Weekend Premier League Preview

by James Clancy

Premier League trophyThis weekend sees most Premier League clubs fulfill their second fixture of the season.

The strife at Arsenal has probably been the most notable story so far this term whilst Manchester City, United and Chelsea all recorded comfortable which suggests that those three clubs will not struggle under new management regimes.

No goals and no points for the three promoted sides suggests that they’ll struggle in the top flight.

The biggest game of the second weekend is Manchester United hosting Chelsea for what will be David Moyes’ first home game in charge of The Red Devils.

Fulham v Arsenal, Saturday 12:45pm

Fulham and Arsenal kick off the weekend’s top flight football with a lunch-time Saturday kick-off. Martin Jol’s men will be looking to inflict further misery on Arsene Wenger’s men who are likely to still be reeling following the 3-1 home reverse to Aston Villa first time out.

Arsenal have only played one game this season but the 3-1 home defeat to Villa exposed how shallow Wenger’s squad. With Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain leaving the Emirates on crutches and a handful of first-team regulars picking up knocks, Arsene Wenger will struggle to put out a first XI from the senior squad who would all be playing in their favourite positions.

Fulham on the other hand have started brightly thanks to a 1-0 win over Sunderland at the Stadium of Light.

Experienced new signing Scott Parker did well last time out and Fulham look to be favourites going into this one, though it should be a tight game.

PREDICTION: Fulham 2-1 Arsenal

Aston Villa v Liverpool, Saturday 3pm

Brendan Rodgers’ side narrowly beat Stoke first time out but there are much sterner tests ahead for the Anfield side.

Villa will be buoyed by their opening day win over Arsenal.

Liverpool won 2-1 the last time these two sides played. Henderson and Gerrard scored for ‘Pool with Benteke replying for Villa. He is likely to be the Villains go to man here also.

PREDICTION: Aston Villa 1-1 Liverpool 

Everton v West Brom, Saturday 3pm

The Toffees were wasteful in their opener against Norwich, ending up with a draw despite enjoying 67.5 per cent of the possession and having more than twice as many shots (20) as their opponents (8).

West Brom have been rocked by the revelation that marquee summer signing Nicolas Anelka wants to quit football. Everton at home with Leighton Baines (who scored two the last time these sides met) and Fellaini in form should have too much for the visitors.

PREDICTION: Everton 3-1 West Brom

Hull City v Norwich City, Saturday 4pm

Tigers boss Steve Bruce has done some good business this transfer window with the signings of Tottenham duo Tom Huddlestone and Jake Livermore standing out.

Norwich were the second lowest scorers in the top flight last season (finding the net just 41 times) and Chris Hughton’s side will be hoping the signing of Ricky van Wolfswinkel  – who got off the mark last week with a commanding header – will add some much needed goals to their make up.

Bruce has cited this sort of match as one that Hull will be judged on, though Norwich will also feel the same and the Canaries should have just about enough to win this.

PREDICTION: Hull City 1-2 Norwich

Newcastle v West Ham, Saturday 3pm

Alan Pardew is looking for his Newcastle United side to offer a swift response to their 4-0 defeat by Manchester City when they host Sam Allardyce’s side, who got their campaign off to the perfect start with a 2-0 win over new boys Cardiff.

Pardew has said that fans would be better off judging his team by home matches in the coming weeks against West Ham and Fulham than over reacting to a heavy defeat to one of the top teams in the league.

Newcastle will be without centre-back Steven Taylor, who is suspended for three games after being sent off at City, while Jonas Gutierrez could also miss out with a hamstring problem. On-loan striker Loic Remy remains sidelined with a calf injury, while full-back Davide Santon (hip) also remains a doubt.

Allardyce meanwhile has warned against his charges under estimating Newcastle and that the magnitude of Newcastle’s defeat was brought about by “circumstances” as well as by City being “absolutely brilliant.” West Ham go into the game with a clean bill of health.

West Ham look the more settled side and should have just about enough to nick this, though it looks set to be tight.

PREDICTION: West Ham 2-1 Newcastle

Southampton v Sunderland, Saturday 3pm

Pablo Osvaldo is likely to start for Southampton but only from the bench as Mauricio Pochettino’s side host Sunderland.

Italian international Osvaldo is a big signing for Southampton. A prolific striker – he has a goal scoring of almost one goal in two games in Serie A for Roma, he will likely be a big part of the Saints’ plans this season.

