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English Premier League Is Back With Barnstorming Matches

Harry Maguire of Manchester United applauds fans after the Premier League match between Southampton FC and Manchester United at St Mary's Stadium on August 31, 2019 in Southampton, United Kingdom. (Photo by Catherine Ivill/Getty Images)

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – The international break is thankfully over, and we can get back to watching domestic league football.

Whilst various nations start to fight it out for World Cup 2022 qualification, many fans hold their breath and cross their fingers and toes that their club heroes don’t pick up knocks as they’re away from their favorite team.

Thankfully, we’re back with a barnstorming round of fixtures, as teams are starting to find some form, or go back to the drawing board.

MANCHESTER UNITED V. LEICESTER CITY

Eighth versus third. This is the most intriguing match for the weekend. Both teams were big spenders, most notably, Manchester United paid a world record fee (roughly $98m) for a defender and former Leicester City center back, Harry Maguire. A much-needed addition for a backline that has conceded far too many sloppy goals over the last couple of seasons.

We’ve seen some glimpses that United could possibly turn the corner, but it’s still too early to say if this is a team that can jump from the top six of last season to the top four this season. Is Ole Gunnar Solskjaer the man to lead a club this ginormous forward? I have my doubts.

What will encourage United fans are the events happening at the other end of the pitch – twenty-three-year-old Anthony Martial, twenty-one-year-old Marcus Rashford, and then twenty-one-year-old Welsh international Daniel James. New signee James has three goals to his name already and seems to have made the jump from the second tier of English football with relative ease. The other two I mentioned are already proven internationals and will provide a stern test for any backline, not just LCFC this weekend.

As for the Foxes (Leicester City), coming to Old Trafford (United’s stadium) will not be a daunting task. They spent incredibly well in the summer and will look to get the upper hand in a midfield battle. With Wilfred Ndidi providing energy and protection to the backline, he’ll look to shackle Paul Pogba and cut down the passing lanes, whilst simultaneously looking for his attacking outlet in James Maddison.

Maddison is employed slightly different than in seasons past, instead of the more central role he’s been slightly more on the left-hand side, pinching in to allow his fullback to overlap. Although it has been back to central as of late, don’t be surprised to see him revert back to a wider position if LCFC chooses to bring in another destroyer to the middle of the park.

Keep an eye on former England international, Jamie Vardy. Three goals and an assist so far and he’ll be a constant pain in the backside of the United backline. I still think United will be too strong in front of their home fans, though.

PREDICTION: UNITED, 2-1

NORWICH CITY V. MANCHESTER CITY

Am I expecting a lopsided affair? Most likely. As we preview the late Saturday kick-off that you can catch on KSL 5 at 10:30 a.m.

It’ll be a fun one and I’m expecting plenty of goals. The match played at The Canaries (Norwich) home ground is an old-fashioned English stadium in Carrow Road. The locals love inviting the big boys in and with Finnish goal-getter in Teemu Pukki – you might just see a shock.

Keep an eye out for academy product Todd Cantwell, a goal and a couple of assists so far will have bigger clubs on alert whatever happens to Norwich come season’s end.

Just the three points for the EPL new boys so far this season and conceded 10 goals in their first four league games. They’ll certainly be looking to stop that.

Who better to do that against than free-scoring Manchester City? The reigning EPL champs will again look to defend their crown. Argentine Sergio Aguero already has six goals this season, as does Raheem Sterling. If you want to watch beautiful soccer, Man City are up there with the best the world has ever seen. Tune in, sit back and enjoy. Here’s to the underdog, but I can only see a MCFC win.

PREDICTION: MAN CITY, 5-0

AFC BOURNEMOUTH V. EVERTON

The early morning Sunday kick off at 7:00 am. features two teams that spent quite well and both have lofty ambitions.

Bournemouth will be looking to solidify their EPL status. They finished last season in 14th position and 45 points.

Same again for the south coast club and they’ll be satisfied no doubt, however, long-time manager Eddie Howe will be looking to go a little further this season. Breaking the 50-point barrier would not only show growth but it will also show what an attractive and well-run club the Minnows are.

England international Callum Wilson will again lead the line for the Cherries (AFCB) and his partner Joshua King will be massively involved.

Keep an eye on Scottish international Ryan Fraser on the left-wing. He’ll be looking to provide the ammunition for the front two, as he did last season. The wee man finished with seven goals and 14 assists last season and caught the eye of Arsenal in the summer. His contract is also something to keep an eye on as it runs out at season’s end.

Lastly for Bournemouth will be on-loan attacking midfielder Harry Wilson. Two goals to his name already. A thumper against Aston Villa and a cracking freekick against Man City, will again provide problems for most defenses.

Visitors Everton sit in sixth and will be pretty happy with the start of the season. Coming off the back of a thrilling 3-2 victory over Wolves they’ll be riding high as they continue to slowly but surely improve and implement Marco Silva’s style.

Difficult to break down, they’ll once again rely on Brazilian international Richarlison to cause havoc across the backline of the defense. Three goals so far for him and I’d expect him to be the top scorer for the Toffees come season’s end.

I expect Alex Iwobi, the summer signing from Arsenal, to also contribute this season. Not always as clean on the ball, he does have a habit of popping up with the occasional important goal.

I can’t see a winner in this one though.

PREDICTION: Tie, 2-2