The Premier League Weekend Preview

Chelsea play host to Premier League newcomers, Leicester on Saturday afternoon, followed by Everton taking on Arsenal at Goodison Park. While Chelsea’s prospective result is all but a foregone conclusion, Everton are sure to give Arsenal a tough time of things in their early-evening fixture.

But the pick of the weekend’s matches has to be Manchester City taking on Liverpool on Monday night, in a battle that pits the league champions against the team that ran a close second in the last campaign.

Everton vs Arsenal

In last season’s corresponding fixture, Everton thrashed the Gunners 3-0 in spite of Arsenal marginally having the upper hand in terms of head-to-head matches historically. It should also be borne in mind that Everton were still under the stewardship of an underachieving David Moyes for those previous head-to-head games and that much improvement has taken place since Roberto Martinez assumed the reins at Goodison Park.

Goals from Steven Naismith and Romelu Lukaku put Everton 2-0 up at halftime, before an ironic second-half own goal from Mikel Arteta sealed Arsenal’s fate in that match. The Gunners failed to score despite having the larger share of possession, as boundless energy and sound marking by The Toffees condemned the Londoners to defeat.

This weekend may well present a return to form though as Arsenal have made a number of key signings in the latest transfer window.  Alexis Sanchez and Mathieu Debuchy are the headliners and should fit neatly into the Gunners arsenal  (pun intended) and their short passing style of play.

Everton themselves have added Lukaku on a permanent basis, and brought in a sound midfield general in the form of Gareth Barry to marshal proceedings in the middle of the park. The Toffees also boast the prodigious talents of James McCarthy and Kevin Mirallas, though powerhouse Ross Barkley will not feature due to a long-term knee injury.

Prediction: 2-1 to Arsenal. The Gunners should have just enough to win at Goodison Park, given that they are at full strength, and with Ross Barkley missing, I think Everton will miss much of the impetus he provides.

Sunderland vs Manchester United

Manchester United travel to Sunderland’s Stadium of Light on Sunday amidst hopes of at least some redemption following their opening-day home loss to Swansea.

Gus Poyet’s has been a sensation since his appointment as Black Cats manager in October 2013, succeeding Paolo Di Canio and caretaker Kevin Ball. His career there may not have gotten off to the best of starts, but guiding the team to a League Cup final and securing Premier League safety following a season-long struggle speaks volumes of Poyet’s aptitude for the role.

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