We can all rejoice at the fact the English Premier league, and football around Europe is returning this weekend. Let’s face it when the international break comes around we all hate the 2 week break and find ourselves bored to the bone and our twitter or Facebook is really boring. With all due respect to the nations playing, we are just worried about our team players returning to our respected teams unscathed! Now let’s have a quick preview of the games to come this weekend:
- EVERTON v CHELSEA
- NORWICH v BOURNEMOUTH
- CRYSTAL PALACE v MANCHESTER CITY
- WEST BROMWICH ALBION v SOUTHAMPTON
- ARSENAL v STOKE
- WATFORD v SWANSEA
- MANCHESTER UNITED v LIVERPOOL
- SUNDERLAND v TOTTENHAM
- LEICESTER v ASTON VILLA
- WEST HAM v NEWCASTLE UNITED
10 games over 4 days, it does not get any better than this. keeping any eye on the current top 4, Manchester City, Crystal Place, Leicester and Swansea they come up against very strong opposition. City v 2nd Palace, Leicester at Villa, Swansea away at Watford, i mean, this weekend will open up the top for the trailing ‘big boys’ of United (5th), Arsenal (6th) and Chelsea even though you can’t really see them…..(13th).
This international break has served some teams positively with giving valued time for the squad to rest and really come together to perfect combinations, set plays and overall play. Now, for the big boys, the Champions League returns next week and we are sure to see some serious rotation within squads and substitutions.
EVERTON V CHELSEA
It is always a tough ask for every team when they visit Goodison Park. A very close stadium and the fans really make their presence felt and are never off your back. When a top 4 team play at Goodison Park Everton turn up everytime and make the game theirs, make the opponents game difficult and play with more passion than ever.
Coming up against Chelsea will be a tough ask. This international break has served Mourinho very well in terms of pulling the team back together and getting some serious momentum going difficult after going down to Crystal Palace in dramatic fashion at Stamford Brigde 2-1. But hey, these guys are defending champions and they didn’t win it for no reason last season.
Martinez’s men have had a better start than the counterparts, on getting 7 points from 4 games hurts and ending the international break with a loss against Manchester City 0-2. A very slow start for Everton.
“They haven’t reached that winning momentum of last season,” Martinez said. “That’s obvious. You can have the same players, way of playing and quality but you need that momentum and that comes with results.
“Their four games this season they’ve been small margins, except versus [Manchester] City [in a 3-0 defeat].
“I very much expect a strong Chelsea team with right approach, hitting the heights they hit last season when they won the league comfortably. We need to make sure they don’t develop momentum against us.”
With the likes of Pedro, Hazard, Fabregas and Willian let’s hope Martinez is ready for quite an ambush because if Chelsea do not begin to turn things around this season will and is already looking like one to put behind them,
Everton, on their day they are a team with strong force all over the park. Starting from Howard, Jagielka, Stones, Coleman, Barry, Barkley, Cleverly and Lukaku. This is a very close team, one that defends together and attacks together which only makes this game more interesting. Martinez referred to ‘momentum’. Something this team needs to start getting. Getting at least a point or all 3 is very possible for Everton and points is what these 2 need. This game will be down to defense. Keeping at bay Diego Costa, closing down Hazard, Fabregas, Pedro will be a tough ask but that is what Everton thrives upon. Challenges. It’s their home ground and they know that, so what is better than beating Chelsea and keeping them at 13th?
Chelsea. It really hasn’t been the best start for Chelsea. They are as of now sitting 13th between Aston Villa and Norwich who would have thought. We all expected them to come out firing and prove that they can do what they did last season again, well not really. 4 points from 12 is some record and hey will the real Chelsea please stand up?
Coming up against Everton is a huge task and this game will be down to the wire. Even though Martinez did not take a point from Mourinho last season, who says he wont tomorrow? Very possible. It’s been difficult for Mourinho to get his best out of a star-studded XI the past few games, Hazard looks bad, Fabregas slow so he has not much intensity up front but Pedro has looked on point and is the new reference point in recent Chelsea attacks and goals. Momentum is what this teams need for the next few weeks, they need points and start this push now because if they don’t i do not seem them catching an on fire Manchester City this season.
This game is one of the most entertaining on this schedule this weekend and both teams have so much to prove this week and next. In this fixture i am putting down and Everton victory 2-1.
CRYSTAL PALACE MANCHESTER CITY
Crystal Palace have looked the real deal the last month. They are currently sitting second behind Manchester City having only lost 1 game. Selhurst has not been a pleasant stomping ground for Manchester City and Palace always seem to get the upper hand, i mean, they fans are probably the best and loudest in the league.
Ever since Pardew returned to Palace he has really given them that special something. They are playing some great football and hey they’re not second for no reason.
However, this game will be the ultimate test for Palace, yes they do have that all important home advantage but they are coming up against an undefeated Manchester City who are showing no signs of slowing down.
