Premier League grades: Manchester United, Liverpool and Chelsea impress

Who’s top of the class, and who needs to do some extra homework on the first weekend of the season?

With the return of top-flight football after their summer holidays, Premier League grades is back for a new season, with each team rated for their efforts in their first game back.

Here’s how we graded each side this weekend…

Chelsea – A

Maurizio Sarri could hardly have asked for more from his first Premier League game in charge. Chelsea started slowly, but took their chances clinically and managed the game intelligently after taking a two-goal lead into the break.

Jorginho marked his debut with a goal, while Kepa Arrizabalaga looked assured in goal. (Nick Wright)

Liverpool – A

As we’ve seen so often with Liverpool under Jurgen Klopp, they came bursting out of the traps at Anfield. But instead of tiring and allowing the opposition back into the game, they fought hard when momentum dropped and showed layers to their play.

2:54 Liverpool 4-0 West Ham

New signing Naby Keita was superb, playing both centrally and out wide in either half, while James Milner was deservedly man of the match. That front three of Sadio Mane, Mo Salah and Roberto Firmino were also at their blistering best; this was the perfect start, but only a start. (Gerard Brand)

Manchester United – A-

Despite their apparent woes in the transfer market, it was a solid showing from Manchester United on Friday. There were good performances from players you would consider to be on the fringe like Andreas Pereira and Luke Shaw, who ended up taking home the man of the match award after a superb second goal.

Eric Bailly and Victor Lindelof also started together for the first time in the centre of defence, and looked to be a solid partnership. Hopefully, their game together can grow as the weeks go on and solve the centre-back conundrum for Jose Mourinho. (Charlotte Marsh)

Man City – A-

In reality, Man City never really got out of second gear and some summer rustiness did show. Of course, they did not have their full strength side on the field, with the likes of Kevin De Bruyne and Leroy Sane on the bench, but opened well and should have added a few more in the first 25 minutes.

There was some poor finishing on show at times, but they also defended well when needed as Arsenal piled on the pressure in the second half. But the mark of a champion is to find a way to win when you’re arguably not at your best, and that is what Man City did on Sunday. (Charlotte Marsh)

Crystal Palace – A-

A polished performance from Roy Hodgson’s Crystal Palace, who have settled under the manager now and looked the better side after scoring. Wayne Hennessey was a rock in between the sticks and kept the Eagles in it for much of the first half, while the remainder of the team marshalled the game well.

It’s a much better start than last season and Crystal Palace fans can look forward to an improved campaign. (Charlotte Marsh)

Everton – B+

Playing more than 45 minutes with 10 men away from home and coming away with a point is never going to be a bad result, but Everton looked like doing more than that for long enough at Molineux. They were heading for the perfect away performance until Phil Jagielka was sent off four minutes before the break, but they were still impressive when a man short.

2:50 Wolves 2-2 Everton

And once Richarlison put them ahead again, they looked like they would be heading back to Goodison Park with an opening-day win – but for one rare lapse in concentration at the back to allow Raul Jimenez to level, which keeps them out of the top bracket this time. (Ron Walker)

Watford – B+

Watford won comfortably without ever really having to get out of second gear. They looked a far more cohesive unit than Brighton while they were noticeably sharp across the pitch, perhaps as none of their starting XI participated in the World Cup this summer. It was a polished performance from them but trickier tests await.

Many people’s tip for the drop, the Hornets have a relatively straightforward start to the season compared to some of their rivals, so getting points on the board early gets them into the credit they would have expected against Albion. (Oliver Young-Myles)

Leicester – B

Another opening Friday, another loss for Leicester but the Foxes gave a good account of themselves at Old Trafford. For long spells in the first half, they were the better team and really tested David De Gea at times. James Maddison was a real bright spark on his debut, while Ricardo Pereira got truly stuck in for his new side.

The movement from the likes of Demarai Gray, Maddison and Kelechi Iheanacho was very good at times, but they rarely looked like scoring – perhaps Maddison aside – while Vardy was a constant threat in his cameo appearance and ended up netting a goal in added time. Although it is early days yet, other players will need to step up their game in the coming weeks as Vardy gets back to full fitness. (Charlotte Marsh)

Newcastle – B

Rafael Benitez will be disappointed his side didn’t get more from their opener against Tottenham. Newcastle put in an impressive performance, dominating for long stretches of the second half and creating plenty of chances to snatch an equaliser. However, missed chances, especially those from Kenedy and Salomon Rondon, proved costly.

