Thursday, September 10, 2020

The Premier League is Back! Match Week 1 Preview

Top of the Table

Saturday's feature game is Liverpool hosting Leeds at Anfield. The Reds, now unbeaten in 59 consecutive home matches, open their title defense against a Leeds side once dominant in the English top tier but now returning to the Premier League after a long sixteen-year absence. Both teams feature a high pressing, attacking style which could provide some fireworks.

Arsenal begins its quest for a return to the top six when it travels to Fulham earlier on Saturday. Despite trouble on the road in recent years (only 4 wins in 19 away matches in 2019/20), Arsenal would hope for a fast start against newly promoted Fulham. Perhaps of note for American fans is the presence of US national defenders Tim Reams and Antnee Robinson on the Fulham roster. 

Spurs play host to Everton in Sunday's feature match in a face-off between manager legends Jose Mourinho and Carlo Ancelotti, both entering a second year with their respective current clubs. The earlier game on Sunday sees Leicester traveling to the Hawthorns to take on newly promoted West Bromwich Albion. Injuries, suspensions and the potential fatigue of players returning from international duty could possibly leave an otherwise superior Leicester team vulnerable.

New look Chelsea, having spend over €200 million in the current transfer window, travel south to face the Seagulls of Brighton Hove Albion on Monday. Brighton has yet to ever defeat Chelsea, having drawn once in six previous matches against the Blues. While welcoming several new faces, Chelsea will be without the services of Christian Pulisic on Monday as he continues to recover from a hamstring injury suffered in the recent FA cup final. 

Both Manchester clubs are idle this week due to the late ending of their recent European campaigns.

Mid Table

Wolves travel to Sheffield United on Monday. While Wolves would seemingly hold the talent advantage, Sheffield United is a formidable side at home and defeated the Wolves 1-0 at Bramall in July. Both teams feature a stout defense and were among the top five performing teams in terms of goals allowed last season. Wolves are returning to action relatively quickly from their Europa League exit which could create vulnerability. 

Southampton visits Selhurst Park Saturday hoping to take all three points from a Crystal Palace side which may well fall in the table this coming season unless offensive woes can be addressed. The Saints were one of the better road teams in the league last season and were unbeaten in their final seven games in the recently completed 2019/20 season. Participation and performance by Chelsea striker Michy Batshuayi, who rejoined Crystal Palace on loan late this week, could be an important wildcard.

Burnley is idle this week.

Bottom of the Table

Newcastle visits West Ham Saturday amid a notable lack of enthusiasm by Hammer supporters based on continuing dissatisfaction with their ownership. West Ham captain Mark Noble has been publicly critical of management actions this transfer window. Newcastle has perhaps surprised fans by conducting some tidy recent transfer business, most notably the acquisition of striker Callum Wilson, despite another failed ownership change at the club. The Magpies and Hammers most recently played to a 2-2 draw at Newcastle in July.

Can one of the newly promoted clubs (Leeds, Fulham, West Brom) surprise a more highly rated opponent this weekend? This week's schedule would not seem friendly for the league's new arrivals. 

Aston Villa, returning for a second consecutive Premier League season courtesy of a final day 2019/20 result, is idle this week.

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