MONDAY’S BIG STORIES
The Champions 4-3 The Championship
Premier League seasons should always begin like this. The defending champions against the champions from the league below: a kind of sequel to the Community Shield. And if we could have a seven-goal barnstormer every year as well, that’d be lovely.
Liverpool won, of course. They do that. But only just, and only thanks to some eclectic decision-making in the Leeds defence. And so the Premier League season began in the best way possible: with optimism. Two causes for optimism, in fact, which just feels greedy.
Optimism, first, that Liverpool might be a little more vulnerable than last season. Conceding goals thanks to bad decisions from exposed defenders? Didn’t get much of that time round. Liverpool taking the lead and then the game staying exciting? Wasn’t a thing. Call the Warm-Up greedy if you must, but we’d quite like a title race. Even Jürgen Klopp was having fun:
What a game, what an opponent, what a performance from both teams. A proper spectacle, I loved that. It is pretty rare you see that many goals in a game, We will not go home and have a few beers on that result. We need to analyse it. Leeds are special. They performed outstandingly and it was very difficult – for 95 minutes, by the way.
We can also be optimistic about Leeds — sorry, “Marcelo Bielsa’s Leeds” — making waves on their return. It’s been a bit of theme of recent seasons: a team comes up from the Championship having tried something different, and they keep on trying it, and it works. Sheffield United last season, Wolves the season before that. It keeps things nice and fresh. And if Leeds keep playing like this, front and back, they’re going to keep everybody busy. Including themselves.
Mikel Arteta’s party fun times
Speaking of optimism, it’s hitting dangerous levels in the red parts of north London. The third kit looks really good. Mikel Arteta has a new job title and, presumably, smart new business cards to match. Oh, and the team look pretty good too.
Admittedly, Fulham looked extremely generous hosts, giving Arsenal plenty of time, space, and possession to weave their pretty patterns. But Arsenal will be particularly heartened by the immediate promise of all their new signings. Willian looked busy and useful, while Gabriel looked calm, composed, and frankly nothing like an Arsenal defensive signing.
Most inappropriate. Let’s hope he can build on that early error and develop a full range of nervous twitches. Otherwise it’s going to be a terribly confusing season.
But nobody had a bigger day than Martin Keown on co-comms. After Arsenal scored their third — a neat counter-attack ending with Aubameyang cutting inside and whipping the ball into the top corner — he told a watching nation that we wouldn’t see a better goal all season. 380 games, and he called it after an hour. You can’t teach that kind of confidence.
José Mourinho’s party fun times
A strong early weekend for anybody playing José Mourinho bingo. One game against Everton brought complaints about his players’ states of mind, their lack of preparation, and their lazy pressing; a tactical substitution designed to make somebody look inadequate; a team set up to counterattack at home; and — house! — the following chilling announcement:
I did not like my team.
Nor did anybody else, José. Except Everton, obvs.
Allan was given the freedom of Not White Hart Lane to control the midfield, and James was given the softest, kindest welcome possible to the Premier League. Both impressed on debut, but the fact that Everton won with a big header from a set piece will be particularly disappointing for Spurs. That’s the stuff that Mourinho teams are supposed to be good at.
IN OTHER NEWS
And you thought Richarlison’s miss was bad. Shouts and hearts out to Mechelen’s Aster Vranckx for this work of art, which he will be seeing on an endless loop for the rest of his life, every time he closes his eyes.
Since we’re all having a Marcelo Bielsa weekend, here’s a look back at that time his Argentina side — including — won the Olympics without conceding a single goal. With bonus comedy voices, for some reason.
Here’s Jonathan Liew over at the New Statesman, reviewing that Tottenham documentary that everybody’s been making jokes about.
As the money poured in and footballers retreated out of our towns and cities and into their fame-encrusted gated communities, two processes occurred. Not only did our physical access become rarer and more privileged, but the way we saw the players changed too. They became figures of weird, lurid, otherworldly fascination, these outrageously wealthy young people with worries and pressures and haircuts beyond our wildest dreams. We stopped empathising and started gawping.
More Premier League? Well, if you insist. First Sheffield United take on Wolves, and then we get our first look at this very expensive, potentially very exciting new Chelsea side, away at Brighton.
Marcus Foley will be here tomorrow to bring you Why Timo Werner Must Win The Ballon D’Or, part 1