If you watched any of the Premier League action this opening weekend, it became clear that the big teams who were expected to win and play well really hadn’t. It could just be one game, it could be a warning to those teams to sign another player or two by the close of the transfer window or it could also be the start of a worrying trend.
The only team out of the six widely regarded as the top teams was Manchester City. Man City saw what everyone did over the weekend and cruised out to a 3-0 dominating win over West Brom. But for the other five five teams, there could be some worried fans.
The first game of the weekend was the only game where two of the big teams faced each other, Manchester United vs. Tottenham. Neither team really got into a rhythm and it wound up being one of the worst games of the weekend. Manchester United won 1-0 because of an own goal and United didn’t even register a shot until well after an hour into the game. That was their only shot of the day. Both teams looked lost and completely out of their element.
Next, in the Saturday afternoon game, Chelsea and Swansea battled to a 2-2 draw. Chelsea had their moments and they had to deal with a Thibaut Courtois straight red card but Swansea showed no fear and took it to the defending champs. If you were new to the game, you wouldn’t have known Chelsea had won the EPL title.
Sunday yielded more of the same for the top teams. First, thanks to a rather dreadful Arsenal debut by Petr Cech, Arsenal lost rather handedly to West Ham. Most of the blame was placed on Cech but it didn’t seem to look like the defenders ahead of him did any better at their job than Cech did his.
Finishing out the Sunday, Liverpool and Stoke left a 0-0 game to the bitter end and that game drew shades of Manchester United/Tottenham. At least a better goal was scored in this game, scored by Philippe Coutinho, and Liverpool escaped with a 1-0 win. Like Manchester United, even though Liverpool won, they weren’t that impressive.
So why is this the case? Most likely it’s just the abnormalities of the first week and teams are still getting into a rhythm. But if this keeps going on, one may point to the fact that midtable teams are spending money and getting some pretty good talent due to the increase in TV rights fees. Stoke picked up Glen Johnson, Swansea got Andrew Ayew, Newcastle has Georginio Wijnaldum and Aleksandar Mitrovic and Crystal Palace has Connor Wickham and Yohan Cabaye. These players who may be overlooked by the top teams are coming to these teams and these teams are still willing to splash the cash. They may not be able to attack the top four, but these midtable teams could create headaches for the top teams throughout the season.