For anyone who was “worried” about Manchester United not living up to former standards due to the arrival of David Moyes, they probably forgot about Robin van Persie. Arsene Wenger had the opening match everyone expected Arsenal to have, while Simon Mignolet saved Liverpool from another first-match tragedy, showing how big of a difference the Reds made when they decided to change goalkeepers.
The English Premier League has kicked off its 2013-2014 season, ending the long summer, probably too long for many fans. Looking at the table at the end of the first Saturday, it seems a bit too much like a few months ago. Manchester United leading the way, with the rest of the league waiting for their fall.
Liverpool played well against Stoke City, showcasing Iago Aspas, Kolo Toure and one Simon Mignolet. While the Belgian goalkeeper isn’t exactly a new face in the English Premier League, it’s a huge difference playing for Liverpool, a team that might not be too successful in recent years but usually attempts to be the dominant and attacking side on any pitch than doing the same job between the posts with Sunderland.
Mignolet struggled for many minutes against the twin and triple towers of Stoke City as they crossed their way into oblivion and an expected opening day loss, but Mignolet already proved he was a worthy signing with only two minutes left in the match.
For some reason someone is still allowing Jonathan Walters to take penalty kicks for Stoke, and it ended badly. Walters missed, or maybe it was more of a Mignolet save. Then Jones prounced first on the rebound, and Mignolet was there again. Liverpool win a match on the opening weekend for the first time in five years. Remember Pepe Reina fumbling the ball on the opening weekend in 2010?
Is it Arsene Wenger’s fault that Arsenal don’t surprise anyone by losing at home, 3-1, to Aston Villa? Partially, and probably a bit more than that. Laurent Koscielny might be his best centre back, but also his most reckless, proving it time after time. His red card didn’t ruin their match, but it didn’t help as well.
Mikel Arteta injured, and he’s not even a natural defensive midfielder. Arsene Wenger keeps believing in Jack Wilshere instead of Santi Cazorla, resulting in a non-existent defensive midfield, and one player who has head too many times he’s the next big thing when he’s probably not.
Arsenal will look better than this, but not by much, if Wenger continues to view football in the same way he did 10 years ago, leaving Arsenal fighting with a bow & arrow when everyone have already advances to lasers and heat seeking missiles.
David Moyes will find tougher matches than his league debut for Manchester United, at Swansea, calmly walking away with a 4-1 win. Robin van Persie scoring twice, Danny Welbeck getting a chance to do more than just tactical work scoring twice as well. Like nothing has changed, and it isn’t a new season, and Alex Ferguson is still on the sidelines.
The quality and strength of United isn’t just about their former manager. Something seeped down to the benches, the trenches, the players and everyone else. Robin van Persie might be the finest striker in the world not called Lionel Messi or Cristiano Ronaldo. Even if he isn’t, he simply can’t stop scoring.
United are far from perfect, and don’t look like a team that in the long run, with this team and this midfield, success in the Champions League isn’t going to come. But in the Premier League? For now, five hours after the league took off, no one else looks better.