VAN GAAL HAS IT ALL TO DO
So the International Champions Cup isn't quite the barometer some people thought it was. Manchester United's serene progress to victory in the United States last month was given a context injection as Swansea left Old Trafford with all three points on Saturday lunchtime.
|No team scored more than twice on Saturday and Sunday and if neither Burnley nor Chelsea score three or more on Monday night it will be the first time since 1912 that no team has scored three on the opening weekend. 102 years of hurt.|
|It's not all doom and gloom for Manchester United. There have been three instances in Premier League history of a team losing their opening game and going onto win the league, with United the successful team in each instance.|
|Leicester new boy Leonardo Ulloa scored on his Premier League debut and in doing so became only the fifth player with a surname starting with the letter 'U' to score in the competition. The others, and you need to know, are Ullathorne, Utaka, Upson and Unsworth.|
|Should Joey Barton let his feet do the talking? He created six goalscoring chances for QPR on Saturday, more than any other Premier League player this weekend.|
|Saido Berahino had what could be described as a mixed season in 2013-14, but an opening day brace against Sunderland saw him match the number of goals he had scored in his previous 18 league outings. Things could be looking up.|
|After going three entire Premier League seasons (& 97 games) without a goal, Brede Hangeland scored on his league debut for Crystal Palace at Arsenal. He wasn't bought for attacking prowess but it's certainly a bonus.|
|Southampton's new signing Dusan Tadic has provided three assists in his last three league games (including two for former club FC Twente). Who needs Adam Lallana.|
|Newcastle never stood a chance on Sunday; no team defending the title has ever lost their first game in the Premier League era (W20 D3).|
Saturday was the first time the Red Devils had lost on the opening weekend at home since 1972, which is bad, but the fact that Swansea's opening goal came as the culmination of 29 passes, a longer attacking move than any goal scored in the Premier League last season, shows that Louis van Gaal has some serious work to do.
A NEW BEGINNING FOR RIO
One defender who quit Old Trafford in the summer is Rio Ferdinand and there will have been a reasonable amount of people this weekend for whom the sight of the 35-year-old not wearing the famous red shirt would have been a new experience.
Even for those who can remember young Rio at West Ham and Leeds, it's still a sizeable gap. His final game for Leeds at the end of the 2001-02 season saw him take on a Middlesbrough team featuring Paul Ince in midfield.
His debut for QPR in August 2014 saw Paul's son Tom in Hull's starting XI. Both games ended 1-0, a win in 2002, a defeat 12 years later.
NOBLE MISS ADDS INSULT TO INJURY
Elsewhere in London, West Ham against Tottenham on the opening day was a strong suggestion from the fixture computer and the game didn't disappoint. Only one Premier League game in the whole of 2013-14 (Norwich vs Newcastle) saw both teams reduced to 10 men, yet this encounter ticked this off and still had time for a rare penalty miss from Mark Noble and a last-minute winner from Tottenham debutant Eric Dier.
Noble's spot-kick miss ended a run of 10 successful conversions in the English top-flight. Particularly upsetting for for Irons's loyalists, his last two failures have come against Chelsea and Tottenham and Saturday's misplaced effort saw Sam Allardyce's 400th Premier League game as a manager end in his 155th defeat.
ARSENAL DEMONSTRATE SET-PIECE POWER
Tony Pulis's impact on Crystal Palace when he took over last November was widely recognised, he won Premier League manager of the year after all. But less well known is that his celebrated organisational skills saw Palace's defence only concede once from set-pieces in his entire time at the club (Joe Allen's goal from a corner in the 3-3 with Liverpool in May).
Against Arsenal on the opening day Palace doubled this total with the Gunners scoring from a free-kick and then a corner. Even so, the Eagles were a little unlucky to suffer the 100th Premier League defeat by an away team at the Emirates Stadium, Arsenal scoring late through modern-day talisman Aaron Ramsey. Palace will play worse and win this season, but whether they’ll win as many as they would have under defensivemaestro Pulis remains to be seen.
STURRIDGE KEY FOR LIVERPOOL TITLE BID
Meanwhile as Luis Suarez, a former transfer target for Arsenal of course, embraces his hard-won freedom to train with his new Barcelona team-mates, his old partner Daniel Sturridge opened the 2014-15 campaign a bit like he ended the last one.
Suarez's 31 goals brought Liverpool 16 points in 2013-14, compared to 20 points from 21 goals for Sturridge, more than any other player in the league.
He took that total to 22 against Southampton at Anfield on Sunday, and it's this capability to decide games and unlock victories that might mean that Liverpool actually retained the striker who can truly guide them to success.
AGUERO THE BEST IN THE PREMIER LEAGUE?
Another striker who began the season with a bang is Sergio Aguero - but is he the most talented forward to ever play in the Premier League? The Argentine started his fourth season in the division with a substitute goal as Manchester City started their title defence with a win at Newcastle.
An injury-free Aguero season would surely see him challenge a raft of Premier League records. The facts are these: he has scored 17 and assisted six more in his last 23 appearances in the English top-flight.
He has the best minutes-per-goal rate (115 mins) of any player with 50 or more goals in the division's history, ahead of Thierry Henry (122), Ruud van Nistelrooy (128), Robin van Persie (134) and Daniel Sturridge (136).
Want to keep track of all the key statistics in Europe’s top five leagues? Keep an eye out for the Huawei European Team Ranking, due to be launched in the first week of September.