RTBI's Harry Prince takes a look at the fixtures this weekend, starting at Villa Park tonight (Friday 14th August)
Aston Villa vs. Man United
The weekend comes early as Manchester United take on Aston Villa at Villa Park on Friday. Both sides started with respectable 1 – 0 victories in the opening weekend. Man United will be the favourites to double their point tally for the season to six while Villa will have to be more convincing than they were against Bournemouth.
Sherwood was not lying when he warned us about Rudy Gestede’s aerial ability as he grabbed a goal in Villa’s victory against Bournemouth. A lot of Villa’s new signings impressed, but they will have their first real test against United on Friday, a team with real Premiership pedigree.
Man United never really moved out of first gear in the Premiership opener against Tottenham on Saturday, but they never really had to, they looked solid throughout the game and took a fairly comfortable win. Van Gaal will be hoping his new signings can make a bigger impact as the season progresses.
While Villa’s new signings are still adapting to the Premiership I expect United to take a comfortable win.
Score 0 - 2
Southampton vs. Everton
Saturday’s early kick – off should be an interesting affair. Both teams started the season with cagey 2 -2 draws so will both be hoping to grab their first win of the season. Both sides required goals from substitutes both coming in the final 10 minutes of the game.
Southampton still look like a class act despite losing even more key players this summer. The Saints could have stolen all 3 points last Sunday if Mane had remembered to put his shooting boots on. Southampton are still a side that could hunt down a Europa league spot this season, but beating sides with similar ambitions such as Everton will be crucial.
Everton were less convincing during their opener against Watford. They were the only side playing a newly promoted team that did not get all 3 points. They were chasing the game and went behind twice. Martinez summed their performance up by saying Everton were not at the races; a better analogy might be that Everton didn’t even know there was a race on as most of their players still looked like they were in pre-season.
Everton are notoriously slow starters but I expect them to have a much better showing this week and I predict a second draw in two weeks for the two sides.
Score 1 – 1
Sunderland vs. Norwich
Both sides will be looking for their first win of the season after a disappointing opening weekend.
Sunderland’s relegation odds were slashed after their poor showing against a dominant Leicester
City, Sky Sports presenter Paul Merson suggested Sunderland play with five forwards this week because no matter how many defenders they have they will concede, which is a slight over exaggeration but it does illustrate just how poor Sunderland’s defence was. The back four were full of mistakes and will have to tighten up quickly if Sunderland want to get a result from Norwich.
Newly promoted Norwich might feel hard done by after Cameron Jerome’s athletic leveller was controversially ruled out just before Yohan Cabaye sealed the three points. The Canaries will definitely fancy their chances against Sunderland based on last week’s performance. Norwich won’t be calling for a Delia Smith team talk just yet, but they will hope they can get off the mark in the Premiership this weekend.
I think Norwich showed a lot more hunger in their opening game and I expect the same this week.
Score 1 – 2
Swansea vs. Newcastle
Both sides were able to get good draws against strong teams on the opening weekend, but now they are both looking for their first victory so expect a cagey affair.
Swansea had a great game against the champions last week. Gary Monk was humble in his post – match interview when he said Swansea might have nicked it. Swansea defiantly could have won, especially after Courtois’s red card. The Swans may feel disappointed they could not capitalize playing the 10 men champions.
Newcastle’s game against Southampton shows just how important the summer has been, it was end to end and exciting throughout. Newcastle are not the same side who were relegation candidates at the back end of last season. Newcastle’s new signings had mixed debuts; Wijnaldum received man of the match while Mitrovic only highlight was his 60-second yellow card. Newcastle will look to push on go for a win away at Swansea.
Both teams will go into the game believing they can get a victory so expect a high octane game with plenty of chances.
Score 2 – 2
Tottenham vs. Stoke
Stoke and Spurs both lost to top teams 1 – 0 last week, both games were fairly dull and both sets of fans will be hoping for some more excitement this week.
Tottenham started and finished last week’s match strongly but missed a cutting edge in a lacklustre game that failed to take off. Spurs will really be looking to kick-start their season against Stoke who despite making some great signings over the summer still lack the pedigree that Spurs possess.
Stoke now boast 5 Champions League winners in their side, the signing of Xherdan Shaqiri completes a potential attraction trio of Shaqiri, Bojan and Afelley. Someone at Stoke is working miracles and their squad could challenge most teams in the Premiership, however, all of Stokes European wonder kids have very little Premiership experience so they will have to adapt quickly.
I expect Tottenham to kick start their season this weekend with a win, expect Shaqiri to impress if he makes an appearance.
Score 2 – 1
Watford vs. West Brom
Watford and West Brom are both waiting for their first win. Watford put a real shift in against Everton while Baggies failed to turn up on Monday night when they took on Man City.
