It’s Friday already. The past week has flown by due to the Champions League and Europa league qualifiers, plus a bit of controversy involving former managers and some interesting transfers to help pass the time.
Following on from last week, with a couple of shocks on the cards, here is a detailed look at this weekend’s round of fixtures.
Aston Villa v Newcastle – 12:45 (BT Sport 1)
Both of these sides impressed me last weekend. Villa opened their account with a 1-0 win at Stoke, while Newcastle lost 2-0 at home to Manchester City – as I said in the week one review, the scoreline very much flattered the Champions.
Villa manager Paul Lambert will welcome back Jores Okore and Joe Cole from injury. Both have recently returned to fitness and are expected to make the matchday squad. New signing Carlos Sanchez has been in full training since Monday and is expected to play some part.
For the Magpies, there are no new injury concerns but Cheick Tiote remains on the sidelines. Summer signing Siem de Jong has returned from a calf strain and could feature, alongside Facundo Ferrerya who could also make his debut.
Chelsea v Leicester City – 15:00
Chelsea started their campaign with a 3-1 win over Burnley on Monday Night Football and BBC Pundit Robbie Savage claimed that we were watching the champions elect. Leicester fought back to earn a creditable draw with Everton.
Jose Mourinho has no fresh injury concerns for this Saturday’s game. Having started with Cesar Azpilicueta on Monday, former Atletico Madrid left-back Felipe Luis is still waiting to pull on the blue of Chelsea.
For the Foxes, Marc Albrighton and Jamie Vardy should be available for selection following their return from injury. Pearson will again be without Matthew Upson (foot) and central midfielders of Danny Drinkwater (hamstring) and former United prospect Matt James (shin).
Crystal Palace v West Ham – 15:00
Both these teams looked like earning draws for 89 minutes of the first weekend before crumbling with seconds remaining. Managerless Palace eventually went down 2-1 to Arsenal thanks to Aaron Ramsey’s injury-time winner and West Ham conceded as time was running out, with Spurs’ debutant Eric Dier rounded the keeper to slot into a gaping net.
Palace go into the match under media scrutiny again this week, with their link to the Malky Mackay “Friendly Banter” debacle, as Ian Moody tendered his resignation for his involvement and the club no closer to finding a manager.
Further problems for Palace on the pitch as Jason Puncheon is suspended and Keith Millen thinks that Scott Dann only has an “outside chance” of featuring after a hip injury. On a positive note, Adrian Mariappa, Jonny Williams and Jerome Thomas are all available for selection after returning to fitness.
Sam Allardyce is facing a bit of a defensive crisis going into the second game of the season. Joey O’Brien, James Tomkins and Carl Jenkinson are all fitness doubts and James Collins misses out after being sent off against Spurs.
Southampton v West Brom – 15:00
Ronald Koeman will want to improve on last weekend’s 2-1 defeat away at Liverpool. West Brom surrendered two points late on last time out, with Sunderland’s Seb Larsson striking in the 85 minute to level the match at 2-2.
Koeman has no new concerns for his selection on Saturday, but Rodriguez and Ramirez will definitely miss out. New signing Shane Long is set for a first start against one of his former clubs and Florian Gardos is set for a debut.
For the Baggies, Brown Ideye could make his debut for the club. However, new signing and former Manchester City misfit Georgios Samaras wasn’t signed in time and Joleon Lescott remains a doubt following his switch from the Etihad.
Swansea City v Burnley – 15:00
Swansea started the season by beating Manchester United 2-1, their first league win at Old Trafford in their history. Burnley had no such luck, enduring a difficult return the Premier League with a 3-1 mauling at the hands of Chelsea.
Gary Monk is still awaiting clearance for new signing Federico Fernandez, so is likely to continue with Williams and Jordi Amat at the heart of the defence unless the club get the go-ahead before kick-off. Swansea remain without Leon Britton, Marvin Emnes and Jay Fulton (all knee) but Tom Carroll could feature following his loan move from Spurs.
