Following the mid-week excitement of the Capital One Cup, all eyes will once again become fixated on the most prestigious prize in British football.
The Premier League season certainly hasn’t failed to live up to its hype as fans right across the 20 top-flight grounds have been treated to some wonderful matchday action already. This weekend sees yet another flurry of matches taking place, pitting some of Britain’s most in-form teams against each other.
But make no mistake, although it’s still early days, there is much riding on each and every game.
So, it’s time for Sports News Ireland to take a quick look ahead to this weekend’s must-see matches.
Newcastle v Chelsea
Chelsea enter into this tie brimming with confidence. In the past seven days, they have dispatched both Manchester City and Arsenal, in the league and cup respectively, and will definitely not fear the trip to St James’ Park.
The Blues have the added bonus of playing the early afternoon kick-off on the Saturday, a few hurse earlier than Liverpool and Arsenal face off against each other. So, a win for Jose Mourinho’s men would certainly heap a lot of pressure on their title-challenging compatriots as they would momentarily leapfrog them to the summit of the table.
Keep an eye out for a resurgent Fernando Torres who is all set to give Fabricio Coloccini and company a torrid lunch-time. The Spaniard has looked fighting fit and keen to cause all sorts of problems for defenders ever since his battle-hardened display against Spurs. Expect him to grab a few goas as he leads the line with strength and finesse.
Prediction: Cash-rich Chelsea should dispatch Alan Pardew’s side with ease as they look to grab the momentum in the race for top spot.
Arsenal v Liverpool
The Gunners enter into this tie on the back of a rather rough patch – at least by this season’s lofty standards.
Their win against Crystal Palace was sandwiched by two losses – one against Borussia Dortund in the Champions League, the other against Chelsea in the League Cup. So, Arsene Wenger will undoubtedly enter into this match a tad more anxious than usual. And understandably so.
Having played some swashbuckling, free-flowing attacking football over the past few weeks, it seemed as though the North Londoners could well surprise everyone by challenging for the title. However, they’ve stalled somewhat of late.
And Arsenal’s difficulty could very well be Liverpool’s opportunity.
The return of Luis Suarez, combined with an almost telekinetic understanding with his supporting assistant Daniel Sturridge led Liverpool to a most impressive win over potentially tricky opponents West Bromwich Albion last weekend. Clearly, the signs look good for the Reds to produce a cohesive, fine-tuned challenge for the title, however it will be these big matchdays that will really test Brendan Rodgers’ men.
Hammering four goals past a mid-table side is nothing compared to the challenge of outdoing an opponent of Arsenal’s ability. In short, this promises to be the most entertaining encounter of the weekend.
Prediction: This match should be decided by the midfield battle. If Mesut Ozil and his team-mates can use the home advantage to overpower Steven Gerrard and et al in the middle of the park, they should just about edge this one. But any mistakes at the back from the Gunners will be punished with severity by SAS. A closely fought 2-1 to Arsenal.
Everton v Tottenham
Before the season had begun, choosing a winner between these two sides should have posed no real headaches for many pundits. However, there isn’t that much to separate them at present – at least not on points.
A win for Everton could well lift them into the top four ahead of Andre Villa-Boas’ side, while a victory for Spurs could see them climb into third place.
A gruelling battle against Hull City during the week saw Spurs eventually come out on top after a 15-penalty shootout, and while they will certainly be delighted to have found safe passage to the quarter-final stage, their exertions could well come back to haunt them this weekend.
Granted, they have a large squad specifically to allow them to combat on a number of fronts, it is something that Roberto Martinez could well aim to target when the sides line out on Sunday afternoon. In fact, with an in-form Romelu Lukaku already netting five league goals so far, it could well be the home side who come away with all three points.
Prediction: Both sides will be hungry to maintain their solid start to the season, and this one should end all square. But, don’t worry, there should be a few goals on show. An entertaining 2-2 draw.
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