EPL Week 2: An Americans Preview, which is probably wrong

Arsenal v Burnley

Arsenal are coming off a 1-0 win over Newcastle, and while they did not look convincing  throughout the 90, they were missing some key components in their starting 11. David Luiz may come in at the back now having a week and a half of training with his new club. Ozil and Kolasinac are both back in contention as well with their security concerns taken care of (ridiculous that they needed that). Burnley should be coming in with confidence following the 3-0 win over Southampton. They looked fluid enough in the attack, but at times the defense did look a bit suspect. Arsenal should be able to exploit this. Arsenal are going to be tougher ask especially at the Emirates for Burnley. Should be a fun game to watch from a neutral perspective. Arsenal should pull all 3 points, thinking Arsenal 2-1.

Aston Villa V Bournemouth

Villa looked extremely well drilled over the opening half to 60 minutes of their game against Tottenham but then it all fell apart. While the 3-1 scoreline did flatter Spurs, Villa do look like a side who will be a tough ask for anyone this season. Jack Grillesh looked like a man on a mission, and could be someone to watch in the coming weeks to see how he fairs this time in the EPL after somewhat carrying a very bad Villa side. Bournemouth came up against a very resolute Sheffield United side and gave up a late equalizer. They have a proven striker in Callum Wilson coupled with Ryan Fraser could again be a solid combination up front. Should be an entertaining match, and with it being accessible in the US could be a better option if Liverpool Southampton goes how I expect it to. Thinking a split of the points with a 1-1 draw.

Brighton and Hove Albion v West Ham United

I may be proved wrong in my statement that I think Brighton are going to drop this year. The 3-0 result against Watford was an extremely good result for them, and completely shocked me (I had Watford’s goalie as my starter expecting a clean sheet in fantasy). The own goal did help them (will say Glen Murray was right behind him), there was a nice sense of identity to the 11 on the pitch. And Glen Murray over the past two seasons has been able to find the net in the EPL so they always have a chance.  West Ham got smacked around by Manchester City so while you can’t completely look at the 5-0 drubbing as what to expect against Brighton may be a little more about who they are as a club this season. West Ham did have some bright moments throughout the 90, so there is a possibility that we see a better result for them. Shockingly I think that Brighton are going to squeak this out at the Amex 2-1.

Everton v Watford

Everton went down to Selhurst Park and came out with a point, especially when going down to ten men for the last 20 minutes including stoppage time. While that is a good result, I am guessing most supporters would have expected 3 points as they controlled most of the match and with Crystal Palace not having Wilfred Zaha from the start. The loss of Schneiderlin may be a little tough but the pieces they brought in at the end of the transfer window should mean a team that has gelled more. Watford on the other hand looked a team who did not fully commit to playing a 3-4-3, or who just were not comfortable playing in that formation. They got pulled apart a bit easily by Brighton, with a more talented attack from Everton you could see them faltering again. Ben Foster just look frustrated by the end of the 90 and if they don’t adjust quickly this could be a long season for them. I’m thinking Everton with a comfortable 2-0 at home.

Norwich City v Newcastle 

I think I may be higher on Norwich than some of the others in this blog. I thought that second half they looked like a very confident free flowing side. They were leaky at the back in the first half against a very potent Liverpool. The two strikers had some very good opportunities in the first half just couldn’t find the target. If they come with that intensity and play as well as they did in the second half, they could continue to surprise some people and teams this year. Newcastle looked solid enough against a weakened Arsenal side. They looked potent at times going forward while keeping it tight enough at the back. The team at times still had a bit of the Rafa Benitez feel to them. Almiron had some moments as well as the rest of the attack it felt like they waited til they fell behind to really give it a go. They also for the most part looked contained against more of a cup side back line. Personally this game has me intrigued enough to possibly have it on as one of the two games I will watch in the 10am time slot EST. Thinking Norwich get 3 here, 2-1.

