5 Things To Expect From The Opening Week Of The Premier League
I write about football, a lot. I'm also a graphic & web designer. Life-long NUFC fan, and fulltime admirer of Moussa Dembélé..
The 2012/2013 edition of the Premier League begins in just two weeks. So what can we expect from the opening weekend of action? Today on the blog, Kevin Doocey looks into the crystal ball to tell us.
As the start of the 2012/13 Premier League campaign edges ever closer, most fans are preparing for the season in their own way. Manchester United and Manchester City supporters are gearing up in hope or indeed expectation, of silverware. Norwich, Swansea and QPR fans will be praying that they can avoid 'second season syndrome' and escape relegation. Newcastle United fans - including myself - alongside the likes of Tottenham, Liverpool, and even Everton hope that their club will give the Top 4 a run for their money. Finally, the newly promoted teams will be begging the footballing Gods that their side can do just enough to secure another season in the best league in the world.
One can always hope, eh?
The first week of the Premier League always brings an air of excitement. Teams don’t really have much on the line as it is early days. If they lose, they lose. A win, however, would make it a great start to the season. Very rarely do teams look back on their first league game as the match that either held them back from winning the title, or even avoiding relegation. Players are just eager to get the campaign under way and there isn't much pressure on their backs - especially for the newly promoted sides.
On the 18th of August 2012, Reading will face a Stoke City side gunning for Europe. As far as the bookies go, Stoke will be slight favourites. Reading on the other hand, will be looking to start the season with 3 points and do not be surprised if Tony Pulis is on the end of a hiding. In other words, the first bout of fixtures won't be a walk in the park for the favourites!
Usually after watching Match of the Day on the opening week, one will pick a team to do well. A team to look out for this season perhaps. I think most people would have picked Bolton again last year after they thumped QPR, four nil, away from home. They played some very nice football that day, and looked like a team that could achieve something.
As we all know, Bolton ended up being relegated and the team they beat that day, survived. Don’t be fooled by a teams’ first game – at least one team is going to have a false start. The real question is who it might be? Somehow, I can see it being Wigan. They start at home to Chelsea and might just scrape a point in that one, while playing some decent football in the meantime. However, as we all know with Roberto Martinez’s side; it’s unlikely they will be safe from relegation until the very end of the season. They might make a decent start the EPL, but come April things will be very interesting indeed.
A keen eye for football will be able to notice what player(s) will be very important men for teams, after just the first week. For instance, in Norwich's opening game against Wigan last season, Grant Holt and Wes Hoolahan were the two best players on the park by a country mile. Hoolahan caused problems every time he went forward and even grabbed an all important goal. Grant Holt caused havoc for Wigan's back four and looked impressive throughout.
As we know, Holt went on to score double figures for the season while Hoolahan not far behind - helped Norwich to a very impressive finishing position at the end of the campaign. Even for my own Newcastle United, Fabricio Coloccini's performance in the first game of the season against Arsenal stood out. He commanded the back four, and helped NUFC to a valuable point. We all know how Alan Pardew's side fared out last season too, an incredible fifth place finish. It's no coincidence that Coloccini happened to be an integral part of it.
6 out of 11 goals in the first round of games last season came in the first half. Teams tend to express themselves more freely in the opening games of the season and in doing that, their defence might be caught out at times. As well as that, it will be Premier League debuts for a lot of new club signings, so naturally they won't be up to the speed or physicality of the English game on their first outing.
Pre-season friendlies are all good and well, but truth be told - those warm-up games are purely for fitness. There is no substitute for the real thing, and no friendly can replicate the athmosphere or even pace of a Premier League game. You might notice that many teams that failed to score in abundance in pre-season will be the first to open the scoring on August 18th. Either way, I'm expecting early goals, and will certainly look to see what kind of odds bookmakers will offer me on such markets.
It might seem basic but it's the truth. The start of the Premier League campaign brings fans out in full force. Eager men, women and kids flock to their team's stadiums in order to see their new signings perform, and indeed in the hope that their side makes a flying start to the season. While Old Trafford, The Emirates, Anfield, St.James' Park, and other big stadiums will be packed to the rafters similar to any other weekend - the likes of Sunderland, and West Brom to name a few will see a higher than usual attendance. If a full house isn't enough to spur on early goals, and a possible upset while showing up a teams real leaders - I don't know what is!
Regardless of what happens on the first day of the season, it's a great feeling to have the Premier League back. While EURO 2012, and even the Olympics filled the void for a while, there really is no replacement for the real thing.
You can truly expect the unexpected in the English Premier League..
Kevin Doocey is a freelance football writer and the founder of the Newcastle United blog Tyne Time
Follow Kevin on Twitter: @KevinDoocey
You must be logged in to post a comment! Sign up + or log in in the top right corner.