5 things we learned from Premier League Round 1
1) Louis van Gaal's appointment no quick fix for United's woes
It all sounded too good to be true for Manchester United fans. A highly regarded Dutch coach with armour glinting and astride his noble steed, riding into Old Trafford to save the day and banish the gloom that had settled after a horrific season under the hapless David Moyes. Alas, this fairytale was over before it even started, with United supporters brought back down to earth with an opening day loss to Swansea. Opposition fans were all too quick to remind the Red Devils that Moyes had beaten the Swans 4-1 in his first competitive game in charge.
United will take time to gel under van Gaal (though hopefully not as long as it took under Moyes), with an attacking 3-5-2 formation needing quality players to back their boss' tactics. Playing debutant Tyler Blackett in defence was an indication to the board from their new manager that a few new faces still have to be brought in — signing Marcos Rojo is very much a step in the right direction. Above all, van Gaal has to show that the team is improving as the season progresses, rather than slipping further backwards like they did under Moyes.
No one is expecting a title challenge at the moment, but the United board will at least be hoping that the club return to Europe next season and preferably through the Champions League rather than a strenuous Europa League campaign.
2) Aaron Ramsey... carrying on where he left off
The headlines could have looked a whole lot different, had it not been for late heroics from Aaron Ramsey. Arsenal found the going tougher than they'd expected against Crystal Palace, but came away with a narrow 2-1 win in the end.
The Gunners found themselves on the back foot in the first half after Brede Hangeland's goal on debut for Palace, before Laurent Koscielny put them level on the stroke of half time. The winner just would not come though, and the Gunners faithful were no doubt thinking it wasn't their day till Jason Puncheon earned a second yellow card in the 89th minute. Arsenal poured forward, with Ramsey in the right place at the right time to fire into the net from point-blank range.
With the opening win out of the way, Arsene Wenger's men can heave a sigh of relief. Things will get slightly easier when they welcome back their German World Cup heroes, but there is still much work to be done if they are to pose a genuine title challenge to the likes of Manchester City and Chelsea.
3) No problems for sublime Chelsea
You know it's a good day for the Blues when big signings Cesc Fabregas and Diego Costa come up big in their first league match for the club. Things started off shakily as Scott Arfield thumped in a surprise opener for Burnley, but Costa and Fabregas inspired a quick turnaround soon after, with the former equalising in the 17th minute and the latter pulling all the strings in midfield.
Fabregas in particular looks an inspired signing for the Blues, with his previous Premier League experience meaning that there has been little acclimatisation time needed. The former Arsenal star showed the full range of skills that had tempted Barcelona to poach him back from the Emirates, laying on two assists and splitting the Burnley defence with numerous passes in the attacking third.
Atletico Madrid transferee Costa was equally potent up front, showing why Chelsea had spent big money to lure him from La Liga. In the Spanish international they have the striker they were crying out for after throwing money at the likes of Adrian Mutu, Mateja Kezman, Andrei Schevchenko and Fernando Torres. Chelsea might just have found Didier Drogba's true successor, even as the Ivorian returns to Stamford Bridge for what is likely a last hurrah.
4) Southampton none the worse for wear
Some of us might have expected the Southampton to struggle after the mass exodus from St Mary's in the off-season, but despite a loss to Liverpool, the Saints looked in fine nick. Three of their players left for Liverpool before the season started, with key defender Dejan Lovren actually in the Reds' starting lineup. This did not seem to deter Southampton though, as they looked to play with the same determination and flair which had characterised last season's fine campaign.
The chief architect of their season, Mauricio Pochettino, might have left for Tottenham, but Ronald Koeman looks to have more than steadied the ship with the players he has remaining at his disposal. Despite the departures of Dejan Lovren, Rickie Lambert, Adam Lallana, Callum Chambers and Luke Shaw, Southampton still have players like Morgan Schneiderlin to count on. There's still a long road ahead, but with the team showing plenty of pluck against Liverpool, the signs are good that they might not do too badly this season.
Southampton will naturally be disappointed that they failed to gain a deserved point at Anfield on Sunday, but the confidence they would have gained from their performance will stand them in good stead.
5) Leicester look like this year's surprise package
Recently promoted teams are usually seperated into a few categories. There are those that struggle mightily, going right back down at the first time of asking. There are also teams which are solid and dependable and while they won't cause too many surprises, they will do enough to stay up. Finally, there are those surprise packages who prove more than capable of matching it against some of the best teams in the league, and look like dark horses for the top half of the table.
On the basis of the first weekend of action, Leicester City are a chance to make the last category. The Foxes returned to the Premier League after a 10-year absence and made themselves right at home, stretching Everton and grabbing a deserved share of the points with Chris Wood's equaliser. Much of the early talk had centered on Everton's big money signing Romelu Lukaku, but it was Leicester's club record purchase Leonardo Ullua who stunned the Everton supporters by netting barely two minutes after Aidan McGeady's wonder strike.
The spirited fightback from a Leicester side that looked inferior on paper will do wonders for their confidence, and while it's still early days yet, the Foxes might just continue to surprise us like Southampton did only last season.