Sean Dyche could call on Stephen Ward for the first team following his recent switch from Championship side Wolves. Burnley’s only injury is Sam Vokes, who is currently undergoing rehabilitation for his anterior cruciate ligament injury.
Everton v Arsenal – 17:30 (Sky Sports 1)
Everton will have been disappointed to have drawn with new-boys Leicester on the opening day. Aaron Ramsey left it late to ensure that the Gunners took all three points.
Roberto Martinez will be without Ross Barkley for up to five months, as has been well documented over the past week, while Aroune Kone and Bryan Oviedo are also missing. Darron Gibson also remains a doubt, but the Irishman has returned from a cruciate injury and could feature.
Former Everton midfielder Mikel Arteta is out with an ankle problem, and Serge Gnabry, Theo Walcott and Kieran Gibbs are also out injured. Spanish defender Nacho Monreal should deputise at left back for the Gunners. Good news for Arsenal fans, as their German contingent are set to return from an extended summer break.
Hull City v Stoke City – 13:30 (Sky Sports 1)
The Tiger’s may have started their season with a win against new boys QPR, but have since been beaten in the Europa League on Thursday night and will want to the bounce back at home against Stoke. Stoke’s home defeat to Aston Villa surprised me – Stoke are normally solid at the Britannia, and Mark Hughes will want to see more.
Robert Snodgrass will be out for Steve Bruce after dislocating his knee on his debut, and Yannick Sagbo will miss the match serving the final match of his ban for infringing Social Media rules. Expect Bruce to recall the players that were rested for Thursday’s Europa League clash.
Loan signing Victor Moses is likely to miss out for Stoke as he is lacking in fitness. However, Geoff Cameron and Peter Odemwingie should return after being given an extended break for their World Cup antics.
Spurs v QPR – 13:30
This game has an interesting subplot with the return of Harry Redknapp to White Hart Lane. Spurs left it late to see off West Ham at Upton Park, but came back from a goal down to beat Limassol in the Europa League – albeit with a makeshift eleven. Redknapp will be looking to build on his side’s home defeat to Hull City.
Kyle Naughton misses out for Spurs following his red card on the opening day but Mauricio Pochettino is set to recall a host of players following their Europa League clash.
Harry Redknapp could call on Mauricio Isla and Leroy Fer for the first time, but it could be too soon for Eduardo Vargas, who has joined the club on a season long loan.
Sunderland v Manchester United – 16:00 (Sky Sports 1)
The Louis van Gaal era at Manchester United started with a whimper, with his side slumping to a 2-1 defeat at home to Swansea. Gus Poyet’s Sunderland rescued a point in the dying embers of their opener against West Brown with an 85th minute equaliser to make the match 2-2.
Defensive reinforcements are available for Sunderland as Billy Jones and Santiago Vergini have returned from injury. Giaccherini is expected to be out for another three weeks with a groin problem.
Van Gaal has a number of injuries to contend with. Luke Shaw is still out, but further injuries to Ander Herrera, Jesse Lingard and Marouane Fellaini could cause issues. Robin van Persie and Antonio Valencia are fit and available again, but Marcos Rojo is still waiting on a work permit following his switch from Sporting Lisbon – rest assured this is just a formality.
Manchester City v Liverpool – 20:00 (Sky Sports 1)
Champions Manchester City failed to impress against Newcastle, and I felt the 2-0 scoreline flattered them somewhat. They will see a far greater challenge when they entertain North-West rivals Liverpool on Monday night. Liverpool started off their campaign with a relatively routine 2-1 win over Southampton at Anfield.
Alvaro Negredo is still out for Pellegrini’s men but Eliaquim Mangala could play some part after spending the week training with his new team mates.
If the signing of Mario Balotelli goes through for Liverpool, it won’t be in time for Monday night. Brendan Rodgers still faces the same injury list so Lallana and Markovic will have to wait for the debuts. Daniel Agger misses out too so expect the pairing of Lovren and Skrtel to continue.