The new season of the Premier League is well into gear, with the second round of matches having been played.
As expected, there were thrilling moments through the match weekend, while some matches did not go as expected.
Given the Premier League’s status as the most widely followed league in the world, it is understandable that global interest is shown in the game, and this season is no different, with fans from all walks of life and corners of the globe following their favourite clubs and passions with feverish passion.
After another enthralling round of matches, we shall be presenting five talking points from the second match day of the 2019/2020 Premier League season.
5. Arsenal and Liverpool ready to compete
In a sign of how ultra competitive the Premier League is, after the first two rounds of matches, only two teams have maintained a 100% record.
Liverpool and Arsenal occupy the first two positions on the league, having won both their matches, which is more than any of the other 18 clubs in the Premier League can boast of.
The Gunners kicked off their campaign with a hard fought 1-0 victory away to Newcastle at St James’ Park, and followed that up with another narrow 2-1 win over Burnley at The Emirates.
For their part, last season’s runners-up Liverpool kicked off the new season on the opening day with a convincing 4-1 victory over Norwich City, and followed that up with a nervy 2-1 away against Southampton to sit pretty at the top of the table.
Both Liverpool and Arsenal would seek to build on from their second and fifth placed respective finishes last season, and their impressive start to the new campaign suggests that they are on the right path.
However, one of these two teams or even both of them could see the end of their 100% start when the two clubs clash at Anfield next week.
4. VAR is not a fan of Manchester City
Manchester City made history by becoming the first English side to sweep a domestic treble of League, FA Cup, and League Cup last season, but heading into the last few weeks of the campaign, they were very much on course in all four competitions they participated in.
A 1-0 loss away to Tottenham in the quarterfinals of the Champions League meant that The Cityzens needed a two-goal second leg victory to qualify.
The game was finely poised at 3-2 when Raheem Sterling thought he scored what was an injury-time winner to send The Etihad into a frenzy and propel Guardiola’s men into the last four, however, an introspection by VAR revealed that Sergio Aguero was offside before setting Sterling up.
There were shades of Deja vu over the weekend, as Manchester City were once again denied an injury-time winner against the same opponent at the same stadium after consultation with VAR.
Brazilian forward Gabriel Jesus thought he had scored a 93rd-minute goal to put City 3-2 up, but replays by VAR showed that Aymeric Laporte had unintentionally handled the ball before it reached his teammate.
Though it is just two match days in with 36 more games to go, the tightness of last season’s title race suggest that the margins for error at the top of the league are getting smaller by the day, and as such, these dropped points by Manchester City, courtesy VAR could well come back to haunt them at the end of the season.
3. Teemu Pukki is a top striker
Teemu Pukki was the driving force behind Norwich’s promotion from the Championship to the Premier League last season. The 29-year-old scored 29 goals from 43 matches in England’s second tier, including eight goals in six consecutive matches from January to February to help The Canaries reach the top spot in the Championship.
His form saw him earn the Championship Player of the Season award, and was also voted into the Team of the Season, apart from being rewarded with a new three-year contract.
However, performing in the Championship is a very different kettle of fish to doing it on the big stages of the Premier League, and many would have been forgiven for expressing pessimism over the possibility of the Finn stepping up to the plate in England’s top tier.
A consolation goal in Norwich’s opening day defeat to Liverpool saw the former Celtic man open his Premier League account, but matchday 2 saw his take his goalscoring exploits to an entirely new level.
In the game against Newcastle United, Teemu Pukki scored a hat-trick, becoming the first Norwich player since Efan Ekoku in September 1993 to score a Premier League hat-trick.
Pukki finds himself at top of the scorer’s chart in the ongoing season of the EPL with four goals from just two matches, and if there were doubts over his ability to swim with the big fish, he has shown that he has what it takes to shine on the grand stage.
2. Steve Bruce should be worried
It would not be out of place to suggest that these are not the best of periods for Newcastle United. The Toon Army are one of England’s more traditional and vociferously supported teams but currently find themselves at crossroads, as the relationship between fans and club owner Mike Ashley keeps deteriorating with each passing day.
Uncertainties at the club led to the resignation of the highly paid Rafa Benitez, and despite numerous other names being linked with the position, the Newcastle board decided on the appointment of Steve Bruce.
In the market, the club also spent a club-record fee to bring in forward Joelinton from Bundesliga side TSG Hoffenheim and the fact that the 23-year-old had less than an impressive scoring return in Germany made many express reservations about the amount expended to get him.
It was a less than ideal start for Steve Bruce in his new role, as his side fell to a 1-0 home defeat to Arsenal, with the match characterized by fan protests a day prior to kickoff, as well as numerous empty seats on matchday which was indicative of just how hostile things have become between the fans and management.
It got from bad to worse on matchday two, as Newcastle put in an even more listless performance in a 3-1 defeat to newly-promoted Norwich City, with their record signing massively underperforming by missing many gilt-edged chances, apart from suffering an injury during the match.
Though it might be early days, the signs are there that this would be a long and arduous season for Newcastle, and there is the real possibility of the club facing the drop, close to the end of the campaign.
1. Lampard yet to find his feet
The fact that Chelsea could not strengthen their squad over the summer despite losing the services of their best player – Eden Hazard – due to their transfer ban meant that the new season was always going to be a difficult one for them.
This was compounded by the departure of Maurizio Sarri after one tumultuous season in charge, but the appointment of Frank Lampard helped lessen the blow.
The 41-year-old may be a relative newbie and greenhorn when it comes to club management, yet his playing career was fabulous as during his illustrious days gracing the pitch at Stamford Bridge, the former England international played his way into being considered arguably the best to ever play for Chelsea.
His inclusion was therefore seen as the return of Chelsea’a favorite son, with fans optimistic that he would transform the club’s fortunes.
After two ‘away’ defeats to Manchester United and Liverpool in his first two matches as Chelsea boss, Lampard had a feel of the manager’s seat at Stamford Bridge when he played Leicester over the weekend, and the stands were replete with multiple banners praising the club’s record goalscorer.
However, despite Chelsea’s best efforts, they could only muster a 1-1 draw with The Foxes, to leave Lampard winless from his first three matches as Chelsea manager, with evidence suggesting they were flattered by that scoreline.
Fans’ optimism and a legendary playing career do not really count for much when it comes to football management, and Lampard would have his work cut out if he is to steer the Chelsea ship on the right course.