In what was an opening weekend of top quality goals and a couple of high profile shocks, it is safe to say that the Premier League is back!
The competition goes up a notch in week two with some teams looking to gain back-to-back wins for the perfect start to the season, and some already worrying that two games without a win could leave them with a mountain to climb, even after week two.
Crystal Palace 2-1 Arsenal
Arsenal were on the receiving end of the biggest upset of the opening weekend, as West Ham won 2-0 at the Emirates. Arsene Wenger’s side were a popular pick for this year’s title, and only one game in, people are having doubts.
Petr Cech had a nightmare debut, and the Gunners now have to go to Selhurst Park to face Alan Pardew’s Crystal Palace, who are playing some vibrant, pacey football. With the options of Bakary Sako, Wilfried Zaha, Yannick Bolasie and Jason Puncheon on the wing, and the added sprinkle of Yohan Cabaye pulling the strings, this should be a fantastic watch.
Arsenal should have Alexis Sanchez back after an appearance as a second-half substitute on Sunday, but the Gunners are fragile, and Pardew will have his Eagles up for this fight. However, if Theo Walcott starts up front, the Palace defence will be on the back foot with Walcott, Sanchez and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain all coming forward. Expect an outstanding contest, but there is a sneaking suspicion that Palace may continue riding the crest of the Pardew wave.
Simon Thomas’s prediction: Crystal Palace 1-1 Arsenal
Liverpool 3-2 Bournemouth
Bournemouth crashed back down to earth following their opening day defeat to Aston Villa, but Eddie Howe and his side will realise the true scale of their task when they visit Anfield on Monday night. The Cherries will be up for this game, will see chinks in Liverpool’s armour, and will fancy their chances as underdogs.
Liverpool squeezed through away at Stoke, thanks to a superb strike from Philippe Coutinho as they huffed and puffed to their first three points in their first game. Their defence looked solid, but they could have troubles coming up against Callum Wilson and potentially Max Gradel. Their pace should be worrying for Brendan Rodgers as Martin Skrtel and Dejan Lovren have shown themselves to suffer against quick players.
Bournemouth are likely to give it a good go at Anfield, but Liverpool may just edge past in a goal fest.
Simon Thomas’s prediction: Liverpool 3-1 Bournemouth
Manchester City 1-2 Chelsea
One of the biggest games of the season hits us on Sunday as Chelsea travel to Manchester City.
City were outstanding in a 3-0 win at West Brom on Monday night with Sergio Aguero still to come back into the starting fold. Yaya Toure scored twice, with Vincent Kompany hitting a huge third goal with a super header to down Tony Pulis on week one.
Chelsea didn’t have it all their way on the opening day as they drew 2-2 with Swansea at home, with Thibaut Courtois seeing red on a day to forget for Jose Mourinho and his side. The problem with this for City is that Mourinho has been deflecting attention from his side’s poor performance since the full-time whistle, and when backs are against the wall, Chelsea usually come up trumps.
There is a general feeling that City will win this with ease, but the Mourinho factor should see a backs-to-the-wall Chelsea victory at the Etihad.
Simon Thomas’s prediction: Manchester City 2-1 Chelsea
Southampton 3-1 Everton
Saturday’s opening game sees Everton travel to Southampton in what has the potential to be one of the games of the weekend.
The Saints nicked a late point at Newcastle on Sunday just a day after Everton struggled to a point against newly-promoted Watford at Goodison Park. Graziano Pelle has started the season in fantastic fashion, taking to the Europa League brilliantly and netting at St James’ Park on Sunday.
Everton have an injury-ravaged paper-thin squad, while John Stones’ future remains uncertain, but on the upside, Ross Barkley scored a magnificent goal last weekend and looks confident.
Southampton should make all the running in their first Premier League home game of the season and grab a convincing victory, whilst things get sticky for the Toffees.
Simon Thomas’s prediction: Southampton 2-0 Everton
Sunderland 2-0 Norwich
Sunderland manager Dick Advocaat failed to see any positives in his side’s 4-2 defeat at Leicester last week, but there was some potential light at the end of the tunnel. For a team that struggled for goals last season, Sunderland looked vibrant in attack in the second half – but the damage had already been done at the back. Jeremain Lens looks an astute purchase by the Black Cats and could give them the creativity in the final third that they will need in this huge contest.
Norwich could count themselves unlucky to have lost at home to Crystal Palace as Cameron Jerome’s acrobatic equaliser was ruled out, going on to lose 3-1.
Nathan Redmond looked lively when he came on, but it will be tough in the North East for Alex Neil’s side this weekend, and they could already be facing real problems come Saturday evening.
Simon Thomas’s prediction: Sunderland 1-2 Norwich City
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