Week 1 of the Barclay's Premier League was quite the spectacle.
Between strong statements from defending champions Manchester United, Manchester City and Chelsea; big wins for Aston Villa, West Ham United and Liverpool; and a surprisingly bad start for Arsenal, the opening week of English football had it all.
Week 2 promises to be just as juicy for football fans everywhere.
As Chelsea and Aston Villa wrap up Week 1 of the EPL schedule on Wednesday, here's a look at the entire Week 2 schedule and a few predictions for three of the juiciest matchups.
EPL Week 2 Schedule
|Matchup||Date||Time (ET)||Time (BST)||Location|
|Fulham vs. Arsenal||Aug. 24||7:45 a.m.||12:45 p.m.||Craven Cottage|
|Everton vs. West Brom||Aug. 24||10 a.m.||3 p.m.||Goodison Park|
|Hull vs. Norwich||Aug. 24||10 a.m.||3 p.m.||The KC Stadium|
|Newcastle vs. West Ham||Aug. 24||10 a.m.||3 p.m.||St. James' Park|
|Southampton vs. Sunderland||Aug. 24||10 a.m.||3 p.m.||St. Mary's Stadium|
|Stoke vs. Crystal Palace||Aug. 24||10 a.m.||3 p.m.||Britannia Stadium|
|Aston Villa vs. Liverpool||Aug. 24||12:30 p.m.||5:30 p.m.||Villa Park|
|Cardiff vs. Man City||Aug. 25||11 a.m.||4 p.m.||Cardiff City Stadium|
|Tottenham vs. Swansea||Aug. 25||11 a.m.||4 p.m.||White Hart Lane|
|Man Utd vs. Chelsea||Aug. 26||3 p.m.||8 p.m.||Old Trafford|
Picking Most Intriguing Matchups
Fulham vs. Arsenal
The last time the Gunners traveled to Craven Cottage, they were victors.
After an embarrassing showing (3-1 loss) against Aston Villa, Arsene Wenger's outfit will be anything but the favorite heading into its second match of the new season.
Arsenal has avoided any big player signings to date, further widening the chasm between Wenger and the club's fans after dropping the opener to Villa in such poor fashion.
As reported by Daily Mirror's John Cross, some of that frustration has also spilled over publicly in the form of striker Olivier Giroud's comments on the transfer window. Giroud, who scored Arsenal's only goal against Aston Villa, had this to say on Monday as the Gunners got back to training:
In my opinion, it's necessary for the club to recruit another striker. Obviously, I think about it a little bit. It may change the play one day, especially if it's a high profile signing. It's useless lamenting this though. I know what I have to do and what I'm capable of. I'm focusing on me and my work. The coach is counting on me, so I don't think too much.
Fulham, on the other hand, have been more active in recruiting new talent to Craven Cottage. Per BBC Sport, they completed a transfer signing for Tottenham midfielder Scott Parker on Tuesday, and there's a good chance the Cottagers will dispatch him against the Gunners.
Although pride will hopefully allow Wenger's outfit to put on a better showing against Fulham, there are gaping holes in the middle of the field, and those holes won't be solved in one match.
One such hole comes courtesy of an injury sustained by Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain against Villa. As reported by Goal.com's Wayne Veysey, he could be out for quite some time:
Exclusive: Oxlade-Chamberlain ruled out for three months with sprained medial ligaments. Back mid to late November. http://t.co/6UHSy8F3RD— Wayne Veysey (@wayneveysey) August 20, 2013
There's a good chance Wenger could put together a package for more talent before the Gunners travel to Craven Cottage, but if the summer strategy of holding out for the right deal stays true, Arsenal fans know there's a better chance the same players will be dispatched against Fulham.
When it rains, it pours.
Fulham 3, Arsenal 2
Aston Villa vs. Liverpool
Regardless of Aston Villa's outcome with Chelsea on Wednesday, they will playing their third match in eight days when the Reds travel to Villa Park on Saturday.
That, coupled with Liverpool's strong start to the season, could pose problems for the home side.
Luis Suarez will be sitting out the sixth match of his 10-match ban for biting Chelsea's Branislav Ivanovic toward the end of the 2012-13 EPL season, but his absence did not affect Daniel Sturridge during Liverpool's opening match.
Sturridge scored the only goal of the match against Stoke City, and Brendan Rodgers' defense managed to keep the Potters in check over the final 60 minutes of the match.
Paul Lambert likely won't play his starters for a full match against Liverpool after playing two matches in the first five days of the new season, lending to the idea that the Reds will have a decided advantage playing on the road against Villa even without Suarez or Daniel Agger.
Liverpool aren't a favorite to win the league crown without their Uruguayan star, but it's too early in the season not to account for the fatigue Villa will face in a quick turnaround from their previous match, giving the Reds a clear chance to start the season with six points in two matches.
Liverpool 2, Aston Villa 1
Manchester United vs. Chelsea
Without a doubt, Chelsea visiting Old Trafford next Tuesday will be the highlight of the Week 2 schedule. There's so many storylines surrounding these two clubs that it's almost hard to keep up on an hourly basis.
Jose Mourinho and David Moyes both had successful debuts for their respect clubs in Week 1, each backing up claims that the EPL trophy race will center around Chelsea, Manchester United and Manchester City.
And yet, Moyes remains extremely unproven at Old Trafford. As noted by 8Fact Football on Twitter, Moyes' first victory at home this year will be his first such win at United's home stadium as a manager:
David Moyes has NEVER won a Premier League game at Old Trafford.— 8Fact Football (@8Fact_Footballl) August 21, 2013
Oh, and there's that pesky Wayne Rooney thing tying these two Premier League clubs together.
The Blues have been after Rooney for a majority of the current transfer window, intent on putting him alongside their young stars and Frank Lampard to form a fearsome first unit at Stamford Bridge.
According to a report from The Guardian, the Blues are currently tempted with the idea of launching a third bid for the 27-year-old striker. United have spurned Mourinho's previous advances, but "The Special One" has been intent on Rooney for quite some time.
The tug-of-war between these two clubs for Rooney will only create a better battle on the pitch.
Which Week 2 EPL match is the most intriguing?
Robin van Persie was back to his scoring ways against Swansea City, recording a brace for United in his first match of the new season. Lampard had one for the Blues against Hull City, and Mourinho's men were strikingly cohesive in taking care of the ball and spreading the field effectively in their 2013-14 debut.
Although the Blues will be playing their third match in 10 days, Mourinho has more depth to work with than several other EPL clubs who would struggle in the same boat.
We'll know more about Mourinho's club after their tilt with Aston Villa, but for now, a draw between EPL juggernauts shouldn't be a surprising prediction.
Manchester United 2, Chelsea 2
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