Hi there football lovers. The international break is over (Thank goodness) and so we usher in another weekend of league football. This weekend promises to be more spicy than usual. Why? You may ask. And the short reply is ‘new signings’. Of course, this is the first time most clubs sides will be playing a match with their new recruits since transfer deadline day on September 2nd. Today i shall be doing a short preview on some selected matches across Europe. Let’s ride along.
- We kick things off at Old Trafford where Manchester United take on Crystal Palace in the early lunchtime kickoff on Saturday. United will still be smarting from their defeat at the hands of bitter rivals Liverpool on the first day of September. They welcome Ian Holloway’s men who will be brimming with confidence after dispatching Sunderland 3-1 in their last encounter. Palace’s last visit to Old Trafford was a happy one with a victory in the League Cup in 2011. Darren Ambrose scoring a screamer that day. Palace signed Cameron Jerome on loan from Stoke on deadline day, while United signed Marouane Fellaini from Everton. Both are expected to be handed debuts for their new clubs while former Palace ace Wilfried Zaha is likely to be given a run in against his former employers. With a champions league match against Bayer Leverkusen on Tuesday, United manager David Moyes might choose to rest some key names for this one. Verdict: Though dismal in their last encounter at Anfield, I expect a response from the champions. 3-0 win for Manchester United.
Arsenal head into their clash with Sunderland boasting a £42.5M gem in their ranks. This is a match to watch as Ozil is a joy to watch on any given day. In paying that amount, Ozil became Arsenal’s ever most expensive acquisition and also became Britain’s second most expensive player behind a certain Spaniard who cost Chelsea a cool £50M from Liverpool. Arsenal started the season badly but have since seen off London neighbours Fulham and Tottenham in impressive fashion and aslo qualified for the Champions League group stage. Arsenal have a good record against Sunderland as the black cats have managed to take just 8 points from 17 premier league game against Arsenal. That’s just a meagre 8 points from a possible 51. Sunderland have started the season badly recording just a solitary point after drawing once and losing twice. Sunderland are likely to hand debuts to Fabio Borini, Andrea Dossena and Ki-Sung Yeung. Sunderland have signed so many new players over the summer and they are still trying to gel as a team. Not a nice time to be playing Arsenal though. The Gunners won at the Stadium Of Light last season and i expect a smooth sail for Ozil and the gang. Prediction : 4-1 win to the Arsenal with Ozil scoring on his debut. You heard it here first.
- The ‘Happy one ‘ takes his Chelsea team to Goodison Park on Saturday to say hi to Roberto Martinez and his boys. This will be Chelsea’s first league game since they played out a draw at Old Trafford and their first game since their unfortunate Super cup defeat to Bayern Munich a fortnight ago. Both teams welcomed some new faces recently. Willian and Eto’o for Chelsea and James McCarthy, Gareth Barry and Romelu Lukaku for Everton on deadline day. Lukaku however is ineligible to play against his parent club as he is on loan to Everton. Everton have averaged the highest possession stakes so far this season with a 64.16% average but all that so far has counted for nothing as they are yet to win a match this season and have even failed to score in their last 2 games. Everton though have a good record at Goodison Park against Chelsea in recent time. They have won 6 of the last 10 at Goodison against the blues. Jose comes to town this time with a different proposition. A side brimming with fantastic young talent. Willian, Oscar, Schurrlle, Harzard with the experience of Lampard, Eto’o and co. Tough day in the office I forsee for Roberto and his boys. Prediction: A hard fought victory for Chelsea 2-1.
Manchester City visit the Brittania for a meeting with a familiar face. Former manager Mark Hughes is now in charge of the Potters and he will be keen to get one back at the side he once managed and still feels he was unfairly shown the door to pave way for Roberto Mancini to take over. Last season, both sides played out a one all draw at the Brittania with Javi Garcia scoring his first goal for City almost a year to the day on September 15th, 2012. Two seasons back, it was the same result with a wonder strike from Peter Crouch and a scorcher from Yaya Toure ensuring a stalemate. City have a decent record against Stoke and have won 5 and drawn 4 in their last 10 against Stoke with the solitary defeat in the period coming in 2009 courtsesy of a James Beattie header. Prediction: city have not been impressive so far and lost their last away game to Cardiff City. Stoke have won 2 on the spin after an opening day defeat to Liverpool. A bruising encounter in prospect. 2-2.
- In Spain, Real Madrid and world record signing Gareth Bale head to the El Madrigal to take on the yellow submarine Villareal. Both teams boast a 100% record with 3 wins out of 3. Newly promoted Villareal have not done too well against Madrid both past and present. Rela have won an impressive 17 of their 26 meetings and have not lost any of their last 6 to the yellow submarine. I expect Villareal to put up a fight though but Real will edge it on quality 3-2. Barcelona host Sevilla at the Nou Camp also on Saturday. The Andalucians have just 2 points from 3 games and they face a daunting task against champions Barcelona at the Nou Camp. Barca totally eviscerated Levante 7-0 in their last home league match on the opening day and have won their opening 3 games convincingly with Lionel Messi scoring an impressive first half hat trick in their last encounter against Valencia. Prediction: A walk in the park for Barcelona with Neymar and Messi getting goals. 5-1. Footynyx.