Southampton v Liverpool

Southampton won the first half against Burnley, but could not find the back of the net and were eventually overrun by a very dominant second half display. Between Nathan Redmond, James Ward-Prowse, and Danny Ings there is definitely some fire power. Depending on how leggy Liverpool following are following that fantastic Super Cup final they could pull a surprise. Also small fun fact Southampton have three Champions League winners in their starting 11 ( Ryan Bertrand, started 2012 in Munich for Chelsea with Oriol Romeu on the bench and Pierre Emile Hojbjurg with Bayern in 2013).  Liverpool won the Super Cup Wednesday in a tremendous game and effort. Anyways, their backline looked very leggy towards the end of the match so there maybe something of a hangover going into this match. Still they should have more than enough firepower and squad depth to let them win this comfortably. I’m thinking 3-1 to the boys from Merseyside. 

Manchester City v Tottenham

This should be the game of the weekend. Two of the top four from last year, and two squads that should be challenging for the title this year, both of whom will be looking to lay down an early marker. Manchester City barely took it out of 2nd gear for the majority of the game and rolled over West Ham. Last year they were heads and shoulders over the majority of the Premiership, and have started this year looking like the favorites again. While West Ham did have a couple of opportunities, they were not the cleanest of looks. Tottenham on the other hand, did not look good until Christian Erikson was substituted on. Then everything seemed to click and they carved Villa apart. If he goes from the start this should be a very good game with Spurs giving City a good run, if he doesn’t this game could be well and over before he gets on the pitch. Personally think he is the key to this game for Spurs to have a chance of getting 1 to 3 points. I think City will win this 2-1.

Sheffield United v Crystal Palace

This feels like a match that is either going to be a rough watch or completely entertaining. Sheffield ground out a point against Bournemouth last week and were able to contain a solid pair in Callum Wilson and Ryan Fraser (Wilson got an assist). Their attack did look anemic at times but I think in front of their fans they are going to come out of the gate flying and will put up a good fight. Crystal Palace is a mystery to me, they looked fine against Everton. I really think the opening to their season might be decided on how much Wilfred Zaha ends up playing for that transfer. Palace rate him, and with good reason but his short spell at United does show at that time the bigger lights were just too much for him. I think he will make a difference in their attack and contribute to this game in a big way, either positively or negatively. Palace have a good solid mid table squad so they should be able to pull out a victory but I just have this weird feeling that Sheffield will get something out of this, so I am going 2-2.

Chelsea v Leicester City

Chelsea got a rough result. I agree with the comments from the manager(surprise surprise) that they played better than a 4-0, but they did look very sloppy at the back. Come Wednesday and they outplayed Liverpool for the majority of that game but who knows what sort of effect this will have on both squad selection and energy levels. Personally I am hoping for Giroud and Pulisic to start with Mount in a 10 and maybe Willian coming in for his first action of the season. As for the midfield, Kante and Jorginho (did better than the kit man) both went the full 120 so this makes me a bit worried. As for Leicester, they are a side that many think could surprise a lot of people this year and make a play for top 6. The draw against Wolves was a good result with how well Wolves played last year, so they should be coming to the Bridge with belief they can get a result. Vardy over the top does pose a very big threat especially with Zouma having also gone the full 120 but there may be rotation there. Still this maybe the optimist inside me, or just that I bleed Chelsea blue but going for Chelsea with a 3-1 victory with Lampard making his home managerial debut. Also I’m putting it at 2 minutes for the first Super Frank chant.

Wolverhampton v Manchester United

Wolverhampton were the surprise of last year, coming up from the Championship to finish 7. They played a very solid match to earn the point against Leicester away from home. They will have to bring their best against United to hope to get 3 or even 1 out of this match. Raul Jimenez was a star last year and made a good start forcing Schmeichel to make some good saves in the opener and who knows with De Gea, he looked ok against Chelsea but they did hit the woodwork more than him. Rui Petricio came out with some smart saves of his own, and will be needed at his best to help Wolves get off the mark at home this year. As for United, they looked good and fluid against Chelsea, and were clinical making Chelsea pay for their errors at the back. I think their press worked well in creating these and if they can get Wolves on the back foot it could be another goal fest for them. Paul Pogba showed well enough against Chelsea but last year he was hit or miss, United should be hoping for consistency out of him to ensure that the front three and attack as well as they did against Chelsea. Rashford and Martial showed that there are goals in the attack even with Lukaku having gone it Inter. If the same team shows up against Wolves that did against Chelsea, it will be a good start for Manchester both blue and red. Going for United 2-1.

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