Premier League Preview: Week 2.
A week in and it already feels like it never went away. The second weekend of fixtures concludes with the first title-clash on Monday night as Chelsea head to Manchester United as David Moyes becomes the first new manager to sit on the Old Trafford throne in over a quarter of a century.
But first, there’s another nine games to enjoy. Game on!
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Hull City Tigers vs Norwich City. 3PM Saturday.
Premiership football returns to the KC Stadium after a three year absence and Kingston Upon Hull will be buzzing. Unfortunately, that optimism is the sort of irrational logic that only football supporters can express.
Prior to last weekend’s big kick-off, the general consensus was that Hull will be sound defensively but lacking in talent; Sunday’s defeat at Stamford Bridge did little to alter that. Chelsea would have been a goal up inside six minutes had Lampard not missed a penalty and by half-time the hosts could have had four, five, or even six. Arguably two-nil was a score that flattered the hosts who were ran ragged throughout the first period before Mourinho’s men hit the brakes and saw out a comfortable second half.
Whilst an opening game away at Chelsea was never going to be easy, it was the threat (or rather lack of) posed by Hull to the Chelsea goal that already has me fearing for their safety. The visitors didn’t even come close to scoring a consolation in a match which must have left Petr Cech a little embarrassed to be picking up his five figure clean sheet bonus. I’m sure he got over it.
As for Norwich, I was quietly impressed by their opening day endeavours. Having first surrendered a goal advantage before then falling behind to Everton, the Canaries mustered up the equaliser (albeit in very fortunate circumstances) to send both sets of supporters home relatively pleased.
I really do fear for Hull in front of goal, whilst Norwich have already shown a resilience that should stand them in good stead for the challenge ahead.
BET TIP: Norwich 0 Asian handicap @ 5/4 with Bet365 . Alternatively DNB 11/10 with most bookmakers.
Southampton Vs Sunderland. 3PM Saturday.
A complete contrast in opening weekend matches for these two left Southampton contemplating a triumphant campaign whilst Sunderland will already be fearful of the drop.
Rickie Lambert’s late penalty at West Brom capped a strong away performance and, despite the campaign being in its infancy, it already seems that Southampton will avoid the dreaded second season syndrome. Many disagreed with the decision of replacing Nigel Adkins last year but the Saints board has been vindicated as the club continues its progress under Pochettino and a top ten finish does not feel beyond them.
As for Sunderland, their aspirations will be far more simple. ‘Survival’ is the only word that will matter to them and that alone will be considered another success for Paolo Di Canio. The Italian inherited a team that can only be described as mediocre at best and new signings have been made in quantity rather than quality. It’s not a bad set of players but outside of Sessegnon and an injured Steven Fletcher it is hard to see where match winning performances will emerge.
The opening day clash with Fulham offered Sunderland a chance to get their season running and Di Canio will be devastated not to have missed that opportunity. Their next seven home see Arsenal, Liverpool, Manchester Untied, Manchester City , Chelsea and Tottenham all visit the Stadium Of Light (the other being the derby with Newcastle) meaning home points could be few and far between. It’s an unlucky fixture list for the Black Cats made increasingly difficult by the disappointment of last Saturday.
Sunderland have got to go for it on the road or else they face the possibility of being cut adrift before Christmas. They are certainly capable of picking up points but the pressure is definitely on and could possibly lead to defensive calamities even after the release of Titus Bramble. Attack could well be the best form of defence.
The home side will be confident and they are a team full of goals. In Rickie Lambert they have a natural goal-getter whom is currently having the time of his life. With a supporting cast of Lallana, Schneiderlin, Rodriguez and new record signing Daniel Osvaldo, the Saints will pose a constant threat.
This is the kind of game that doesn’t jump off the page yet has the potential to be a cracker. It’ll still be last on Match Of The Day.
BET TIP: Over 2.5 goals @ evens BetVictor
Tottenham Vs Swansea. 4PM Sunday.
Neither Spurs nor Swansea will have been thrilled with their performances last weekend. The difference was Tottenham managed to get the three points, admittedly against a much weaker opposition.
Swansea kept the ball well but shipping four goals, albeit against the Champions, can’t help morale for a team that ended the previous campaign in such underwhelming fashion. Laudrup’s side are great passers and play attractive football that can carve defences apart, particularly those of inferior quality such as Bradford or Malmo. However, for all their qualities, they did not take many points from the top sides last season and could well struggle again here.
Tottenham will be desperate to put on a good show this weekend and I expect them to start brightly. If Bale is leaving, they will want to bring in one more big name to join summer captures Soldado, Chadli and Paulinho in order to compensate for the loss of their biggest star and demonstrating their potential here may just sway the decision of any potential singings. Additionally, with fierce rivals Arsenal already under pressure there is a real chance for Spurs to intensify that by picking up those vital early season victories.
Paulinho has a screamer of a debut, controlling the game without ever breaking a sweat and alongside Dembele will be aiming to form a focal point to everything Tottenham achieve this season. The subsequent departure of Scott Parker suggests AVB has total confidence in his central players and if they play to their potential then they will nullify Swansea’s passing with ease.
The hosts claimed all three points in the corresponding fixture on each of the last two campaigns and will be confident of completing the hat-trick here.
BET TIP: Tottenham HT/FT @ 5/4 Sky Bet