The opening weekend of the 2021/22 season certainly didn’t disappoint as Premier League football returned with a bang, the very first fixture seeing newly-promoted Brentford shock Arsenal. Brentford took to life in the big time with ease and fully deserved the lead given to them after 22 minutes when Sergi Canos drove low past keeper Bernd Leno at the near post, although Arsenal complained bitterly that the ball had gone out of play in the build-up. Arsenal, without main strikers Alexandre Lacazette and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang through illness, paid the price for a hopeless attempt to defend substitute Mads Bech Sorensen’s long throw. New defender Ben White was particularly culpable as Christian Norgaard arrived to head home.
Saturday’s fixtures saw fellow new boys Watford join the Bees in making a winning start to the campaign, whilst Manchester United, Chelsea and Liverpool issued statements of intent in the title race with comfortable victories over Leeds, Crystal Palace and Norwich respectively.
Elsewhere West Ham edged Newcastle in an entertaining six-goal clash at St James’ Park, whilst Tottenham beat Manchester City as the latter began their defence of the title with defeat in north London.
Tottenham made light of the absence of unsettled Harry Kane to start the Premier League season with a win over champions Manchester City and their £100m man Jack Grealish. It was Son Heung-min who gave new manager Nuno Espirito Santo the perfect start to his reign with a low shot that snaked beyond Manchester City keeper Ederson 10 minutes after the break. Spurs fully deserved their win as they survived a shaky opening phase to play with real purpose, already showing signs of the Nuno trademark with fierce defensive discipline allied to pace on the break.
In the meantime, we have we’ve got enough time to quickly reflect on some of the most eye-catching stats from the weekend’s action via OPTA stats.
- 3 – For the first time under Pep Guardiola, Manchester City have failed to score in three successive matches in all competitions, with the Citizens last failing to do so back in March 2016.
- 3 – Manchester City have lost three consecutive games in all competitions without scoring a single goal for the first time since March 2007 under Stuart Pearce.
- 34 – MD1 of the 2021/22 Premier League campaign produced 34 goals – only in 2003-04 has the opening weekend of a season seen more goals scored (36).
- 3 – Spurs manager Nuno Espírito Santo has won three Premier League games against Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City (previously twice with Wolves); the joint-most of any coach, along with Jürgen Klopp, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and José Mourinho.
- 4 – West Ham have scored more goals today (four) than in their previous seven MD1 Premier League games combined (three). It’s only the third time in their top-flight history that they have scored 4+ goals in their opening league match (also in 1928-29 & 1983-84).
- 8 – Despite the rebound being turned in, Newcastle’s Freddie Woodman became just the eighth goalkeeper to save a penalty on his Premier League debut and first since Neil Etheridge for Cardiff vs Bournemouth in August 2018.
- 2,000 – Danny Ings’ goal today was the 2,000th penalty scored in Premier League history. Brian Deane was the first of 459 different players to score from the spot in the competition, with Alan Shearer (56), Frank Lampard (43) and Steven Gerrard (32) netting the most.
- 11 – Norwich City have now lost their last 11 Premier League matches – only Sunderland have ever lost more consecutively in the competition (20 between 2003 and 2005).
- 10 – Mohamed Salah has 10 goal involvements in games on the opening weekend of the Premier League (7 goals, 3 assists) – only Wayne Rooney (8 goals, 5 assists) has more in the competition.
- 50 – Marcos Alonso’s strike was Chelsea’s 50th direct free-kick goal in Premier League history, with only Manchester United (64) netting more in the competition.
- 4 – Emmanuel Dennis is the fourth different Nigerian player to score on his Premier League debut, after John Utaka, Peter Odemwingie and Odion Ighalo.
- 3737 – Ashley Young is starting for Aston Villa in a Premier League match 3737 days after his last start for the club in the competition – it’s the 4th longest gap between starts for the same side in the competition’s history.
- 4 – Paul Pogba is the 7th different player to register four assists in a single Premier League match, and the first Man Utd player to do so. The Frenchman made just three assists in his 26 league games in total last season.
- 1 – Luke Ayling has scored his first Premier League goal in what is his 39th appearance in the competition and from his 25th attempted shot – and the 11th from outside the penalty area.
- 22 – Arsenal had 22 shots without scoring against Brentford, their most without finding the net in a Premier League match since December 2017 against West Ham (also 22).
- 20 – Arsenal will end tonight bottom of the Premier League for the first time since August 9th 2015, when they went bottom after losing 2-0 to West Ham United.