The opening round of fixtures was the bountiful fruit that starving football fans had been craving, and didn’t disappoint.
Robin van Persie was deadlier than a rattlesnake tie, the big teams were dominant, the small teams suffered, and Arsenal did a massive Arsenal.
But while we, the fans, were slipping on the familiar loafers of the Premier League, many of our entertainers were either doing it for the first time or doing it in a new colour. Let’s see who did best:
Kolo Toure – Liverpool
When Liverpool signed Toure on a free from Man City, there were little sniggers through the Prem world. Toure was old. Toure was banned for using a woman’s slimming medication. Toure couldn’t get a game for Man City. You know what this meant? It meant Toure was hungry (especially after those pills!)
Showing experience, eagerness, and raw power, the big Ivorian had a great game for Liverpool. He was in control at the back, willing to come forward like the Toure of old, and scary in the box. He was only the woodwork away from getting a debut goal.
In Toure, the man who has kept a clean sheet in around a third of all Prem games he’s been in (102/308) Liverpool have a great signing.
Simon Mignolet – Liverpool
Kolo Toure’s statistic would be one worse without the Belgian keeper’s heroics. He had a pretty flappy game for Liverpool; clearances into rushing attackers and weak claims on aerial balls would normally rule any player out of a list like this, and were probably less a sign of his ability and more a sign of the occasion.
But after Agger gave away a penalty after 87 minutes of dominance by Liverpool, the Kop must have feared a repeat that haunted them so many times last year was going to take place. But Mignolet was having none of it.
He saved well from Walters (who must be out of a job now), and then even better with his hip from Jones. The fans were ecstatic, and the players all mobbed him. Liverpool’s new number 1 had arrived.
Paulinho – Tottenham Hotspurs
I knew nothing of the Brazilian until I saw him playing in midfield during the Confederations Cup, and even then, wasn’t sure when Spurs began their pursuit of his ever rising price tag. His performance against Crystal Palace was controlled and measured though, and he looked instantly at ease.
Not necessarily your stereotypical flair Brazilian, more like Carrick with more energy, Paulinho played 58 passes with over 90% finding their mark. Passing hasn’t been Spur’s forte but with a midfielder who can get out of situations and keep a cool head, that could change.
Jesus Navas – Manchester City
Maybe this is a biased position in the list because I love this little winger. And I do mean winger.
I don’t mean slightly wide but endlessly coming inside (Robben), or faffing around on the ball (Lennon), or trying tricks when there is no need (Zaha). Nor do I mean blindly crossing from anywhere (Stoke), or driving crosses into defenders (Milner). No, Navas is – in Pellegrini’s words – “a winger winger”.
Lightening quick, careful with possession, but above all – a fantastic crosser. I say this position on the list may be tenuous because he didn’t get an assist, but his energy, creative wing play, and the ability to always keep himself open mean he is going to be torturous for defenders this season.
Kevin De Bruyne – Chelsea
The Belgian 22 year old looked good 2-3 years ago so it was no surprise when Chelsea bought him. It was a surprise when Chelsea loaned him out to Werder Bremen where many fans forgot about him. And after amassing what could well be the Prem’s best midfield last season, I thought De Bruyne’s days were numbered but I was proved wrong when an injury to Mata meant he started against Hull.
And what a start. He’s the kind of player teams outside the top six (and maybe within it) dream about. Skillful, confident, with technique and vision that betray his age, he could’ve had much more than the one assist he picked up. Chelsea’s great midfield just got greater.
Antonio Luna – Aston Villa
A lot of things were remarkable about Villa’s win over Arsenal (mainly Arsenal’s defending) but there’s one moment I enjoyed more than any other.
At 22 years of age, in a new league, against a superior team, and trained as a left back – going through on goal on the halfway line is not something you’d expect, nor be prepared for.
So you run it and wait for the option right? Well what if the option doesn’t arrive? Well you forget everything about yourself and you slot it away like a 35 year old Brazilian striker in a charity game, obviously.
He gives him the eyes! He also had around a 94% pass completion rate. Definitely the best debut and more than Villa could have asked of him.
Some Players That Just Missed Out
Fernandinho (game was too easy to give him too much credit), Roberto Saldado (played as well as expected but nothing more), Ricky van Wolfswinkel (scored but only had 12 touches of the ball in 90mins), Andre Schurrle (didn’t play long enough but looked dangerous), Iago Aspas (linked well with the Red’s attack but didn’t quite do enough).