EPL

Manchester City and Liverpool off to blistering starts - the Premier League Data Diary

By Sports Desk August 11, 2019

Manchester City started the defence of their Premier League title with a resounding 5-0 win over West Ham.

Raheem Sterling was in sparkling form, plundering a hat-trick, with Gabriel Jesus and Sergio Aguero also on target in a game that suggests the rest of the league will have their work cut out stopping Pep Guardiola's side marching to a third consecutive title.

Liverpool, who pushed City so close last season, also picked up where they left off, scoring four first-half goals to defeat promoted Norwich City 4-1 at Anfield.

Marcus Rashford scored twice as Manchester United thumped Chelsea 4-0 at Old Trafford, while Harry Kane was at his ruthless best as Tottenham came from behind to see off Aston Villa 3-1.

 

STERLING TREBLE SETS CITY ON THEIR WAY

City laid down an ominous marker in their opening game of the season, sweeping aside West Ham with apparent ease.

The result means they have won their last 15 Premier League games – three short of their own record of 18 set between August and December in 2017.

Central to their success was Sterling, who became just the eighth player to score a hat-trick on the opening weekend of a Premier League campaign, and the first since Didier Drogba in 2010.

Jesus was a surprise starter ahead of Aguero but the Brazilian repaid his manager's faith with the opener – his 13th goal in his last 10 starts.

West Ham, meanwhile, have now lost their last four opening fixtures to a Premier League season, including each of the last three by an aggregate score of 0-13.

LIVERPOOL'S FIRST-HALF BLITZ DOWNS SORRY CANARIES

Norwich experienced a baptism of fire on their return to the top flight on Friday, with Liverpool racing into a four-goal lead by half-time.

The Reds scored three goals in the opening 30 minutes for the first time since February 2014 when they were 4-0 up after just 20 minutes against Arsenal.

One of those goalscorers, Mohamed Salah, extended his impressive opening-day record, which has seen him score in Liverpool's first Premier League match of the past three seasons.

Trent Alexander-Arnold was typically impressive at right-back and his assist for Divock Origi's goal means he is the first player to register an assist in five consecutive top-flight games since Mesut Ozil in 2015.

It should perhaps come as little surprise that Norwich left Merseyside with nothing given their woeful record on the opening day – they have won their first match of the league season in just one of the last 17 seasons.

UNITED RUN RIOT AGAINST BLUES

Manchester United's resounding Premier League win over Chelsea on Sunday was their biggest top-flight victory over the Blues in 54 years.

United were not at their best against Frank Lampard's side but they proved lethal in front of goal, with strikes from Rashford (2), Anthony Martial and Daniel James enough to secure all three points.

The last time the Red Devils beat Chelsea by such a margin in the league was in March 1965 under Matt Busby, when they also won 4-0.

As well as suffering the joint-heaviest defeat of his brief managerial career to date, Lampard was dealt the biggest reversal by a Chelsea boss in their first game in charge since Danny Blanchflower oversaw a 7-2 loss at Middlesbrough in December 1978.

The defeat also means Chelsea ended a day in the Premier League relegation zone for the first time since September 2000.

KANE COMES TO SPURS' RESCUE AGAIN

Tottenham once again were indebted to Kane's clinical finishing as they claimed all three points against Villa.

The England captain's two late goals mean he has now scored six goals in as many Premier League games against the Villains.

Mauricio Pochettino's side had earlier cancelled out John McGinn's opener courtesy of Tanguy Ndombele's strike from distance, making the Frenchman the first player to score on his Spurs debut since Eric Dier in August 2014.

Defeat for Villa, meanwhile, continued Jack Grealish's unfortunate run, which has seen him lose each of his last 19 Premier League games – the longest run of consecutive defeats suffered by a player in the history of the competition.

Related items

  • Dembele appeal rejected but winger available for postponed Clasico Dembele appeal rejected but winger available for postponed Clasico

    Barcelona's appeal to have Ousmane Dembele's two-game ban reduced to one has been rejected by the Royal Spanish Football Federation (RFEF).

    Dembele was sent off in the closing minutes of Barca's 4-0 LaLiga win over Sevilla this month following a confrontation with referee Antonio Miguel Mateu Lahoz, who had just given debutant Ronald Araujo a red card for a foul on Javier Hernandez.

    Barcelona's initial appeal against Dembele's red card was dismissed and he was ruled out of the club's next two league matches.

    With the France forward seemingly set to miss the Clasico against Real Madrid, which had been scheduled for October 26, Barca then attempted to have his ban halved.

    Their efforts proved in vain but Dembele will now be available for the first LaLiga Clasico of the season, with the fixture having been postponed due to safety concerns amid the ongoing political tensions and protests in Catalonia.

    Instead, the former Borussia Dortmund star will miss Saturday's match against Eibar and the meeting with Real Valladolid a week on Tuesday.

    The Camp Nou Clasico appears set to be played on December 18 after both Barca and Madrid proposed the date on Friday.

    Dembele has made three league appearances for Barca this season, scoring once - against Sevilla.

  • Ancelotti thanks De Laurentiis for clearing up Napoli 'lies' Ancelotti thanks De Laurentiis for clearing up Napoli 'lies'

    Carlo Ancelotti is pleased to have the full backing of Aurelio De Laurentiis and has thanked Napoli's chairman for clarifying "lies" that surfaced in the media.

