Heroes and Villains of Premier League Saturday, Week 1: Arsenal, Liverpool & Man United

wenger out Heroes and Villains of Premier League Saturday, Week 1: Arsenal, Liverpool & Man United

Editor’s note: We’re launching a new Saturday feature that reviews the heroes and villains of today’s Premier League football matches.

The Premier League has returned, and there were plenty of key incidents to savor from a day where there were thankfully no nil-nil draws.

Here are our heroes and villains from Premier League Saturday, Gameweek 1 of the 2013/14 season:

Lucky:

Liverpool. Although the Reds won all three points with a 1-0 victory today against Stoke, Brendan Rodgers’s team was extremely lucky not to draw the match. Robert Huth had a first-half volley that hit the crossbar. Jonathan Walters should have put his penalty kick away after a comedy error by Daniel Agger gifted Stoke a chance. Liverpool had their own shots too that hit the woodwork.

The Reds walk away from Anfield with three points in the bag that conveniently paper over the cracks of a see-saw performance.

Unlucky:

Arsenal’s Laurent Koscielny. The defender was unlucky to be on the receiving end of a poor decision by the referee in this match, which resulted in Aston Villa being awarded a penalty.

To be fair to referee Anthony Taylor, the camera angle that was closest to his view of the incident made it look like the penalty decision was the correct one. But when viewed from different camera angles, Koscielny got to the ball first before colliding with his opponent.

The penalty decision against Koscielny was harsh, and based on the TV replays, the yellow card was unjustified. He later received a second yellow card, and was sent off, which swung the game in Villa’s favor as they battled ten men.

Hero of the day: 

Wayne Rooney. The troubled English footballer didn’t look too enthused when he was brought on for Ryan Giggs in the second half. But Rooney received a half-hearted applause, had some key passes and had a great assist on the pass that led to Danny Welbeck’s goal (see below). Even Swansea City attacking midfielder/striker Michu gave Rooney a high-five after the sublime pass.

Save of the day:

Brad Guzan. Aston Villa’s goalkeeper was in exceptional form today, and showed why he was the deserving winner of the Player of the Year award last year from his club. His fingertip save from Tomas Rosicky that he parried on to the crossbar was one of those “how did he do that?” saves.

Goal of the day:

Danny Welbeck. The final goal of the day by Manchester United striker Danny Welbeck against Swansea featured an incredible chip over goalkeeper Michel Vorm after a pass from Wayne Rooney. You couldn’t have finished that goal any better.

welbeck goal against swansea Heroes and Villains of Premier League Saturday, Week 1: Arsenal, Liverpool & Man United

What was he thinking?

Wojciech Szczęsny. The Arsenal first-team goalkeeper went walk-about against Villa today when he tried to clear the ball with a header. He was then caught in no-mans land and had to run back near his goal where he tipped a shot around the post.

Villain of the day:

arsenal banner Heroes and Villains of Premier League Saturday, Week 1: Arsenal, Liverpool & Man United

Arsene Wenger. When your home fans are singing, “You don’t know what you’re doing” after Aston Villa’s Toni Luca scores to put the match out of the reach of Arsenal, you know the tide has turned against Wenger. Arsenal desperately needs new signings to (1) appease the supporters, (2) strengthen the side, and (3) replenish the team after even more injury worries today after Kieran Gibbs and Bacary Sagna took some major hits today.

What’s your opinion? What heroes and villains did we miss that you believe should have been featured? Let us know in the comments section below.

About Christopher Harris

Founder and publisher of World Soccer Talk, Christopher Harris is the managing editor of the site. He has been interviewed by The New York Times, The Guardian and several other publications. Plus he has made appearances on NPR, BBC World, CBC, BBC Five Live, talkSPORT and beIN SPORT. Harris, who has lived in Florida since 1984, has supported Swansea City since 1979. He's also an expert on soccer in South Florida, and got engaged during half-time of a MLS game. Harris launched EPL Talk in 2005, which was rebranded as World Soccer Talk in 2013. View all posts by Christopher Harris →

14 Responses to Heroes and Villains of Premier League Saturday, Week 1: Arsenal, Liverpool & Man United

  1. drseide says:

    I agree with all your choices. I also thought Simon Mignolet could have have been a candidate for save of the day as well. He had a brilliant debut for liverpool

  2. tmoore94 says:

    Second on Mignolet as a hero. He had a rocky first half but he stepped up big on that penalty kick to save Liverpool’s ass and bring home the three points.

  3. Steven P. says:

    I have to disagree that Liverpool were lucky. They were by far the better team with more chances and while they hit the woodwork twice they also produced some world-class saves from Begovic. If anything Stoke were lucky to be still in the game and got a penalty because of the stupidity of Agger.

    Mignolet was more worthy for “hero of the day” than Rooney.

    I agree with the others.

    • Yespage says:

      Yeah… Liverpool owned much of the game against Stoke City. Liverpool were lucky in the sense that they failed to put the game away, a problem they’ve had in the past couple of years. That said, Begovic was the very reason why Stoke City were in it all the way to the end.

      Mignolet indeed made a pair of saves on a PK / rebound shot to kept Liverpool on top, which meant a heck of a lot more than any contribution Rooney gave in the Man United game after the fact that the match was already settled.

  4. Johnny says:

    Liverpool lucky, ?? any other keeper than Begovic, and Liverpool would have scored 7.
    Did you look at his saves, before you gave your vote to Guzman.

    Koscielny’s was penalty as we all seen on match of the day, he got the ball, but just before that his right knee knocked over Agbonlahor. Check it out.

  5. Jim says:

    Did you even bother watching football today or did you just make half hearted guesses on what you thought happened.
    Very poor article but you seem to be having more and more of these. Would be nice to get back to when you talked some sense.

  6. Matt Jones says:

    Ross Barkley for goal of the day Chris?! An absolute screamer

  7. jtm371 says:

    my hero is The Gaffer for making this site a must and all the work you put in to keep it rolling.was the site traffic up from last years opening?sorry about your Swans but how about Forest.

    • Christopher Harris says:

      Thanks jtm371! Traffic today is up 49% compared to opening day of last season, and the day isn’t even over yet.

      Hopefully NBC Sports got a great viewing audience for its TV coverage today.

  8. Tamojit Chakraborty says:

    Mingolet looked very nervous in the first half, yes he saved the penalty at the dying stages, but you have got to believe that the ball bumped with Walters took the spotkick (Replayes cleared showed that). Liverpool were lucky, perhaps from one viewpoint, but in hindsight they could have won by a larger margin if it wan’t for Begovic!

  9. MG says:

    ‘Spend some f***ing money’ is what they were chanting.

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