10 Predictions for the Premier League Weekend
After the long summer absence and with teams still frantically working to fill gaps in the transfer market, the Premier League has returned to our screens. As always, England's most important football division has started with a torrent of controversy and tension, along with the odd match, too.
With all teams (excluding Chelsea and Aston Villa, who met midweek) having played just one fixture, the Premier League is in its most exciting, unpredictable stage. Trying to pick winners and losers from the upcoming weekend could be an exercise in futility for any keen observer.
Look out, however, for the following bombshells which could well happen over the next three days.
Jose Mourinho Will Say Something Controversial
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To be fair, one hardly sticks one's neck out when predicting something explosive from the Portuguese coach. He was at it again midweek as Chelsea rode their luck somewhat to beat Aston Villa, 2-1, and preserve a 100 percent start to the season so far.
"He is the same. He will change. With time and experience he will change because he complains about every, every, every decision," was the back-handed compliment from the ex-Madrid coach, via the Daily Mail, referring to the gripes of Villa's Paul Lambert and comparing the Scot with a young Special One.
With Manchester United next up, it would be very surprising to see the game pass without at least one Mourinho gem slipping through.
Moyes Will Show Why He Was the Right Choice at Old Trafford
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There were more than a few observers that, on seeing Sir Alex Ferguson's finally hang up his chewing gum and retire from Manchester United, wanted Mourinho to succeed the golden Scot. The safer, less polemic choice of David Moyes, however, won the day, and the then Everton manager took the step up to one of the world's biggest football clubs.
Both men on the bench, who will meet on Monday night, have won two games out of two in their new clubs (United also lifting the Community Shield over Wigan). But it is also fair to say that, despite that perfect record, neither have shown the form expected so far in the season.
Still, as the home team, United start as favourites for the weekend's clash and should have enough to down Jose's team and prove Moyes as a worthy successor to Sir Alex.
Mike Ashley Will Be Booed
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Again, a near certainty up at St. James' Park. A terrifically underwhelming transfer window so far for Newcastle United has seen owner Mike Ashley—and not for the first time in his stint at the Magpies helm—come under strong criticism from supporters.
The portly Sports Direct supremo brought in Joe Kinnear as director of football, but that made little difference in the market as big-name deals failed to materialise. A 4-0 drubbing at the hands of Manchester City only made matters worse, and if Newcastle cannot take a result at home to West Ham, Ashley is going to be a very unpopular man indeed.
Manchester City Will Make the Scoresheet at Least Once
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It takes one hell of a forward line to lose a player of Carlos Tevez's calibre without missing a beat. Then again, with Sergio Aguero, Edin Dzeko, Alvaro Negredo, Stevan Jovetic and others capable of scoring goals, the Argentine will probably not be missed quite as much as he would like around Manchester.
City fired a warning to the Premier League in their 4-0 destruction of Newcastle at the weekend, and in truth the Magpies were lucky to limp away with even that scoreline. Away to Cardiff this week, Manuel Pellegrini's men will be looking for a similar result.
Arsenal Will Lose Their London Derby...
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Do not be fooled by what could be read as a mini resurgence from Arsenal in the Champions League. The Gunners performed far better in taking down Fenerbahce 3-0 midweek, putting one foot in the competition's group stage in the process.
That win, however, cannot mask severe deficiencies in the team. Namely the toothless attack, which, without urgent investment, will be exposed in 2013/14.
Fulham, meanwhile, showed exactly how to win a game without the ball as they squeaked to victory against Sunderland and will try to reproduce that same form to suck the life out of Arsenal.
...And Wenger Will Complain About It
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Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has never been afraid to voice his opinions, even when they veer, shall we say, toward a steady stream of complaints. As his Gunners have declined over the last few years, so has the French tactician increased his level of self-defence against any suggestion he is losing his touch.
The transfer market and Arsenal's impotence in it has become a favourite topic for fans, but Wenger had his answer ready last week.
"I cannot listen every minute to every state of mind for everybody," was the manager's slightly bizarre defence of Arsenal's transfer inactivity, as reported by the The Independent.
If they fall again against Fulham, what will his excuse be then?
Benteke Will Continue to Make Villa Fans Smile
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Indeed, the Belgian bomber has been one of the few reasons Aston Villa supporters have kept their sanity over the last 12 months. Christian Benteke netted 19 goals in his first Premier League season to become the messiah of the struggling midlands team, and this year promises to be even better.
A pearl of a turn and finish against Chelsea added to the striker's brace in the opener at the Emirates to take Benteke to three goals in just two games so far. If Paul Lambert can negotiate the last two weeks of the transfer window with their star still aboard, Villa might just spring a few surprises before May.
Suarez Will Be Photographed Looking Happy in the Stands
Standing in a corporate box, with Uruguayan drink staple Yerba Mate under his arm and in the company of an attractive blonde lady, Liverpool striker Luis Suarez does not appear to be having too bad a time as his suspension for biting Branislav Ivanovic continues.
The Uruguayan will miss out again against Aston Villa on Saturday, but he will almost certainly join his teammates in Birmingham after striking an uneasy peace with Brendan Rodgers. As reported by the BBC, Liverpool's manager stated after the first game of the season that his erstwhile striker is "part of our team, part of our club," as well as implying that the conflict had been resolved.
Tottenham Will Be Tipped as Premier League Dark Horses
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They are surely only one win away. After enjoying one of the most successful transfer windows of any Premier League club, Tottenham opened the season with a tight away victory over newly promoted Crystal Palace and will be going for 2-for-2 this weekend against Swansea.
Spurs' luck in the market contrasts sharply, and hilariously (if you are a fan on the white side of north London), with that of closest rivals Arsenal. The possible departure of Gareth Bale is one cloud on an otherwise clear horizon. But whether or not the Welsh wizard stays, Tottenham should grab three points on Sunday and become every pundit's outside tip for the title.
Lambert's Hot Streak Will Continue a While Longer
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Rickie Lambert must be on cloud nine sitting on top of the world in seventh heaven right now...if you will excuse the mixed metaphor. The Southampton striker is coming off the back of the greatest week of his entire career, scoring with his first touch in an England jersey before going back to the Saints and securing an opening-day victory with his solitary goal against West Bromwich.
Can he stretch the run even further? With recent reassurances from boss Mauricio Pochettino, it is hard to see why not. In front of their own fans and bolstered by the arrival of Pablo Osvaldo, Southampton will hope to do even better against Sunderland. And the former beetroot factory worker will be key to their plans.