If you thought the first week of the 2020/2021 Premier League season was exciting, then week 2 must’ve blown your mind.
SO – what does Matchweek 3 have in store for us? Let’s have a look, shall we?
Saturday, Sept. 26th
Brighton v. Manchester United
The weekend’s matches kick off with my Red Devils looking to do better than they did against Crystal Palace by taking it out on Brighton. United, making their season debut against the Eagles, immediately crushed the hopes of supporters around the globe that they’d carry the momentum from Project Restart into this season. Instead, they were thoroughly outperformed by a Palace side that were hungrier and took advantage of the opportunities presented to them. A 3-1 loss was not the way United wanted to kick off the campaign, and they’ll be eager to put that performance behind them.
Brighton have already begun raising eyebrows around the league. In two weeks they’ve shown a very different style of play, and an aggression not necessarily expected from a “small team” in the league. Tariq Lamptey, the 19 year old (he turns 20 next week) speedster, has been a thorn in the side of many an opponent, and doesn’t have the look of slowing down. The back line of United, which has been a shambles for longer than I’d care to admit, will have its hands full with Lamptey, Neil Maupey, and Leandro Trossard.
Crystal Palace v. Everton
I expect this to be an exciting match from the opening whistle on. Everton are off to their ideal start this season, taking all 6 available points from their opening two matches. Dominic Calvert-Lewin asserted himself against West Brom, taking home the game ball with his first Premier League hat trick. James Rodriguez has had another week to gel with his teammates, and it shows. If they continue their current form, it’s feasible they will be near the top of the table for quite some time.
Palace are in a similar place, with a similar storyline. A squad filled with talent that often leaves fans scratching their heads when the results aren’t there. In this young season, however, the results have arrived. Wilfried Zaha couldn’t have asked for a better pair of games, netting 3 goals in two matches thus far. These two high flying teams should make for a wide open back and forth affair.
West Brom v. Chelsea
Last weekend’s most anticipated match didn’t quite meet the expectations many had coming into the clash. The first half was fairly evenly played, but Andreas Christensen got sent off for a last ditch tackle worthy of an NFL defensive back. Playing the second half down a man, Chelsea couldn’t hold off the Liverpool attack and ultimately fell 2-0. They’ll be happy to line up across from the Baggies this weekend, in what should prove a less challenging match.
West Brom, on the other hand, are still searching for their footing in their return to the Premier League. Through two weeks they have conceded 8 goals and only scored 2. It won’t get any easier against Chelsea, especially coming off of their Carabao Cup loss to Championship side Brentford. Will the defeat inspire a better showing, or will they continue to flounder at the bottom of the table, unable to adjust to the new level of competition?
Burnley v. Southampton
In their maiden voyage this season, Burnley ultimately came up short in a back and forth affair against Leicester. Things won’t get any easier for them this weekend when the Saints come to town. They’ll prove even more difficult due to a rash of injuries suffered at the club, most recently to Jay Rodriguez, who picked up a knock in their midweek Carabao Cup match against Milwall. He’s the latest in a line of names absent from the pitch for Sean Dyche’s club.
Southampton will come into this match fresh off of their pasting at the hands of Tottenham Hotspur. After a fairly tame, evenly played first half, Spurs came out and utterly dominated the Saints in the second 45. Harry Kane and Son Heung-min had their way with Southampton’s rear guard, putting 4 in the back of the net en route to a 5-2 victory. The Saints are still without a point in the current campaign, and will hope to reverse their fortunes at Turf Moor.
Sunday, Sept. 27th
Sheffield v. Leeds United
The Whites of Leeds United are playing some of the most entertaining football of the young Premier League season. They rattled the cage of the defending champions in Matchweek 1 and managed to prevail against fellow promoted club Fulham this past weekend. In all, there have been 14 goals in the two league games involving Leeds United. I expect the trend to continue when they visit Bramall Lane on Sunday. Marcelo Bielsa’s high octane style of play is an absolute joy to watch.
