The English Premier League enters its third matchday this weekend and as always, there are intriguing matches lined up to get your heart racing, your nerves scaling the ceiling and your knowledge, or lack thereof, of your team’s preparedness for a good result put to the test. Only four teams have had a 100% start, current holders Manchester City, fellow title favorites Chelsea and of course the early pace setters this time being Tottenham and Swansea City. Spurs have a stern test when they welcome Liverpool and so does Chelsea who travel to Everton. Swansea and Manchester City have fairly winnable fixtures in West Brom and Stoke City but it’s never a given in the Premier League. So how will your team fair this weekend? Here’s my take, Thesteifmastertake!
Burnley 1 2 Manchester United (Saturday, 1445hrs)
Bottom half duo, Manchester United and Burnley will open the Premier League matchday 3 action at Turf Moor when they clash at lunch time. Neither teams have had a good start with United looking comfortable in 13th, just a point ahead of Burnley who look uncomfortable in 19th position. United haven’t gotten their season going and are yet to register a win in their last three matches. A 4-0 hammering at the hands of MK Dons in the midweek Capital One Cup clash laid bare the frailties at the club but the record signing of Angel Di Maria in a British transfer record seem to have convinced the Red Devils fans that Louis van Gaal is the right man for the job. Burnley have lost all their last three matches and don’t look like they have the mettle to stay in the Premier League. You would expect United to roll over them on Saturday but will the visitors’ defence be free of Johnny Evans-esque mistakes? I don’t think so. A very nervy win here for United.
Manchester City 2 0 Stoke City (Saturday, 1700hrs)
Manchester City made a statement last Monday night beating Liverpool 3-1 at the Eitihad. The Citizens looked the class and while they didn’t dominate the Reds, they were clinical in front of goal though all the goals were contributed by Liverpool’s defensive shortcomings. The win took City to second in the league. They next face Stoke City who drew 1-1 with 10-man Hull last weekend. The Potters have never beaten City in the Premier League since their 1-0 win at the Britannia Stadium in January 2009 while their last win at City was when both clubs were in the Championship in 1997. City won this corresponding fixture 1-0 last season through a Yaya Toure 70th minute strike. Manuel Pellegrini’s expensively-assembled squad will be favorites for the three points here again and with Stefan Jovetic on fire, getting victory shouldn’t be a problem.
Everton 2 1 Chelsea (Saturday, 1930hrs)
Chelsea old boys, Romelo Lukaku and Samuel Etoo will have a chance to show Jose Mourinho just what he’ll be missing this season when Everton host the Blues at Goodison Park. Lukaku switched the blue of Chelsea for the Everton blue after first failing to impress Mourinho who shipped him out to Merseyside on loan last season. However, with the resigning of Didier Drogba, the signing of Diego Costa and the rise of Andre Schurrle, Lukaku’s time at Stamford Bridge came to an end and Roberto Martinez moved fast to tie snap up the Belgian in a club record signing. Etoo’s time at Chelsea wasn’t fruitful as he ended up making headlines for his alterations with Mourinho rather than his goals for the Blues. The duo will have revenge written all over their faces when Chelsea clash with Everton on Saturday evening. Chelsea made it a 100% start with a labored 2-0 win at Leicester while Everton let a two-goal lead slip within 10 minutes in their 2-2 draw with Arsenal. Focus will be on Etoo however and Lukaku who I tip to fire in and exact revenge on Mourinho whose attack could be blunt in the absence of injured Diego Costa.
Tottenham 1 2 Liverpool (Sunday, 1530hrs)
Oh boy, he’s back!! Yes he’s back!! The super, the entertaining, the dramatic, the cocky, the controversial, the feisty, the adrenalized Mario Balotelli. The Premier League prodigal son has finally come, home! In what is probably the most exciting signing of the summer, Mario Barwuah Balotelli made his return to the Premier League after signing for Liverpool from AC Milan for £16m ONLY. I emphasize ONLY because Mario’s drama is worth more than that, let alone his sometimes underrated football brain. The Italian forward was on the stands last Monday night to watch Liverpool fall to his former employers Manchester City. Had he been in that game, the scoreline for sure would have been different. But, somehow, fate had it that he would be in that match but denied him the chance to play in it. But the wait is over as Balotelli will most probably lead the line for Liverpool when they travel to London to face highflying Spurs at the White Hart Lane. Spurs are in a rich vein of form having won all their last 8 games including two in the Premier League and their midweek Europa League qualifier match against Cypriot side AEL Limassol. Liverpool on the other hand went down to City on Monday night. All the goals the Reds conceded were defensive mistakes. New signing Alberto Moreno erred for the first, Gerarrd failed to track his man for the second and Dejan Lovren and Simon Mignolet were all out of position when Aguero slotted City’s third. The Reds’ defence will be put to question again with the likes of Emmanuel Adebayor ready to pounce at any chance. However, the presence of Balotelli will give the Merseysiders a big lift and with the new SAS of Sturridge and Sterling looking ever so dangerous, Balotelli and co should be able to get past Spurs who they beat 5-0 on this ground last year.
Leicester 1 1 Arsenal (Sunday 1800hrs)
Arsenal looked down and out at Everton last weekend with only 10 minutes before the final whistle. However, with the clock reading 83minutes, Aaron Ramsey popped in with a goal from a Santi Carzola cross from the left channel. And then in a flash, Olivier Giroud, Arsene Wenger’s version of a ‘prolific’ striker headed in the equalizer in the 90th minute to ensure the spoils were shared as Alexis Sanchez failed to really lit up the pitch as widely expected. The Gunners had a midweek Champions League qualifier clash against Besiktas which they had to win and so they did, Sanchez netting his first goal since his move to send the London side to Champions League for the 17th season in a row. It’s back to domestic football for Wenger’s men who travel to promoted side Leicester. The Foxes gave a spirited fight against Chelsea last weekend but they ran out of steam in the second half and allowed Chelsea to score twice. Nigel Pearson’s side welcome Arsenal to the King Power Stadium on Sunday evening. Should they produce a performance akin to the one against Chelsea and just be a wee clinical in front of goal, they will give Arsenal a run for their money. A scoring draw looks likely.
And That’s thesteifmastertake!!