Following the Friday night clash between Chelsea and Liverpool, the Premier League weekend kicks into full gear with five matches on Saturday, and a four pack of fixtures on Sunday. Here’s a peek at each match-up, as we get ready for another round of the greatest show on earth.
Hull City vs. Arsenal, KCOM Stadium (Saturday, 7 AM PT)
Though the season is only four games old, the Tigers and the Gunners are deadlocked on points (seven) and have an identical goal differential (+2). In truth, it’s the side from North London that should feel a tad fortunate to be in that position. Arsenal were provided a stoppage time lifeline against Southampton on Saturday (some would say a gift), a questionable penalty which was converted ever so smoothly by Santi Cazorla (the ambidextrous Spaniard, and big fan of soccerloco) to give the Gunners a 2-1 win.
Hull City have not beaten Arsenal since 2008. Alexis Sanchez has scored four times in his last four encounters with Hull. Look for the Chilean maestro to have another stellar performance on Saturday.
Leicester City vs. Burnley, King Power Stadium (Saturday, 7 AM PT)
There’s two ways you could go with this one. You could call it a match-up of two reigning champions. Or you could call it 15th vs. 16th. It was a strange last week for the Foxes, Leicester getting trounced 4-1 at Liverpool before winning their first ever Champions League game 3-0 away to Brugge. Jamie Vardy has scored seven goals in his last eight Premier League matches, and the Leicester marksman has four in his last four matches at the friendly confines of the King Power Stadium. Look for Vardy to have another party on Saturday.
Manchester City vs. Bournemouth, Etihad Stadium (Saturday, 7 AM PT)
It’s the kings of the early season against the 14th place side from the South Coast. The perfect start to the campaign shall continue for the league leaders. City could easily replicate their performances against Bournemouth last season, 5-1 and 4-0 wins.
West Bromwich Albion vs. West Ham, The Hawthorns (Saturday, 7 AM PT)
In their last eleven meetings with West Ham, West Brom have recorded just one victory. West Ham, in slight contrast have recorded three. That’s seven draws in the last eleven head to head match-ups! With the Hammers uncanny ability to blow bubbles and leads, it would be rather fitting for Slaven Bilic’s side to score first and concede late, sharing the spoils with the Baggies yet again.
Everton vs. Middlesbrough, Goodison Park (Saturday, 9:30 AM PT)
With all the spotlight on Manchester and London, the lads in the blue half of Liverpool have quietly climbed to third place in the league, even on points with Chelsea and just two behind Man City. Ronald Koeman has his side playing beautiful, winning football, and that trend will likely continue on Saturday. American keeper Brad Guzan will be up against it in the Boro goal, as Romelu Lukaku, Ross Barkley, and the rest of the Everton attack will be in pedal to the metal mode as nightfall hits Merseyside. On a historical note, Gareth Barry will make his 600th Premier League appearance on Saturday, joining Ryan Giggs and Frank Lampard as the only men with 600 or more.
Watford vs. Manchester United, Vicarage Road (Sunday, 4 AM PT)
After the hottest of starts under Jose Mourinho, Man United have lost back to back matches in less than a week. The Red Devils were beaten in convincing fashion (albeit by just one goal) in the Manchester Derby on Saturday, and suffered a 1-0 defeat in Holland on Thursday, Feyenoord getting off to a fine start in Europa League play. Will the losing streak continue? Or will United get back to winning ways against the Hornets? (History would side with the latter. Watford have lost their last nine league meetings with United.)
Crystal Palace vs. Stoke City, Selhurst Park (Sunday, 6:15 AM PT)
Two managers with great playing pedigrees will be fighting to pick things up for their sides on Sunday. Mark Hughes looks to be the favorite for the first sack of the season, Stoke with just one point after four games, sitting at the basement of the Premier League table. Alan Pardew’s Palace side are in 11th on four points, and their new Belgian brute, Christian Benteke, looks poised to be the hard-edged target man and goalscorer that the Silver Fox has so desperately yearned for since last season’s grueling goal drought.
Southampton vs. Swansea City, St. Mary’s (Sunday, 6:15 AM PT)
The Saints have had a roller coaster of a week, notching a 3-0 win over Sparta Prague in the Europa League on Thursday after being cruelly denied a share of the spoils away to Arsenal in the Premier League on Saturday thanks to a controversial stoppage time penalty. The Swans are hopeful that their club record signing, forward Borja Baston, will be fit to make his long-awaited debut on Sunday. The Spaniard scored 18 times in 36 league appearances in 2015/16 for Basque side Eibar in La Liga. Swansea supporters are anxious to see if Baston can replicate that kind of form in the Premier League.
Tottenham vs. Sunderland, White Hart Lane (Sunday, 8:30 AM PT)
After a 4-0 romp over bottom dwellers Stoke City in their last Premier League match, Tottenham took the pitch at Wembley in the midweek, the club electing to follow the 1990’s path of their fiercest rivals Arsenal and play their Champions League matches at England’s biggest football stadium. While the spectacle was an incredible one (over 85,000 in attendance), the result was less than satisfactory, a 2-1 loss to Radamel Falcao and Monaco.
Back in the league (where they currently sit fifth in the table), Mauricio Pochettino must find a way to back up his latest eyebrow raising quote, the Argentine boss calling Tottenham “the biggest club in England”. Sunderland have had a rough start under David Moyes, winless with just one point and sitting in 19th place. Santa Cruz, California native Lynden Gooch has been a bright spot for the Black Cats, the midfielder garnering praise from his manager and Sunderland supporters alike. It will be a tough task for Sunderland, but if they are able to properly bunker down, it could be a frustrating afternoon for Spurs. Look for former Tottenham star Jermaine Defoe to get on the scoresheet for the visitors. Defoe has scored in each of his last four road matches in the league.