Watford impressed a lot of people last Saturday when they held Premiership veterans Everton to a draw, after taking the lead twice. They will be looking to take advantage of the Baggies poor start to the season and get 3 points on the board. Watford will need Troy Deeney to continue his championship form into the Premiership and he will be vital on Saturday.
Baggies had the whole country watching their game against Man City as it was on a primetime on Monday; one of those watching the game was West Brom’s £12 million signing José Salomón Rondón who probably spent the second half looking for plane tickets back to Russia after the Baggies poor showing. West Brom will be hoping to prove that they are still Premiership quality against Watford and should welcome Rondon to the starting eleven which will be a huge boost.
I expect Watford to build on their impressive opening day display and earn a hard fought victory.
Score 2 - 1
West Ham vs. Leicester City
Both sides enjoyed good wins on the opening weekend as Leicester got the better of Sunderland in a 6 – goal thriller and West Ham outplayed Arsenal at the Emirates.
West Ham were looking very sharp against Arsenal on the opening day, they benefitted from all the European games over the summer and they played Arsenal off the park. A big reason for this was 16-year-old Reece Oxford who should start against Leicester provided he isn’t grounded or picking up his GCSE’s. West Ham’s signings were effective and new boy Payet picked up the man of the match award. There is plenty of optimism going around Billic’s boys after their Europa League exit.
Before I discuss Leicester I must make a formal apology for predicting their fixture against Sunderland as “a boring draw that would be last on Match of the Day” it was probably the best game of the weekend mainly because Leicester were a real attacking force; they have continued last season’s end of seasons form and are looking strong.
I predict the two teams to have a real go at each other and essentially cancel each other out, I certainly won’t be predicting the running order of Match of the Day this week.
Score 1 – 1
Crystal Palace vs. Arsenal
Both teams had completely differing opening weekends, Crystal Palace proved their Premiership pedigree by dispatching Norwich while Arsenal are sitting 2nd from bottom in the Premiership after losing to West Ham.
Palace impressed against Norwich and seem to be moving up under the control of Pardew, who admitted he picked the wrong starting line – up against Norwich as many star players such as Cabaye and Jedinak made substitute appearances. Palace still managed to get a victory and will be looking forward to progressing against their slow starting London rivals.
Ex-players, pundits and Me are just some of the experts, who predicted Arsenal to push Chelsea for the title after the acquisition of Petr Cech, how wrong we were, 16-year-old Reece Oxford had Arsenals world cup winner Ozil firmly in his back pocket (next to his provisional driving licence) and “World class” keeper Cech was a calamity. Arsenal will hope there stars turn up this weekend.
I predict Arsenal to be back at their best against Palace with a point to prove.
Score 0 – 2
Man City vs. Chelsea
The two teams who are favourites for the title face each other on a huge Super Sunday; whoever comes out on top of this clash will certainly be top of the bookies list for Premiership title favourites.
Man City were the most convincing team in the league last week and their game against West Brom looked like boys against men. Sterling impressed on his debut despite still having the shot power of a 6 – year old. Man City’s stars really turned up and the spine of the team was solid, the “old” Toure seemed to be back but he will need him to prove he is still one of the best players in the world by putting in performances against the likes of Chelsea. This weekend will be a real indicator as to whether Man City will be challenging for the title this season.
It is definitely 1 – 0 Man City in the early battle for the title as Chelsea were held to a draw by Swansea. Man City already have history on their side as the last 5 champions started with a game on a Monday night. Chelsea have a lot to prove this week and will be without physio Eva Carneiro after Jose Mourinho's touchline spat with her last week. I speak on behalf of anyone who has ever seen Chelsea’s physio when I say she will be dearly missed.
I think the early title clash will end up in a draw and both teams will be wary of making a mistake this early in the season, expect to see Chelsea’s infamous park the bus tactics.
Score 0 – 0
Liverpool vs. Bournemouth
Liverpool will be hoping to continue their winning form after their understated win against Stoke while Bournemouth are hoping to get off the mark in their first season in the Premiership.
Liverpool’s game against Stoke was pretty dull until their Brazilian magician Coutinho scored a supernatural goal to break the deadlock. It was certainly an improvement on last season’s 6 – 1 drubbing. Liverpool’s new signings did not have the impact the fans would have hoped for but a game against newly promoted Bournemouth should offer Liverpool’s new boys an opportunity to prove themselves.
Bournemouth might have felt hard done by last week when they lost to Aston Villa as they certainly had more chances in the game, for most of the Bournemouth squad it was their first taste of Premiership football so it was a big learning curve, Bournemouth will have to learn quickly if they are to stay in the league this season and there attacking players must take any chances they are presented with.
I predict Liverpool to continue their winning form and beat a Bournemouth side who are still adjusting to life in the Premiership.
Score 2 – 0