EPL Week 4 Picks: How New Managers Will Fare in Weekend Clashes
This year is a season of renewal in the Premier League.
Is the Premier League improving or in decline?
A bumper new broadcasting deal has seen clubs of all sizes trade up their players for veteran stars such as Scott Parker and previously unaffordable imports like Ricky van Wolfswinkel, while sensible defending appears to have returned, and with it some added credibility.
Even the departure of Gareth Bale to Real Madrid for a world-record fee of £85 million has done little to dampen the feeling that England's top-flight feels revitalised and refreshed, an atmosphere perhaps partly generated by the number of new managerial appointments and arrivals that swept through the league this summer.
David Moyes, Jose Mourinho, Manuel Pellegrini, Roberto Martinez, Mark Hughes, Steve Bruce, Ian Holloway and Malky Mackay have all either changed clubs or earned promotion to the league for this season.
Week 4 of the Premier League sees all eight pair off into matchups that will test the progress they've each made so far.
|[Saturday - September 14]||[Time (BST)]||[Prediction]|
|Manchester United vs. Crystal Palace||12.45 pm||4-1|
|Aston Villa vs. Newcastle United||3 pm||2-0|
|Fulham vs. West Brom||3 pm||0-0|
|Hull City vs. Cardiff City||3 pm||2-1|
|Stoke City vs. Manchester City||3 pm||0-1|
|Sunderland vs. Arsenal||3 pm||0-4|
|Tottenham vs. Norwich City||3 pm||1-1|
|Everton vs. Chelsea||5:30 pm||0-1|
|[Sunday - September 15]|
|Southampton vs. West Ham||4 pm||2-1|
|[Monday - September 16]|
|Swansea City vs. Liverpool||8 pm||1-1|
Manchester United vs. Crystal Palace
Wandering back into action after the international break, Manchester United will be looking to offer a quick response to their 1-0 defeat to Liverpool two weeks ago. The manner in which the team approach this game will be yet another benchmark against which to judge David Moyes. Can he demand the focus and commitment he needs from his players to shake off the air miles and do a professional job against Saturday's visitors?
On a personal level, Ian Holloway's second stint in the Premier League—his first came with Blackpool in 2010/11—has been an exercise in diminishing returns, with his usually entertaining media schtick turning sour. However, while Holloway has begun to sound embittered, his Eagles side has so far shown heart and determination.
They still look likely to drop this year, but should they give a credible account of themselves it could just save their manager from his path of self-pity—unless any controversial referee decisions go against Palace at Old Trafford this weekend.
Everton vs. Chelsea
Roberto Martinez is in danger of confirming his caricature as a very nice man but a toothless manager. So far Everton have drawn against Cardiff, West Brom and Norwich, results against his formerly regular relegation rivals that would have been lamented by Wigan fans last year.
While the Spaniard can point to the club's shift towards a more technical style of play as evidence of progress, against Chelsea his team would do well to rediscover some of the stodgy defiance that David Moyes brought to such fixtures. Having failed to make an impression against the supposed minnows, Martinez must show there's more to his regime than passing statistics against the big guns.
Compared to his opposite number at Goodison Park, Mourinho has been practically revelling in the turgid offerings his Chelsea side has produced so far. Perhaps his master plan requires a certain type of striker to come to life? Luckily enough Samuel Eto'o will be on hand to make his debut. Yet if even his arrival fails to inspire much in the way of free-flowing football, it's doubtful anyone will care so long as Mourinho keeps producing the results and the sound bites.
Stoke City vs. Manchester City
Mark Hughes is back, both in management and in victories! While he's yet to transform Stoke into Staffordshire's answer to Barcelona, he has instilled a confidence back into the team's play with wins in their last two games against Crystal Palace and West Ham. The Britannia isn't yet back to being the fortress it once was, however, so defeat to Manchester City will not tarnish the mini-revival for manager and club in the Potteries.
Has Manuel Pellegrini been the great "holistic" hope City's owners were hoping for when they sacked Roberto Mancini? Three games is hardly the sort of range needed to measure such a claim, but besides a jarring defeat away to Cardiff, the early signs have been good for the club.
A resurgent Stoke will offer a good examination of Pellegrini's new system, however, with the once homesick Jesus Navas sure to enjoy some attention from the home side. The signing of Negredo has given City their own enhanced physical presence alongside Dzeko however, and the more direct Stevan Jovetic could well be deployed to outfox Staffordshire's golem army.
Hull City vs. Cardiff City
Tigers or not, Hull City might just be able to stay up this season if the Premier League-savvy Steve Bruce can work his magic. Like Palace, Hull have so far remained spirited and hardworking in the face of abject desolation. Could a beatdown by Cardiff snap them out of their self-belief, unveiling the scale of the task in front of them?
Who knows, but if Hull can record a win against their relegation rivals, then next week's trip up to play Alan Pardew's precariously brittle Newcastle United may just become a morale-boosting opportunity for a Brucie bonus!
Cardiff have had their identity crisis of late, with the Bluebirds turning red in the hope of gaining ground in Malaysia. Their voyage East to Hull on Saturday offers Malky Mackay and his men the opportunity to state their aims this season after a surprising win against Manchester City last month.
Should the team from the Welsh capitol get into the habit of bullying their fellow relegation candidates and stealing points from complacent visitors to their ground, survival shouldn't be an issue.
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