Alvaro Negredo bagged a goal as Middlesborough got off to a positive start on their return to the Premier League
It might not feel like a long time ago with the Euros and the Olympics to keep us occupied but the Premier League returned after three long months today with champions Leicester opening the season against newcomers Hull City.
It wasn't the best of starts though.
The reigning Premier League champions have never lost their opening fixture of the following season...until today. When Robert Snodgrass struck to give Hull City the lead after Riyad Mahrez had restored parity following Adama Diomande's opener, Leicester got ever closer to becoming the first team to lay claim to such an honour.
The worst thing about it is, Hull were deemed a definite relegation contender following a preseason of discontent that culminated in Steve Bruce leaving his post as manager of the side along with mixed messages regarding a potential takeover.
Leicester were never going to repeat the exploits of last season but they have to hold it together until the transfer window closes so their biggest players such as Mahrez don't get frustrated and seek alternative playing options. It was not an opening day to remember Claudio Ranieri and everybody will be paying close attention to how they respond in the next game when they face Arsenal at the King Power Stadium next Saturday evening.
Leicester become the first ever reigning @premierleague champions to lose their opening fixture of the following season. That's pants!— Gary Lineker (@GaryLineker) August 13, 2016
There is a reason Manchester City splashed €27 million in cash at Sevilla (back when €27 was a lot of money) for Alvaro Negredo three years ago. He may not have shown the Citizens' fans why for a consistent period of time and the same can be said of his spell at Valencia but inside that big, burly, frustrating striker is an exceptional player and a man who can score a boat-load of goals when conditions suit him.
Middlesborough took a slight risk in bringing in the Spaniard but he has already started to put his bosses at ease when he scored with his first shot on target for his new club. He has now scored with his first shot on target for both City and Middlesborough, which is an impressive if meaningless stat. While it went downhill from there at the Etihad, he will be the focal point of the Premier League newcomers' attack and will be given plenty of chances to find his feet and convince all English football fans that he was let go too early from his former employers.
1 - Alvaro Negredo has now scored with his first shot on target in the Premier League for both Man City & Middlesbrough. Impression.— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) August 13, 2016
Manchester City welcomed Sunderland to the Etihad in what was the beginning of both Pep Guardiola's and David Moyes' reigns at their new clubs.
Expectations on Pep's side could not be higher and City got off to the quickest start possible when Sergio Aguero converted a penalty won by the very impressive Raheem Sterling after just three minutes of action. For all the slick passing and promising moves though, City struggled to break down their opponents again.
This proved to be a problem when the talismanic Jermaine Defoe slotted underneath Willy Caballero to peg them back in the second half. If it wasn't for an own goal by Sunderland debutante Paddy McNair, Guardiola's start might not have been as compelling as it seemed.
Without getting too far ahead of ourselves, we know Pep needs time to implement the kind of football he wants to play but with so much competition in the Premier League this season, he will need to make sure he doesn't give up easy points early on when there are far bigger challenges that lay ahead.
Sidenote: Raheem Sterling has an incredibly difficult summer when he was blamed for England's struggles in France but he was exceptional in his first game under Pep and might just be the kind of player that the Spaniard can turn into a superstar.