Winning promotion to the Premier League is a major achievement for any football club. But often staying there can be an even greater challenge, because of the gulf in class and the difference in quality of the players that they face every week compared to the Championship.
All three of the newly promoted teams Fulham, Leeds United and West Bromwich Albion got their league campaigns off to a losing start over the weekend, conceding an aggregate of ten goals between them. Leeds at least can take a lot of credit from their defeat to defending champions Liverpool, but Fulham and West Brom know there is a lot of work to do if they are to survive.
Fulham featured in the first match of the new season, at home to London neighbours Arsenal on Saturday lunchtime. They were soon behind to a close-range finish by Alexander Lacazette, and although they played well, never threatened Bernd Lenos goal. However, terrible defending from a corner allowed Arsenal debutant Gabriel Magalhes to score his first goal for the club from a corner, and then a trademark finish from Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang finished them off. The Gunners controlled the game after that, never having to get out of second gear.
Leeds, back in the top flight after a 16-year absence, feared the worst when they fell behind to a Mo Salah penalty as early as the 4th minute at Anfield. However, they were not fazed and soon equalised with a low shot from Jack Harrison.
Poor defending from a corner allowed Virgil van Dijk to head Liverpool back in front, but an uncharacteristic error from the Dutchman allowed Patrick Bamford the chance to equalise at the other end. Three minutes later though, the ball fell to Salah, and he restored Liverpools advantage with a rasping left-foot shot.
Leeds were not finished, and an excellent first touch and shot from Mateusz Klich brought them, level once more on the hour mark. However, record-signing Rodrigo was brought on as a substitute, and the striker, back defending in his own box, made a clumsy challenge on Fabinho and conceded a penalty.
Salah scored it to complete his hat-trick, extending Liverpools unbeaten league home run to 60 matches.
Leeds can at least take credit from their return to Premier League action, which is more than could be said about West Brom who were beaten 3 0 at home by Leicester on Sunday. They got through to half-time unscathed, thanks in large part due to goalkeeper Sam Johnstone, who made several fine saves.
However, he could not stop Timothy Castagne giving Leicester the lead on 56 minutes. And he was powerless to prevent Jamie Vardy scoring twice from the penalty spot, after fouls in the box.
Already it looks a hard road ahead for Fulham and West Brom this season. Leeds have more reasons for hope if they can play with the same spirit that they showed against Liverpool, and cam learn to defend better.