The Pick of the Weekend: Manchester City v Liverpool
Welcome to the first edition of The Big English Premier League Preview. I was supposed to start with it last week but unfortunately I was out cold with the flu.
The Big English Premier League Preview is basically a preview of all the weekend’s matches, including the TV schedule for the matches so that you don’t have to channel hop on a Saturday trying to figure out what time United will get beaten by Fulham.
Hopefully this will become quite a popular feature on the blog, and I would love to get some predictions from the fans before the matches kick off.
The Premier League kicked off last weekend and all is well in the World again. No more crappy pre season games to put up with, no more Woman’s World Cup, and best of all no more World Cup re-runs! Just good old English footy.
The Premier League title contenders hit the ground running as both Manchester United and defending champions Chelsea picked up convincing wins, while the title pretenders Liverpool, Arsenal, Man City and Spurs all opened their campaigns with draws. Here’s a look at this weekend’s matches.
PICK OF THE WEEK: Manchester City v Liverpool – Monday 23 August
Liverpool travel to the City of Manchester Stadium on Monday night to take on Manchester City in what will be the most interesting match of the weekend (yes, I know it’s on a Monday but work with me here). Manchester City came close to clinching a 4th place finish last season as the club started to flex their financial muscle, and with Mancini now having spent over £120 Million during the transfer window the club’s aspirations have been elevated to League success instead os scrapping for a Champions League spot.
This game will be the perfect opportunity to City to show that they mean business against one of the regular Top 4 sides in Liverpool. City looked very disjointed against Spurs last weekend, while Liverpool on the other hand looked like a team who have rediscovered their confidence since Rafa’s departure, after they outplayed arsenal last Sunday for most of the second half despite being a man down. The loss of Joe Cole through suspension could be a big loss for Liverpool but it’s still a tough one to call. City could prove to be a handful, especially with James Milner and Mario Balotelli also available for selection after finally completing their moves from Villa and Inter Respectively.
Both sides enjoyed 1-0 wins in their Europa League qualifiers on Thursday night, so confidence should be high in both camps.
TV: Supersport 3 + Supersport HD2 @ 20:55
Saturday 21 August
Arsenal v Blackpool
Arsenal take on Premier League newcomers Blackpool in their first home game of the season. The Gunners were lucky to escape with a point from Anfield last week. Blackpool stunned Wigan last weekend when they thrashed them 4-0 and the Tangerines will be full of confidence going into this encounter.
I suspect that Arsenal will come out with all guns blazing though, after Wenger revealed that Song, Denilson, Djouru and captain Cesc Fabregas are all in line for a return to the team after missing last week’s match against Liverpool. Robin van Persie should also be back in the starting line up and one suspects that it will be too much for Blackpool to deal with, even after last week’s heroics. Thus I foresee a comfortable win for Arsenal at the Emirates.
TV: Supersport 3 + Supersport HD2 @ 15:30
Wigan v Chelsea
Defending Champions Chelsea return to the DW Stadium to take on the team they beat, no, walloped 8-0 last season to win the league. When you take into account that Wigan lost their opening home game 4-0 against Blackpool last week then I’m afraid this could get very ugly for Roberto Martinez’s side. Didier Drogba scored a hat-trick at Stamford Bridge that day, and who’s willing to bet against the Chelsea striker scoring another one on Saturday after he scored three against West Brom last weekend?
History has a nasty way of repeating itself though, and last season in this very same fixture Wigan stunned the Blues when they beat Chelsea 3-1 to inflict the first defeat of Anceloti’s reign. This result came after Wigan were beaten 4-0 by Arsenal the previous week, If I were a betting man…
TV: Supersport 3 + Supersport HD2 @ 18:00
Everton v Wolves
If the Premier League table only took results from the second half of the season into consideration, Everton would be a top four side. David Moyes’ team has developed the frustrating habit of making a very slow start to the season, before finally getting their act together in December/January. This bodes well for the travelling Wolves side, who opened their League campaign with an impressive 2-1 win over Stoke City.
Everton are one of the hardest sides to beat at home though, which is why I can’t see Wolves coming away from Goodison Park with three points. A draw is not beyond them though, considering Everton’s early season form.