    Italian outlet Corriere dello Sport this month reported Ancelotti is considering his future at Stadio San Paolo following a difficult run of form.

    Napoli entered the international break on the back of one win in four matches in all competitions and already trail Serie A leaders Juventus by six points.

    De Laurentiis this week rubbished suggestions he had fallen out with Ancelotti and assured the veteran coach he can stay on for another decade should he wish.

    Ancelotti has reiterated he is happy in Naples and is keen to get his side's campaign back on track, starting with victory at home to Hellas Verona on Saturday.

    "De Laurentiis' comments cleared up the rubbish we've heard people saying about us," he said at Friday's pre-match news conference.

    "We have an excellent relationship and I'm very happy here. What the president said came from the heart. 

    "I'm pleased he has confidence in me and I'm also happy he cleared up some of the lies that have been going around.

    "What matters now is that we look forward and get back to winning again. We have a very important game tomorrow which gives us the chance to pick up three points and get going again."

    Back-to-back goalless draws have been compounded by tension between Ancelotti and captain Lorenzo Insigne, who was left out of the squad for the stalemate with Genk.

    Insigne admitted this week he does not always see eye-to-eye with his coach, though Ancelotti has talked up the forward's importance.

    "The situation with Lorenzo is not at all complicated," he said. "He made an excellent start to the season then he had a dip in form and I decided to rest him. 

    "He's a key player when he's relaxed, happy and able to fire up the team as he does so well. He's less effective when he's on edge because he's not able to express his full potential.

    "I didn't think he looked sharp in training and decided that it was best [to leave him out against Genk] - a strong decision perhaps but it's all cleared up. I repeat, Insigne is a hugely important player for us."

  • Rugby World Cup 2019: Boks ready to banish memories four years on from the miracle of Brighton Rugby World Cup 2019: Boks ready to banish memories four years on from the miracle of Brighton

    Such was the scale of Japan's Rugby World Cup victory over South Africa four years ago, they made a movie - 'The Brighton Miracle' - to commemorate one of the great sporting upsets.

    There will surely be a sequel on the way after this year's Brave Blossoms reached the quarter-finals for the first time by beating Scotland, and box-office sales could soar through the roof if history repeats itself on Sunday when they face the Springboks again.

    South Africa will start the last-eight contest as overwhelming favourites to gain revenge, with their star-studded cast including Cheslin Kolbe, Faf de Klerk and Pieter-Steph du Toit.

    Japan also have no shortage of talent to play leading roles and will be backed by a raucous crowd when they attempt to break new ground once again on home soil.

    As the Boks plot to spoil the party for their hosts, we reflect on how Japan pulled off a monumental shock at the last World Cup in England, as well as looking at the prospects of lightning striking twice.

     

    Hesketh and Goromaru rock Boks

    Japan were not given a prayer in the opening Pool B match given Zimbabwe were the only team they had previously beaten in a World Cup match – and that win was way back in 1991.

    Yet Eddie Jones' side humiliated a vastly experienced Springboks team with their exciting brand of rugby, coming from behind to secure the most dramatic and unlikely of victories.

    Karne Hesketh crossed right at the death and Ayumu Goromaru claimed a 24-point haul to leave the two-time champions not knowing what had hit them following a 34-32 loss.

     

    Meyer fronts up to 'Boklash'

    Heyneke Meyer came under fire after his side lost the plot and rampant Japan made them pay.

    The then-head South Africa coach said: "I have to apologise to the nation. It was just not good enough. It was unacceptable and I take full responsibility.

    "Every game is going to be tough but there are no excuses."

     

    Jones: I had to look at the scoreboard

    Jones, who landed the England job after his success with Japan in 2015, was pinching himself after the underdogs snatched victory with their last throw of the dice. 

    The Australian said: "Japan beating South Africa? I had to look at the scoreboard at the end just to see if it was true or not. We kept hanging in there. It looked at one stage when they got seven points ahead that they would run away with it.

    "That would have been the normal scenario, like the horror story where the woman goes for a shower after midnight and you know what's going to happen. Normally they would score three or four, it ends up 50-20 and everyone says, 'Well done Japan, you tried hard, you were brave'. But we were more than brave."

     

    What happened next?

    Jones said the objective for Japan was to go on and reach the quarter-finals after downing the two-time champions, but they fell agonisingly short.

    A heavy defeat to Scotland turned out to be crucial as Japan finished third in Pool B after failing to pick up any bonus points.

    South Africa, Scotland and the Brave Blossoms all won three and lost one of their four games, but it was Japan who missed out.

     

    Hope springs eternal for revenge-seeking Boks

    Although Japan are riding on the crest of a wave as they prepare for their first World Cup knockout match, South Africa have looked formidable despite making a losing start against New Zealand.

    Potent in attack and solid in defence, the Springboks have turned their fortunes around under Rassie Erasmus and dethroned the All Blacks in the Rugby Championship.

    They also hammered Japan 41-7 in a pre-tournament warm-up match and is it hard to envisage them suffering another upset at the hands of their next opponents.

© 2018 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.