Premier League: Man Utd, Arsenal and Co no longer the same sides heading into opening-day rematches


The Premier League action presents a repeat of the opening weekend’s fixtures this week but the chances of seeing history repeating itself are slim. 

The scene in the English top-flight is radically different to the one which kickstarted the season back in August. 

Manchester City have bounced back from defeat against Tottenham to top the table – to no one’s surprise – while Spurs look a shadow of the side that toppled the champions. 

Arsenal have pulled off the comeback of the season, going from rockbottom to top-four challengers. 

Despite also still having a stake in the race, Manchester United are trudging through crisis with Old Trafford more a picture of doom and gloom than the victorious display shown against Leeds.

Further down the table, Newcastle have clawed their way out of the drop zone, while Watford have slunk to one point from bottom. 

As the Premier League prepares for opening-day rematches, Sportsmail takes a look at the changes. 

As the Premier League prepares for opening day rematches, the scene is quite different but Manchester City once again top the table

BRENTFORD 2-0 ARSENAL 

Brentford kickstarted the Premier League’s entertainment at the Community Stadium – and entertain us they did. 

Arsenal were expected to breeze to victory against the league newcomers but the Bees produced the first upset of the season as they rolled the Gunners over to a 2-0 win.  

The embarrassment set the tone for a miserable few weeks for Mikel Arteta, who faced calls to be sacked, as Arsenal sat rock-bottom in the worst start to a season in their 118-year history. 

Brentford kickstarted the Premier League with the first upset of the season over Arsenal

Brentford kickstarted the Premier League with the first upset of the season over Arsenal

The Gunners bounced back from an embarrassing start to the term to be in the top-four race

The Gunners bounced back from an embarrassing start to the term to be in the top-four race

But credit to the Gunners boss, he has managed to steer his side out of the storm and thanks to his youthful side, with the likes of Bukayo Saka, Emile Smith-Rowe and Gabriel Martinelli, Arsenal face the prospect of a top-four finish. 

The north London side have arguably pulled off the comeback of the season, as they sit sixth with three games in hand over Man United and West Ham, who currently sit above them. 

Arsenal have suffered just one defeat in their last five league games which came against leaders Man City – and even then, arguably, they should have won. 

If Brentford manage to repeat their opening day upset this week, it really will cause a stir. 

MANCHESTER UNITED 5-1 LEEDS

Manchester United roared to victory on the opening weekend as they battered Leeds 5-1 to take the advantage in one of football’s greatest grudge matches. 

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Sadly, the same cannot be said for the rest of the season. The Red Devils appear to have peaked far too early as the rest of their campaign has been a tale of disappointment. 

United have since trudged through a series of poor – and at times, humiliating – results which left Ole Gunnar Solskjaer with the sack, interim boss Ralf Rangnick floundering, players divided and the club as a whole in disarray.

Manchester United roared to victory on the opening weekend as they battered Leeds 5-1

Manchester United roared to victory on the opening weekend as they battered Leeds 5-1

The Red Devils may currently be sitting in fourth but they have West Ham, Arsenal, Wolves and Tottenham hot on their heels in an increasingly anxious race for top four.

And, Rangnick recently admitted the highest his side can aim for this season is that coveted fourth place. 

Paul Pogba provided four assists in the opening game but has since only produced four more in 17 matches. 

In fact, United’s entire output has been poor as they have lost their attacking verve in recent weeks, managing just 1-1 draws against Southampton and Burnley. 

Their midweek win over Brighton may have given them hope of three points this weekend – but likely far from a 5-1 thumping – however, Leeds could seize the chance for revenge.

TOTTENHAM 1-0 MANCHESTER CITY

If you listened closely, the excitement could be heard on Merseyside and across the red side of Manchester as the reigning champions stumbled at the first hurdle with a 1-0 defeat at Tottenham – but Manchester City can never be ruled out of a title race.

Pep Guardiola’s side have a firm grip on their crown once again as they top the table with a comfortable nine-point cushion. Meanwhile, Spurs’ season has quickly spiralled out of control. 

Tottenham pulled off a shock 1-0 win over champions Manchester City on the opening day

Tottenham pulled off a shock 1-0 win over champions Manchester City on the opening day

A whinging Antonio Conte has complained that Tottenham’s January business has ‘weakened’ his side and the manager also had a moan about the absence of a ‘winning mentality’. 

Spurs had that ‘winning mentality’ as Heung-Min Son scored the only goal of the game and made the difference to edge out City, but they have since slunk to eighth in the league and sit seven points off fourth. 

They have managed just one win in their last five games and, with Tottenham only beating a Guardiola side five times, they are unlikely to be filled with confidence at the prospect of repeating their opening-day trick.

