LONDON: Manchester City will seek revenge against Tottenham on Saturday for their dramatic Champions League exit last season as Liverpool and Manchester United also look to build on impressive Premier League starts this weekend.
City completed the first ever domestic treble of trophies in England last season, but fell short once more in the Champions League as Tottenham progressed from their quarter-final tie on away goals. VAR disallowed Raheem Sterling’s strike deep into stoppage time of a thrilling second leg 4-3 win for the English champions in April, robbing Sterling of his hat-trick on the night and City a place in the last four. Yet, Sterling has started the new campaign as he finished the last, scoring a hat-trick on the opening weekend as City thrashed West Ham 5-0 to already move to the top of the table. Tottenham were also victorious against Aston Villa, but needed to come from behind and two goals in the final five minutes from Harry Kane to secure a 3-1 win over promoted Aston Villa.
Kane has warned that Spurs cannot fall behind so early in the campaign if they want to maintain a title challenge. “We have to make sure we get off to a good start,” said the England captain. “It’s important that we stay in touch as long as we can.
“We have full belief that we can go all the way but there’s a long road ahead.” Liverpool will hope to have forged ahead by the time City and Spurs kick-off at the Etihad when they travel to a Southampton side reeling from a disappointing 3-0 defeat at Burnley to start the season. Chelsea were the only member of the ‘big six’ to get off to a losing start as the Blues were humbled 4-0 by Manchester United in Frank Lampard’s first game in charge.
The former England midfielder fairly argued that the scoreline was very harsh on his side after they enjoyed the better of the opening hour. And there was further encouragement for Lampard in his side’s performance despite losing the UEFA Super Cup to Liverpool on penalties after a 2-2 draw in Istanbul on Wednesday.
“To lose the game was disappointing but if it means Chelsea’s season can be something like how we played today, we’ll be OK,” he said. After a summer in which Lampard could not sign new players and Chelsea lost Eden Hazard to Real Madrid, facing a refreshed United and relentless Liverpool was a baptism of fire for Lampard. Chelsea’s all-time top goalscorer is still assured of a hero’s welcome for his first home game as manager against Leicester at Stamford Bridge on Sunday. But he badly needs a win to quieten the doubters over Chelsea’s decision to hand a club legend with just one year’s managerial experience such a high-profile job.
After the negativity that greeted Manchester United securing just three new signings in the transfer window, the comprehensive margin of victory over Chelsea was the perfect tonic for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer. Harry Maguire, Aaron WanBissaka and Daniel James all made a big impact as United registered just their second clean sheet at home in the Premier League under the Norwegian, while James came off the bench to score the final goal. However, a Monday night trip to Wolves will be another tough test of United’s ambitions this season.
Solskjaer’s men lost on both visits to Molineux last season. “When you start the season like this, the club, the supporters, everyone goes home bouncing and happy. Now it’s about levelling out,” said Solskjaer. – AFP