an extensive all-inclusive review with interesting stats of all the matches of EPL 2020/2021 Matchday 1
Fulham 0 - 3 Arsenal
(Alexandre Lacazette 8’, Gabriel Magalhaes 49’, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang 57’)
The long-awaited 2020/2021 season of the English Premier began on Saturday early afternoon, and in grand style too as Arsenal gave Fulham a rude welcome to the PL at Craven Cottage. In a below-par performance from Fulham, Arsenal showed clear superiority as they completely outclassed their London neighbours.
Many would have been surprised at the decision of Scott Parker to start the Championship’s top scorer of the last campaign, Aleksandar Mitrovic, on the bench. And Fulham surely missed him.
Arsenal completely dominated the game, and Willian, who hit the post with a first-half free-kick, especially had a fine game and was directly involved in all the three goals. Arsenal were already a goal up early in the first half even as Fulham battled to get anything going in attack.
Throughout the first half, Fulham tried to rely on the power and pace of Ivan Cavaleiro, Aboubakar Kamara, and Neeskens Kebano to attack, especially on their right-hand side, but Arsenal’s defence remained assured and unwavering. Fulham didn’t have any real attacking opportunity, save an early half-chance from poor communication from Gabriel on an Ainsley Maitland-Niles backpass to Bernd Leno, which Kamara nearly profited from.
Arsenal started the second half even brighter than the first and were three goals up before the hour mark; new boy Gabriel with a commanding header from Willian’s corner to perfect a commanding performance at the back, before Willian with a lovely crossfield ball over the top found Aubameyang, who sent a deliciously curled shot into the net.
There was a marked improvement when Mitrovic and Zambo Anguissa were brought on and Fulham threatened more as they were then able to pass through the lines, instead of knocking the ball from side to side as they did previously. They were however unable to get any real chance back into the game and it ended in a convincing win for Mikel Arteta’s side.
- The loss means that Fulham have now lost their last 6 EPL matches against Arsenal, conceding 12 goals in the last 3.
- Scott Parker’s team have also now lost their last 11 EPL London derbies.
- Lacazette is now the first and only player to have scored the opening goal of 2 campaigns (2017/2028, 2020/2021)
- Aubameyang has now netted in back-to-back season openers, the first Arsenal player since Robert Pires in 2003/2004 and 2004/2005.
Crystal Palace 1 - 0 Southampton
(Wilfried Zaha 13’)
Palace welcomed Southampton to Selhurst Park for their opening match of the season. Having finished the season poorly without a win in their last eight EPL matches, Roy Hodgson must have been relieved to see his side get the win.
The Eagles were ahead as early as the 13th minute when talisman Zaha, with the 50th league goal of his career, volleyed them ahead. The Saints battled to get back into the game but were met with fierce resistance in an outstanding Vicente Guaita who made some remarkable saves to deny them any chance whatsoever to salvage a point.
Kyle Walker-Peters thought he was unlucky to have been given a red card, but he was saved from an early bath after the referee rescinded the decision to only a yellow card after reviewing it on the pitchside monitor.
Palace fans must have been delighted to see new signing, Eberechi Eze, come on in the second half to briefly show sparks of his undeniable quality. In the dying moments of the match, Zaha scored again, albeit this time it was disallowed for offside.
- The win meant that Palace after three consecutive league losses to Southampton at Selhurst Park, without scoring a goal, have gotten one over the Saints.
- The Eagles have now gone unbeaten in their last three season openers.
- The Saints, on the other hand, continued their dismal record on Matchday 1 of a season, and have now won only two of their 22 season-opening matches.
Liverpool 4 - 3 Leeds United
(Mohammed Salah 4’P 33’ 88’P, Virgil van Dijk 20’; Jack Harrison 12’, Patrick Bamford 30’, Mateusz Kilch 66’)
This 5:30 pm kickoff was certainly the most entertaining of the entire Matchday 1 with goals flying in from every angle, keeping observers on the edge of their seats right to the very end.
Leeds, after a 16-year absence from the EPL, were almost able to match Liverpool with a completely sublime performance. In a match they had the larger share of possession and arguably dominated, Leeds were unfortunate to not get at least a draw, thanks to new signing, Rodrigo, giving away a penalty in the dying stages.
In a frantic first 33 minutes, five goals were scored. Liverpool were straight off to a flying start when Salah converted the resulting penalty after Robin Koch handled his shot in the box. Leeds then equalized just eight minutes after, as Harrison made light work of Trent Alexander-Arnold and Joe Gomez before hitting the back of the net with a low powerful shot.
