The Premier League has roared back onto our television screens over the past two weekends. But just as quickly as it’s reappeared, it’ll be gone again, as the much-maligned international break punctures the domestic schedule following the conclusion of Matchday 3.
Which team has been the most impressive so far?
So it’s probably best to immerse yourself in Week 3, and when you look at the games the fixture computer has churned out for the upcoming weekend, there’d be no shame in that at all.
Lying in wait, Manchester United could hand a debut to a record signing, Chelsea face their biggest test of the campaign so far, and Liverpool travel to one of the league’s most impressive starters.
So ahead of Matchday 3, let's take a look at the full fixture list, some of the standout games and how they’re likely to finish up.
|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|
Burnley vs. Manchester United
After a pre-season that yielded so much promise for Louis van Gaal and Manchester United, the unrestrained optimism that gripped Old Trafford has diminished significantly. United have been extremely poor in both of their games so far, producing performances no different to the abject showings that were commonplace under David Moyes.
But when they turn up at Turf Moor for Saturday’s early kick-off, they could have the most expensive player in the history of English football in their ranks, with reports suggesting the Red Devils have agreed to sign Angel Di Maria from Real Madrid for £59.7 million, per Simon Stone of BBC Sport.
Spanish football expert Guillem Balague expects the deal to be done before the game and claims Di Maria is eyeing up an iconic United shirt number:
Di María will travel to Manchester tomorrow afternoon and wants all sorted to play against Burnley. With the number 7— Guillem Balague (@GuillemBalague) August 24, 2014
Questions have been asked about whether United really need a player of Di Maria’s style and whether the fee is too excessive. But should he line up against Burnley on Saturday, there’s little doubt that Di Maria will improve Van Gaal’s side with his pace, purpose and quality.
Here's a taster of what United supporters can look forward to:
The feel-good factor accrued from such a marquee purchase should see United come into this one in high spirits. And although they’ve failed to sparkle so far, expect them to do just enough to overcome a Burnley side who are still finding their feet in the Premier League.
Prediction: Burnley 1-2 Manchester United
Everton vs. Chelsea
So far so good for Jose Mourinho and his new-look Chelsea team. The Blues have put in two professional performances in their first two games so far to dispatch of newly promoted sides, but they’ll face a much sterner test of their title credentials when they travel to Merseyside to take on Everton and former forward Romelu Lukaku.
Diego Costa and Cesc Fabregas have both slotted effortlessly into the spine of this Chelsea team, with the former scoring and the latter creating in both of the Blues’ games so far.
But they won’t be afforded the same time and space at Goodison Park. Nonetheless, Everton will be acutely aware they need to improve on some of their early-season showings, most notably when it comes to seeing games out.
Late slips against Leicester City and Arsenal have already cost the Toffees four points this season, and against a Chelsea squad bursting with quality, Roberto Martinez’s men will have to be at their sharpest for 90 minutes to get a result. In a blow to their chances, the club has confirmed it will be without Steven Pienaar after he picked up an injury against Arsenal:
The Toffees have impressed for long spells in their opening games and are a very difficult team to beat at home. As for Chelsea, they’re quite simply tough to beat anywhere. A hard-fought draw looks to be the most likely outcome here as Everton continue to rediscover their full fitness.
Prediction: Everton 1-1 Chelsea
Tottenham vs. Liverpool
Things couldn’t have started much better for Mauricio Pochettino at Tottenham. A last-minute win over West Ham was followed by a mauling of QPR, and Spurs look well placed to mount a charge toward the top-four places under his tutelage.
The Argentinian boss has already put his stamp on this team, evident by the incisiveness in Spurs’ play and their unrelenting desire to win the ball back when they lose possession. He also looks to have found how to bring the best out of players like Nacer Chadli and Erik Lamela, both indisputably talented players who struggled under Andre Villas-Boas and Tim Sherwood.
Lamela, the club’s record signing, has vowed to bag his first Premier League goal against the Reds:
Liverpool will pose an entirely different test to the two London clubs Spurs have tackled so far, though. Indeed, you suspect memories of the 5-0 hammering from last season will be fresh in the minds of the White Hart Lane faithful. But as Liverpool are without Luis Suarez, not to mention they have defensive frailties still prevalent, expect a much tighter game this time round.
Mario Balotelli could make his first-ever appearance for the Reds, and his box-office persona adds another enticing facet to what promises to be an excellent game. But with Liverpool looking a little unsettled in defence, Spurs should have just enough to make it a disappointing day for the Italian and the travelling Kop from Merseyside.
Prediction: Tottenham 2-1 Liverpool