After months of toe-tapping and knee-knocking, 3:00PM gradually rolled around on Saturday to finally kick off the new season of the Barclays Premier League (!) After what seemed like ten years of off-season, seven stadiums saw fourteen teams begin their 2012/13 campaign in a surprisingly warm weekend across the country.
With three new teams and six new managers, the transfer market was been a hub of activity in recent months and on the opening day of the season, there were a number of debutants who really shone for their new clubs. Santi Cazorla (9.0m) signed for Arsenal from cash-strapped Malaga and went close a number of times against a stalwart Sunderland. He showcased his innate Spanish ability to spot runs and thread balls, and his shot isn’t half bad either. He looks like he could be a very tricky customer for Arsenal’s opponents this year; Giroud and Podolski both had spells leading the line but neither managed to notch.
Hamburg hitman Mladen Petric (6.1m) signed for Fulham this summer and managed to put all worries about Clint Dempsey’s imminent departure aside. He fired two goals past Norwich’s John Ruddy along with fellow debutant Alexander Kacaniklic (4.5m) who also helped himself to a goal. The departure of Brendan Rogers seems to have done nothing to quell Swansea’s impressive attacking play, with new manager Michael Laudrup witnessing his bargain midfielder ‘Michu’ (6.7m) fire his way onto the scoresheet twice, helping Swansea match Fulham’s fruitful victory of 5-0.
Michael Kightly (5.5m) who has travelled a couple of junctions up the M6 to join Stoke from relegated Wolverhampton surprised himself today with a goal. Reading’s Australian keeper Adam Federici kept twenty clean sheets in the championship last season, but his first time playing in the Premier League showed and he misjudged a tame shot from the Stoke winger and had to watch it bobble over his outstretched arms. West Bromwich Albion have found themselves with a quality striker this season on loan from Chelsea, pipped by many to be the new Didier Drogba. Belgian Romelu Lukaku (6.5m) has swapped the Baggies for the Blues hoping for some first team football, and on his first game for the Midlands club found himself with plenty of time on the ball to open his pace against a wayward Liverpool. He took the third goal with a powerful and accurate header past a dejected Pepe Reina who had already watched two sail past him.
Ron ‘Concrete’ Vlaar showed what his nickname meant for new club Aston Villa when he repeatedly knocked the known strong man Carlton Cole from his feet in the game against West Ham. Playing much of the game with a bandaged head, Vlaar was fearless in defence and showed he has a powerful shot from outside the box to boot. Liverpool’s new signings Fabio Borini and Joe Allen were both handed starts but had fairly quiet games.
Eden Hazard (9.5m) exploded onto the scene for Chelsea on Sunday, employing his pace and flair to leave a Wigan defender in the dust after only two minutes. His silky smooth turn let him run with the ball and allow Ivanovic to bend his run, Hazard played a perfectly weighted ball and Ivanovic made no mistake just a few yards from goal. It was also new boy Hazard whose quick feet left Wigan’s new signing Ivan Ramis looking clumsy as he bundled the Belgian to the floor, giving Frank Lampard an unmissable chance from the penalty spot. Ramis managed to claw some dignity back when he cleared a Fernando Torres poke from the goal line, but could do no more to help his team from suffering a 2-0 loss at home.
Jack Rodwell was handed a surprising start in a star-studded Manchester City midfield on Sunday, hoping to impress in the center of the pitch alongside powerhouse Yaya Toure. After having a quiet but consistent beginning to the game, Rodwell was ultimately the architect of Southampton’s second goal from a bad pass on the edge of the opposition area. I think that he’s a good signing for City, showing that they’re willing to invest in homegrown talent and not just splash cash abroad on established names. Let’s hope Rodwell can pick himself up from a dismal start to his Manchester career.
The most talked about and most drawn out transfer saga of recent weeks has undoubtedly been the sale of Robin Van Persie. He went to Manchester United in search of trophies and will be expected to replicate his incredible scoring record alongside the already prestigious Wayne Rooney. The Dutchman started on the bench so it was Kagawa who represented the new boys on the field. The Japanese magician looked comfortable and confident on the ball, controlling the centre of the park alongside Paul Scholes, but you could sense everybody was waiting for the arrival of Robin Van Persie. Arsenal’s leading goalscorer had to wait until Fellaini made it 1-0 to Everton before he got his chance, but his name barely featured on the commentator’s lips and he couldn’t save his new team from an opening day defeat.
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