Sheffield United haven’t looked themselves so far this season. The squad who took the Premier League by storm last season (finishing 9th), have had a rough go of it thus far. Their opener saw them shocked by a Wolves squad that put two goals on the board before they had time to blink. Last week they played the majority of the game against Aston Villa shorthanded after a 12th minute sending off of John Egan. Leeds will no doubt make it very difficult for the Blades to finally put one in the win column.
Tottenham Hotspur v. Newcastle
The Magpies may still be catching their breath after being run ragged by Tariq Lamptey and Brighton during Matchweek 2. It was a far cry from their victory over West Ham in their first match of the season. The second half of last week left them feeling a bit better about their performance, but they’ll need to continue that upward trend against an in form Spurs side.
Son Heung-min and Harry Kane were the talk of the town after their performance against Southampton last week. The pair put on a show in the second half, with Son netting 4 goals, while Kane assisted on all 4 and added a goal of his own in the victory. Their Carabao Cup match was postponed due to positive COVID tests among their opponents from Leyton Orient. This affords them a couple extra days of rest at the beginning of what will be a brutal schedule ahead for Spurs, given their domestic and European commitments.
Manchester City v. Leicester
The Foxes from Leicester will look to give Brendan Rodgers his 101st Premier League victory after handing him the 100th of his career last weekend against Burnley. They currently sit atop the table, having taken all available points from their first two games. This week will prove a much tougher test, as they head to the Etihad looking to build even more momentum and continue their winning ways.
It’s now 10 years running that Manchester City have won the opening game of their campaigns, having defeated Wolves 3-1 to close out Matchweek 2. It proved a fairly comfortable victory against a pesky opponent. This week should be much the same against Leicester.
West Ham United v. Wolves
Wolverhampton Wanderers came out firing on all cylinders this season, surprising Sheffield with 2 goals inside of 10 minutes to open their campaign. They didn’t fare quite as well last week against Manchester City, but they’ll look to get back on track against the Hammers at the London Stadium.
Of course, the biggest news coming out of West Ham is off the pitch. Manager David Moyes and two players were sent home ahead of their Carabao Cup match against Hull in midweek after testing positive for COVID-19. Shockingly, that match went on to be played despite those positive results. Expectations as of this writing are that the match will still be played as scheduled, but as with most things COVID related – you just never know.
Monday, Sept. 28th
Fulham v. Aston Villa
Villa got off the mark last week with a 1-0 victory against a 10-man Sheffield squad. They were able to take advantage of the extra space afforded them by the shortage, but were only able to put 1 goal past Sheffield keeper Aaron Ramsdale. That, coupled with a great PK save from their own keeper, Emiliano Martinez (who was making his club debut), secured the three points. They’ll aim to build on the victory when they head to Craven Cottage.
After an uninspired debut against Arsenal in their return to the PL, Fulham followed it up with a much more valiant showing against fellow promoted side Leeds United last week. They managed to hang close with Leeds, but came up short in the end, leaving them without a point so far this season. Perhaps the third attempt will prove fruitful as they take on Villa.
Liverpool v. Arsenal
Matchweek 3 will close out with this epic battle, albeit a bit earlier than usual.
The Reds continued their winning ways last week, defeating a shorthanded Chelsea 2-0 after surviving a scare against Leeds in Matchweek 1. The champions are rounding into form as the season moves ahead, and new addition Thiago Alcantara should only improve an already stacked lineup. Sadio Mané opened his account with both goals at Stamford Bridge. He, Mo Salah, and Roberto Firmino will be looking to get on the scoresheet once again.
Arsenal have a formidable strike force as well. Alexandre Lacazette and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang are joined by the likes of new acquisition Willian, as well as Eddie Nketiah, as a handful of scoring threats for the Gunners. If Arsenal can minimize their mistakes, they should be able to give Liverpool a challenging match. Both teams are looking to remain unbeaten.
Despite no “Turf War” matchups amongst our writers, I expect yet another entertaining weekend of matches. Enjoy the fun!
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