Premier League Week 8 Predictions: Stars Who Will Shine This Weekend
It’s back to business, and reality for some, as players shed their national shirts in favour of their club colours for the return of the Premier League this weekend.
After helping their national sides to World Cup qualification, the likes of Andros Townsend, Jozy Altidore, Edin Dzeko and Michael Essien may well wish they could play for their country every week as the Premier League poses a whole new set of challenges for those returning from the international fold.
Play gets underway with second-place Liverpool travelling to St. James' Park to take on Newcastle in Saturday’s early kick-off, and the action concludes with a bottom-of-the-table clash between Crystal Palace and Fulham on Monday evening.
Although each manager will be focused on three valuable points, they will also be hoping to see their players crank it up a few gears as the season ticks past the two-month mark.
Here’s a look at the players who will light up the Premier League this weekend.
According to Neil McLeman in the Mirror, Roberto Martinez called Lukaku to tell him he “had to keep this form going as long as possible” after the Belgian found the net twice against Croatia to stamp his country’s ticket to the World Cup.
And it’s no wonder. The striker has scored four goals in the Premier League this season, which is more than any Chelsea player has mustered, and his loan move to Everton on deadline day is starting to look more and more like one of the moves of the summer.
With Hull to visit Goodison Park this weekend, Lukaku has the opportunity to continue his excellent run of form. Just a point separates the two sides in the table, and Martinez will fancy his chances against Hull, who have struggled for goals this season, scoring just six in their opening seven games.
So far the Spaniard has struggled to reach the dizzying heights of the 2012-13 season, but Sunderland’s visit to the Liberty Stadium this weekend represents a perfect opportunity for Michu to grab some headlines.
The 27-year-old, who made his debut for Spain in last week’s victory over Belarus, will need to reproduce a similar season to last year's if he is to retain his place in Vicente del Bosque’s squad for the World Cup.
Michu has scored three goals and assisted on two in all competitions, but he has the potential to do better. Swansea have dropped 14 points from seven matches, and Michael Laudrup will need Michu firing if his team are to progress from their current position of 15th in the table.
Look for Michu to start cranking things up, starting this Saturday.
It’s not often that defenders get much attention in an article about players who will stand out, but Per Mertesacker’s performances so far this season are worth highlighting.
The 28-year-old German looks more like a 38-year-old on the pitch. Movement always seems to be a struggle, but luckily for him he appears to have the mind and intelligence of someone beyond his years also.
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Arsenal have conceded just five goals in their last six league games; this has partly been down to Mertesacker at the back. He brings composure alongside the often-erratic Frenchman Laurent Koscielny and he reads the game superbly.
Arsene Wenger sung his praises ahead of Arsenal’s game with Stoke, according to Colin Mafham in the Express, praising his centre-back for making necessary improvements since arriving at the Emirates.
Arsenal host Norwich City this weekend. Chris Hughton’s side have scored just five goals this season, so expect Mertesacker to shine once more.
The speedy winger will be bouncing with confidence when he arrives at Villa Park for Tottenham’s match with Aston Villa this Sunday.
His heroics for his country over the last week (see clip) showed what can happen when he turns his potential into results, and Andre Villas-Boas will be hoping the 22-year-old begins to replicate that output for Spurs.
According to ESPN, Townsend has taken 26 shots in his six Premier League games this season with zero goals and no assists to show. Not exactly pretty numbers, but stats don’t always tell us everything.
Townsend has been a thorn in the side of quite a few of the left-backs he has taken on this year, but he will need to start producing an end result in the white of Spurs if he is to cement his place in the starting XI there.
Competition is heating up for places at White Hart Lane, and Townsend will be hoping for a big game this weekend.
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