August 15, 2016

Leicester City gets out-Foxed

by Dan Bilicki In: Soccer

You couldn’t write it up any better: In their season-opener, the defending champions lost to a team that everyone has picked to be relegated.

Even better, it was just last year that Leicester City, a team many figured to finish near the bottom of the table, a team with 5,000-1 odds to win it all, well, actually did just that. And now, one game into their title defence, it has fallen to a team that’s barely a team right now.

Hull City is a team in shambles. It barely has enough players to name a squad and under the watch of a caretaker manager.

But that didn’t stop the Tigers from coming and winning their first game back in the Premier League.

It was the perfect story to start the season and once again proves that almost anything can happen in soccer.

It may not have lasted too long, but after Day 1 of the 2016-17 season, Hull City was the leader of the Premier League.

PLAYER OF THE WEEK

While you can surely discount the fact that Arsenal’s defence was missing a lot of key players, you can’t help but be impressed with Philippe Coutinho.

He was the only player in the league to score a brace and looked impressive doing so. His stellar free kick was also one of the goals of the week.

In fact, the entire Liverpool attack looked pretty impressive while running over the Gunners. The Reds did switch off on defence after going up 4-1, but were able to hold on.

Now, the question is if he can keep up some consistency, which has troubled him in the past.

AROUND THE LEAGUE

It looks like Joe Hart and his entrance-tunnel antics are finished at Manchester City. New manager Pep Guardiola benched the England No. 1 this weekend in favour of Willy Caballero and now the reports are that the Sky Blues have agreed to a deal with Barcelona for Claudio Bravo. It’s reportedly worth 21-million pounds, but the only hold up is an injury to Marc-Andre Ter Stegen. Maybe Everton will get its wish and land Hart now … Another team with a tough situation in goal is Tottenham, after Hugo Lloris limped off against the Toffees. That will press Michel Vorm into duty for the time being, but that’s certainly a situation to monitor after the Spurs captain won the Gold Gloves last season … Nathan Redmond is one to watch for your fantasy team. He’s a cheap-ish midfielder that will be playing striker for the Saints this season. And you can see why manager Claude Puel rates him after he scored the equalizer against Watford … What’s going on with Swansea? After selling Andre Ayew and captain Ashley Williams, Icelandic star Gylfi Sigurdsson was benched to start the game and played only 31 minutes. Maybe it’s just the Swans way of getting him some rest after an unexpected run at Euro, but it should be watched … Did Harry Kane play this weekend? Because I didn’t see him … Congrats to Zlatan for scoring in yet another debut. Everywhere he has gone he has potted on in his first game. Pretty impressive … United is on top of the league for now, being the only club to win by two goals … City’s incredible possession numbers were impressive, but didn’t pay off as much as they probably should’ve when you have 77% possession, you shouldn’t have to rely on a Paddy McNair own goal to win against Sunderland … Marko Arnautovic might have gotten a little lucky this week. While it didn’t take much a lip-reader to tell he was swearing at the ref, he didn’t receive a card for the infraction. It’s supposed to be a red this season, so that could’ve been a costly blow up for the Austrian … In case you were wondering how Newcastle is doing in the League Championship, the answer is not good. The Magpies lost Huddersfield Town on Saturday and have yet to record a point. Maybe Rafa Benitez isn’t cut out for the second tier … Granit Xhaka had most fouls in the league with four this week and he managed that in just 24 minutes. A bit of an auspicious debut … Liverpool set a club record by covering 117.6km against Arsenal. Man, does Klopp have them running hard and you have to wonder if that will catch up to them in the long run.

THE LAST WORD

It may be a new season, but it’s the same ol’ Diego Costa.

After picking up a yellow card earlier in the game, the Chelsea striker should’ve been sent off for a studs-up tackle on West Ham keeper Adrian in the second half. Heck, you could argue that the foul deserved a straight red.

Of course, the way that narrative always seemingly drives the league, it was Costa that slotted home the winning goal for the Blues in the 89th minute, much to the chagrin of the Irons.

With refs getting stricter with yellow-card offences this season, Costa is sure to rack up his fair share. And just one game into this new season, he should’ve already had at least two.

Follow me on Twitter @danbilicki

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