For everyone who ended up being engrossed in the cricket over the weekend, Jessy Parker Humphreys looks at five things you might have missed in the football.
1. Women’s Championship – early promotion race between Durham and Charlton
Thanks to the odd quirk of the Women’s Championship only having 11 teams, this weekend saw last season’s third-placed Charlton, surely a favourite for promotion, kick off with a 0-0 draw with Lewes. Meanwhile, Durham, the only team to beat Manchester United last season, look likely to have the grit to be equal challengers even at this early stage, getting two wins from two thanks to a last-gasp winner against Crystal Palace. At the other end of the table, Leicester suffered another heavy loss, this week at the hands of Sheffield United.
2. Don’t write Chelsea off just yet
Frank Lampard got his first win as Chelsea manager in another unconvincing defensive display against Norwich. Yet, there is something that feels oddly optimistic surrounding this Chelsea side. With two goals for Tammy Abraham and one for Mason Mount (to add to his one against Leicester last week), despite the defensive frailties, the sign of homegrown players not only being in the team, but starting to thrive, is something that Chelsea fans are not used to.
The feeling of building a team based on players who have come through the youth system is a much warmer one than watching aged strikers try and have one last hurrah at the club. And if Frank can sort out the back – certainly the imminent return of Rudiger should help – Chelsea are a team who might not be worth writing off just yet.
3. Opening wins for Juventus, Napoli
The Italian season finally kicked off this weekend with everyone crossing their fingers that this year might be a chance for us to actually see a title race. Juventus and Napoli both recorded opening-day wins but it is Antonio Conte’s Inter Milan who look like the team most worth keeping an eye on. We’ll have to wait until Monday night to see them kick off but with Manchester United already tripping up in the Premier League, what Romelu Lukaku might offer Serie A will make for fascinating viewing this season.
4. Arsenal offer grit
Arsenal’s loss to Liverpool didn’t necessarily come as a surprise – it’s already abundantly clear that Liverpool and Manchester City remain a level above anyone else in the Premier League. Neither, in fact, did David Luiz’s hot-headed antics (bringing down Mohamed Salah for an easy penalty before overcommitting for Salah’s second goal only 10 minutes later), proving exactly why Frank Lampard was happy to offload him at the end of the transfer window. But what did offer some reward for Arsenal fans was the continued and somewhat unexpected grit that their team held onto. Whether it was Lucas Torreira popping up for the late goal or Nicolas Pepe continuing with his searing runs at the Liverpool defence, Arsenal will find plenty of teams not so well-equipped to face up to that level of intensity, if they can maintain it.
5. La Liga delights on ITV4
The start of this season has led to an unusual but welcome footballing development for anyone who hasn’t shelled out for Sky or BT Sports. The first three La Liga gameweeks were secured to show one game a weekend on ITV4. Last week, Friday night viewers were treated to Athletic Bilbao’s last-gasp winner against Barcelona and it looked like Sunday night could offer a similar upset as Real Betis went 1-0 up. Barcelona eased back into it to come up 5-2 winners but it has offered an exciting insight into how free-to-view television could highlight alternative footballing exploits since it has been long priced out of the Premier League.
Follow Jessy on Twitter at @jessyjph