The Premier League returned to our screens with a record-breaking weekendPixabay

Seven-goal thrillers, last-minute winners and even the odd kung-fu kick to the face – the Premier League exploded back onto the scene this September, as we were treated to a historic 43-goal weekend to help us through the COVID drag.

With so much to talk about - even having to skip over Tottenham’s Heung-Min Son’s four-goal masterclass and Leeds United enjoying their first Premier League points in over 16 years - I’ve picked out three major talking points from the opening fortnight of Premier League madness.

  • City and Liverpool – still streets ahead?

The titanic tussle between Manchester City and Liverpool has produced some of the best football the Premier League has ever seen over the past few seasons, and the undisputed top two look set to slog it out for England’s top prize once again this year.

Pep Guardiola and Jurgen Klopp have raised the footballing bar to levels that most didn’t even know existed a few years ago, obliterating record after record over three ridiculously good campaigns. Their extraordinary battle has seen the long-standing Premier League record of 95 points, set in 2005 by Chelsea, broken THREE times since 2017, as City smashed 100 in Guardiola’s second season and pipped their rivals by 98 to 97 in his third, before Klopp claimed Liverpool’s first Premier League crown last season, with 99.

Yet, while many anticipated a return to Earth for the two stratospheric super-clubs this season, the early signs suggest that there are still very few, if any, who can catch them.

Liverpool, despite scraping through a chaotic opening day encounter with Leeds, comfortably dispatched of Chelsea last weekend: a team who, after splurging nearly £200 million in the summer, have been tipped by many to disrupt the Manc-Mersey dynasty. However, after a red card for defender Andreas Christensen and with the help of yet another Kepa clanger, they were easily swept aside by the Champions, who, despite being far from their best, never really looked troubled in their 2-0 triumph.

City, on the other hand, having started the season a week later than their title rivals, picked up an impressive three points at Wolves – a result not to be sniffed at, considering their recent troubles against Nuno Esperito Santo’s side. The Blues were scintillating in the opening 45 minutes, as their relentless pressing and electric passing and movement produced a dominant first-half performance that culminated in a fabulous team goal to put them two-up after 32 minutes, leaving the game just out of the reach of a resurgent Wolves in the second-half.

We may only be two weeks in, but with Liverpool adding the terrific Thiago and Diogo Jota to Jurgen Klopp’s winning machine, and a riled-up Manchester City, determined to wrestle back their crown, it’s already hard to see anybody else catching the Premier League’s modern-day footballing juggernauts.

  • Crystal Palace and Brighton show that the League’s mere mortals are more competitive than ever.

As more and more money is pumped into the Premier League, clubs with smaller budgets have been forced to not only look for the bargains in the transfer market, but also to develop and perfect a system to make them ‘hard to beat’. No mid-table team has done so better than Crystal Palace.

As a smarting Gary Neville remarked on Saturday, watching his beloved Manchester United as they were dismantled by Palace, Roy Hodgson’s team are extremely “awkward” to play against. And, while United were admittedly poor, their underdog opponents still possessed the quality to pounce on their mistakes, ripping the Red Devils apart as if they were the ones with the £500 million squad.

It was a sensational counter-attacking performance from Palace, who used the pace of Andros Townsend and Wilfried Zaha to expertly cut through United time and time again. Well-drilled, fit and hungry, the Londoners, if anything, will be disappointed that they didn’t win by more than three goals to one.

Alongside Palace, Graham Potter looks to be building a very exciting side at Brighton, with a similarly impressive performance at Newcastle showing them to be equally organised and incisive. In particular, 19-year-old full-back Tariq Lamptey was unstoppable, epitomising Potter’s expansive brand of football – a meticulous young manager who is also able to rely on the quality of exciting young centre-back Ben White, alongside the attacking firepower of Leandro Trossard and Neal Maupay.

Potential dark horses this season, definitely keep an eye out for Brighton in the weeks and months to come. 

  • And lastly, can Everton finally push for Europe?

It’s hard to believe that just under two years ago, Everton had just appointed relegation-specialist Sam Allardyce, in a desperate attempt to stop The Toffees from slipping and sliding towards the bottom three.

Now, with one of the greatest managers of the modern era at the helm, and off the back of a sensational transfer window, the Merseysiders look set to ruffle a few feathers amongst the Premier League’s elite this season.

Carlo Ancelotti’s new-look team began their campaign with an impressive 1-0 away win at Tottenham, ending a miserable run of 40 games without an away win against the traditional “big six”, with a classy performance to shut down José Mourinho’s Spurs. They followed that up with a stylish 5-2 thrashing of West Brom last weekend, as Dominic Calvert-Lewin grabbed a poacher’s hat-trick. While a red card for their opponents naturally helped The Toffee’s cause, there is a serious buzz of optimism down on Merseyside after two eyebrow-raising performances so far.

The trio of new signings in midfield, powerhouse Abdoulaye Doucouré, workhorse Allan and superstar James Rodriguez, have completely transformed the mood down at Everton, with James in particular providing attacking quality that hasn’t been seen at Goodison for quite some time. With a wand of a left foot and a keen eye for a penetrating pass, he’s helped to provide plenty of chances, alongside the busy Richarlison and the devastating delivery of Lucas Digne, for the free-scoring Calvert-Lewin down the middle.

Despite a lingering defensive frailty, laid bare by Yerry Mina in particular on the weekend, Everton will be hopeful that James' magic can keep this run of form going, with the Merseyside Derby on the horizon. For the season, though, it’s definitely worth keeping a look out for The Toffees, as their shiny, brand new all-star midfield will certainly excite throughout.

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