LONDON (REUTERS) - Chelsea and Tottenham Hotspur enjoyed away wins on the opening Saturday (Aug 11) of the Premier League season while promoted Fulham and Cardiff City were given quick reminders of the tough task they face on their returns to the top flight.
Goals from N’Golo Kante, Jorginho (penalty) and Pedro gave Chelsea an impressive 3-0 win at Huddersfield Town as their new Italian coach Maurizio Sarri watched his team respond well after enduring early pressure from David Wagner’s side.
Chelsea gave a debut to the world’s most expensive goalkeeper, Kepa Arrizabalaga, who joined from Athletic Bilbao for 72 million pounds (S$126 million) last week, but the Spaniard had little work to do.
Sarri, who took over from Antonio Conte in July, said that he now had a month to try to shape his new side before midweek Europa League games were added to the mix.
“We are lucky now because for three to four weeks we can work with only one match a week, so we have to improve in this month,” he said.
“Then it will be difficult with three matches in a week, with the suspension for the national teams. I hope in this month to improve the team,” he said.
Spurs fans’ concerns about their club’s lack of transfer business may have eased after Jan Vertonghen and Dele Alli scored as Mauricio Pochettino’s team began the campaign with an entertaining 2-1 victory at Newcastle United.
All three goals came in a frantic opening 20 minutes on Tyneside, with two headed goals for the north London team coming either side of Joselu’s equaliser for Rafa Benitez’s Newcastle.
Like several clubs who had players competing at the World Cup, Spurs have had to cope without several key performers during pre-season and Pochettino was delighted with the approach his players had taken.
“I feel very proud. The players showed great character and commitment,” he said. “We fought hard and they deserve full credit because the mentality was amazing.
“It wasn’t easy to connect everything in a few days – a massive challenge – but we kept going and made a massive effort in our performance.”
Well-taken goals by Jeffrey Schlupp and Wilfried Zaha fired confident-looking Crystal Palace to a 2-0 win over promoted Fulham at Craven Cottage.
Fulham manager Slavisa Jokanovic said his team needed to adjust quickly to the new level of quality they will face.
“The Premier League is more power, more speed and more quality and we must adapt,” he said.
“We have to trust ourselves and work hard and we know we can play better than today.”
Cardiff City also tasted defeat on their return to the elite – midfielder Ryan Fraser’s first-half goal and forward Callum Wilson’s late strike securing the three points for Bournemouth at the Vitality Stadium.
Promoted Wolves needed an 80th-minute equaliser from Mexican forward Raul Jimenez to secure a 2-2 draw at home to 10-man Everton at Molineux.
Everton’s new Brazilian signing Richarlison scored twice on his Premier League debut for the club but Marco Silva’s side, who had Phil Jagielka sent off in the 40th minute, had to settle for a point.
Richarlison slotted home from close range in the 17th minute but five minutes after Jagielka’s red card,Wolves drew level thanks to a superbly executed free-kick from Ruben Neves.
But Everton held firm and Richarlison struck again in the 67th minute with a delightful finish that looked to have won the game until Jimenez’s header from a Neves cross 10 minutes from the end.
Argentine Roberto Pereyra scored twice – the first a superb volley – as Watford enjoyed a 2-0 victory over Brighton and Hove Albion.
Champions Manchester City begin their title defence at the Emirates against Arsenal on Sunday while Liverpool, tipped by many to challenge Pep Guardiola’s side this season, host West Ham United.
Manchester United kicked off the season on Friday with a 2-1 win over Leicester City at Old Trafford.