EPL Week 4 Picks: 3 Upsets Featuring Manchester City, Chelsea and Tottenham
Premier League football makes its return after the international break this weekend, with all 20 teams in action between Saturday and Monday.
The new season may only be three games old, but it has already thrown up some memorable games and results, most noticeably newly promoted Cardiff City's stunning 3-2 win over 2011/12 champions Manchester City.
That game showed just what a competitive, unpredictable division England's top flight can be, while proving that sometimes hard work and desire can trump the cold hard cash pumped into the game by foreign owners.
On that note, here's a look at three of this weekend's games in which the big-spenders will fail to shine as they should.
Stoke City vs. Manchester City
After struggling to a 2-0 win over new boys Hull in their last game, Manchester City face a much tougher challenge when they visit the Britannia Stadium to take on Mark Hughes' rejuvenated Stoke side on Saturday.
Manuel Pellegrini's men couldn't cope with Cardiff's pinpoint set pieces and physicality in the box, while Joe Hart's form in goal has been called into question with some recent poor performances.
Although Hughes has begun to improve Stoke's passing style, they still retain the direct qualities which made them so successful under Tony Pulis.
Kenwyne Jones will aim to batter and bully a City defence missing talismanic skipper Vincent Kompany, while Jermaine Pennant and Matthew Etherington will deliver dangerous balls into the box whenever the opportunity arises.
Buoyed by an away win at West Ham last time out, Stoke can spring a surprise against the title challengers.
Prediction: Stoke City 2-1 Manchester City
Tottenham Hotspur vs. Norwich City
In another of Saturday's 3 p.m. BST kickoffs, Tottenham look to put the disappointment of a north London derby defeat to Arsenal behind them against Norwich.
Andre Villas-Boas' side are yet to score a goal from open play in the league this season, having won their opening two games 1-0 through two expertly taken Roberto Soldado penalties.
Norwich will provide a tough challenge for the Premier League's biggest summer spenders, with manager Chris Hughton having also strengthened his squad considerably.
The Canaries will look to keep things tight at White Hart Lane, most likely with a five-man midfield and lone striker to break up Spurs' attacks before hitting them on the counter.
With box-to-box midfielder Leroy Fer helping to nullify the effectiveness of Mousa Dembele and Paulinho, and the ever-improving Nathan Redmond always a danger with the ball at his feet, Norwich have what it takes to frustrate a Tottenham team missing the spark of Gareth Bale.
Prediction: Tottenham Hotspur 1-1 Norwich City
Everton vs. Chelsea
Two unbeaten sides meet at Goodison Park in Saturday's late kickoff as Everton, with three draws to their name, host second-placed Chelsea.
Despite having not lost a game, Roberto Martinez's side have struggled in front of goal thus far, failing to score in their last two fixtures against West Brom and Cardiff.
But the Toffees have enjoyed more possession and positive buildup play during this campaign, and it seems just a matter of time before things click in front of goal for Nikica Jelavic or Arouna Kone, with new loan signing Romelu Lukaku ineligible to play against his parent club.
Visitors Chelsea have started the season impressively, seeing off Hull and Aston Villa before picking up a respectable point at Old Trafford.
But their game with Villa showed that their defence is still vulnerable despite Jose Mourinho's sometimes cautious approach to games, something which the home side can exploit with their possession-heavy brand of football.
Prediction: Everton 2-1 Chelsea
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