The Premier League is back in earnest after two pulsating weeks of action, and some massive clashes in the opening stages have whetted the appetite for what promises to be an enthralling Week 3.
Manchester United are already facing trouble having failed to triumph in two very winnable opening fixtures, while Liverpool are presented with another stiff test—this time at Tottenham—after a humbling at Manchester City.
The champions and Chelsea are the teams to beat at present, while at the bottom the early signs are ominous for Crystal Palace and Burnley.
On the cusp of a fascinating gameweek, lets take a look at the complete list of fixtures, predicting which teams will come out on top as well as the players who will play a vital role in their team’s cause in Week 3 of the Premier League.
|Fixture||Date||Kick Off Time (BST)||Prediction|
|Burnley vs. Man United||Saturday, 30 August||12:45 p.m.||1-2|
|Man City vs. Stoke City||Saturday, 30 August||3 p.m.||3-0|
|Newcastle vs. Crystal Palace||Saturday, 30 August||3 p.m.||2-0|
|QPR vs. Sunderland||Saturday, 30 August||3 p.m.||0-1|
|Swansea vs. West Brom||Saturday, 30 August||3 p.m.||2-1|
|West Ham vs. Southampton||Saturday, 30 August||3 p.m.||1-0|
|Everton vs. Chelsea||Saturday, 30 August||5:30 p.m.||1-1|
|Aston Villa vs. Hull City||Sunday, 31 August||1:30 p.m.||1-1|
|Tottenham vs. Liverpool||Sunday, 31 August||1:30 p.m.||2-1|
|Leicester vs. Arsenal||Sunday, 31 August||4 p.m.||0-2|
When you consider that Everton have never spent £28 million in a transfer window in their history, splashing out that much on one player was a major statement of intent from the Toffees. That man is, of course, Lukaku, and he’ll be keen to show what he can do against his former employers, Chelsea.
After struggling in the opening game against Leicester, Lukaku looked a lot sharper against Arsenal in Everton’s first game of the season. Something noted here by WhoScored.com:
The Belgian forward set up the Toffees’ second goal against the Gunners with a fine burst forward and subtle pass. But you can bet he’ll be desperate to get off the mark himself this season, and doubly desperate to do so against Chelsea.
Frustrating late lapses have turned a possible six points into two for Everton from their two games to date. A win against the Londoners would go a long way to injecting some much-needed momentum into their campaign.
But if they are to take all three points against Mourinho’s men, you suspect Lukaku will have to play a massive part.
Having endured a turbulent first season in English football, the Argentinean finally looks to be discovering his best form in the white strip of Spurs.
Injuries and loss of form conspired against Lamela during his first 12 months in England after his move from AS Roma. But it looks as though this season Spurs fans will be treated to the kind of performances that saw them splash out big money for the player, as noted here by Sports Illustrated’s Grant Wahl:
Nice to see "Roma Lamela" again.— Grant Wahl (@GrantWahl) August 24, 2014
Against QPR, Lamela tormented the ageing back line with his wonderful dribbling and keen eye for a pass, and Pochettino will be hoping he can do the same for Tottenham when Liverpool rock up at White Hart Lane in what’s set to be a mouthwatering clash.
The Reds’ defending left much to be desired in their 3-1 loss against Manchester City in Week 2, and if Lamela can exploit those gaps in a manner comparable to Stevan Jovetic and David Silva, it will be another long afternoon for Brendan Rodgers’ side.
After acquiring the services of the much-coveted Chilean, there were plenty who pointed to his versatility as a key factor for Arsenal. Sanchez after all, has played across the front line during his time at Barcelona and before that with Udinese.
But when he lined up as a centre-forward against Everton in Week 2, he struggled badly and was subsequently withdrawn at half-time.
Squawka provides us with an indication of how uncharacteristically wasteful he was with the ball:
Admittedly, it was his first taste of the hot-bed atmosphere that comes with playing in a Premier League game, but with Olivier Giroud—the man who replaced him at Goodison—set to miss three months through injury, per Matt Law of The Telegraph, Sanchez might have to operate there once again at Leicester City.
It’s set to be another physical test for Sanchez, but it's imperative that he puts in a performance of increased work rate and endeavour.
He was too static against Everton and allowed himself to be bullied by the Toffees' physical centre-back pairing, but against the Foxes he should be afforded a little more space, and that will allow him to make a much bigger impact this time round.
He’ll need to peel wide, make astute movements and gamble getting into the box more often.