There were a host of new names in action on the second weekend of the new Premier League season. Adam Bate picks out four performances from Saturday for a closer look.
By Adam Bate - Follow @GhostGoal
Last Updated: 25/08/13 6:32am
England internationals Scott Parker and Darren Bent were both in action for Fulham for the first time on Saturday, while Southampton forward Daniel Osvaldo and Sunderland defender Modibo Diakite each made their Premier League bow at St Mary's...
Parker may have been on the losing side on his Fulham debut as Arsenal earned a deserved 3-1 victory at Craven Cottage in the early kick-off on Saturday but the experienced midfielder offered enough to show why he would have been wasted in the Championship with Queens Park Rangers.
Parker opted for Fulham instead and impressed in difficult conditions. With the rain pouring down, this was a game to test the fitness of a 32-year-old who had enjoyed little match action in pre-season but he competed well and made more passes than any other player on the pitch for either side.
Steve Sidwell had joked that the arrival of Adel Taarabt to accompany the likes of Bryan Ruiz and Dimitar Berbatov would mean a lot more running for him this season. But the fact that Parker was such a dominant partner in midfield suggests Fulham might still have enough of a mean streak in the middle despite this set-back.
It took Bent just 20 minutes to score on his Fulham debut after being introduced as a second-half substitute. It was a tap-in with the game already lost but this was classic Bent - as one of just 23 men to net 100 Premier League goals, scoring is what he does.
The striker, who is on loan from Aston Villa, also became the eighth player to score for six different clubs in the Premier League and showed what he can bring to a Fulham team that is full of creativity but low on efficiency. Bent is a very different proposition, as shown by his (lack of) build-up play against Arsenal.
Bent had just nine touches of the ball on his debut and completed only six passes. Martin Jol will not be too concerned by that if the England international can latch onto the sort of six-yard box chance he did against the Gunners and maintain a Premier League goalscoring record that stands at better than a goal every 180 minutes since 2005.
Southampton's record signing arrived with a reputation as a talented hothead and gave a brief cameo of this after coming off the bench as a half-time substitute in Saints' 1-1 home draw with Sunderland on Saturday.
Referee Lee Mason showed some discretion not to brandish a second yellow card for a worse tackle than the one for which Osvaldo was booked and the subsequent dissent would have left Mauricio Pochettino concerned.
But there were positives too. Osvaldo gave a glimpse of his quality with a great cross for Jay Rodriguez from which his team-mate should have scored. That chance came from a good pass by Rickie Lambert and there were encouraging signs that the two men can play up front together.
"I don't think they are that similar," said Pochettino earlier this week. "I think they could find it very easy to play together. You also have to think that all great players know how to get along on the pitch and know how to play well together, regardless of the characteristics that they have."
While they are not similar, the average team positions for the second half at St Mary's show that Lambert and Osvaldo were playing in similar areas with the Italy international actually slightly more advanced than the Saints' No.7. The switch to 4-4-2 could prove a decent option for Pochettino's men when chasing the game.
This was a difficult game for the summer signing from Lazio to make his Sunderland debut with the Black Cats on the back foot for much of the match as they sought to defend their early lead. But Diakite showed he could be a success in the Premier League with a committed performance under pressure.
The centre-back came up with an impressive tackle to deny Adam Lallana in the first half and followed it up with a series of good headers and emphatic clearances. In fact, Diakite won the ball and/or cleared it 14 times in the match - more than any other Sunderland player.
With a passing success percentage of 66.7 per cent there is room for improvement with the ball at his feet and Jose Fonte's late equaliser ruined a promising debut for the 26-year-old. But Diakite looks as though he could be a good acquisition for Paolo Di Canio's side.