Friday, August 25, 2023

Premier League Week 3 Preview

Newcastle faces a third consecutive marquee match when the Magpies play host to Liverpool on Sunday. St. James Park was the scene for a surprisingly easy victory in week one for Eddie Howe and his charges who then followed up last week with a strong effort in a 1-0 loss at defending league champion Manchester City. Newcastle lost but twice at St. James Park last season but one of those losses was to Liverpool as the Reds took both league matches from the Magpies even as Newcastle replaced Liverpool in the top four standings. The Magpies look set for another top four battle while Liverpool will need to successfully receive answers from a revamped midfield. Summer transfers Alexis Mac Allister and Dominik Szoboszlai are still settling, and Wataru Endo has just recently been added from Stuttgart to provide some defensive solidity. Endo could replace converted winger Cody Gakpo this week in a more balanced midfield approach for the Reds.

Chelsea’s midfield has also been overhauled and only time will tell whether the club will see a return on a record level of investment. Enzo Fernadez has been good but not great and Moises Caicedo got off to a rough start in his debut. The last midfielder in the door, Romeo Lavia, apparently needs more training time before being pitch ready according to Manager Mauricio Pochettino. The Blues are hosts to newly promoted Luton Town Friday in the first topflight match between the clubs since 1991. Heavily favored Chelsea has extra incentive to avoid being the first Blues side to go winless in the opening three matches of a Premier League season since the 1998/99 season.

West Ham, encouraged by a win over Chelsea last week, travels to Brighton Saturday to face a high-flying Seagulls side which has overwhelmed opponents by an 8-2 margin two opening victories. The styles could not be more contrasting between attack-oriented Brighton and the pragmatic style of West Ham Manager David Moyes. The Hammer manager is winless in eight Premier League tries against Brighton.

Manchester United faces Nottingham Forest at Old Trafford this weekend where the Red Devils have won their last seven Premier League home matches and are undefeated in their last thirty matches at the historic venue. Mason Mount is out with a hamstring injury for Manchester United. That may not negatively impact the club’s performance Saturday as the former Chelsea midfielder has been exposed defensively in the first two matches while also contributing little to the Red Devils’ anemic attack. Scott McTominay now becomes the likely next man up after a summer where he was widely expected to leave the club. Nottingham Forest forward Taiwo Awoniyi has eight goals in his last six Premier League appearances for the Tricky Trees.

Tottenham Hotspur midfielder James Maddison left last week’s match on crutches but has been indicated as available to help Spurs continue their unbeaten season at Bournemouth this weekend. Manager Ange Postecoglou has so far energized Spurs’ supporters with both results and style in his first two matches in charge of a club adjusting to life without Harry Kane. An away victory on Saturday would be just Tottenham’s Hotspur’s second in their last 12 matches across all competitions. Bournemouth, losers of five of their last six Premier League matches, are seeking a first win under new manager Andoni Iraola.

Brentford are unbeaten in their last five league matches and have grabbed four points from the first two matches of the current season as the Bees so far have been able to overcome the absence of suspended goal scorer Ivan Toney. Manager Thomas Frank’s side is home this weekend for a London derby versus Crystal Palace. The Bees are undefeated in their last 11 Premier League matches against London based clubs. The Eagles remain without the injured Michael Olise and Matheus Franca, two players being counted on to help compensate for the transfer window defection of winger Wilfried Zaha.

Another London derby this weekend has Arsenal welcoming Fulham to the Emirates. The Gunners should be little troubled by a Fulham side reeling from the loss of striker Aleksandar Mitrovic to the Saudi Arabian league. Striker Raul Jimenez has looked no more dangerous for the Cottagers than the Mexican striker appeared during a goalless last season at Wolves. Arsenal’s Bukayo Saka would set a club record by appearing in an 83rd consecutive Premier League match as the Gunners look Saturday to extend a thirteen-match unbeaten run in London derbies.

Manchester City will have several notable absences when the Citizens travel to Sheffield United this weekend. Kevin De Bruyne is out long term; John Stones is out till after the international break and Pep Guardiola will miss Sunday’s match after undergoing back surgery. None of that should matter against the newly promoted Blades. Sheffield United has failed to score in its last eight topflight encounters with Manchester City.

Newly promoted Burnley returns to action after last week’s match at Luton Town was postponed due to ongoing renovations to Luton’s Stadium. The Clarets, blasted by Manchester City on opening weekend, are home to an Aston Villa side which is recovering nicely from an own opening week loss. The Villans were dominant in a league win over Everton last week and scored an easy win over Hibernians in the Europa Conference League during the week. Ollie Watkins registered a hat trick in the European match which will hopefully build his confidence entering this weekend’s match at Turf Moor.

Goodison Park will be the scene for a match which could well factor in this season’s relegation battle as the terrible Toffees host the toothless Wolves. The clubs had the two lowest goal totals in the Premier League last season, and little appears to have changed. Everton are the only Premier League club to have played two matches without scoring a goal this season. Wolves scored once in their opener before being smothered in a 5-0 loss to Arsenal last week.  

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