Friday, August 27, 2021

Premier League Preview Match Week 3: Manchester City Faces Arsenal; Top Four Clash As Chelsea Visits Liverpool; Foxes Enter Canaries’ Cage; Manchester United Goes For Record

Manchester City leads off the weekend, facing Arsenal at the Etihad. The Citizens will be pleased to hit the pitch after a difficult week of off-the-field news. Harry Kane has confirmed he will be remaining at Spurs “this summer,” seemingly ending Manchester City’s current pursuit of the striker.

Manager Pep Guardiola also indicated this week that he will leave Manchester City at the expiration of his current contract following the 2022/23 season. Star midfielder Kevin De Brune, meanwhile, will miss the Arsenal match due to injury. Adding insult to injury for City was this week’s suspension of left back Benjamin Mendy who is charged with rape and sexual assault. The Citizens would have been expecting an easy time with a Gunners side which has struggled in its first two league matches but Arsenal exploded for six goals in a mid-week Carabao Cup match. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang notched a hat trick and Alexandre Lacazette also scored for Arsenal. Those two strikers, derailed by COVID in the season’s early going, could make a difference Saturday for embattled manager Mikel Arteta. Martin Odegaard will also be available for the Gunners following his recent transfer from Real Madrid. Arsenal defender Ben White, recovering from COVID, could be a game time decision.

The glamor match of the weekend will see top four rivals Chelsea and Liverpool face off at Anfield. The individual matchup of the weekend features Chelsea striker Romelu Lukaku going up against Liverpool center back Virgil van Dijk.

Andy Robertson is expected to be again available for the Reds, though left back replacement Kostas Tsimikas has filled in admirably for the Scot during his injury absence. Chelsea have won just two of their last 13 meetings with Liverpool. Both clubs have won their opening two matches to date.

Table leading West Ham, having impressively disposed of Leicester last weekend, hosts a London derby against Crystal Palace. A third win by the Hammers would mark the first time West Ham has opened a Premier League season with three victories. Crystal Palace, meanwhile, is winless in its last ten league London derbies. The Eagles are scoreless this season and rumored to be urgently looking for a striker before the transfer window closes.

Leicester has opportunity to quickly rebound from their discouraging loss to West Ham when the Foxes travel to Carrow Road to face bottom dwelling Norwich on Saturday. Norwich signed Manchester United defender Brandon Williams on loan this week after conceding eight goals in their opening two matches. Leicester’s Jamie Vardy will be looking to score for the first time in 12 Premier League away matches while the Canaries are hoping to break a 12 match Premier League losing streak. The Foxes’ Jannick Vestergaard could return from a knee problem to help a Leicester back line which has been besieged by injury and was victimized against West Ham.

Nuno Espirito Santo can become the first Spurs manager to win his first three topflight matches when his club takes on Watford this weekend. An undefeated season to date and the news that club talisman Kane will continue plying his trade for Spurs has things looking up in north London. Watford has lost its last 10 Premier League matches versus London clubs.

Espirito Santo’s former club Wolves plays host to Manchester United. Under new manager Bruno Lage, Wolves have played entertaining and competitive football but have failed to score in their two matches to date despite leading the league in chances created from open play. Manchester United, frustrated in a 1-1 draw with Southampton last weekend, is looking to extend its Premier League road unbeaten streak to 28 matches and break the league record it currently shares with Arsenal. Midfielder Scott McTominay is out for United. Transfers Jadon Sancho and Raphel Varane could be possibilities for their first starts with the Red Devils.

Danny Ings will try to become the first Aston Villa player in 28 years to score in the first three Premier League matches of a season when he faces Brentford at Villa Park on Saturday. While Ings has scored in both of his two matches for Aston Villa, Brentford has yet to concede a goal this season. Aston Villa have only four shots on target in their two wins but all four have found the net. Brentford center back Ethan Pinnock is expected to be available versus Villa after picking up an ankle injury in the club’s mid-week Carabao Cup win. Aston Villa are hopeful of having attackers Ollie Watkins (knee) and Leon Bailey (hamstring) back for the contest with the Bees.

Everton travels to the south coast to take on Brighton in a matchup of unbeaten sides. Brighton hopes to win a third consecutive Premier League match for the second time in club history. The Seagulls are hopeful of having Neal Maupay available after the striker suffered a shoulder injury in last week’s win at Watford. Maupay has scored in each of Brighton’s two matches to date. Despite the conservative reputation of manager Rafa Benitez, Everton have launched more shots on target in their two matches than all league clubs but for Liverpool and West Ham. The status of Colombian international James Rodriguz remains a continuing uncertainty for the Toffees.

Fans at St James Park are sure to voice their displeasure with perpetually unpopular manager Steve Bruce should Newcastle fall at home to Southampton on Saturday. A third consecutive league loss after exiting the Carabao Cup in midweek would greatly raise the temperature in the northeast. Southampton will look to build on the point taken from Manchester United last week. New striker Adam Armstrong has looked bright in his two starts so far and is teaming well up top with Che Adams for the Saints. Former Chelsea man Valentino Livramento, only 18 years old, has been a revelation to date at right fullback for Southampton. Newcastle, however, has triumphed in its last four league home meetings with the Saints while Southampton has won only one of its last twelve road matches.

Leeds heads to Turf Moor to face Burnley as manager Marcelo Bielsa hopes to erase the bad taste left by the Whites’ embarrassing loss to Manchester United last week. Leeds has 10 wins and 10 losses in its 20 Premier League road matches under Bielsa. Burnley are winless in their last 11 home matches, equaling the club record. 

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