5 things learned from the opening Premier League weekend
1) Bafetimbi Gomis is a man for the big occasion
The former Lyon striker may not have leapt into the bosom of Swansea fans as quickly as his predecessor up front, Wilfried Bony, but continued clawing his way into their hearts with the equalising penalty against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge.
Gomis is now only the second player, alongside Steven Naismith, to score goals against the Blues, Arsenal, Man City and Man United in the past two seasons, proving that he is the man to fill Bony’s shoes at the Liberty Stadium, against the league’s elite at least.
2) Sunderland do not learn
No top-flight team has benefited from the short-term injection of confidence a new manager brings more than Sunderland in the past few seasons.
So when they did all they could to persuade Dick Advocaat to remain in charge at the Stadium of Light after his engineering of yet another survival bid, it looked a worrying decision considering their short-term saviours rarely flourish in a second term.
After the Black Cats were 3-0 down to Leicester at half-time at the weekend and, by the manager’s admission, “scared” him with their performance, both Advocaat and the club may be ruing the retirement U-turn.
3) Rodriguez return a welcome sight for Saints and England
Southampton named Jay Rodgriguez in a Premier League starting lineup for the first time since the forward suffered a serious knee injury in the home straight of the 2013/14 season.
The ring-rustiness that is unavoidable in a 16-month layoff was very much evident as the England international lasted 65 minutes of the Saints’ 2-2 draw with Newcastle, but the cautious approach to his recovery will only serve the south coast club, and Roy Hodgson’s men, well when he finally does return to peak form.
4) An old face, rather than a new one, will be Liverpool’s sparkplug this term
Much like they did when Luis Suarez departed the scene, Liverpool attempted to console themselves over Steven Gerrard’s exit with a heavy session of retail therapy.
In their first top-flight assignment without their iconic skipper, though, it wasn’t James Milner, Roberto Firmino, Danny Ings or Christian Benteke that got them a vengeful three points over Stoke, but Philippe Coutinho, whose stunning long-range strike is fast becoming a Gerrard-like trademark.
5) Tottenham put huge faith in youth
Of Spurs’ entire matchday squad for the north Londoners’ curtain-raising trip to Old Trafford on Saturday, only one player, starting goalkeeper Michel Vorm, was over the age of 28.
That shouldn’t be a real surprise considering Mauricio Pochettino has build a reputation for preferring fresher legs since taking his first job in this country with Southampton.
However, with Spurs expected to challenge for a top-four spot this season, at a price of 17/2, a lack of real battle-hardened experience in their ranks could prove a worry.
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