Yay!!! The Premier League football season is finally going to continue after a very long week of international fixtures. I congratulate the teams that have already secured a spot in the world cup finals next summer, I grieve with the nations that will not be able to make the competition and I wish the teams still fighting for a spot all the best. I am seriously looking forward to the World Cup Finals in Russia at the end of the season but these mid-season international windows are such a bore.
I am really excited now that all the teams are done in the transfer window and the teams are as strong as they would be up until January at least. This fixture is also the first of many because the UEFA Champions League would begin this Tuesday while the Europa league begins on Thursday. It is no co-incidence that the seven teams representing England in Europe all have their games on Saturday. It would be interesting to see how the managers would set up their teams this weekend with one eye on the midweek fixtures.
Manchester City VS Liverpool
It is almost as if the English FA knows how much we have missed Premier League football that they made this fixture the first of the match day. These teams finished 3rd and 4th respectively at the end of last season and both would be itching to challenge for the title. Both managers, Pep Guardiola and Jurgen Klopp have both won the Bundesliga titles but have failed to replicate that League winning feat in England. In Germany, they were on opposite sides more than once and that rivalry could be reignited in England.
Manchester City has picked up 7 points from the first three games but I doubt that Pep would be impressed with the manner in which those points were gotten. He is known for setting up his teams to hold possession and constantly put pressure on his opponents with constant attacking plays. City won on the opening day with two second half goals, rescued a point against Everton through a late goal and won the last game against Bournemouth with another very late goal in a controversial game. Pep should be glad that they have not lost any game but facing Liverpool now would be a huge test that his newly assembled team may not be ready for.
Liverpool started the season with a draw away at Watford before beating Palace by a lone goal. However, last time out the team embarrassed Arsenal with a great performance and ran out 4-0 winners. Since then, they have managed to keep want away midfielder, Phil Coutinho and they have added Oxlade Chamberlain from Arsenal. Klopp is known to favour a counter attacking, Gengen pressing style of football. With the pace of Mo’ Salah, Sadio Mane and Roberto Firminho, it is likely that they sit back against a City side that would be concerned about making plenty passes before hitting them on the breaks.
Going into this game, I have to admit that Liverpool looks the more ready side. Pep is a tactical genius on his day but nobody can deny that he has not found it easy in the English league. Klopp, on the other hand, has had more time with this crop of players and he has built the team to play in a way that he wants them to. Last season, Liverpool did not lose to any of the “big” teams and they would love that trend to continue when they go to the Etihad on Saturday.
Everton vs Tottenham
This is another game that should be explosive because it’s between a team that is hoping to cement its place as one of the top teams in England and another that is looking to break into the top four sooner rather than later. Tottenham made two late signings before the window closed as they completed the signings of Serge Aurier to replace the departed Kyle Walker and Sanches to bolster their attacking threat. Everton already signed Rooney, failed to sign Diego Costa and finally got Sigurdsson before the window slammed shut.
Everton has had a tough start to the season as they have already played Manchester City and Chelsea away from home in the last two games. They put up decent performances against these top teams and would need to put up another great performance if they want to get points from Spurs.
Tottenham has also failed to continue this season where they left off last season. They won the first game away at Newcastle but they have failed to win a game at Wembley leaving the more superstitious football fans to believe that the curse of Wembley still works against the team from North London. Spurs would be glad to play away from Wembley for the time being as they know that they need to keep up with the other top teams if they want to challenge for the title.
The game should provide lots of goals as August is finally over and Harry Kane is expected to start scoring any moment from now, he already showed his goal scoring ability once more during the international break as he bagged two for England. Wayne Rooney is also a goal scoring threat and the former England skipper has already bagged two this season. He is known to thrive under pressure and he is likely to show his worth amid his recent family troubles. This fixture last season ended 3-2 so this one should also be a delight to watch.
Arsenal VS Bournemouth
Arsenal won the community shield on penalties but they have not had a great start to the season. They beat Leicester in dramatic fashion but they have lost games to Stoke City and Liverpool after the opening weekend. As if to add insult to the injury, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain joined Liverpool a few hours after that game but Arsenal managed to keep want away forward, Alexis Sanchez. Bournemouth remains one of the three teams left in the league yet to secure a point although they did everything they could against City.
The force of the Gunners should be too much for Bournemouth to deal with. Especially now that the window is closed and all the players would need to settle down and buck up so that they can be called up for the world cup and the manager is one that has withstood intense pressure more than once. Arsenal should be able to win comfortably so that their fans can have something to cheer about after three weeks of misery.
Leicester VS Chelsea
Leicester has played Arsenal and Manchester United in the first three games and they lost. They take on Chelsea at the King Power Stadium just after selling Danny Drinkwater to the defending Champions. They did manage to keep Riyad Mahrez in the club and would be banking on the Algerian play maker to use his magical touch to get a result against the defending champions.
Chelsea lost have back to back victories against Everton and Tottenham and would be hoping to replicate the winning streak that took them to the title last season. With the possible return of Eden Hazard from injury and the current form of Alvaro Morata, the Blues are definitely strong enough to see off the Foxes but I do not think it would be an easy game.
Stoke City Vs Manchester United
Stoke City have played only one game at home this season and that is the only game that they have won. They have picked up four points after drawing away at West Brom, the only game they have won this season was against Arsenal and they would be hoping to repeat such a feat as they welcome Manchester United to the Brittania.
Manchester United started the season in great fashion with three wins, ten goals scored and zero conceded. The red devils are hoping to continue this great start but can they do it at Stoke on a cold night? They would want to play Stoke with their strongest team but with one eye on the Champions league game against Basel. The Red Devil’s have enough firepower and balance and should be able to see off the Stoke city side.
In other games, West Brom play away at Brighton and Hove Albion, Southampton play hosts to Watford, Burnley play Crystal Palace and Swansea play Newcastle. There is going to be Monday night football as West Ham play Huddersfield. It would be the game at the Olympic Stadium and the Hammers would be looking to reward their fans with a win.