There were rumors that this weekend would come. They denied it would come until at least the summer time, but alas it’s here. It’s the our first Premier League weekend without Jose Mourinho since 2013.
It’s a shame.
As much as you may hate watching his teams play, or hated playing against his teams, he was a true character who brought the entertainment week in and week out. His absence will be missed by all of us, but nonetheless there’s still some great Premier League action this weekend, so I guess we’ll make do.
(All time eastern)
Chelsea vs. Sunderland (10:00 AM Saturday)
As if enough things couldn’t go wrong for Sunderland this season, now they’re the first team to face Chelsea without Mourinho. While Sunderland might not be the best litmus test, this will be our first opportunity to see if Chelsea really quit on him or if they are just really bad this season.
Frankly, I think it’s a combination of both.
Mourinho’s message certainly wore off on the players after a while, and the players will definitely be out to prove a point in their first game under a new manager. However that doesn’t change the fact that Cesc Fabregas, Nemanja Matic, John Terry, and Branislav Ivanovic all look exhausted. Diego Costa still looks out of shape. A new manager won’t suddenly freshen all those players in two days. Still, Chelsea will be motivated for this game, and they’ll get a 2-0 win.
Manchester Untied vs. Norwich (10:00 AM Saturday)
Just a few days ago had you asked anyone who the next sacked manager would be, they would have leaned towards Louis van Gaal. Van Gaal shouldn’t be getting comfortable though, as reports have been coming all week about unrest in the United dressing room with some of the senior players fed up with their managers tactics, which they feel cripple any chance they have of attacking. Van Gaal’s substitutions in recent games have been puzzling as well–replacing Juan Mata and Marouanne Fellaini, who were both viewed as United’s best players–in back-to-back games for youngster Nick Powell. While I admit that I thought Powell could help against Wolfsburg, Powell apparently forgot that he has a rocket of a shot from 30 yards out. United could have used some long shots, because in recent weeks that’s what their attack has been–long shots that miss the net. We’ll get more of the same this week in a typical 0-0 draw.
Everton vs. Leicester City (10:00 AM Saturday)
The best game of the weekend naturally won’t be on TV. This isn’t NBC’s fault as Manchester United and Chelsea are both the big eyeball drawers, but how did the powers that be across the pond not put this game on TV when they made the December schedule in mid-October. Even by then it was obvious this would be a good match up.
As for the actual game, Everton have slipped up a bit lately, drawing two games that they absolutely should have won if not for Romelu Lukaku hitting every post imaginable. For Leicester no one has been able to stop Jamie Vardy. Swansea thought they did it, but Riyad Mahrez picked him up with a hat trick. Leicester are firing on all cylinders these days and that continues with a 2-1 win.
Watford vs. Liverpool (8:30 AM Sunday)
Remember that time a few weeks ago where it looked like Liverpool were about to throw themselves right into the title race? Man, that was awesome. Then the Reds went on to lose to Newcastle, draw with Sion in the Europa League, and then draw at home to West Brom. To top it all off, they tried resting Daniel Sturridge against Newcastle, and he still managed to get hurt.
Now the Sturridge-less side faces a Watford side that has won three in a row and five of seven. Those two losses came against first place Leicester and Manchester United on an injury time own goal. Jurgen Klopp is good enough to get his Liverpool side a result against the Hornets, but with injury concerns on defense and in the attack, Liverpool just aren’t good enough to win. 1-1 draw.
Arsenal vs. Manchester City (3:00 PM Monday)
It’s always fun when these two teams get together. What makes this one even better is that both teams are getting healthier. Alexis Sanchez and Sergio Aguero are both expected to be back for their respected teams, giving each team more than enough fire power. With both teams ready to attack, this game will be decided by who can defend better. That’s where Manchester City will run into problems as they’re still without Vincent Kompany and still haven’t figured out how to defend without him. Arsenal win 3-1.
Rest of the games
Southampton continued their struggles last week in their loss to Crystal Palace. This week they face a Tottenham side that have been struggling themselves. This week though is the one where Spurs right the ship with a 2-1 win.
What happens when you beat Chelsea and Manchester United in consecutive weeks and then face West Brom away? You get a letdown week and that’s what’s going to be in store for Bournemouth this week in a 2-2 draw.
Following a big win against Manchester City Stoke suffered a bit of a letdown in a 0-0 draw with West Ham. Now they face a frisky Crystal Palace side, who have always been good on the road, but are now starting to put it together at home to. Crystal Palace win 1-0.
Are Newcastle getting better or did they just hit a fluky two-game win streak? I’m not quite sure, and Aston Villa certainly aren’t the right test to find out the truth. I think Newcastle get the 2-0 win, but even I hate that pick.
West Ham has been pretty inept offensively since Dimitri Payet went down. This week they face a very bad Swansea. That should be good for the Hammers who get the 1-0 win.
Enjoy the games!