• Mahdi Farahikia

Liverpool Stopped by Fulham for a Shocking Start of the EPL Season

The 2022-23 English Premier League season began on Friday and promised a drama-filled year with ups and downs. Arsenal visited Crystal Palace on day one of the new season and earned their first three points in a game that was anything but easy. Jesus began as a number nine for his new club and contributed to his team's win.


Arsenal's first goal came from a corner kick that saw Zinchenko's contribution (their other signing from City) and was not defended well by the home side. Palace had their fair share of opportunities to score as Arsenal seemed tired at times but were denied by Gunner's keeper. Arteta's substitutions changed that. Saka's close-angle strike was directed to the back of the net by Palace's Guéhi, who was the unfortunate first but not the only player to score an own goal in the season’s opening week.


Perhaps, the most shocking result of the first match week was Liverpool's draw against Fulham, when they had to come back twice to equalize but failed to score a winning goal. Liverpool's Alexander-Arnold struggled from the beginning, and his clumsy defending gave Fulham scoring opportunities and their first goal in the thirty-second minute. In the second half, Klopp brought the Red's star signing, Núñez, who scored the equalizer.


Liverpool's hopes to score the winner were soon diminished as van Dijk's foul handed a penalty and the second goal to Fulham eight minutes later. But Salah came to the rescue eight minutes after going behind for the second time to score an equalizer. The game ended in a 2-2 draw, which may prove decisive in the title race.


The take-or-break game of the week for betting fans was the face-off between Leeds and Wolves. As anticipated, it was a close game at the end of which Leeds picked their first three points at home. Wolves began well, and Podence put the ball at the back of Leed's net following a series of defensive mistakes and poor marking in the eighteen-yard box by the home side.


Leeds bounced back from the early goal. José Sá's collision with Kristensen was nasty. The Wolves' keeper was lucky that neither the referee nor VAR thought it was a penalty. However, Rodrigo took advantage of the visitors' numerous mistakes in the defensive line and their keeper to give Leeds the equalizing goal in the twenty-fourth minute.


Both teams failed to convert their opportunities due to the keepers' agility. Bamford's 74th-minute cross into the danger zone was turned into an own goal for Leeds by Wolves' Nouri, giving the home side their first win of the campaign.


Aston Villa's defeat to Bournemouth away was probably less shocking than Liverpool's draw. Still, it was not a result many people predicted. Scott Parker's side made a statement with their second-minute goal that they may be an underdog, but in EPL, no underdog is a guaranteed easy win. While Villa was expected to turn things around, Bournemouth had other ideas and kept threatening the visitors' goal. Their fearless play paid off in the eightieth minute as Moore turned Kelly's cross into their second goal with a stunning header while Villa's defenders kept watching.


In the first half, Newcastle dominated the game against Nottingham Forest but failed to move the ball past Henderson, the visitors' keeper on loan from Man Utd. Henderson stopped the Magpies on several occasions but eventually succumbed to two unsavable strikes in the second half. Lingard, the former Man Utd player, did not produce much to help his losing side, and Newcastle enjoyed a 2-0 victory.


Southampton's flying start against Tottenham was short-lived as they saw the ball pass their line four times after scoring the game's early first goal. Conte did not start any new signings for Spurs, trusting his squad from last season. Ward-Prowse converted a volley in the twelfth minute to give Southampton an early lead.


Spurs' goal festivity began nine minutes later with Sessegnon's first goal in EPL and Dier's goal ten minutes after. The two first-half goals were followed by another two in the second half. Salisu scored an own goal in the 61st minute, and Kulusevski sealed the deal two minutes later. Southampton could not create many opportunities beyond the opening fifteen minutes of the game.


Chelsea beat Everton thanks to a penalty in the closing minutes of the prolonged first half. Everton suffered an early major injury for Godfrey. London Blues owe their keeper, Mendy, for staying in the game for his incredible moves to reject Everton a goal. Sterling had his chances and almost scored twice but was called off once for offside and once by Everton's defender. Goodison Park is not an easy place to win big, and Chelsea did just enough to earn their first three points.


Without their old-time keeper of a decade, Kasper Schmeichel, Leicester City did not show signs of weakness in the opening 45 minutes of the season. It took thirty-three minutes for Castagne to convert Maddison's corner into Leicester's first campaign goal.


