Wolves vs. Manchester City (Saturday 8/25/18, NBCSN, 4:30 AM PT)
Arsenal vs. West Ham (Saturday 8/25/18, NBCSN, 7 AM PT)
Southampton vs. Leicester (Saturday 8/25/18, NBC Sports Gold, 7 AM PT)
Bournemouth vs. Everton (Saturday 8/25/18, NBC Sports Gold, 7 AM PT)
Huddersfield vs. Cardiff (Saturday 8/25/18, NBC Sports Gold, 7 AM PT)
Liverpool vs. Brighton (Saturday 8/25/18, NBC, 9:30 AM PT)
Watford vs. Crystal Palace (Sunday 8/26/18, NBCSN, 5:30 AM PT)
Fulham vs. Burnley (Sunday 8/26/18, NBC Sports Gold, 8 AM PT)
Newcastle vs. Chelsea (Sunday 8/19/18, NBCSN, 8 AM PT)
Manchester United vs. Tottenham (Monday 8/20/18, NBCSN, 12 PM PT)
Top three games
3. Arsenal vs. West Ham
This Londen derby is a dangerous matchup for both sides, neither of whom has earned a point. The Gunners have the class to win the fixture and should do so at home, but anything less than three points and they will already be at least eight off the top. While a point won’t get the Hammers much, it would be a good confidence booster against a top-six opponent. West Ham are still a talented group, though, and the teams know each other well, so
2. Wolves vs. Manchester City
In theory, Manchester City should be able to cruise untroubled past newly promoted Wolves at Molineux on Saturday, but it might not be that simple in practice. Last year, Wolves were the first team to hold City scoreless, doing so over 120 tight minutes before falling on penalties to the Citizens in the EFL Cup. Both team sheets will look very different than they did that day, when Guardiola and Wolves boss Nuno Espirito Santo both made massive changes to their squads for the cup match. Even so, Wolves have the quality it takes to at least pose City problems. At home — and with City missing Kevin De Bruyne due to injury — the hosts will certainly have a chance. Taking advantage against this City team is another story entirely, though, and Wolves will have a major challenge ahead of them if they’re going to do so.
1. Manchester United vs. Tottenham
Spurs have started well with six points, but Manchester United at Old Trafford presents a completely different level of difficulty in the early season. The Red Devils will be hungry, too, after stumbling last week away to Brighton. It’s definitely a bigger game for the hosts, with the rumors growing of an unsettled camp and their home territory to defend, so the pressure will certainly be on in front of what can be a volatile crowd. It’s surely the best collection of talent on display this weekend.
Bournemouth vs. Everton
This fixture never seems to disappoint, and with both teams off to solid starts, there’s reason to hope for another entertaining match on the South coast. In the six Premier League games between the pair, there have been 25 goals scored, and each of these sides has already found the net four times in two games. The history favors Bournemouth, as the home team has never lost this fixture, with the only draw beinga memorable 3-3 match in the Cherries’ debut season in which they came from behind twice, once after Everton had surely won it in the late stages. They’ll also be boosted by last week’s away win over West Ham, in which Bournemouth showed character and quality to reverse a problematic situation. Everton will pose a real threat, and with Marco Silva settling in nicely on Merseyside, the Toffees look like a much more solid outfit than last season. With two attacking sides doing battle, this could end up being one of the games of the weekend.
European games of the week
Benfica vs. Sporting (Primeira Liga, Saturday 8/25/18, GolTV, 9 AM PT)
This is one of the small handful of games that defines each Portuguese season, and this weekend’s Derby de Lisboa will do so once again. With both of the Lisbon giants off to perfect 2-0-0 starts along with their rivals from Porto, Saturday’s clash provides the first opportunity to get a leg up on the competition. Sporting should be the fresher of the two sides, as Benfica are competing in the Champions League
Napoli vs. AC Milan (Serie A, Saturday 8/25/18, ESPN+, 11:30 AM PT)
It might not be the flashiest game in the Serie A this weekend (see the Juventus-Lazio clash that comes right before it), but this one is still critical nonetheless. Napoli finished second last year and still have ambitions of unseating Juve, but for those to come true, they can’t stumble often, especially at home. What’s more intriguing about this match, however, is the visitor. It’s anybody’s guess what AC Milan will bring to the table this season. Gennaro Gattuso’s side was excellent down the stretch after the former club legend took over as manager midseason, and with an offseason of improvement, they could well be back in the top-four hunt for the first time in a good while. It’s a major first test, too, and they will be at a disadvantage having yet to play a fixture after their opening-day match against Genoa was postponed. All bets are off.
Borussia Dortmund vs. RB Leipzig (Bundesliga, Sunday 8/26/18, FOX, 9 AM PT)
The Bundesliga’s opening weekend starts with a cracking matchup between Bayern Munich and Hoffenheim, but the guess here is that Sunday’s match pitting Dortmund and Leipzig — which will air on network FOX — will be the memorable one in the end. Two of Germany’s dynamic young teams meet at the Signal Iduna Park, and it should be a thrilling attacking match. New managers Ralf Rangnick of Leipzig (returning to the post after spending a few years as sporting director) and Dortmund’s Lucien Favre both have penchants for success, so while the two sides dropped off the pace of the top of the table last season, each still has the quality to threaten Bayern’s reign if everything breaks right. Regardless, both will like their chances of grabbing a Champions League spot this season, and on Sunday, one will fire the opening salvo in the season-long scrap to do it.