One always has to be careful not to judge a new signing after only one appearance, but the opening game of a season can give some idea as to how their debut season might pan out. Naturally, some players will need time to adapt and will come good as the season progresses.
Others, though, hit the ground running and begin to repay some of their transfer fee at the earliest opportunity. While the likes of Ricky van Wolfswinkel, Roberto Soldado and Wilfried Bony did what they were bought for and scored on their debuts, others impressed in other ways. Here we take a look at the top five performances from new signings on the opening weekend of the 2013/14 Premier League season, based on WhoScored.com, unique statistical rating system.
It is difficult to look past Liverpool’s new stopper for a better debut this weekend, with the Belgian attaining a rating of 8.64 as he maintained his side’s 1-0 lead with a late double save from a Jonathan Walters penalty and Kenwyne Jones. He’d clearly done his homework on Walters’ penalties and it paid off, with the Irishman going for power to the keeper’s right. An onlooker for long periods in the match, Mignolet had made only 3 saves in the previous 88 minutes, touching the ball only 31 times in the whole game; only Walters had fewer touches (30) of every starting player. Yet being on the periphery and then suddenly having to make potentially match-winning saves is arguably what is so tough about being a goalkeeper, and when called upon Mignolet was up to the task on each occasion.
He will need to improve on his distribution – he completed only 54% of his passes, having played the majority of them long. Passing the ball out to defenders was something that Brendan Rodgers encouraged Pepe Reina to do on almost every occasion, and Mignolet will come to learn that in time.
Something of a forgotten transfer having made his move early on in the window, Dejan Lovren struck up what looks like a potentially successful partnership with Jose Fonte. With three tackles and three interceptions, Lovren won possession effectively for his side; his combined total of six was more than any other player on the pitch, while he made only one foul all game on his way to a rating of 7.79. Meanwhile in possession he was assured, completing 80% of his passes, less only than midfielders Morgan Schneiderlin (93%) and Adam Lallana (91%). That success was in part due to his accuracy with long balls up field, with the Croatian finding a fellow Saints player with more long balls (15) than any other player on the opening weekend in the Premier League.
The centre-back looks like he could shore up a defence that was rather error-ridden last term. Jos Hooiveld, who Lovren is set to replace, scored the most own goals in the Premier League last season, while the club made 11 mistakes leading to goals in total over the course of the campaign. Lovren won’t solve all of Pochettino’s side’s problems, but after Saturday’s performance there is certainly reason to believe he will improve them.
Few would have doubted the credentials of the elder of the Touré brothers ahead of his move to Liverpool, and it would be no surprise if he were to prove the signing of the summer. A free transfer from Manchester City, the Ivorian is in search of first team football and will provide ample competition for Martin Skrtel and Daniel Agger at Anfield. After his performance in Liverpool’s win over Stoke, the former may have a tough time trying to find a way back into the lineup.
Whilst making three tackles, one interception and four clearances, Touré was also a menace going forwards. Known for forays upfield and the odds thunderbolt at goal, he made two key passes and had two shots, rattling the crossbar with a header from a Steven Gerrard corner only 13 minutes into his debut, on which he managed a rating of 7.64. Part of Arsenal’s invincibles, Touré provides further experience at the back and there could well be plenty more clean sheets that he plays a part in this season.
“Tony Moon” has become something of a fans’ favourite at Aston Villa since his summer move from Sevilla and his goal to seal a 3-1 win at Arsenal won’t have done anything to harm his reputation. A rather inexplicable yellow card for what was debatably not even a foul was the only blemish in a classy performance from the left back, worthy of a 7.57 WhoScored rating.
Luna made runs up and down the touchline tirelessly and ended up scoring the only counter-attacking goal on the opening weekend as Arsenal pushed for an equaliser, finishing coolly after latching on to Weimann’s through ball. He also completed 94% of his passes and won the ball with two tackles and two interceptions. The left-back spot has proven problematic for Villa under Paul Lambert, and Tony Moon might well be the solution.
The highly-rated Redmond impressed on his Premier League bow for Norwich against Everton. The 19-year-old played on the left side of midfield, often opting to go infield onto his favoured right foot to great effect. No player successfully dribbled past an opponent on the opening weekend of the Premier League season more than Redmond (six), who also worked back to make four tackles – second only to Coutinho (six) of any offensively positioned player in the whole top flight – as he played his way to a score of 7.51.
Given his tendency to play onto his right foot, he only attempted one cross all game (right-footed Elliott Bennett on the other flank attempted 11), and that may mean there is an element of imbalance to Chris Hughton’s side. Nonetheless, young and keen to make an impact, Redmond looks like he could be one for the future.
Alistair Tweedale – follow him on Twitter here
All statistics courtesy of WhoScored.com, where you can find yet more stats, including live in-game data and unique player and team ratings.