EVERTON 3-1 SOUTHAMPTON 

After a summer of controversy and uproar in the wake of Rafa Benitez’s appointment, the start to his tenure seemed to appease the baying crowds but how quickly the tide changes at Goodison.

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Benitez lasted just five months into the season in the hotseat and Everton have slumped to 16th.

With a potential relegation battle on their hands the Toffees are a far cry from the team that stormed to victory against Southampton. 

Rafa Benitez's bright start to life at Everton did not last long as the Blues slunk down the table

Rafa Benitez’s bright start to life at Everton did not last long as the Blues slunk down the table

The Toffees may have bounced back with a 3-0 win over Leeds last weekend but there is still uncertainty and instability in Frank Lampard’s Everton, previously falling to defeat against fellow strugglers Newcastle. 

Meanwhile, Southampton have recently enjoyed an unbeaten run against three of the big six. 

In their last three league games Saints have secured a point against league leaders Manchester City and more recently Manchester United, as well as beating Tottenham in a five-goal thriller in between. 

Ralph Hasenhuttl’s high-flying Saints look like a different side to the one that rolled over on the opening day and now sit six places above the beleaguered Blues.

More attacking-minded and willing to take risks, they will fancy their chances against the Toffees at St Mary’s. 

Che Adams (centre) pulled Southampton level against Manchester United to earn a point

Che Adams (centre) pulled Southampton level against Manchester United to earn a point

NEWCASTLE 2-4 WEST HAM

Newcastle’s start to the season was a tale of woe with the first chapter written against the Hammers. 

It was a bright start as Callum Wilson fired them ahead within five minutes and Jacob Murphy restored their lead after Aaron Cresswell’s equaliser, but it soon went downhill as a Hammers charge in the second half saw the Toon slump to defeat in a six-goal thriller. 

Only a month ago, Newcastle seemed desperately entrenched in the relegation zone. 

However, under Eddie Howe, they have been resurgent and can see the light at the end of the storm.

Newcastle were entrenched in the relegation zone but have been resurgent under Eddie Howe (left)

Newcastle were entrenched in the relegation zone but have been resurgent under Eddie Howe (left)

The Magpies have snatched all three points from their last three games and, after a 1-0 win over 12th-place Aston Villa, they have pulled four points clear of the drop zone. 

On the back of a five-game unbeaten run, a gutsy Toon travel to the London Stadium in high hopes.   

But with in-form Kieran Trippier ruled out with a broken foot, the Hammers will fancy their chances of an opening day repeat.

West Ham are battling for top four and will be desperate not to concede points to 17th-place Newcastle.

David Moyes’s side could only claim one point against Leicester last week but they are unlikely to throw in the towel again as they bid to perform a three-point repeat over Newcastle and reclaim fourth from United.

The Magpies were handed an injury blow after it was revealed Kieran Trippier broke his foot

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The Magpies were handed an injury blow after it was revealed Kieran Trippier broke his foot

WATFORD 3-2 ASTON VILLA 

Watford kickstarted their season with a win but have only managed three more since. 

The Hornets are on their third manager of the season and sit just one point from the bottom, looking dead set for relegation. 

Meanwhile, Steven Gerrard has revived Aston Villa with the Midlands outfit comfortably sitting mid-table. 

January signing Philippe Coutinho has been in fine form with two goals and two assists in four games. 

Villa slipped to a 1-0 defeat against Newcastle and the Eddie Howe renaissance but there is no doubt they will fancy their chances of a rebound against an in-crisis Watford this weekend.

Roy Hodgson came in as Watford's third manager of the season as they continue to struggle

Roy Hodgson came in as Watford’s third manager of the season as they continue to struggle

LEICESTER 1-0 WOLVES  

Brendan Rodgers’s Leicester were top four contenders last season, narrowly missing out on the final day of the season. 

And they looked to be challenging again as they announced their presence with a 1-0 win over Wolves. 

But the Foxes have had to settle for midtable as they have failed to come close to the quality they displayed last term. 

Nine defeats – two coming in their last five games – sees them sit 11th with just 27 points. 

With a shock 2-0 win last weekend, Wolves leapfrogged their opponents Spurs into seventh place to throw down the gauntlet and stake their claim in the race for top-four. 

Leicester City (pictured Luke Thomas) have had to settle for midtable this season

Leicester City (pictured Luke Thomas) have had to settle for midtable this season

Wolves staked their claim in the fight for top four as they leapfrogged Spurs into seventh

Wolves staked their claim in the fight for top four as they leapfrogged Spurs into seventh 

Bruno Lage’s side have had a slow-burner of a season, losing their first three games before creeping up on the top seven to spook the likes of Man United and Tottenham. 

With their only defeat in seven league games coming against fellow top four challengers Arsenal, Wolves will be looking to continue their hopeful surge to Champions League qualification.

However, it could be another narrow one with either side capable of edging the other out on the day.



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