2:59 Newcastle 1-2 Tottenham

It was a case of deja vu for the Magpies who lost to Tottenham on the opening day of last season, but they had more reason to be optimistic on this showing. (Oliver Yew)

Wolves – B

There’s nothing to be too concerned about in opening your Premier League account with a draw to a side expected to be in the top half, but having a man advantage for so long, and creating so little, will be a concern for Nuno Santo.

Wolves showed character to keep fighting and grab a late equaliser, but as Santo said they will have to improve if they are to realise their own ambitions this season. (Ron Walker)

Bournemouth – B

It was a steady start to the new campaign for Eddie Howe’s side, who got the better of newly-promoted Cardiff 2-0 at home without having to click into top gear at the Vitality Stadium.

They could have won by more, had Callum Wilson converted from the spot, but already have more points than they had after four games last season – which will make Eddie Howe very happy. (Richard Morgan)

2:47 Bournemouth 2-0 Cardiff Arsenal – B-

It was a tough ask for Unai Emery in his opening game, going up against a slick Man City side who are still riding high on their Premier League win last term. While the first half saw them almost stunned by Pep Guardiola’s side, they improved in the second period and had a few chances to score.

Indeed, they twice had the ball in the back of the net although both were flagged for offside, and Shokdran Mustafi probably should have had a penalty. But with it being the first game, there is still plenty of room for improvement and more to come yet from Emery’s Gunners. (Charlotte Marsh)

Cardiff City – B-

Neil Warnock should not be too downhearted with how his team performed on their return to the top flight, despite their 2-0 loss on the south coast. However, one area the newly-promoted side will need to improve on going forward is their finishing. (Richard Morgan)

Southampton – B-

The Saints looked short on confidence during the opening hour, but a tactical alteration from a back three to a back four resulted in an much-improved final 30 minutes with Mohammed Elyounoussi and Danny Ings heavily involved.

Jannik Vestergaard’s excellent display provides further encouragement for Mark Hughes’ side, with the towering Denmark international producing countless aerial clearances, and a clean sheet against last season’s surprise package is something to build on.

Fulham – B-

Saturday’s game was certainly one of two halves for Fulham. They had a good first half at Craven Cottage and the seven new signings in their side seemed to be gelling well as they looked for a goal. But Jeffrey Schlupp’s 41st minute strike looked to knock the wind out of them and they never really recovered after the break.

2:59 Fulham 0-2 Crystal Palace

Some may say it was the number of new signings put into the first XI as they adapted to the pace and physicality of the Premier League, but a lack of goals have been a concern for Fulham during pre-season and continued on Saturday. (Charlotte Marsh)

Burnley – B-

For an away performance three days after a trip to Istanbul, Burnley began as if they were fresh from a lengthy rest as they were quicker to every ball in the opening 45 minutes.

The Clarets lacked a clinical edge in front of goal as Aaron Lennon and Jeff Hendrick spurned good chances, but their defensive solidity when Southampton asked questions in the second half preserved at least a point.

Huddersfield – C

Huddersfield had the better of the opening exchanges against Chelsea and were unlucky not to equalise when Steve Mounie hit the inside of the post with a header.

They tired in the second half and David Wagner clearly has work to do to get them scoring, but there was no shame in defeat to a team expected to challenge for the title. (Nick Wright)

2:53 Huddersfield 0-3 Chelsea West Ham – E

Playing a high line from the first minute against Mane, Salah and Firmino is a risk, to say the least. Marko Arnautovic was starved as West Ham’s only real outlet on the counter-attack, and Liverpool picked them off with ease.

West Ham’s midfield was completely overrun, and though Liverpool had more energy; Manuel Pellegrini’s side routinely shot themselves in the foot with some sloppy defending. (Gerard Brand)

Brighton – F

Brighton were rarely outplayed during their debut season in the Premier League but they were distinctly second best at Vicarage Road from the first minute until the last.

A statistic that highlights just how poor Brighton were was that they failed to have a single shot on target throughout the 90 minutes. With Manchester United and Liverpool up next, they have to improve quickly. (Oliver Young-Myles)

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