Tuesday, September 5, 2023

Arsenal’s newfound steel, Brighton are back and five-star Newcastle – Things we learnt from Saturday’s Premier League action

The Premier League is back and after Manchester City beat Burnley in a thrilling contest on Friday night, Saturday had a lot to live up to.

Thankfully, it did not disappoint as the six top flight games offered 18 goals, no stalemates and plenty of drama as 12 different sides got their campaigns underway.

Arsenal’s new boys have certainly taken Mikel Arteta’s side forward

Brighton were back to their very best on their return to actionGetty

With vastly different targets for the campaign ahead, each team had their own idea of what would equate to a successful opening day of the season, but what were the main things that we learned? TalkSPORT.com takes a look…

A steely Arsenal underbelly

Last season may have ended with Arsenal falling short, but early suggestions are that the Gunners may have more staying power this time around.

After seeing of Manchester City in the Community Shield, Mikel Arteta’s side faced Nottingham Forest at the Emirates Stadium where they showed their quality to earn a 2-1 win.

However, with Steve Cooper’s side pushing hard late on to salvage a draw, Arsenal showed real resilience to hold onto the win.

Part of that was down to their strength and depth, with Gabriel Magalhaes coming off the bench late on to help the north London side over the line, however Declan Rice was also a key part of it.

Making his Premier League debut for the club, the former West Ham star really impressed and showed vital leadership in midfield, something that was spotted as he ordered his teammates around just two minutes into the match.

Discussing his impact, Arteta said: “It’s very natural. You’ve seen him today, I don’t know if it was after two minutes or after 10, but the way he’s moving, the way he’s coaching and integrating in that dressing room I think he’s enjoying the position.

Arsenal were back with a bang at the Emirates Stadium

Rice led by example for Arsenal in their victory over Nottingham ForestGetty

“He should have scored probably two goals today. So more of the same. He’s not thinking, he’s just acting and I’m really pleased with what he’s done.”

The challenge will be seeing if this new-look Arsenal can last the pace this term.

Brighton are back

If anyone thought that Brighton’s success last term was a flash in the pan, you are sadly mistaken.

The Seagulls were one of the Premier League’s most entertaining sides to watch last term and showed that they’re not going anywhere with a 4-1 victory over newly-promoted Luton.

Fine attacking play is something that we’ve come to expect from Roberto De Zerbi’s side, it’s even more impressive to see without some of last season’s key stars.

Goalkeeper Robert Sanchez has left for Chelsea, while Alexis Mac Allister has also moved on to Liverpool, a big blow after the World Cup winner contributed 12 goals and three assists last term.

Brighton were also without Moises Caicedo as Chelsea and Liverpool continue to battle for his signature, another player who looks set to move on for a massive fee in excess of £111million.

Brighton were unstoppable against Luton in their Premier League opener

Brighton were without Caicedo amid ongoing speculation regarding his futureGetty

Goals came from Solly March, Simon Adingra, Evan Ferguson and new signing Joao Pedro who looked hugely impressive, showing that even without last season’s star men, the future is very bright on the south coast indeed.

A difficult afternoon for the newly-promoted sides

While Brighton fan riot, it was a difficult afternoon for opponents Luton and fellow promoted side Sheffield United.

The Hatters earned their spot in the Premier League through the play-offs set up to catch the Seagulls on the counter at the AMEX Stadium.

Unfortunately, Brighton boasted 71 per cent possession and racked up an impressive 27 shots against Rob Edwards’ side, meaning that it was a tough trip down south for Luton.

Sheffield United suffered a similar tale on home turf against Crystal Palace, losing 1-0 thanks to a goal from Odsonne Edouard.

A total of 67 per cent possession and 23 shots were conceded by the Blades who stayed competitive throughout, however Paul Heckingbottom will know that they will need to do better if they’re to avoid a long, hard season in the top flight.

Five-star Newcastle

Tonali made a glorious start to his life at Newcastle with an opener at St James’ ParkGetty

The home supporters were loving their five-star display over Aston VillaRobbie Jay Barratt – AMA/Getty Images

Eddie Howe’s side are looking every inch the Champions League club after a stunning start to the new season.

Newcastle finished fourth last term to secure a spot in Europe’s biggest competition and strengthened accordingly with Sandro Tonali, Harvey Barnes and Tino Livramento all coming in to boost the squad and ensure that they’re able to challenge on all fronts.

Aston Villa promised a stern test on the opening day, however the Magpies swept them aside with a stunning 5-1 win at a bouncing St James’ Park.

Tonali took just six minutes to score on his debut, before a brace from Alexander Isak, a strike from Callum Wilson and a late effort from ex-Leicester star Barnes wrapped up the win and left Unai Emery scratching his head after what had been an impressive pre-season for Villa.

While Villa posed a difficult test, things get much harder for Newcastle in the coming weeks as they take on Manchester City, Liverpool and Brighton – a run of fixtures which will give a real indication of where the club’s ambitions lie.

But based on that hugely impressive display on the opening day, the Magpies look like they’re relishing the prospect of challenging on all fronts for major silverware this term.

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