Friday 8/14/15 (11:45 AM PT)
Aston Villa vs. Manchester United (4)
A unique set of circumstances — a Defense League march in Birmingham and United’s Champions League playoff fixture next Tuesday — pushed this matchup to Friday, and we aren’t complaining. American fans get a preview of Friday night football, set to be integrated into the Premier League schedule next season, and it’s not a bad matchup to boot. Granted, neither United nor Villa was all that impressive while securing opening-day wins, but both have fascinating, revamped squads. That, along with the kickoff time, makes this a fantastic Friday watch.
Saturday 8/15/15 (4:45 AM PT)
Southampton vs. Everton (3)
(7:00 AM PT)
Watford vs. West Brom (1)
Watford earned a quality draw last week against Everton and will look to build on that in their first BPL fixture at Vicarage Road since 2007. They are still a long way from getting a foot in the league, but more results like last week’s will give the newcomers confidence. West Brom are teetering on the verge of danger if Saido Berahino leaves, but the striker is likely to be on the pitch come Saturday, which makes Watford’s job a lot trickier.
Sunderland vs. Norwich City (1)
Two of the relegation favorites meet looking to bounce back after disappointing losses to start the season. It could be a very long season for Sunderland, as evidenced by last week’s 4-2 loss to Leicester, and they will need to beat the newly promoted teams consistently to fend off relegation yet again. They’ll have to improve on last week big time against the Canaries, who showed some promise in a loss to Crystal Palace.
Tottenham vs. Stoke City (4)
Stoke-alona continued its pursuit of supreme talents this week with the audacious signing of Swiss international Xherdan Shaqiri, who could make his debut this week against Spurs. Shaqiri is a young, but experienced, midfielder with loads of ability and a resume that includes stops at Bayern Munich and Inter Milan, and his addition could push the Potters to a new level. Winning at White Hart Lane is always a tough task, but Stoke have had some success there in recent years. With two top-half sides on display, this is the best fixture in the time slot.
West Ham vs. Leicester City (3)
Arguably the two most impressive teams from week one match up this weekend. West Ham, who were spectacular all over the pitch in a win over Arsenal, will get a terrific reception in their home opener, the last they’ll play in the Boleyn Ground. That alone should provide a wave of momentum for the Hammers, but Leicester will come to London intent on attacking and turning this into an open contest, which will mean great viewing.
Swansea City vs. Newcastle (3)
Swansea was impressive in an opening-day draw with Chelsea and deserved more from the fixture. Though Newcastle didn’t necessarily deserve more than the point they earned, the Magpies were equally as impressive in their own way in a 2-2 draw
Sunday 8/16/15 (5:30 AM PT)
Crystal Palace vs. Arsenal (3)
A fantastic atmosphere and improved Palace team await the Gunners in South London as Arsene Wenger looks to rebound from the shocking loss to West Ham. The time slot will turn off many casual fans, but this one has some of the potential warning signs of a thrilling contest. Arsenal are the favorites despite the current table, but anything can happen at Selhurst Park, and new signing Yohan Cabaye has Palace looking like a threat to the top seven. It’s early, but it could be worth it.
(8:00 AM PT)
Manchester City vs. Chelsea (5)
The season has only just begun, but with these two squads atop the majority of predicted tables, this is just about the biggest August fixture possible. Manchester City’s offense is deadly, and they already look to be in midseason form after putting three past West Brom a week ago. The Blues will also be without star keeper Thibaut Courtois, who
Liverpool vs. Bournemouth (2)
Though they lost their opener to Aston Villa, Bournemouth played well throughout the contest and had the Villains on the ropes for stretches. But this week will be a completely new ballgame for the minnows as they get their first taste of an elite BPL side in the Reds. Liverpool have a lot more in the tank than they put on display last weekend in a 1-0 win against Stoke, and if they bring anywhere close to their A-game, it's going to be a long day for Bournemouth.
European Game of the Week
Borussia Dortmund vs. Borussia Monchengladbach, 9:30 AM PT, Saturday 8/15/15
In lieu of a Saturday evening game in England, the football scheduling gods have blessed us with a doozy in that very same time slot from Germany’s opening weekend. Dortmund underachieved last season to finish in seventh, while Monchengladbach overachieved to end up in third and earn a Champions League berth. These two will be among the teams fighting for the UCL spots again this year, and this game could end up having an impact in the makeup of the final table, even though it’s just the first one. If it doesn’t, it’s a high-quality fixture in Europe’s second-best league, and that makes it a perfect mid-morning matchup for a Saturday without one in England.