Top five storylines heading into Week 2 of the Premier League
Ahead of Week 2 in the Premier League, there are some intriguing matches heading your way.
The full TV schedule for the weekend can be found here, while below we break down the top five storylines from the upcoming PL matches.
[WATCH: Premier League highlights]
After an exhilarating start to the campaign, plenty of conclusions have already been made on teams after just 90 minutes of action, whether they like it or not.
Let’s have a gander at the top talking points this weekend...
Top four challengers collide at Goodison
Arsenal and Everton were battling tooth and nail for fourth place at the end of the 2013-14 Premier League, Arsenal prevailed and Everton tailed off. Over the offseason both teams have spent big and are battling to be in the top four once again. Arsenal splashed $60 million on Alexis Sanchez, Everton $50 million on Romelu Lukaku and this game will be a feisty affair at a fired up Goodison Park on Saturday (Watch live on NBC, 12:30 p.m. ET and online via Live Extra). After traveling to Istanbul in midweek for a Champions League play-off and grinding out a 0-0 draw against Besiktas, Arsenal’s players will be feeling the pressure at Everton. Arsene Wenger’s men are expected to challenge for the title but struggled to an opening day win over Crystal Palace. This could be the perfect time for Roberto Martinez’s Toffees to put down an early marker for why they deserve to be top four contenders this season. With U.S. national team ‘keeper Tim Howard in net for Everton, just 48 hours after announcing his sabbatical from international play until Sept. 2015, American fans will be hoping he can pull off yet another inspired display. [WATCH: PL live online via Live Extra]
Runners up vs. the Champions, Manchester City vs. Liverpool
Last season the two most entertaining teams finished first and second, I think we can all agree on that. Over the summer, Liverpool lost Luis Suarez and have replaced him with a plethora of young exciting talent (with Mario Balotelli on the way too), while City have added a few bodies here and there. Manuel Pellegrini’s men won the title by scoring 102 goals last season, Liverpool scored 101 and finished second. Surely, this match at the Etihad on Monday (Watch live 3 p.m. ET on NBCSN and online via Live Extra) will have plenty of goals in it? Liverpool’s defense looks much stingier, but if City score early it will force the Reds to attack. This match promises to be a thing of beauty.
London derby between QPR, Spurs, Redknapp returns to White Hart Lane
Spurs beat West Ham 1-0 last weekend in a tight, tense London derby to open the campaign. Expect this match to be no different as Mauricio Pochettino manages his first game in charge of Tottenham at White Hart Lane vs. QPR on Sunday (Watch live on NBCSN, 8:30 a.m. ET and online via Live Extra). Spurs will work hard, press high and try to get at QPR but Redknapp will be eager to get one over his old club. Redknapp led Spurs from the relegation zone to the Champions League during his time in charge and is still a popular figure at the Lane. QPR played well against Hull City on the opening day in a fluid 3-5-2 formation and the R’s were punished for a missed PK and one piece of sloppy defending from a set piece. Tottenham played in Cyprus on Thursday and secured a comeback 2-1 win in their Europa League play-off. Their players may be tired from the traveling, so can Spurs win their second successive London derby to kick off the season or will QPR grab a shock victory?
Just how good are Chelsea?
After a good opening 45 minutes to the season against Burnley, you could be mistaken for thinking Chelsea have already won the Premier League title according to social media. Everybody was waxing lyrical about Jose Mourinho’s new-look side as Cesc Fabregas brought his silky skills to midfield and Diego Costa looks like the real deal up top. The truth is, they beat newly-promoted Burnley 3-1. They host another newly promoted side, Leicester City, at Stamford Bridge on Saturday (Watch live on NBCSN, 10 a.m. ET and online via Live Extra) and will be expected to pound the Foxes. Yes, Chelsea’s squad looks to have been assembled superbly by the ‘Special One’ but we shouldn’t talk up their title credentials until they face Manchester City, Liverpool and the other title contenders. That said, a big win at home over Leicester will probably get people doing just that.
Manchester United’s injury woes continue
Heading into Sunday’s match against Sunderland, (Watch live on NBCSN, 11 a.m. ET and online via Live Extra) Louis van Gaal is still struggling to piece together his Red Devils outfit. United had nine players injured last week and they still have seven missing for their trip to the Stadium of Light. New signings Luke Shaw and Ander Herrera are both out, as are Rafael, Johnny Evans, Jesse Lingard, Michael Carrick and Marouane Fellaini. Star striker Robin van Persie is back to give his new manager a lift, but speaking ahead of the game, van Gaal admitted he’d never suffered an injury epidemic quite like this one. Sunderland snatched a point on the road at West Brom on the opening day and Gus Poyet’s side will be looking to snatch more than that when United come to town on Sunday. With LVG still settling into English soccer, he and his side won’t get a friendly welcome from the Black Cats on Sunday.