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Premier League Preview – Can United Stay on Top?

It’s the third weekend of the Barclays Premier League season and if you thought that would make picking winners of each game any easier, you would be sorely mistaken. We’re starting to learn a bit more about each team, but it’s still only been two games, not exactly the biggest sample size. Plus, don’t forget that with the transfer window still open teams are still adapting to new players.

But let’s stop with the nonsense, that’s not why you’re here. Let’s just get on to the games.

Manchester United vs. Newcastle (7:45 ET Saturday)

It’s been a weird week for Manchester United. They reportedly had representatives in Spain ready to negotiate the signing of Pedro from Barcelona, only for everyone to wake up Wednesday morning with the news that Pedro was going to sign with Chelsea. On the field though it was more of the same for United with one exception, Memphis Depay.

Depay had his coming out party at Old Trafford Tuesday night, scoring two goals against Club Brugge in a Champion League qualifier. It’s amazing what can happen when Louis van Gaal stops playing Memphis out of position isn’t it? While it was a great game for the young Dutchman and will certainly help build his confidence, I’d like to see him start doing that against Premier League teams before I get really excited.

Perhaps the most surprising part of United’s season so far is that in three games they haven’t conceded a goal (Brugge did score a Michael Carrick own goal), even though their back four still features Daley Blind. Wayne Rooney’s form is still non-existent and if he doesn’t get going this week it will officially be time to start getting concerned. In the end though, United have looked solid defensively, and there’s just no way they don’t beat a bad Newcastle team at home. 2-0 United. 

Crystal Palace vs. Aston Villa (10:00 ET Saturday)

God bless the USA Network for picking up an extra 10:00 game every Saturday allowing us to watch some of the hot and frisky mid-table matches that the league has to offer. Aston Villa has been surprisingly better then expected and you could argue they were unlucky not to get a result at home against United last week. This should be one of the best games of the weekend with back and forth action at both ends. Ultimately though, this young Palace team that’s only getting better prevails 2-1.

*Upset Pick of the Week*

Leicester City vs. Tottenham (10:00 ET Saturday)

It’s kind of cheating that I’m calling this the upset of the week since there isn’t exactly a clear cut favorite in this match to begin. Leicester comes in as the early surprise of the season, playing great football and being tied with Manchester City for the most goals in the league. Spurs on the other hand are sitting way down in 14th with just one point. Don’t let that fool you though, in both of their matches this year, Spurs have been the better team completely controlling the entire game. However, due to some unwritten rule which states that no matter what, Spurs need to act like Spurs have always historically acted, their 2-0 halftime lead against Stoke last week was erased in the blink of an eye a week after they fell to United thanks to a Kyle Walker own goal.

Leicester come into the game as the hottest team in the league right now and going out and signing holding midfielder Gokhan Inler is only going to make them better. While they still won’t stay this hot for much longer their run will continue at least through this weekend when they really make a statement and beat Tottenham 3-1.

West Bromwich Albion vs. Chelsea (8:30 ET Sunday)

Normally a fixture like this would be a very easy one to predict, but not this time. Why? Because Chelsea have been really bad so far, so bad that they’re only slight favorites over a West Brom team that hasn’t even scored a goal yet. In the first week of the season, Tony Pulis played used ultra-defensive tactics to help his West Brom team get destroyed by Man City. Did he learn his mistake? Only time will tell, but the bottom line if Chelsea don’t get anything in this game, they’re really screwed. 1-0 Chelsea win. 

Everton vs. Manchester City (11:00 ET Sunday)

Which Everton team shows up? The one who only managed a draw vs. newly promoted Watford or the one that thrashed Southampton last week? Does it even matter? Not really since City comes into the match playing their best football in years. Yaya Toure and Vincent Kompany have returned to being world class players and Sergio Aguero looks like he’s already in midseason form (before his annual midseason injury). As long as that continues, City are pretty much unbeatable. I like Romelu Lukaku to sneak a goal in but City still take this 3-1. 

Arsenal vs. Liverpool (3:00 ET Monday) 

Remember how I said sometimes it just takes teams a while to get going. Nowhere is that more true than with these two teams. Arsenal has been beyond underwhelming this season, losing to West Ham and barely getting by Crystal Palace. Does some of that have to do with Alexis Sanchez not being fully fit yet? Of course, but that’s not an excuse for the rest of a talented team.

The Merseyside club hasn’t fared any better. Christian Benteke looks like he’s settling in well, but that’s just masking the fact that this team was rescued at virtually the last minute by Coutinho against Stoke and should have lost at home to Bournemouth. Everyone right now seems to love talking about Liverpool’s attack, but the bottom line is they scored a wonder goal and a goal that should have been ruled offside–not exactly the attacking juggernaut they’re being made out to be.

In all honesty, it’s a toss up between Liverpool and their biggest rivals Manchester United for who is the more undeserving six-point team right now. Getting a big test at the Emirates isn’t going to help them right now, but Arsenal getting a one-week-fitter Alexis Sanchez will certainly help them get enough for a 1-0 win. 

Around The League: 

Norwich and Stoke could be the hardest game to pick this week. Both teams looked good last week, but I’ll give the edge to Norwich simply on account of them being at home. The Swans travel to the Stadium of Light with a stingy defense that won’t allow a poor Sunderland side to get anything going. Swansea should win this one easily. 

Bournemouth, oh Bournemouth. When will I learn? Fool me once shame on you, fool me twice shame on me. Am I ready to jump off their bandwagon just yet? No, but the Cherries need to learn how to finish in front of goal. It hasn’t happened yet and it won’t happen this week: West Ham to win 2-0.

Finally, I’m done pretending Southampton are going to be able to defend even half as good as they did last year. The loss of Morgan Schneiderlin is just way too much and until Jordy Clasie gets healthy it won’t get any better. They’ll have enough to get a result, but nothing more then a 1-1 draw. 

Enjoy the games everyone!

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