The forthcoming Premier League weekend is crammed with intriguing matches that will have a major impact on the table come the end of May.
Two favourites for relegation meet at the KC Stadium, while Goodison Park is the stage for arguably the match of the week as Jose Mourinho takes his Chelsea side to face Everton. Alongside this, will current league leaders Liverpool maintain their winning start?
Let's take a look at a full round of predictions, then hone in on the most intriguing matches of the week.
The Most Intriguing Matches to Watch This Weekend
Hull City vs. Cardiff City
Onlookers will be surprised with the tenacity of both Hull and Cardiff during the early stages of the season. The newly-promoted clubs have equipped themselves well, made intelligent signings and appear ready to fight for a place in the top flight for next year.
This is a match both Steve Bruce and Malky Mackay will have underlined when the fixtures were announced. For Bruce, the chance to secure an early three points over one of Hull’s potential relegation rivals is too good an opportunity to pass up, especially at home. While Mackay will hunt a Cardiff win, the Scottish manager should also be content if his team escape the KC Stadium without loss.
Hull overcame Norwich City 1-0 in their only home game of the season so far, as Robbie Brady’s penalty was enough to separate the two teams in a fiery encounter that saw Yannick Sagbo sent off after 27 minutes. The newly-branded Tigers showed excellent determination to grind out a result against the Canaries and will be confident of overcoming a Cardiff team that lost their sole away game 2-0 to West Ham United.
Can we really talk about six-pointers this early in the campaign? While both teams deserve a little more respect for their performances so far, come the end of the season, the result on Sept. 14 may prove pivotal.
Everton vs. Chelsea
Winless Roberto Martinez is balancing precariously right now. A loss against Chelsea will see Everton without a win in their first four games, while a win ensures the side go unbeaten for the first month of the season.
The former Wigan boss is certainly bringing his own ideas to Goodison Park, but as with his time at the DW Stadium, goalscoring has become a problem. Despite landing Romelu Lukaku on loan from Chelsea, as reported by BBC Sport, the powerhouse Belgian is unable to play against his parent club.
Nikica Jelavic and Arouna Kone are likely to lead the line, with the latter replacing his Croatian colleague towards the end of the match. Is this enough to significantly challenge a Chelsea side that has conceded just one goal in three Premier League games?
Everton need to play high-tempo, attacking football and ensure the visitors are not given the opportunity to settle into rhythm. Once Jose Mourinho’s men start pinging the ball around, the Toffees will find it difficult to establish their own threat.
New signings such as Gareth Barry and James McCarthy will be instantly tasked with halting the momentum of Chelsea’s diverse midfield, and Everton must collectively put in a performance of grit, heart and energy, much like last year’s 2-0 home win over Manchester City.
Swansea City vs. Liverpool
Swansea’s 2-0 away win over West Brom was a much-needed boost after difficult opening fixtures against Manchester United and Tottenham. Michael Laudrup’s men have their first three points and can head into the match against Liverpool feeling well-matched against Brendan Rodgers’ side.
As reported by David Anderson of the Mirror, the Reds are hopeful of having Daniel Sturridge back from injury for the Liberty Stadium trip. The English forward has been in stunning form this season and is the only Liverpool player to have netted in three games.
His winners in the 1-0 victories over Stoke City, Aston Villa and Manchester United have underlined an individual who is becoming indispensable to the club. Should Sturridge return, Ashley Williams and Chico Flores are going to need overtime pay once the match finishes.
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