As the Premier League enters its seventh week of play, a few pace-setters are already starting to show themselves. Many of the so-called title contenders have began to gravitate towards the top end of the table, although it would be untrue to suggest that it’s been plain sailing all the way.
Some hiccoughs haven’t gone unnoticed as weaknesses ordinarily not present in some of the more successful clubs have been exposed by some grateful minnows. In short, it’s been quite a topsy-turvy few weeks in the Premier League.
So, it’s time for SportsNewsIreland to cast an eye over some upcoming fixtures and pick out three of the top matches to feast your eyes upon this weekend.
Manchester City v Everton
Without a doubt, this has the potential to be the most thrilling tie of this gameweek. An undefeated Everton side travel to the Etihad stadium looking to maintain their surprisingly good start to the season which has already seen them upset Jose Mourinho’s Chelsea by beating them 1-0. So, it’s clear that the Toffees are capable of mixing it with the best in their current form.
As for Manuel Pellegrini’s charges, they enter this match on the back of an embarrassing 3-1 loss at home to Bayern Munich in the Champions League, so it will be intriguing to see how they react. Granted, they’ll want to bounce back with an emphatic victory, but Everton are certainly not going to lie down and accept defeat, and will be keen to put up a stern challenge to the Citizens from early on.
Much will depend on how brightly Roberto Martinez’s team start the match. To come out of the blocks like they did against Newcastle would be ideal, and to do so, both Romelu Lukaku and Ross Barkley will need to be as sharp as possible. However, City too will look to make a good start so expect a feisty opening and a match where much will depend on the battle for dominance between both sets of central midfielders.
Prediction: 1-1. Everton will be too desperate to maintain their unbeaten run, but their habit of a poor second half showing might let them down on occasion.
Liverpool v Crystal Palace
If only to watch the blooming relationship between Daniel Sturridge and Luis Suarez, this match could well showcase some of the best attacking performances of the weekend. Watching them in action as they picked apart Sunderland’s defence last weekend to combine for all three goals was a joy to behold as they brought back memories of just how effective a front two working in tandem with each other can be.
Make no mistake, Liverpool will win this tie.
And although it’s still early days in the title race, it really is a must-win tie. If they want to keep the pressure on Arsenal who don’t play until Sunday, they’ll need to ensure they don’t drop any points against Palace. Of course, they have the added boost of playing at home, so the odds are already immediately increased in their favour.
If ‘SAS’ can continue to gel and improve on their relationship, there’s no reason why Brendan Rodgers’ men won’t win, and comfortably so. However, if there’s any weakness Ian Holloway will be hoping his team can exploit, it’s the Reds’ odd culpability in the second half of dropping their concentration levels and allowing opponents a way back into the tie. Aside from that, it’s hard to envisage the visitors claiming their first league win of the season.
Prediction: The Merseysiders to win 2-0 as their front two combine again.
West Bromwich Albion v Arsenal
It’s funny what €40 million can do isn’t it?
Well, that and an astute free transfer in the form of Mathieu Flamini as well as the revitalisation of Aaron Ramsey.
Either way, whether it’s Mesut Ozil, Arsene Wenger, or a poor start to the season from their title challengers behind their position at the summit of the table, Arsenal fans are quite content with themselves right now. Add their midweek win over Italian superpower Napoli in to the mix, and the Gunners go into Sunday evening’s clash on a high.
Can West Brom burst their bubble? Probably not.
The North Londoners should win this tie comfortably, although they’ll have to improve somewhat defensively on their performance against Swansea from last weekend. It’s clear that in attack Arsenal are probably the best team in England right now, but they are still capable of suffering the odd, fatal defensive error, so their upcoming tie against Steve Clarke’s outfit should give them the opportunity to improve on that by making a slight tweak here and there.
Prediction: Arsenal will have too much in the locker for the Baggies, even at the Hawthornes and should come away with a few goals that might prove vital in terms of goal difference come the business end of the season. Wenger’s men to triumph 3-0.
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