Eight minutes later Van Dijk had nodded Liverpool into the lead from a corner. Three minutes after Bamford had gotten the Whites level from a Van Dijk error, Salah had his second after Leeds failed to clear their lines following an Andrew Robertson freekick.
After the restart, the game continued its high-frenetic tempo, and Alexander-Arnold was lucky to have his own-goal disallowed for an offside call. However, Liverpool’s lead wasn’t preserved for much longer; six minutes after the hour mark, Kilch got Marcelo Bielsa’s men level again.
Salah and Juergen Klopp would have the final say however as the Egyptian king once again scored a hat-trick at Anfield to take him to the top of the goalscorer charts.
- With this win, no team Liverpool have faced at Anfield in the EPL over the last 60 matches have managed to defeat Klopp’s men.
- Salah is the first Liverpool player to score in 4 consecutive season openers.
- Van Dijk has now made more errors leading to goal than any other outfield player, since the beginning of the 2018/2019 season.
West Ham 0 - 2 Newcastle
(Callum Wilson 56’, Jeff Hendrick 87’)
Saturday’s final match left David Moyes in bad spirits after Steve Bruce’s first win against him in over a decade saw to a woeful start to his team’s campaign at home.
The match saw the two clubs, in West Ham and Newcastle, with the worst EPL opening day records, go head-to-head, the former with 13 opening day losses and the latter with 11; West Ham had lost their last four, while Newcastle had lost six of their last seven.
Although West Ham had scored at least two goals in five prior EPL meetings with Newcastle, they were outdone by two very good finishes from two of Newcastle’s three debutants; the first a poacher’s goal and the second a spectacular finish.
West Ham were undoubtedly unlucky not to have gone ahead after hitting the crossbar twice in the first half. They were unable to make their superior possession count however as Wilson ensured he got the vital touch ahead of goalkeeper Lukasz Fabianski to prod the ball home.
The Magpies rebuffed the Hammers search for an equalizer, and just three minutes from time, they put the match clearly to bed.
- Newcastle have now won 10 matches away at West Ham, their joint-most in the EPL.
- Wilson has now scored more EPL goals against the Hammers than he has against any other team with 8 goals in 9 appearances.
West Bromwich Albion 0 - 3 Leicester
(Timothy Castagne 56’, Jamie Vardy 74’P 84’P)
West Brom were the second newly-promoted EPL club to be given a harsh welcome at home, with a heavy drubbing against Leicester at the Hawthorns on early Sunday afternoon.
Leicester started with Wilfred Ndidi in defence alongside Caglar Soyuncu, with the other center-back options either out through injury or suspension.
The first half was fairly drab and equal with both sides having a few chances far between. The second half witnessed a much-improved display from Leicester, who snowed through the Baggies’ defence to produce a goal for debutant Castagne, and two penalties, which the ever-reliable Vardy duly converted.
The win for Leicester ensured the trend of English Premier League matches between these two teams ending in a win for the away side continued as the Baggies were outclassed in a match that saw them amass only one shot on target and about 36% possession.The Foxes have now won all five Premier League matches away at the Baggies.
Vardy repeated Salah’s double penalty feat of the previous day with his own double penalty goals, scored just 10 minutes apart. He thereby became the first player since his ex-teammate, Riyad Mahrez, in 2015 against Everton to score two penalties in a Premier League away match.
Tottenham 0 - 1 Everton
(Dominic Calvert-Lewin 55’)
Prior to this match, Jose Mourinho had never lost the opening match of a season in his managerial career. Everton had themselves not beaten Spurs away in the Premier League in 11 matches and in the last 15 EPL matches.
Ancelotti opted to start all three of his new midfield signings in Abdoulaye Doucoure, Allan, and James Rodriguez and they produced the goods he ordered. Mourinho himself started his two new signings but they were ultimately unable to effectively influence the final scoreline.
Carlo Ancelotti’s side were the better side for most of the match, with Tottenham unable to find a flowing ebb to the game, seemingly waiting for one of their big names to produce a moment or two of magic.
Tottenham had their best chances in the first half and matched Everton to a large extent. Everton had the better chances throughout the match though and were rewarded with Calvert-Lewin’s fine, powerful header from a perfectly weighted Lucas Digne freekick, taken from a spot about 6m ahead of the spot the freekick was awarded.
