Premier League Preview – Aug. 22-24
Have a look at the table.
Go on, have a look.
It’s always interesting to glance at a Premiership table and see Tottenham at the top while Manchester United sits mired in 10th.
Take heart, Red Devil fans. The season is still very young.
On the tube
Don’t miss the weekend’s TV schedule, which is, of course, subject to the whims of guys in suits who don’t know a back heel from a back door
Now, on with the previews:
Arsenal vs. Portsmouth
It’s hard to choose two teams that have looked any more different than the Gunners and Pompey so far this season.
A new resolve?
It’s easy to write off Arsenal’s 2-0 win at Celtic as a piece of very good fortune, but winning those type of fixtures is what separates above average teams from great ones. It’s early days, but that result has to be encouraging.
Shaking off disappointment
While Arsenal was celebrating a Champions League win in Glasgow in mid-week, Pompey was losing at home to newly promoted Birmingham on an injury-time penalty.
A sure thing?
It’s hard to imagine any other result that a thrashing at the Emirates for Pompey, who could really use some of that Middle Eastern money to bolster their squad.
Birmingham vs. Stoke City
Their late heroics at St. Andrews gave them three points, and now Birmingham will welcome the Potters to town on Saturday.
Up and down
We’ve mentioned Birmingham’s triumph in mid-week, but Stoke City must somehow recover from a 4-0 beating at Anfield at the hands of Liverpool on Wednesday.
On the road
Stoke City picked up 10 points in their travels last season, so they’ll be looking for something this weekend.
Hull City vs. Bolton Wanderers
The Tigers find themselves pointless after two matches, a condition they’ll be looking to change when Bolton visits on Saturday.
Work permit issues and H1N1 concerns have delayed U.S. International Jozy Altidore’s Hull City debut. Could this be the weekend? His Twitter account provides no answer at press time, so stay tuned…
Sunderland vs. Blackburn
Blackburn is still seeking its first points of the campaign as it strolls into the Stadium of Light on Saturday.
A fast start
The Black Cats were on dream street with an early goal against Chelsea, but the Blues rallied for a 3-1 win on Tuesday. Blackburn hasn’t played since its 2-0 loss to City last weekend.
Despite a busy summer for new boss Steve Bruce, Sunderland is still looking to add Lyon defender John Mensah to the squad.
Manchester City vs. Wolverhampton Wanderers
City hopes to continue its high scoring start to the campaign when it hosts Wolves.
An impressive result
City nabbed a 1-0 friendly win at Camp Now over Barcelona on Wednesday in a contest in which both sides fielded something less than full-strength squads.
“I’ve been able to give some young players the opportunity to play in the Nou Camp, a night they will never forget,” Hughes told the team’s Web site.
Wolverhampton also had a win in mid-week, notching a 1-0 result at Wigan on Andy Keogh’s header.
Not worried about the bulletin board
“I don’t think that expecting them to win the league when they have just bought a team is realistic. They might make a push for it. But I just don’t think it is realistic to expect them to win the league when others have got a settled team” – Wolves manager Mick McCarthy, to the Birmingham Mail
Wigan Athletic vs. Manchester United
United, fresh off a disappointing 1-0 loss at Burnley, will look to bounce back at Old Trafford against Wigan.
Hot and cold
Both teams have split their first two games, with the Red Devils winning 1-0 against Birmingham in the opener before falling on Wednesday while Wigan won at Aston Villa in the opener before stumbling at home against Wolves.
Two league matches against newly promoted sides have netted just two goals for Man U, which may still be adjusting a bit to life without Cristiano Ronaldo.
“Hopefully we get as many (chances) on Saturday. “Michael Carrick had what I thought was the best chance when the ball was squared to him in the box but he decided to take a touch on the ball and lost the opportunity. Michael Owen missed a great chance in the first half, Ryan Giggs had one in the second half and Wayne Rooney had a couple of chances.
“Our players are all disappointed, it was a bad result for us. But I’m sure we’ll get a response.” – United boss Sir Alex Ferguson, after his team’s loss to Burnley
West Ham United vs. Tottenham Hotspur
Spurs are sitting atop the league table, but if they want to stay there, they’ll have to navigate a trip to Upton Park on Sunday.
Harry Redknapp’s club has scored seven goals in their first two games, three of which came from Jermain Defoe in Wednesday’s 5-1 win at Hull City.
Lying in wait
West Ham hasn’t played since its opening round win over Wolverhampton.
Tottenham’s Web site reports that starting keeper Heurelho Gomes has a groin injury. David Button has been recalled from Crewe Alexandra for insurance purposes.
Burnley vs. Everton
After a famous win over the reigning champions, Burnley welcomes Everton to Turf Moor on Sunday.
What’s going on?
A 6-1 loss to Arsenal in the season opener coupled with Julian Lescott’s want-away mindset has the Toffees in the news for all the wrong reasons.
“You deal with it and you move on so we’ll look it at it and try to do better next time. … We have to pick ourselves up quickly. … There’s no positives you can take out. We didn’t play well today and we have to take the blame. …We’ve had pre-season problems but mainly because we haven’t been able to get players playing.” – Everton gaffer David Moyes, to the BBC
Burnley keeper Brian Jenson credits the Turf Moor faithful for the team’s recent success:
“The fans weren’t only our 12th and 13th man on Wednesday, they were our 13th and 14th too. They were absolutely brilliant, I’ve never seen anything like it and I’ve been here seven years now. We need them, it’s vital. We don’t want them on our backs. We want them to get on the oppositions backs, regardless of what happens.
“We played well which makes it easier for them but, there will come a time here this season when we will be in trouble and that’s when we will need them the most.” – Jenson, to the team’s Web site
Fulham vs. Chelsea
One of the better games of the weekend sets up on Sunday as the Blues pay a visit to Craven Cottage
In each of the last three seasons, Chelsea has won one game and drawn the other against the Whites in league play. … Fulham has gone nine games without a home draw. … Didier Drogba has been busy, leading the league in shots on target (6) while drawing yellow cards in each of his first two matches.
Clogged fixture list
Chelsea rallied from a 1-0 deficit at the Stadium of Light to get a 3-1 win in mid-week while Fulham had a Europa League qualifier at home on Thursday.
Liverpool vs. Aston Villa
Villa’s stuttering end to the 2008-2009 season seems to have carried over into this year’s Premier League campaign, and Martin O’Neill’s side will be hoping to change that at Anfield on Monday.
Rising and falling tides
Liverpool shook off its week one loss at Spurs by walloping Stoke City 4-0 earlier this week. Villa, having lost at home to Wigan to start the season, followed that with a 1-0 loss at Rapid Vienna in Europa League play on Thursday.
They said it
“This season you will be playing double headers. Every team you will play twice in the group stages, like in the Champions League, so it will be more games. That’s why the manager is trying to make sure we have enough players to cope with this year in domestic cup games, Europe and the Premier League as well.
“Other teams in Europe have big squads and we must do that as well. I think before the window shuts we will have a few more signings. I hope so.” – Stiliyan Petrov, to Sky Sports