Premier League: Chelsea, Arsenal, Manchester United start their pre-season tours on winning note
Reigning Premier League champions Chelsea started their pre-season preparations in the best possible manner, as they defeated Crystal Palace 1-0 at Stamford Bridge. Similarly, last season’s runners-up Manchester United, along with Arsenal and Everton, also recorded wins as they gear up for Premier League season which starts in August.
It was Michael Essien who steered The Blues to victory in London. Chelsea midfielder Essien made a return to football with the goal against Crystal Palace after missing Ghana’s World Cup campaign due to a knee injury. He showed his full recovery as he netted the winning goal in the 60th minute with a crisp shot from the edge of the penalty box. Chelsea’s manager, Carlo Ancelotti, cherished the return of Essien, who has been instrumental for Chelsea in midfield in recent years. Talking to reporters after the match, the former AC Milan boss said, “It was an important return, he came back very well and played very well. He is a fantastic player, we missed him last season and we hope he can do the best for this season.”
Meanwhile, Arsenal sent a message to its Premier League competitors by routing English fourth-tier side Barnet 4-0 in pre-season curtain-raiser. Arsenal’s summer signings, Laurent Koscielny and Marouane Chamakh, also made debut for Gunners. Russian attacking midfielder maestro Andrey Arshavin put Arsene Wenger’s young guns in front as he scored the opening goal in third minute after dancing around the goalkeeper. Arsenal doubled their lead through neat finishing by young striker Jay Simpson. French Samir Nasri scored Arsenal’s last goal in the 75th minute, when he capitalized on a mistake by the Barnet defender to calmly net the ball.
Similarly, Manchester United, who is in North America as part of their pre-season tour, started their proceeding with a win in Canada. They defeated Scottish giants Celtic in Toronto with the score of 3-1. Bulgarian Dimitar Berbatov, who had a below-par last season with United, opened the scoring in the 34th minute after he buried the ball in the bottom right corner with his left foot after receiving a pin-point cross from Mame Biram Diouf. Celtic fought back to draw when Georgios Samaras netted a penalty following debutant Chris Smalling’s foul on new Celtic signing Joe Ledley. United came back in the match after Berbatov provided an assist to Danny Welbeck for Red Devils’ second goal. Berbatov was also involved in the third goal for United, as his play allowed Tom Cleverley to score the third and final goal for Manchester United. Talking to reporters, Berbatov said, “I enjoyed the whole game. We have started well with a win. We have a lot of games before the season starts so I think we will be fully prepared.”
Liverpool, under new manager Roy Hodgson, have to wait further to start their pre-season preparation as their friendly against Al-Hilal in Switzerland was called. The match could not take place because rain made the pitch unplayable. Roy Hodgson will have to wait until Wednesday for his first game since taking over from Spaniard Rafael Benitez. Liverpool will play Swiss club Grasshoppers on Wednesday. Meanwhile, Liverpool’s neighbours and rivals Everton rounded off their Australian tour with a third straight win. They recorded their last win against Brisbane Roar after new signing Magaye Gueye scored eight minutes from time. The Frenchman scored the goal after receiving a low cross from Jose Baxter to give Everton a 2-1 victory. The highly rated English midfielder, Jack Rodwell, gave The Toffees a lead earlier in the match with a delightful 20-yard shot in the 49th minute.
Roy Hodgson’s former side and last season’s Europa League runners-up, Fulham, also started their preparation for the upcoming season after drawing with Bournemouth. The match ended with the score of 1-1. Bobby Zamora scored for the London side. Similarly, newly promoted Newcastle won 3-0 at Carlisle thanks to goals from Leon Best, Nile Ranger and Haris Vuckic. Newcastle will be celebrating their return to Premier League in August.