Arsenal travel to Stoke on Saturday aiming to carry on from last week’s win at home against Leicester. Although not the best display from Arsene Wenger’s side it was a win which gives the club a platform to build from. Stoke is a place where Arsenal have struggled in the past. A 4-1 win last season at the Bet365 Stadium however perhaps signifies that this Stoke side are no longer the same force which has caused problems in the past. A win in this game will help to build momentum ahead of their first big test next week with a trip to Liverpool. More players are returning to fitness and although Alexis Sanchez will still be unavailable, Jack Wilshere and Francis Coquelin will be available to feature. Stoke caused few problems in their opening day defeat at Everton and although they have added to the squad over the summer it may take time for them to find their rhythm.
An away trip to your biggest competition from last season is not the ideal way to follow up an opening day defeat but there are a few reasons for Chelsea fans to be hopeful ahead of Sunday’s game. Firstly is that it will be at Wembley, a place where last time they met Spurs they won 4-2 in the FA Cup Semi Final. Second is that although last week’s loss to Burnley was a surprise, it was taken out of context thanks to the early dismissal of Gary Cahill. Tottenham did struggle at Wembley last season but a pre-season win over Juventus in the stadium will give them some confidence heading into the game. They struggled to find an opening in the early stages of their match away at Newcastle last week but things got more comfortable once the home side were reduced to ten men.
Many had assumed Manchester City would get a high scoring win before their opening fixture against Brighton however that was not the case. Although it turned out to be a comfortable game the 2-0 score line suggests that City’s attacking talent is not quite firing on all cylinders just yet. They must wait until Monday night to get their teeth into the action once again and it is Everton who visits. Everton are a side who have impressed many by their transfer activity this summer however they need to compete in games against the top six in order to close the gap in the table.
Manchester United signalled their intent last week with a 4-0 win over West Ham at home. This week they travel to Swansea looking for a win which will keep them at the top of the table. Last season was a comfortable 3-1 win at the Liberty Stadium for United, however, the sides could only draw 1-1 in April at Old Trafford once Swansea had begun their climb to safety. The Swan’s 0-0 opening day stalemate at Southampton has shown that many of the problems which plagued them at the start of last season are now gone. This, however, will be a different task and if they are to get anything from the game the home side must be defensively strong.
The away side has won the last five league meetings between Liverpool and Crystal Palace and not since 2005 has either side failed to score. Those facts coupled with the defensive performances from the opening day fixtures should signal on an entertaining game at Anfield. Both sides conceded three, Liverpool away to Watford and Palace at home to new boys Huddersfield. Liverpool, however, will be boosted by an impressive win away in the Champions League and look to get their season at home off to the best start possible. Crystal Palace are a side in transition as new manager Frank De Boer tries to change their style of play from last season. Few predicted their opening day defeat and so although little will be expected in this game, a heavy defeat could put unwanted pressure on his side.
Bournemouth were unable to find a way past a stubborn West Brom defence last weekend as they lost 1-0 at the Hawthorns. This week they host Watford, a side which are also looking to improve their results from the first game. Both games last season ended in a 2-2 draw and although there were a number of positions between the sides at the end they were closely matched throughout. Watford’s last minute equaliser against Liverpool will give them confidence heading into this game as they aim to improve on last season’s performances.
Burnley v West Brom is a matchup of similar styles. Both sides on paper are tight and will not allow the opposition to take control of the game. Burnley have only failed to score once in their last seven Premier League games, however, showing that while they are defensively solid, they can also cause problems for sides. West Brom had a dismal end to last season and many have predicted that struggle to continue into this one. An opening day win against Bournemouth showed that they are back to what they do best and they will look to continue that tomorrow.
Leicester’s demise last week could be pointed at the tactical substitutions and so they will be looking to be better at holding onto any lead they get against Brighton. The 2015/16 Champions impressed at times last season and if they can get some early wins in this campaign then they could be a challenger for the higher places. Brighton’s Premier League debut did not go well last weekend but they could take away some positives. They will be hoping to trouble the opposition goal a little more this weekend though as they travel to the Midlands.
Southampton failed to score in 15 of their fixtures last season, five of those in the last six games. They began this season in much the same fashion with a 0-0 draw at home. This weekend sees them have another bite at getting their season underway as they face West Ham. The Hammers have improved the squad over the summer with some new additions bringing Premier League experience. That counted for nothing in their loss at Old Trafford however and so they will be looking to start afresh in this game.
The final preview of the weekend is Sunday’s clash between two promoted sides Newcastle and Huddersfield. It was the playoff winners who got off to the better start last week by surprising a lot of people and beating Crystal Palace away. It was the away side who won both fixtures in the Championship last season. Huddersfield started the season strongly with a 2-1 win at Saint James’ Park in August but when the sides met again in March it was Newcastle who took control. The Championship Champions from last season will be looking to continue that trend as they aim to get some points to start the new season.
Arsenal must go into the game at Stoke knowing that they face a different opposition than has caused them problems in the past. If they perform their usual way then they can out play the home side and there is not much physical threat remaining to throw them off their game. Fans will be hoping that record signing Alexandre Lacazette can continue his scoring run in this game and challenge for individual awards at the end of the season.