The Summer may be coming to a close what with Bank Holiday Weekend just around the corner but the Footballing action is coming thick and fast. We’re already two weeks into the season and they have absolutely flown by, some things have changed while others have stayed the same.
Hull are the surprise team in the bunch of sides who have a 100% record, while Arsenal are still searching for their first win of the season as the pressure mounts on Arsene Wenger to not only deliver results on the pitch but also in the transfer market.
Can both Manchester United go three wins from three this weekend and who will pick up their first points of the season in the clash between Crystal Palace and Southampton?. We’ll find out the answers to those questions by the end of the Sunday but now let’s look at the 6 key stories from this upcoming Premier League weekend
Spurs and Liverpool go head to head
These two sides kick off the weekends action with a Saturday Lunchtime encounter at White Hart Lane and although it’s probably a bit too early to be talking about the Top 4 and Champions League aspirations it will be a massive boost to one of these sides if they can come away from this clash with all three points and put a dent in the rivals early season momentum.
That momentum for Liverpool would have been very much halted due to their defeat to Burnley last Saturday, after their scintillating attacking display on the opening weekend their defensive frailties were once again shown up at Turf Moor. It seems as if it’s one step forward and two steps back for Jurgen Klopp’s side.
They will look to bounce back on Saturday but it won’t be easy against a Tottenham side that have picked up 4 points from their opening two matches. Last weekend saw them edge past Crystal Palace thanks to a first Spurs goal from Victor Wanyama. They may have left it late but it was a deserved victory.
The dilemma for Mauricio Pochettino is whether or not he once again he opts for both Harry Kane and Vincent Janssen up front, if he does then he will have to decide which midfielder warms the bench. Dele Alli pulled the short straw last Saturday but I’d be surprised if he doesn’t feature from the start on Saturday. Liverpool have already one once in North London, can they pull off an early double?
Crystal Palace and Bournemouth, who will get off the mark.
Both these sides have lost their first two games of the season but at least one of them will get off the mark on Saturday as they go head to head at Selhurst Park. For Crystal Palace they will be looking to record signing Christian Benteke to pay off a chunk of his transfer fee by scoring on his league debut for the club.
Last weekend saw them edged out by cross town rivals Tottenham but they never really threatened Michel Vorm’s goal and lacked any real attacking presence. With Belgian international Benteke now ready and waiting, Alan Pardew will be hoping he has found his man to fire Palace away from the bottom three.
Bournemouth nearly ruined West Ham’s housewarming party last Sunday but were undone by a late Michail Antonio goal in a game devoid of any real quality. Harry Arter’s sending off proved to be The Cherries as Eddie Howe’s man buckled under The Hammers numerical advantage.
The signs haven’t looked great for Bournemouth in their first two matches and failure to pick up a point in South London will have people wondering if they are going to be the next in a long line of teams that have succumbed to ‘Season Second Syndrome’
Hull vs Manchester United – Which 100% record will go?
Now if someone before the start of the season would have said that these two sides would have a 100 percent record after two matches then they would have probably been laughed out of whatever establishment they were in, but Hull are proving everyone wrong after impressive wins over both Leicester and Swansea.
The spirit in the Hull camp is high thanks to caretaker manager Mike Phelan galvanising his squad into a well drilled unit and those back to back wins have done Phelan’s chances of getting the job full time no harm at all, if he can mastermind a win over his former employers on Saturday then surely he will be tasked with taking charge of the club on a permanent basis.
They’ve already defeated defending champions Leicester but now they go up against Jose Mourinho’s Manchester United who have looked pretty ominous in their early season displays. Zlatan Ibrahimovic is among the goals already proving any doubters, while Paul Pogba lived up to the hype of his return last Friday.
That return saw United breeze past Southampton at Old Trafford and you would imagine that with the early form they have shown that this should be a routine away win but as we all know with the Premier League, it loves to throw up an upset whenever it can.
Wenger looking for a first win
Arsenal travel to Vicarage Road on Saturday looking for their first win of the season but once again Arsene Wenger’s matchday squad will be lacking personnel in the key areas. The Frenchman has drawn a blank in his bid to bring in any new players this week and with time running out before the end of the transfer window it could be a very bleak Autumn for fans of The Gunners.
Last Saturday saw them fortunate to leave Leicester with a point after Mark Clattenburg’s failure to award a late penalty to Claudio Ranieri’s side. Once again though Arsenal looked devoid of any real attacking force and Alexis Sanchez being utilised up top draw a blank.
Wenger will have to decide whether or not to try that for a third game in a row or does he finally start Oliver Giroud from the start. It’s slim pickings at the moment as fan pressure continues to build at The Emirates, how much more can they take. Failure to win on Saturday and it could get very ugly.
As for Watford they were unlucky to have been undone by Chelsea late on last weekend. Etienne Capoue bagged a second goal in as many weeks but they still came away empty handed after going in front. Walter Mazzari is still looking for his first Premier League win, he could do worse than finding it against Arsenal.
Can Conte make it three wins from three?
Antonio Conte’s Chelsea have won both their opening games but have left it late in which to do so. Last weekend’s win away at Watford was in no small part thanks to Conte’s second half substitutions which turned the tide of the game and help them overturn their first half deficit.
They haven’t quite looked as scintillating as both Manchester clubs but they are doing the most important thing and that’s picking up wins. Added to that they have a Diego Costa who looks like the one of old, he has been the man who has turned draws into victories over the past couple of weekends and you would fancy him to do it again on Saturday.
Burnley will come to Stamford Bridge full of confidence after their win against Liverpool last weekend and Sean Dyche will have his men well drilled for battle in West London, whether or not they have the quality to pick up points on the road remains to be seen.
It’s going to be an old age battle of continental flair versus domestic determination but which one will win out. If Chelsea can make it three from three then you get the feeling that the transformation from last season would have been a quick one and their rivals will have to sit up and take notice.
Foxes on the hunt for three points
Claudio Ranieri’s Leicester are finding life as defending champions somewhat difficult but then again they ever expected it to be easy. They are still looking for their first win of the season and play host to Swansea on Saturday hoping to repeat their comfortable 4-0 win of last season.
That win all but gave Leicester the Premier League title as Ranieri masterminded a win over compatriot and long time friend Francesco Guidolin. That was at a time when Swansea had assured safety from the drop and were in somewhat of a celebratory mood of their own, but they’ll be no favours at The King Power Stadium on Saturday as The Swans have a long season infront of them.
While Leicester are yet to get a first win, Jamie Vardy is yet to get off the mark in the league and his record goalscoring run of last season seems that of a distant memory now. He like thousand of Leicester fans will be hoping he can open his account against Swansea.
Goals also seem to be somewhat of a problem for Swansea but there’s is more the wider question of who will actually score them. Fernando Llorente is yet to open his tally while record signing Borja Baston is out injured until after the international break, it could be a long afternoon for the South Wales side.