English Premier League Full Of Exciting Week 2 Games
SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – The English Premier League is back! The biggest and best league in the world opened last Friday night.
By the time the first weekend of fixtures was done, the usual suspects in Manchester City, Liverpool, Tottenham Hotspur, Manchester United and Arsenal all got off to winning starts.
Of the teams that were promoted from the EFL Championship last season, only Sheffield United managed to grab a point in their 1-1 draw against AFC Bournemouth.
However, it’s hard to read too much into these early results. Of course, a win is a win and three point will be gratefully received. But most teams won’t hit stylistically, tactically and be fluid (if all goes to plan) until three or four matches into the season. Prime example is Man Utd’s 4-0 win over Chelsea. Man Utd was not that good, nor was Chelsea that bad.
Here are some matchups to watch for during Week 2:
Arsenal vs. Burnley
Arsenal are at the Emirates Stadium for the 5:30 a.m. kick-off on Saturday, with a very physical Burnley team under the guidance of Sean Dyche.
However, Unai Emery’s men did the double over Dyche’s Clarets last season. Arsenal got the better of Newcastle United in week one, at St. James’ Park with Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang netting in the 58th minute to ensure a 1-0 victory for the Gunners.
Burnley was also very impressive in their win over Southampton. Forward Ashley Barnes got a brace and will again be the danger man for them as he tirelessly harasses the opponent’s back line.
Burnley’s strengths lie in their defensive structure and organization. Arsenal’s attack has never been in question, but poor goals at the other end is why they’re in Europa League this season and not in Champions League.
I still think Arsenal will be too much for Burnley. I’ll give Arsenal’s backline a few weeks before passing judgement but it could once again be their Achilles’ heel.
Arsenal did spend well in the off-season. David Luiz provides a serious veteran presence. Kieran Tierney could give them a left-back for the next decade. But all eyes will be on Nicolas Pepe. The wide-forward has goals in him and adds a true wide presence in the attack that is already one on the most potent around.
Burnley have a tried and tested squad and added a piece here and there. Local boy Jay Rodriguez has returned from W.B.A. to the club where he started his career.
He is a good pick up, at home playing wide-left, or as a No. 9, will give Dyche options throughout the season. Eyes will be on Danny Drinkwater as well, the man on loan from Chelsea, as he tries to kick-start his career after a disastrous move to London from Leicester City.
Prediction: 3-1 Gunners
Manchester City vs. Tottenham Hotspur
This is the weekend’s big match up and the showcase event, a 10:30 a.m. kick off on KSL 5 TV.
What can you say about the reigning champions? Their coach Pep Guardiola? The ownership that will stop at nothing to dominate the league? Could their quest to win the Champions League give others a chance for the EPL?
Man City are a phenomenal team that play some of the most wonderful soccer I’ve ever seen. They won the league last season and I expect them to do so again. Any other coach and I’d say there would be a couple of teams in with a chance, but it’s Pep. And an opening day 5-0 win over West Ham United has done nothing to change my mind.
Ok ok, the league isn’t a write off and with 37 games to go they’re coming up against a brilliant coach in Mauricio Pochettino and team in Spurs, last season’s Champions League runner-up.
Spurs are a well-balanced team, goals aplenty and a stingy back line. We might just see Man City drop points. This off-season Spurs spent as well as anyone in Europe. Young Frenchman Tanguy Ndombele is the standout transfer, who was much sought after and will prove to be a steal at an initial $67 million deal from Lyon in France.
As for City, they made a couple of moves, but Rodri coming over from Atletico Madrid is a great move. Not only will he provide a presence in central midfield but he will offer great protection to the back four. I expect him to excel in Europe as City’s quest for total domination continues.
Prediction: all square 2-2
Wolverhampton Wanderers vs. Manchester United
The Monday night game that will round out Week 2.
Wolves are one of the more interesting teams outside of the traditional “Top Six.” It wasn’t a great opening game from Wolves against Leicester, but a 0-0 away from home isn’t the worst. And back to Molineux where teams won’t fancy going up against Nuno Espírito Santo’s side.
They play a 3-5-2 formation, and they do it very well. Last season saw them finish seventh in their first season back in the EPL. Danger-man and Mexican international Raul Jimenez will again lead the line after his loan from Benfica was made permanent this summer. He does however have competition with the arrival of young Italian forward Patrick Cutrone from AC Milan.
The midfield of João Moutinho, Rúben Neves and Leander Dendoncker will provide not only protection, but guile to unlock even the best of defenses.
United got off to a cracking start against Chelsea, and their acquisitions were in areas they needed help the most. Harry McGuire is a solid defender from the Foxes, and he will add some leadership and composure on the ball at the back. They also added Aaron Wan-Bissaka from Crystal Palace, who defensively, probably is the best English right-back in the game. But question marks still surround him on the attacking third.
The United way of playing and the expectations of the Manchester giants are polar opposites of what he was asked to do at Palace. Paul Pogba will be a focal point in the midfield and rightly so. The Frenchman hasn’t been as consistent as his price tag would warrant, but I think he is still one of the top players in the league and expect him to be the lynchpin for 19/20.
The other big-time player is Marcus Rashford. The pacey forward’s rise has been one of the few highlights over the last couple of seasons. If he adds more goals then he will be one of the go-to men not only for Utd but England as well. I think United win this, just.
Prediction: 2-1 Red Devils