English Premier League Weekend Preview Oct 4th and 5th
Last weekend was yet another very good weekend for the English Premier League. Saturday started with the Merseyside derby and finished with the North London one. In between, we saw Manchester United hang on for the win against West Ham and Manchester City race to a 2-0 lead, give it up only to restore it again in a case of excellent City and typical City in equal measure.
At the bottom QPR, Newcastle and Burnley were all beaten, with the latter being absolutely smashed a team who themselves were struggling last season. Pressure continues to be on Newcastle manager Alan Pardew who will not get any rest this weekend either in Wales.
SATURDAY (All kick off times 3pm BST/10 am ET unless stated):
Hull v Crystal Palace:
At home last weekend Hull City went down 2-0 to Manchester City early on, only to then pull the deficit back. The Tigers would eventually go on to lose the game 4-2 and find themselves two points behind the visitors at the start of kick off.
Meanwhile, Crystal Palace continued their good start to the season, which will be a relief for the fans who must have thought the worst when their manager left just before the season started.
This will be a tougher task for Palace though as Hull will be desperate for the win and add to their six points total this season.
Leicester v Burnley:
A great season start was somewhat halted last weekend as Leicester were handed their first defeat against Palace. Winning times could return to the Foxes this weekend though as they host the early whipping boys of the Premier League. Burnley have not won a game in the Premiership so far this season and have scored only one goal with four being let in without reply last weekend.
You might be forgiven in thinking that this is a game in which they could record a win, both sides were in the same division last season remember.
But a meeting between the two automatic promotion sides from last seasons Championship Division saw Leicester grab a 2-0 win towards the end of March last season. In the corresponding fixture, away to Leicester the teams drew 1-1, maybe not too bad a result this time around either for Burnley.
In fact, historically, the game between these two in League play have only seen Burnley win 13 of the 50 games played with the last victory for Burnley on Leicester soil coming with a 1-0 on November 10th 2008.
Liverpool v West Brom:
Liverpool have not had the best of starts to this season at all. A draw last weekend against Everton was not a bad result but did nothing to help improve their League position any. Only the two wins from six and not impressing in Europe means Brendon Rodgers may start to feel the nervousness of the crowd.
West Brom, on the other hand, actually are coming off a 4-0 win against Burnley from last Sunday and go into the game a point ahead of their opponents. Daniel Sturridge may still be out for the home side and that will have to boost Baggies confidence. Their own England striker, Sadio Berahino, has been in fine form recently and they will look to him to maybe nick a goal for them. The Kop will be in fine form, as always, for this game and if West Brom can get at Liverpool early then I think that could get the crowd restless.
Sunderland v Stoke:
The Black Cats had the great escape last season and hopes were high for Gus Poyets side before the season kicked off. Six games in and they are still looking for their first win though. A 0-0 result at home to Swansea last week now makes it five draws this season, which although means they haven’t faced defeat other than the once, it also isn’t a trajectory for safety towards the end of the season.
Stoke beat Newcastle on Monday, but against Newcastle’s greatest of rivals, I doubt Stoke will get a North East double.
Swansea v Newcastle:
A trip to Wales for Newcastle will not be an easy one for Newcastle manager, Alan Pardew. Still looking for their first win of the season this is probably the closest a Newcastle fan will get to seeing their side play in Europe any time soon!
High flying Swansea have picked up ten points in their opening six games and if they can keep that kind of form they may be in the chance for another decent finish this season. The statistics this season so far would indicate another defeat for Newcastle and the Swans pushing the top four.
Aston Villa v Man City (5:30 pm BST/12:30 ET):
Aston Villa had a great start to the season but recent weeks has seen two back to back 3-0 defeats. To be fair, they were against Arsenal and Chelsea and so maybe a bit harsh to call it a decline as such.
Manchester City were accused of having no passion or belief in the midweek European fixture and let a 2-0 lead slip last weekend. They did restore that lead and eventually win 4-2 and they are still able to qualify from the group stage so things are not as bleak as some would have you believe.
Away against Villa though City haven’t had the best of times recently. The 3-2 defeat in the corresponding fixture last season didn’t cost them the title but was a cause for concern defensively. Since 2008, City have only come away from Villa Park with a win on two occasions, both 1-0 wins in 2012 an 2013. They will need to do similar on Saturday if they are to keep close enough to Chelsea in order to challenge at the seasons end.
SUNDAY (All kick off times 2:05 pm BST/9:05 ET unless stated):
Man Utd v Everton (Midday BST/7 am ET):
Well, United finally got a win last week, at home to West Ham. Wayne Rooney was sent off and the side managed to hold on as some cracks were papered over. This week, against Everton, maybe Van Gaals side will be tested a bit more.
Certainly the side needs to be on top of their game, although they do have the added advantage of Everton having to travel away for a midweek European game which may leave them exposed for the taking in what is a much well recognized European hangover.
Everton, while probably loving their adventure in the Europa League, willhave one keen eye on their current League position. A point a game is not good enough for Roberto Martinez and he will be looking to improve that on Sunday.
Chelsea v Arsenal:
A London derby last weekend for Arsenal and another this weekend. A somewhat tougher test this one with Chelsea performing exceptionally so far this season and the question of when they will wrap up the title is more realistic than ‘if’.
Arsene Wenger will be looking to halt, or moderately disrupt, the Mourinho charge to the title and they are one of the few sides that just might be able to pull it off. A hat trick for Danny Welbeck in the European midweek game showed signs of what the England striker can do when given the chance, and if he can do something on Sunday, then you might see his stock rise.
Tottenham v Southampton:
An interesting game sees a somewhat underachieving Tottenham Hotspur side facing quite an over achieving Southampton side. Four wins from six sees the Saints into second spot only three behind leaders Chelsea and looking good. A win against struggling side QPR was not convincing but at the end of the day it is the points that are important not necessarily the manner in which you get them.
A tied game for the visitors will mark a continuation of their progress and see them heading into next week within the top four sides. Meanwhile Tottenham need to start picking up the wins if they do not wish to fall further behind the pacesetters. Although a title run, I think, is out of the realms of possibility Spurs will want to be in and around the top four as the season continues.
West Ham v QPR (4:15 BST/11:15 ET):
We finish the weekend with a return of sorts. Harry Redknapp, the QPR manager, played his youth football, the majority of his senior career and several seasons as manager at West Ham. While at West Ham as Manager he brought through some of Englands most well known players, Rio Ferdinand (Now back with Redknapp at QPR), Joe Cole, Michael Carrick and of course, his nephew, Frank Lampard.
He managed them to the Inter Toto success in 1999 with some of the above mentioned players. It could be an emotional return for Redknapp who has a personal and professional association with the hosts. His sister in law was married to Frank Lampard Sr before her death and between Frank Sr, Jr and Harry all together forty five years have been spent at West Ham. You have to wonder, at 67 years of age, and with QPR not performing too well if he will get another chance to be where his success really started.
West Ham themselves are not exactly setting the League on fire again this season and Big Sam will be less than sympathetic to the nostalgia. Although it will be interesting to see if the bubbles will be blowing for a returning manager they loved or the current manager whose relationship with the fans is lukewarm at best.
So with that said the bottom three will remain the same with all three getting a point but Everton fans will be concerned to find themselves only slightly above the group. Meanwhile, at the other end, Manchester City overtake Southampton to get closer to Chelsea who still top the League. United fans may be able to give their phones a rest this weekend as they now find themselves finally in the top four, a benefit of no European distraction.