“He (Osvaldo) played an international match last week with Italy, so he is fit,” Pochettino told the club’s website. “It’s also logical that he needs to establish and integrate himself into a new structure. Also, he needs to learn how Southampton plays.

Rickie Lambert scored an injury-time penalty to give Southampton an opening-day victory over West Bromwich Albion, with academy graduates James Ward-Prowse and Luke Shaw particularly impressive.

Southampton have a clean bill of health but Sunderland will be without striker Steven Fletcher (ankle) and Lee Cattermole (knee). Defender Phil Bardsley (foot) remains on the sidelines for Sunderland but Wes Brown (knee) could feature.

With Sunderland having won just twice on the road in 2013, Southampton should be favourites here.

PREDICTION:   Southampton 2-1 Sunderland

Stoke v Crystal Palace, Saturday 3pm

Both these sides suffered penalty heartache last weekend, and both were lucky to still be in the game when they did – their opponents taking a combined 43 shots. Still, both will target this weekend as their ‘real’ curtain-raiser, with a more attacking attitude likely to be on display.

Robert Huth led the shooting stats for Stoke, while sub Kevin Phillips was Palace’s only real threat – With both sides likely to struggle against the drop, this one doesn’t look to be a particularly entertaining encounter as neither side will want to lose ground at the bottom of the table, even at this early stage of the season.

PREDICTION: Stoke 0-0 Crystal Palace

Tottenham v Swansea; Sunday 4pm

The biggest problem for Swansea this season could be fixture congestion as they play in the Europa League following their Capital One Cup triumph last season.

The good news on this occasion is that Spurs have been in Europa League action as well, against Dinamo Tbilisi — and they were away from home. So if Swansea are a little weary on Sunday, their opponents should be too.

Having said that, however, Andre Villas-Boas’s men have far more experience of European weeks than Swansea — and they have a squad which seems to be getting deeper by the day. Tottenham appear intent on stockpiling as many high-class players as possible.

Yet even if he had a transfer kitty to match that handed to Villas-Boas, Laudrup is adamant he would not sign a lorry-load of players. His thinking on that front has not changed, in spite of European qualification.

A result at White Hart Lane — a ground where Swansea have never won in 15 previous league visits — would be quite a way for Laudrup’s men to announce that they are in for a good year.

In truth a draw would be a fine result at a ground where Swansea have played okay in spells but never really looked like avoiding defeat in each of their two Premier League visits. Spurs should have enough to nick this one.

PREDICTION: Spurs 2-1 Swansea

Cardiff v Manchester City, Sunday 4pm

If Malky Mackay’s side looked out of their depth at Upton Park on the opening day, they’re in danger of suffering a similar fate when Manchester City visit on Sunday.

The Bluebirds (who have now turned red) had just a single shot on target in their first appearance in the top-flight since 1962, while Edin Dzeko alone had four for City in their Monday night thrashing of Newcastle. The visitors should have too much here.

PREDICTION: Cardiff 0-3 Manchester City

 Manchester United v Chelsea, Monday 8pm

The biggest clash of the weekend has been saved until last as two of the title favourites go head to head. Both managers have made winning starts in their new jobs with David Moyes impressive win over Swansea seeing United open their account whilst Chelsea were too good for Hull last weekend but then had to work to beat Villa in midweek.

A lot will depend on whether Mourinho will set up Chelsea to head to Old Trafford not to lose or take the game by the scruff of the neck, and how they plan to deal with Robin Van Persie. The movement of Oscar, Mata and Moses (though it’s likely that Hazard will play ahead of him), gave United some trouble last season, it’ll be interesting to see if Kevin De Bruyne will be considered to start after impressing, and whether Romelu Lukaku will lead the forward line after Torres then Ba lead the line against Hull and Villa respectively.

A lot of focus on this game will be surrounding whether Wayne Rooney will play any part after being linked with Chelsea for much of the summer transfer window – though there are still question marks about his fitness, he did play a part at Swansea coming off the bench so he may be required to play a similar role here, especially given that both Danny Welbeck and Van Persie each scored twice at Swansea last time out.

This is likely to be a tight game though both sides have matchwinners. A difficult one to call.

PREDICTION: Manchester United 1-0 Chelsea

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