Fans in England have been waiting patiently for this moment, returning to stadiums in high numbers for the opening weekend of the 2021-22 Premier League season, which got off to a flying start with some fascinating results. The biggest teams were in action and all the title favourites threw down the gauntlet, indicating the race to become champions will be packed with excitement.
Manchester United 5-1 Leeds United
Old Trafford was filled by a capacity crowd of almost 74,000 spectators. Just ahead of kick-off, Manchester United fans had the opportunity to welcome Raphael Varane, the stellar French defender who had been signed from Real Madrid a couple of weeks earlier. That was the appetiser ahead of a main course that didn’t disappoint, when the Red Devils tore hungrily into Leeds United, fuelled by a magnificent creative display by Paul Pogba in midfield.
Portuguese ace Bruno Fernandes grabbed the first goal in a tense first half, before a second period that saw the game explode into life. Much to the delight of visiting Leeds fans, full-back Luke Ayling scored an equaliser just after the interval, firing in a rocket from distance that David De Gea had no chance of stopping.
However, from then onwards it was all Manchester United, who instantly responded with two swift attacks. Mason Greenwood showed poise and precision to fire the Red Devils back into the lead, then Bruno slotted in his second of the game just seconds later. Bruno secured his hat-trick on the hour with a superb finish, then Fred completed the 5-1 rout on 68 minutes.
Chelsea 3-0 Crystal Palace
Packed to the rafters and full of sound, almost 40,000 Chelsea fans flocked to Stamford Bridge for their first game of the campaign. The encounter with Crystal Palace just one of many London derbies that will feature this season, now there are six teams from the English capital in the Premier League.
Chelsea dominated this match from start to finish, with Crystal Palace rarely threatening at any point. The side led by Thomas Tuchel were clearly the dominant side, although they met with stubborn defensive resistance from the visitors. When the open goal eventually came after 27 minutes, it was well worth the wait, as Marcos Alonso powered in an unstoppable free kick.
Just before half-time, American striker Christian Pulisic fired in the second goal for the Blues, demonstrating the instincts of a poacher after an earlier chance was blocked on the line. Trevoh Chalobah scored the third after 58 minutes, crowning his debut by drilling home a low shot from distance, as Chelsea claimed all three points with a comfortably earned victory.
Norwich City 0-3 Liverpool
Returning to the Premier League after spending last season in the Championship, the 27,000 Norwich City fans at Carrow Road were in high spirits, keen to see their team back amongst the English elite. Nevertheless, visiting Liverpool were in their most clinical form, led by an impressive and exciting display from 29-year-old Mohamed Salah.
The Egyptian striker was at his creative best, setting up Diogo Jota to fire the Reds ahead after 26 minutes. Norwich City spurned chances of their own and with the result still uncertain, Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp made changes. Within moments of leaving the bench, Roberto Firmino added the second goal, thanks to another assist by Salah.
The killer blow came on the 74th minute, this time with Salah getting his own name on the scoresheet, curling in a superb finish from just inside the area following a corner. In truth, the game was closer than the score suggests, although it was the precision finishing by Liverpool that clinched this opening win at Norwich City.
Competitive title race predicted
Reigning champions Manchester City are currently favourites to regain their Premier League crown, although this season they could face a much stronger challenge from Chelsea, Liverpool and Manchester United. All three have reinforced well, therefore the outright betting odds undoubtedly vary throughout the campaign.
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Although the Premier League season has just begun, already the top English teams are making their presence felt. Don’t forget to compare odds with different bookies ahead of each game, set yourself limits and bet responsibly, ready to be entertained by the very best football action as the 2021-22 season unfolds.