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:
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.
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.
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:
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.