Image Source: Brad Tutterow (CC BY 2.0)
The favourites for the Premier League Manchester City and Liverpool not only won their opening day games but scored 9 goals between them, and one wonders if that could set the tone already for this season ahead.
Liverpool sailed past Norwich 4-1 at Anfield, although, to be fair, the Canaries did have their chances but in the end the difference was experience over naivety and all three points went to Jurgen Klopp's team. Manchester City hardly broke sweat when they beat West Ham 5-0 at London Stadium. The gap in quality was so much that the game almost felt like a miss match with City slicing through a very poor West Ham defence. Raheem Sterling scored a hat trick despite Sergio Aguero initially denying him that honour when he took City's penalty. The other talking point of the game was the use of VAR which was used no less than three times. Whilst VAR did correctly call all decisions, one of those was City's penalty having to be retaken due to players encroaching the area. Expect to see many penalties retaken this season, especially with so many goalkeepers used to coming off their line to unfairly try and cut down the available scoring angle for the penalty taker.
Sticking with Manchester City the club were handed good news this week after FIFA only fined the club without further punishment which could have seen them entail a transfer ban. The fine, which is just over £300,000 and relates to buying minors will be loose change for the club.
Manchester United put Chelsea to the sword and emphatically won 4-0. This will cause relief for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and anxiety for Chelsea manager Frank Lampard even though it is only the first game of the season. To lose at Old Trafford is no shame but Lampard must be concerned about the score line.
Tottenham made heavy weather of beating a very good Aston Villa side and were losing 1-0 with just twenty minutes to go but the equaliser came through new signing Tanguy Ndombele with a screamer. Harry Kane scored a late brace to gloss over the result as Villa became tired late on. With Arsenal winning 1-0 at Newcastle there were no shocks to talk off and Everton drew 0-0 at Crystal Palace. One of the most impressive results was new comers Brighton going to Watford and running out 3-0 winners, gone was the defensive negative football from last season. The big game this weekend looks set up for Saturday evening when Manchester City will take on Tottenham at the Etihad.
What is to be done with Manchester United's Alexis Sanchez? Only a few seasons ago Sanchez could be regarded as one of the best players in the league- what happened? Since joining United he has been a shadow of the player he was, one could have come to the conclusion that Sanchez and Jose Mourinho simply did not work out together. However with Mourinho long gone Sanchez has continued to be almost distant on the playing field. It feels like he has given up the ghost which would be quite tragic for such a delightful football player who is only 30.
In France it was business as usual as PSG ran out 3-0 winners against Nimes but the biggest story in Ligue 1 is the transfer saga of Neymar. It is almost certain that the Brazilian will not be playing for the champions this season. With the window closing later than the Premier League there is still time and it seems that Barcelona will get their man back. He is around 1.25 to join his former club and 4.00 to sign for their bitter rivals Real Madrid. However with limited transfer funds, a possible player swap of Phillipe Coutinho who has had a nightmare at the Nou Camp won't be enough, don't be surprised if that deal ends up being a loan one for now. Coutinho is 1.50 to join PSG.
Staying with Ligue 1 Marseille are in turmoil, having lost some of their best players they have now sacked one in World Cup winner Adil Rami. Rami reported in injured to play and then took part on a French TV show involving mud wrestling! Monaco lost their opening game against Lyon which also saw Cesc Fabregas sent off, but they have signed Wissam Ben Yedder for £37m from Sevilla which is a drastic change of tactics for the owners who usually sell off their best players.
Finally what do Celtic need to do to return to the Champions League? Yet again the Scottish club were knocked out at the qualification stage and again and with all due respect it was against a club that they should be beating. This time it was Cluj and Celtic let an advantage slip to lose the game 4-3. Celtic have a special relationship to European football but that is becoming more and more distant and despite their obvious weaknesses a European night at Parkhead against the best teams in Europe is still a special atmosphere, but that's been denied once more.