TV: Supersport 6 @ 15:55
Stoke City v Tottenham
Stoke City welcomes Harry Redknapp’s Spurs side to the Britannia Stadium on Saturday afternoon for what promises to be an interesting encounter. Both teams made disappointing starts to their League campaigns and both will be eager to rectify that this weekend.
Spurs will however have other distractions though, after they suffered a 3-2 defeat against Swiss side Young Boys on Wednesday night, and with the return leg taking place on Tuesday it’s safe to assume that Ol’ Harry will be resting some of his key players for this match. Stoke can be quite a handful at their home ground, which means Spurs could be in for the first defeat of the season, especially if, as expected, Redknapp rests some of his star players.
TV: Supersport Maximo + Supersport HD2 @ 23:00
Birmingham v Blackburn
Birmingham had a decent campaign under Alex MacLeish last season, as the club almost qualified for European football, and they will be looking to build on that success this season. They got a good result at the Stadium of Light last week when they came from 2-0 down to secure a 2-2 draw with Sunderland thanks to a last gasp goal from Ridgewell.
Blackburn managed to beat Everton 1-0, thanks to a blunder from Howard, but the club has been making steady progress since sacking Paul Ince and replacing him with Fat Sam. They’ve got some good attacking players in Mort Gamst Pedersen and Nikola Kalinic, so this could be the season that they re-establish themselves as a top 10 team. Difficult one to call, could go either way.
TV: Supersport 7 @ 15:55
West Brom v Sunderland
West Brom will be desperate to avoid another heavy defeat, as they will then be stuck with the ‘League whipping boys’ label. They are the Premier League’s yo-yo club, winning promotion one season, while getting relegated back to the Championship the next. They play some good attacking football from time to time and I can see them doing well against Steve Bruce’s inconsistent Sunderland.
A win against Sunderland will be just what the doctor ordered after the 4-0 thrashing they received on the opening day against Chelsea.
TV: Supersport Maximo + Supersport HD2 @ 09:00 (Sunday Morning)
West Ham United v Bolton
Avram Grant takes charge of his first home game when the Hammers welcomes Bolton to Upton Park. Grant took over from Zola at the end of the season after showing his managerial skill by some how guiding Portsmouth to the final of the FA Cup. The Hammers are desperate to revive their fortunes after two disappointing seasons under Zola but got off to a bad start when they lost 3-0 to Aston Villa last week.
Bolton are playing some good football under the guidance of Owen Coyle, and even though they struggled for most of last season, they still impressed me with their new style of play. I think the players will have adjusted to their new boss by now and this could be a good season for The Trotters, and I can see them coming away from this match with at least a point.
TV: Supersport Maximo + Supersport HD2 @ 06:00(Sunday morning)
Sunday 22 August
Newcastle v Aston Villa
The legendary St. James’ Park will make its Premier League return debut after the Newcastle were condemned to Championship football last season. They didn’t get off to the best of starts though after their 3-0 defeat against United, but they had some good spells and showed that they could give some teams a run for their money this season. Unfortunately I don’t think Aston Villa are one of those teams.
Villa has responded well to Martin O’Neill’s departure and followed up their 3-0 win last weekend with an impressive 1-1 draw against Rapid Vienna in the Europa League qualifiers on Thursday night. They may have lost a key player in James Milner, but in Stephen Ireland they have gained a player of tremendous ability. This will be a close game bu I can see the Villains edging it.
TV: Supersport 3 + Supersport HD2 @ 14:00
Fulham v Man United
Manchester United travels to Craven Cottage on Sunday afternoon, the scene of one of their worst League performances from last season after they suffered a 3-0 defeat at the hand of Roy Hodgson side.United will be looking to avenge that result this time round as they continue with their quest of regaining the League title from Chelsea.
The Red Devils made a great start to their league campaign against Newcastle, with Paul Scholes, Ryan Giggs and Dimitar Berbatov all putting in good shifts. This is not the same Fulham side from last season though as Roy Hodgson has departed to Liverpool, with the club only recently appointing Mark Hughes as manager. It will still take some time for the team and manager to get into their stride and United should use this to their full advantage and should secure maximum points from this fixture.
TV: Supersport 3 + Supersport HD 2 @ 16:30
Thats’s it for this week’s edition of the Big English Premier League Preview folks, same time next week!