Richarlison had many chances to increase his side’s advantage, as he was regularly found in space on the right of Tottenham’s half, but he couldn’t convert those chances to goals. Hugo Lloris made a couple of very good saves to keep Spurs in the game, and his opposite number, Jordan Pickford, matched him with some very good saves of his own.
In all, Everton got a deserved victory, leaving Mourinho to plan a different approach if he is to take Spurs forward.
- Calvert-Lewin has now scored 3 headed goals, more than any other player since Ancelotti took charge of Everton.
- Rodrigues created 5 chances on his debut, the most by any player since Alexis Sanchez created 5 chances in his debut against Crystal Palace in 2014.
- Rodrigues made as many interceptions in this match as the whole Spurs team managed.
Sheffield United 0 - 2 Wolverhampton Wanderers
(Raul Jimenez 3’, Romain Saiss 6’)
Chris Wilder's Sheffield United played hosts to a Wolves side that were themselves unbeaten in their last seven opening league matches. They were, however, condemned to a fourth straight league defeat courtesy a blistering start by Wolves.
Wolves started in terrific fashion and were too hot to handle for the Blades as they cruised to a 2-goal lead inside seven minutes. Jimenez scored the first in characteristic brilliant fashion three minutes after the referee blew the opening whistle.
Just three minutes after that, the Wolves’ players were celebrating their second courtesy of Saiss who headed past Aaron Ramsdale. Wolves continued in the ascendancy and threatened to add to their lead against a rightly startled Blades team, who struggled to stay in the game.
It wasn’t until the closing stages of the first half that Sheffield got going and offered something in the form of a threat going forward, but Wolves defended resolutely to retain their lead at the interval. After the restart, Sheffield picked up where they finished the first half and continued a relentless search for a way back into the game, but they were somehow unable to get the ball into the net.
Wolves themselves had chances to increase their lead, which went begging. Sheffield toiled furiously towards the end of the second half to at least get a goal back and set up a tense finish, but Wolves, with last-ditch clearances, would have none of that. Ultimately, none of the two could add any gloss to the early 0-2 scoreline and the match ended that way.
Wolves’ two goals scored by the sixth minute is the quickest any side have scored two goals in the opening match of a Premier League season and their quickest ever.
Brighton and above Albion 1 - 3 Chelsea
(Leandro Trossard 54’; Jorginho 23’P, Reece James 56’, Kurt Zouma 66’)
In a match in which arguably the better side lost, the strikers were absent on the scoresheet.
Brighton were in control and looked the side more likely to score when Steven Alzate’s error led to Matt Ryan clattering into the onrushing Timo Werner in an attempt to prevent a goal-scoring opportunity.
Alzate made a poor pass into Jorginho who put Timo Werner through on goal. Ryan chased down the ball but was unable to get to it ahead of Werner, who he brought down in the box for a penalty duly converted by Jorginho, maintaining his perfect EPL penalty record.
Brighton continued threatening till the end of the first half, especially through their right where Tariq Lamptey was finding so much joy with his pace and trickery up against Marcos Alonso.
The second half resumed and Brighton got their much-deserved leveller through the favoured right side just as expected; Lamptey finding Trossard, who powered a low curled dipping drive past Kepa Arrizabalaga. 2 minutes later and Brighton were unlucky to be behind again. This time, James, preferred to Cesar Azpilicueta in the right-back position, powered a thunderbolt of a strike past a genuinely helpless Ryan.
Moments later, Brighton had a chance to equalize, but Lewis Dunk failed to get the right contact on a perfectly delivered cross, a chance that seemed easier for a player of his quality to score than miss.
Seven minutes later and Zouma made them pay for that miss. James’ cross found Zouma whose not-so-powerful on-target header fortuitously bounced off Adam Webster into the net. Brighton continued looking for a way back but were evidently clutching at straws in a game that was truly over; it was just not their night.
Graham Potter will rightfully feel hard done by on a night his team played the better football but conceded such unlucky goals, and will be looking for better luck and preparation ahead of their next fixture.
Brighton’s dismal home run in 2020 continues. They have now won only one of their last 10 Premier League matches at the Amex stadium in 2020.
Chelsea maintained their unbeaten league record against the Seagulls. They have now played Brighton 10 times without losing.
- Chelsea have scored every one of their last 16 penalties in the EPL.
- Jorginho has scored all 5 of the penalties he has taken in the EPL.
- Since Kepa’s debut for Chelsea in 2018, he has conceded 19 goals in the EPL from shots outside the box, more than any other goalkeeper.