Leicester's dominance continued in the second half as Dewsbery-Hall scored early in the second half to give his team a two-goal advantage against Brentford. However, Brentford had other ideas and was not ready to go down easily. A couple of substitutions turned things around in their favor, and they came from behind to convert a 2-0 defeat to a 2-2 draw.


Every wrong thing with Manchester United from the past few seasons carried over in the first forty-five minutes of this campaign. Rashford and the midfield combination of Fred and McTomminay were (and have been) the big problem that has not been dealt with. All eyes were on the Red Devils as they hosted Brighton in Old Trafford (an arena where they had never beaten the hosts.) As the game progressed, United players returned to their shells, showing no sign of game plan, tactic, communication, or improvement. Erik ten Hag left Ronaldo on the bench, to everyone's surprise. Brighton gained dominance and put the ball in United's net twice before the end of the first half.


Ronaldo came on in the second half helping the Red Devils to maintain a somewhat (but not consistent) pressure on Brighton. They scored one ugly goal, but that was not enough to enlighten the mood in Old Trafford. Brighton bagged their first victory in the Theater of Dream in EPL history and their first win of the season. Erik ten Hag has a massive job to turn things around for the Red Devils.


On the back of their title-race arch nemesis losing two crucial points on Saturday, Manchester City was determined to make the most of their opening game away at West Ham United. Things didn't go well for the hosts, as they lost their number one goalkeeper, Fabianski, to injury. The substitute keeper handed City their first penalty with a foul on Haaland, and he comfortably scored for a proper introduction to the EPL.


Manchester City held more possession of the ball in the second half and maintained control of the game. West Ham barely challenged them for the better part of the game. Erling Haaland's second goal gave the visitors a valuable lead in the title race.



What to look for in the second week?

With the drama already building up, the second match week offers face-offs with sides either hoping to maintain their winning streak or redeeming their lack of performance.


Everton, who lost at home to Chelsea, will be visiting Aston Villa, who are also coming to redeem their shocking defeat of the first week. The last five match-ups between the two have gone three times for Villa, and the two sides shared points on the other two occasions. This first match of the second week will be a close call with both teams having chances. Aston Villa may likely take advantage of playing at home to secure a narrow victory.


Arsenal will be hosting Leicester. The home side enjoyed a win last week, while the Foxes let a 2-0 victory slip their hands. With the previous three head-to-head games gone in the Gunners' favor and thanks to their recent recruitment, Arsenal is the favorite to win.


Stunning Man Utd on the away turf, Brighton will be hosting Newcastle. While the Seagulls did grab points in four of the last five head-ons against the Magpies, the visitors are no longer the same team as the previous season. Newcastle will likely earn another three points from this game.


Manchester City will play at home against the Bournemouth side who stunned Villa last week. With Haaland, De Bruyne, and Foden in their squad, and Ederson on the goal, the Manchester Blues will likely see this game through easily.

Southampton's face-off with Leeds in The Friends Provident will be another close game. The hosts come from a thrashing defeat to Spurs while the visitors enjoyed a come-back victory. Both teams made defensive mistakes in their first games of the campaign. Likely, they will score goals in a tight game ending in a draw.


Fulham, who stunned Liverpool, will visit Wolves, who seek redemption after they let go of their lead against Leeds. Like their last four match-ups, this one will be close with no-many goals. Chances are the two sides will share the points.


Coming from a devastating defeat to Brighton, Manchester United will have a difficult time against Brentford in Gtech Community Stadium. The Red Devils scored three goals in each of the last two face-offs, and with an incentive to redeem themselves, they will probably earn their first three points in this away game.


Nottingham Forest will be hosting West Ham. Both teams lost their first games, albeit the visitors lost it to the returning champions. West Ham is the favorite to win this game.


Chelsea's face-off against Spurs is, without a doubt, the match of the week. Both sides won their first games; Chelsea against Everton and Spurs against Southampton. Spurs will find it difficult to move the ball past Chelsea's on-form keeper, Mendy. The fierce Spurs' defense will block the Blues' attempts to score. This early match-up will most likely end with the two sides sharing the points.


The last game of the second match week will see Liverpool hosting Crystal Palace. The hosts suffered a 2-2 draw that was an early blow in their title race against City. Palace lost to Arsenal to start the season with zero points. That said, Liverpool has more incentive for redemption and the advantage of home fans and will pack their first win on home turf.

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