Five things to expect from the Premier League weekend

Matchday one of the Champions League has come and gone in a heartbeat, like a weekend away dreamt about for months which ends too soon and with the distraction that is Europa League out of the way, clubs can return to the bread and butter that is Premier League football.

With the season now a few games old, the muddy waters that characterise the Premier League in its first month are becoming increasingly clearer and this weekend could speed up the process.

Here’s what to expect over the weekend…

1) GOALS

For all the hype surrounding it, there are moments when even Jim White high on caffeine would struggle to inject any enthusiasm in the Premier League.  

Last weekend the English top flight saw only 20 goals scored over 10 matches, eight of which were spread over two games – Arsenal 3-1 win at Sunderland and Monday night’s 2-2 draw between Swansea and Liverpool – making the job of those tasked with putting together a highlight reel almost impossible.

However, this weekend Alan Shearer and Alan Hansen should have an easier job on the Match of the Day couch.

Two of the league’s worst back four so far go head to head as Swansea – seven goals conceded so far – face Crystal Palace – who have let in six in four games – while Villa, who haven’t kept a clean sheet in 26 games, travel to Norwich who have conceded twice in their first two league games at Carrow Road this season.

2) A NEW ERA IN MANCHESTER

For the first time since City made the leap from beggars to choosers, the Manchester derby arrives upon us without either manager firing on his counterpart.

Smiles and pat on the backs might be a stretch too far, but with Fergie and Roberto Mancini gone, David Moyes and Manuel Pellegrini go into the clash at the Etihad without the acrimony and belligerence that had accompanied the fixture in the last couple of years.

In many ways, it will be a derby of first as, for the first time in recent seasons, in Marouane Fellaini United have a man capable to stand up and be counted against the gigantic Yaya Toure.

Should the Belgian score a crucial goal in his first appearance in the all-Mancunian affair, expect David Moyes to politely smile, before uttering the words “I told you so”.

3) OLD FOES AT THE EMIRATES

Ozil and Giroud will hope to continue their form against Stoke

Normally a fixture Arsene Wenger would have looked upon with disdain, if not fear, Stoke take their new-found approach to the Emirates to dismiss the Arsenal manager’s theory that they’re nothing but long ball merchants.

Mark Hughes’ side still have an undeniable physicality to their game but their performances so far have been encouraging and they can consider themselves unlucky to draw against City last week.

Arsenal fans, on the other hand, will be salivating at the thought of catch a first glimpse of Mesut Ozil on the Emirates’ turf, where the Gunners have won all of their five Premier League matches against Stoke.

The German’s arrival has undeniably lifted the club and after a good start to their European campaign, Arsene Wenger will undoubtedly want to carry the momentum into the Premier League.

4) TIME FOR DI CANIO TO DELIVER

Sunderland were unlucky to lose against Arsenal on Saturday, as Martin Atkinson delivered a performance which won him very few friends on Wearside and that is unlikely be included in his personal highlight reel anytime soon.

Sunderland’s position on the table perhaps doesn’t truly reflect their efforts so far, but Paolo Di Canio knows more than everybody else that excuses are cheap and, crucially as far as his team are concerned, don’t win football matches.

An away fixture to fellow strugglers West Bromwich might not be the easiest place to go to but when you boast the worst defensive record in the Premier League, there could be worse teams to face than the one that has scored only once in four games.

5) HOW WOULD YOU LIKE YOUR EGGS, SIR?

Will Chelsea bounce back against Fulham?

It might not be time to hit the panic button just yet, but back-to-back defeats against Everton and Basel have earned Mourinho the rather unwanted accolade of being charge during the worst start to a season in the Abramovich era.

Chelsea’s profligacy in front of goal costed them dearly at Goodison Park, highlighting why the Portuguese manager was so desperate to recruit Wayne Rooney over the summer.

Having lost a game at Stamford Bridge in the group stages of the Champions League for the first time in 10 years, it’s unthinkable that the Blues would slip again at home, where Mourinho is unbeaten in the Premier League.

However, despite Fulham’s abysmal record in this fixture – the Cottagers haven’t won the Kings Road derby in the last 14 league attempts – Martin Jol’s men will fancy their chances of causing an upset and cracking yet more eggs in Mourinho’s basket.

 

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