Haaland shines and Ronaldo distraction – what we learned in the Premier League

·3-min read

Erling Haaland struck twice on his Premier League debut but Erik ten Hag’s reign at Manchester United got off to a losing start.

Here, the PA news agency looks at some things we learned from the opening weekend of the Premier League season.

Haaland did not need time after all

While few doubted that Erling Haaland would score plenty of goals for Manchester City, there was a feeling after last week’s Community Shield – when he failed to find the net and missed a gilt-edged chance – he could take time to settle. The Norwegian would need to adapt to the Premier League and City, having not played with a forward like him in recent years, would need to get used to him. All that now seems to have been emphatically swept away after his double in City’s 2-0 win at West Ham. He confidently struck the opener from the penalty spot and clinically tucked home his second. He looked every inch the fearsome prospect City hoped he would be.

Ronaldo issue remains a distraction for Ten Hag

Speculation over Cristiano Ronaldo's future could be a problem for Erik ten Hag
Speculation over Cristiano Ronaldo’s future could be a problem for Erik ten Hag (Ian Hodgson/PA)

New manager Erik ten Hag knew he had work to do to lift Manchester United after their sorry 2021-22 season, and their problems were underlined starkly as they were beaten by Brighton in their opener. Players under-performed and the system deployed by Ten Hag looked unfamiliar to them. The Dutchman’s rebuilding job is clearly going to take time and, as he himself admitted, there could be little of that. With that in mind, he really needs the uncertainty over Cristiano Ronaldo’s position to be resolved. Recurring speculation throughout the remaining weeks of the summer transfer window would be unsettling at a time he needs to establish stability.

Midfield questions at Liverpool

Liverpool's Thiago Alcantara suffered an injury at Fulham
Liverpool’s Thiago Alcantara suffered an injury at Fulham (Adam Davy/PA)

Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp has been adamant he does not need any further midfield recruits but Saturday’s draw at Fulham may have given him cause to rethink. The loss of Thiago Alcantara to injury was undoubtedly a blow to the Reds and fingers will be crossed at Anfield that the Spaniard is not missing for a prolonged period. Curtis Jones and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain are already sidelined and, although Naby Keita should soon return from illness, options would be limited. On top of that, Jordan Henderson and Fabinho were below par, leading to suggestions a fresh injection of energy might be needed.

Spurs hype seems justified

One convincing victory over a ragged Southampton may hardly be an indicator of great things to come, but Antonio Conte’s Tottenham were impressive in beating them 4-1 on Saturday. Spurs’ prospects for the campaign have been talked up after a strong summer in the transfer market and their display did justify some of the optimism. Their movement looked good and the new signings that played fitted in well. With goals from Harry Kane not even needed on this occasion, Spurs fans can feel happy.

Newcastle also have reason for optimism

Callum Wilson was on target as Newcastle opened with a 2-0 victory over Nottingham Forest
Callum Wilson was on target as Newcastle opened with a 2-0 victory over Nottingham Forest (Richard Sellers/PA)

It has been a long time since Newcastle supporters have been able to look forward to a season with genuine optimism, but there is every reason to this term. They will obviously face far tougher sides than promoted Nottingham Forest but there was enough liveliness and creativity in their victory on Saturday to suggest long, painful seasons in the bottom half could be a thing of the past.