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Premier League

5 things we learned from the Premier League’s opening weekend

Manchester City hit the ground running to get their title defence off to a winning start at West Ham

Champions Manchester City and title rivals Liverpool both launched their 2019-20 Premier League campaigns with convincing victories.

There were also wins for Tottenham, Arsenal and Manchester United.

Here, PA takes a look at five things we learned from this season’s opening round of fixtures.

Super City pick up where they left off

Manchester City hit the ground running to get their title defence off to a winning start at West Ham. Raheem Sterling’s hat-trick was sandwiched by Gabriel Jesus’ opening goal and Sergio Aguero’s late penalty as Pep Guardiola’s side laid down their marker in a 5-0 rout. After a slow start they were soon into their stride and on this evidence it will take a Herculean effort to deny them a hat-trick of Premier League crowns.

Reds ready for another title charge

Liverpool romped to a 4-1 victory against newly promoted Norwich in Friday night’s top-flight curtain-raiser. It was all too easy for the Reds as Grant Hanley’s own goal and strikes from Mohamed Salah and Virgil Van Dijk put the European champions out of sight inside half an hour. Divock Origi made it 4-0 and despite easing off the gas, Teemu Pukki’s consolation for the Canaries did little to dispel the notion that Jurgen Klopp’s side will be City’s closest challengers.

VAR still divides opinion

The Video Assistant Referee system, or VAR, took centre stage in several of the opening games after being introduced to the Premier League for the first time. The technology played a key role in City’s game at the London Stadium, where a Gabriel Jesus goal was ruled out for offside and Sergio Aguero’s penalty was ordered to be retaken. VAR got most of its decisions right, but is sure to divide opinion after clearly affecting the flow of games in which it was called on.

United give Lampard the Blues

Manchester United confounded their critics in Sunday’s 4-0 home win against Chelsea. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side had been written off as serious title challengers, but ambushed the Londoners to make it a nightmare start for Frank Lampard in his first competitive game in charge. Two second-half goals in as many minutes stunned the Blues, who capitulated after being arguably the better side for the first 45 minutes, in which they twice hit the frame of the goal.

Spurs can count on Kane

Tottenham and Arsenal were left to carry the flag for the capital. Spurs left it late before Harry Kane hit the goal trail with two late clinical finishes to rescue all three points for his side against Aston Villa. Arsenal, who left most of their £125million worth of summer signings on the bench, also relied on last season’s top goalscorer, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, who proved the difference with a fine finish in Sunday’s 1-0 win at Newcastle.

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