Palace coming into this match have real momentum on their side. having entered the international break on a tremendous high beating Chelsea away 2-1. This break would have given a lot of time to analyse how to stop City and find their blind spots to ‘try’ and stop them. Their defense is a bit shaky and can be penetrated if need be and that is what Palace need to worry. City’s one-twos in and around the 18′ is yard to stop or even keep track and also their in-behind runs on the full backs with the likes of Kolarov-Sterling or Navas-Sagna. It will be a hell of a task for Palace in this one but sadly they will be beaten.
Manchester City have never looked better in recent weeks. Comfortably sitting on top at the international break has already set them up for yet another, potentially, winning season. No team has really troubled City, putting aside the likes of Chelsea, Watford, WBA, and Everton, there is no one in their way. Against Palace however, will be a slight tougher test playing away and against a Palace side who has been difficult to beat on their turf.City playing again with a full strength XI and with Sagna’s injury being all good, this XI will want to put this game to bed as early as possible with Champions League matches next week. We may see rotation in the second half resting key players like Aguero, Silva, Sterling and Toure, Pellegrini will hope to win this game early on for some breathing breaks.
City to win 2-0.
ARSENAL V STOKE CITY
Arsenal v Stoke its one of those games. High intensity, tackles flying in and no team breaking under pressure but i guess we can say Arsenal are lucky they’re not playing on a rainy night a Stoke…
Arsenal have started this season with no real X-factor. Grinding out previous results by 1 goal margins, not scoring enough and not creating enough. As they entered the international break by beating Newcastle away 1-0 which i think we can all say it was not pretty and we hope to never see Walcott playing as striker ever again. That was a mistake by Mr. Wenger as he deiced to keep Giroud on the bench when he was beginning to get on the scoresheet and he looks fit and ready to fire this season so obviously he will be starting as ST and shifting Walcott back on the wing.
This will be a real test for Arsenal. They are under pressure to produce and we hope they do. Their XI is fantastic and their Midfield with the likes of Ramsey, Coqueilin, Ozil, wings, Sanchez and Theo they are under-performing and if they want to challenge for that Title they better hurry because City are way over them in every way. Against Stoke this always proves to be a difficult fixture for the Gunners. As last season they both got one over each other this one looks very intriguing. So from a fans perspective, goals.
Stoke City are really that annoying team who can steal all 3 or 1 point away from you in the dying stages of the matche or during on their day. Their transfer window has been real busy compared to Arsenal’s one 13mil signing GK….Shaqiri, Affellay, Van Ginkel, Joselu and Given are quality signings but 4 games into the season and only 2 points is something to ponder.
Away at Arsenal will be a huge test for Stoke but at the same time a fantastic opportunity to really let go and show their quality. Walters may play and also Mark Hughes has hinted, young wonder kid Bojan may start or appear during the game. But Stoke City have been hit really hard with injuries and suspension players out are Mame, Johnson, Charlie Adam, Shaqiri and Arnautovic and Afellay so this game looks like they will be playing a very deep line and holding on for the point i they can.
MANCHESTER UNITED LIVERPOOL
What is better than at Old Trafford old foes United v Liverpool? This game over the years has had everything. From Gerrad’s free-kick to seal the game, to Rooney running rampant and of course, old mate Suarez doing what Suarez does…but now as those 2 of Liverpool left this is a new, young Liverpool squad still finding their feet this season against United, Van Gaal’s men also finding their momentum this season. As both went into the international with loss this game has kind of a lot riding on it for both managers.
Manchester United take this 2 week break with some ease but still needing to define how they will be playing. Rooney scored over the break so that may give United fans and Van Gaal some assurity that the goals will come with the United Jersey. This game is going to be open for United as Liverpool will surely have a good go and will trouble United’s defense but, if De Gea does play (which i think she should!) and if last season’s game is anything to go by, then United win. But, United upfront look slow and they surely want to win this game more than ever and also for the sake of Van Gaal because if he doesn’t win, cue the backlash….
Liverpool, it is strange when we see a team having better away form than home form. Before the international break Liverpool lost 3-0 against West Ham which pretty much put the cherry on top on their mediocre season. Lovren should not play if his antics from that game are anything to go by, I would put Sakho and Skrtel.
Brendan Rodgers needs to seriously consider if the should be playing with 1 striker or 2. Benteke and Ings should start in this game as this could really give them a new dimension and more options up front.
Even though this game isn’t ‘season defining’ it always proves to be the most entertaining fixture over the years. Both teams equally hate each other and hey it has brought a tonne of goals but this year looks different. Strikers on both ends are not in their finest forms and their both in that awkward stage of not attacking with real purpose or scared to actually have a go from a few yards out! Quality on the sides’ XI is unquestionable, it’s seeing that on the pitch, it’s seeing fight, passion which is lacking. So hopefully we see that on the weekend and I don’t know why i am giving this game goals 2-2 but hey, it may be the fixture that turns everything around.
- NOR 2 BOU 0
- WBA 1 SOU 3
- WAT 0 SWA 2
- SUN 1 TOT 2
- LEI 2 VILLA 1
- WH 2 NEW 1