Saturday 8/26/17 (4:30 AM PT)
Bournemouth vs. Manchester City (2)
Having yet to score a goal through two Premier League games as they welcome Manchester City to Dean Court, Bournemouth are behind the eight ball. They are going to need a dogged defensive effort if they are to stand any chance against Pep Guardiola’s men. Expect the Cherries to sit deep and counter while City take the game to their hosts with their high-pressing, high-possession style.
Crystal Palace vs. Swansea City (1)
With a combined one point, negative-eight goal differential, and zero goals scored, both Crystal Palace and Swansea need a kick in the rear to get their seasons going. Luckily, they face off against each other this weekend, so each has a major opportunity to get its first victory. Beating bad teams will be critical for both squads, who are simply trying to just keep their heads above water this season. As such, expect a gritty affair at Selhurst Park.
Watford vs. Brighton (3)
Watford look like a team ready to turn some heads this season. After a 3-3 opening-day draw with Liverpool, they backed up their impressive offensive performance by putting two past Bournemouth and keeping a clean sheet to boot. On the road, Brighton’s task this weekend is that much larger as they just look for their first Premier League goal and point. If the Seagulls can’t get going early in this one, Watford could again cruise to the points.
Huddersfield vs. Southampton (4)
Despite a negative preseason outlook, Southampton have come out of the gates strong, grabbing a win and a draw in their first two matches. Much more shocking, however, is Huddersfield’s perfect six points in two games as the newly promoted Terriers look to make it a perfect nine-for-nine this weekend. The most interesting battle is between the Saints’ attack, which scored three times last week, and Huddersfield’s backline, which has yet to concede. Either way, both sides have a good chance to continue their unexpectedly solid starts.
Newcastle vs. West Ham (1)
Despite some big offseason moves, West Ham could be in trouble. The Hammers have let in a league-high
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Manchester United vs. Leicester (4)
After starting their season with consecutive 4-0 wins, United get their first real test of the campaign with a visit from Craig Shakespeare’s Foxes. Leicester showed in their opening-day defeat at Arsenal that they won’t just sit back when on the road against a top team. They also showed last weekend against Brighton that they’re capable of putting together solid performances at both ends of the pitch. They should pose a bigger challenge for the Red Devils than either West Ham or Swansea did (although the Swans were in the contest until the final 10 minutes). With that said, if United play up to the potential they’ve shown early this season, they are going to take all three points. They need to be careful not to overlook Leicester, though.
Sunday 8/27/17 (5:30 AM PT)
West Brom vs. Stoke City (1)
Two defensive-minded sides facing off at the same time as two top-seven clubs is an easy recipe for a game to skip. These teams have been involved in four 1-0 contests so far this year, and expecting more goals than that seems like a fool’s bet. Tony Pulis’s Baggies have looked solid at the back and inept going forward, while Mark Hughes’s Potters have been a bit better in attack and a bit worse in defense. This should be a low-scoring clash, and while the points could go either way, there’s no reason to choose this one over the other clash in the timeslot.
Chelsea vs. Everton (5)
After an impressive away draw to Manchester City, Everton will look to maintain their strong start at Stamford Bridge against Chelsea. The Blues got a massive boost last weekend from their 2-1 win at Wembley over Spurs (LINK), and they’ll welcome the Toffees to London with a ton of momentum at their backs. Everton have struggled in recent games against Chelsea, and the Blues will like their chances of continuing that trend. However, Ronald Koeman has his Everton team looking pretty sharp in the early
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Tottenham vs. Burnley (2)
On paper, this is a mismatch. Burnley started their year with a memorable away win over a top side in Chelsea, but they still won just one game away from Turf Moor last season. The Clarets aren’t going to be relying on points in these types of games, against the best sides in the league, to ensure their survival. Despite that, the door is slightly ajar for Burnley as they head to Wembley. Spurs have been dire at England’s national stadium, and while they’re far and away the more talented team, a failure to find the net early would increase the pressure 10-fold as Tottenham tries to leave their Wembley troubles in the past.
Liverpool vs. Arsenal (5)
With two top sides, charismatic managers, and leaky defenses doing battle at Anfield, the stage is set for a cracker of a match to end the Premier League weekend. Arsenal are feeling the heat just a little after losing to Stoke last weekend following their dramatic opening day win over Leicester, while a similar story has unfolded for Liverpool thus far. The Reds haven’t yet put together a complete team performance in the league, first looking defensively suspect in a draw with Watford, then scuffling offensively in a 1-0 win over Palace. They’ll be buoyed after a strong showing in a midweek Champions League playoff round win over Hoffenheim, but Arsenal will have a much fresher squad. The form may not be there for either side, but all the pieces are in place for a truly terrific contest.
Bonus European Game of the Week: Monaco vs. Marseille, Sunday 8/27/17, 12 noon
Marseille are looking to return to the top three and the Champions League places for the first time since 2012-13, and they’ve gotten off to a good start in that quest. Thus far, OM have two wins and a draw, with five goals scored and just one conceded. However, their opponents have been even better early this season, as Monaco has three wins and eight goals scored, even with Kylian Mbappe playing limited minutes so far. These teams are among a group of four or five that should find themselves battling for two of Ligue 1’s UCL places (PSG shouldn’t have any problems finishing in the top three), and whichever can take the points this weekend will deliver a loud statement about their intentions of doing so. Monaco will be the favorites, but Marseille are certainly good enough to pull out a result.