The first month of the 2017/18 Premier League season is in the books and it did not disappoint. Between Arsenal’s thrilling 4-3 win in the season opener and their abject display in a 4-0 loss to Liverpool, the opening three rounds have provided numerous talking points. From a rejuvenated Manchester United’s perfect start to Tottenham’s Wembley hoodoo, Huddersfield Town’s unexpected success and West Ham’s early lead in the relegation race, here is a look at some of the top stories of August:
Red Devils off and running
José Mourinho’s men posted consecutive 4-0 wins in their opening two matches, over West Ham and Swansea respectively. They backed up those results by beating Leicester City 2-0 at home to take their goal difference to +10—they are the only club in the league to have won their first three games. Mourinho’s team, bolstered by summer signings Romelu Lukaku and Nemanja Matic, are firing on all cylinders and look likely title contenders.
Champions showing their mettle
After a dismal opening week defeat to Burnley that saw them concede three in the first half and earn two red cards, Chelsea bounced back with 2-1 win over Spurs at Wembley, followed by a 2-0 win against Everton. Hampered in their opening three matches by injuries, outgoing transfers, and the never-ending Diego Costa saga, the Blues have started to show flashes of the quality that won them the title last season. With new signings to strengthen his team—though not as many as he would like—Antonio Conte will hope to return from the international break with a fully fit squad ready to defend their crown.
Terriers defying the odds
Huddersfield Town entered the season as relegation favorites. Three matches in they sit third in the league. After the Terriers announced themselves with a thumping 3-0 win over Crystal Palace to open the campaign, they kicked on with a 1-0 win over fellow promoted side Newcastle. A 0-0 draw with Southampton meant David Wagner’s side earned seven points from a possible nine and are one of only two teams yet to concede a goal this campaign. While maintaining their current position in the table is highly unlikely, their strong start indicates the club have the desire and quality to stay up this season.
Gunners shooting blanks
Though they managed four goals to escape with a win against Leicester in week one, Arsenal failed to score in either of their next two matches, losing both. Arsene Wenger’s team passed up a number of opportunities in their 1-0 defeat to Stoke, but failed to register a shot on target in a 4-0 humiliation at Liverpool. The manner of the defeat was most disconcerting for Gunners fans. Arsenal were terrible and Liverpool were fantastic, yes, but Wenger’s side did not look even remotely interested in competing. Performances of this nature are becoming all too common, and Wenger seems unable to stop the rot.
Tottenham missing White Hart Lane
In their first two matches at Wembley, Spurs have dropped more points than in all their home matches last season. While the so-called hoodoo is surely nonsense, Tottenham’s slow start at their temporary home ground causes concern. The loss to a weakened Chelsea side was more understandable than the draw with Burnley. White Hart Lane was a fortress for Mauricio Pochettino’s club last campaign. Improved home performances are a must if the team want to better last year’s second place finish. While the league title is likely the target, they would no doubt like to give a better showing in the Champions League as well. Spurs need to acclimate quickly or both may be out of reach.
West Ham setting pace in relegation race
It has been an up-and-down start to the season for London clubs, but for West Ham it has been strictly down. The Hammers started the season shipping four goals to Manchester United. Things looked up in their second match, but a red card and a late goal saw them lose again, 3-2 to Southampton. The subsequent 3-0 loss to Newcastle showed how dire the situation is for Slaven Bilic’s club. Despite strengthening with the additions of Javier Hernández and Marko Arnautovic up front, and Pablo Zabaleta and Joe Hart at the back, West Ham look a club without an identity and Bilic a manager bereft of ideas. Even the return of the mighty Andy Carroll seems unlikely to save the club. The Championship awaits.
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