Swansea v West Ham
Swansea were the most impressive side on the opening day of the season. Very few would have had them down to beat QPR, especially by 5 goals. They were brilliant on the counter attack and ripped Rangers to shreads in a very open, free flowing game.
West Ham won 1-0 against Aston Villa, in a far more even encounter. Sam Allardyce teams are strong, well structured and hard to break down. The onus will be on Swansea, on this occassion to dictate the pace of the game and they may find it harder to break down a team that doesn’t try to play too much againt them.
Having said that, I still feel Swansea will come out on top. It could be a lot closer than expected though.
Aston Villa v Everton
Aston Villa were pretty disappointing against West Ham, and they are clearly still trying to adapt to Paul Lambert’s new style. Unless Darren Bent can stay fit all season, they will really struggle for goals too. Everton, on the other hand, were magnificent against Man Utd. A well deserved 1-0 victory was built on a fantastic defensive effort from Jagielka and Distin.
The Villa defence struggled against Carlton Cole, who caused them a lot of problems. If Fellaini can perform half as well as he did against Man Utd then I can see Villa struggling again and Everton continuing their fine start to the season.
Man Utd v Fulham
Man Utd were outplayed by Everton and really struggled to break them down on the weekend, whereas Fulham put 5 past a very poor Norwich.
Martin Jol has done a fantastic job at Fulham but a trip to Old Trafford may be a bit too much. I expect Man U to have too much class for Fulham, especially with Van Persie added to the mix. Although, it will be interesting to see how he gels with both Kagawa and Rooney as they all seem to prefer operating as a number 10 behind a striker. That may be a problem that will need to be figured out over the course of the season though.
Norwich v QPR
The battle of the bottom two. I don’t expect Qpr to be in the same position come May, but Norwich could have a real fight on their hands this season. They were reliant on Grant Holt last season to get them the goals they needed to survive, but I can’t see him replicating that form again. It was a bit of a freak year.
QPR were completely torn apart by Swansea on the weekend. They obviously have problems defensively, but they look likely to sign Dawson from Spurs and possibly M’bia from Marseille. Both would be brilliant additions and would help to shore up their leaky defence.
Both managers will have worked hard this week to address those defensive issues, but I think QPR have a bit more quality in their side and will come out on top.
Southampton v Wigan
Southampton produced a spirited display against Man City, but it felt the whole game like it just depended on when City wanted to turn it on. Lots of teams have done a lot worse at Etihad though, so they would have been boosted despite the loss.
Wigan ended the season brilliantly under Roberto Martinez beating Liverpool, Arsenal and Man U on the way. They have lost Diame and Rodallega and the only addition has been Ramis who looked very underdone against Chelsea. Wigan were poor and I think Southampton may have too much for them on Saturday.
Sunderland v Reading
Sunderland got a good result againt Arsenal, but they didn’t really play much football. They sat deep, got men behind the ball and choked the game. Can’t really argue with that as long as it produces results, but they will have to be a bit more adventurous at home to Reading.
Reading came from behind to draw on the opening day of the season against Stoke, and then were very unlucky not to get a point at Stamford Bridge on Wednesday. Martin O’neill is a very clever manager and he will have had a good look at Reading over the week. I fancy Sunderland to continue their good start and nick a win against Reading. It could be tight though.
Tottenham v West Brom
Spurs played very well against Newcastle but were beaten by a brilliant Demba Ba effort and a penalty which Van der Vaart shouldn’t have given away. Villa Boas’ impression is already noticable, they were pressing very high up the field and probably would have beaten a lesser side than Newcastle. They tired late on and Newcastle snuck in for the winner but there were definitely positive signs for the season. They have finally signed Adebayor, but still have to find a replacement for the Madrid bound Luka Modric.
West Brom perhaps produced the result of the round against Liverpool. They were brilliant, but the result could be slightly misleading. Liverpool are trying to completely restructure their side and buy into the Brendan Rodgers philosophy. They looked disjointed, and West Brom certainly took advantage.
With Adebayor back in the side, I think Tottenham will be too good for West Brom. Suarez had a lot of chances against West Brom, and Spurs will certainly put them away.
Chelsea v Newcastle
Chelsea are the only team to have played two games, due to their Super Cup commitments next friday. Their game against Wigan never really got going, they had won it after 5 minutes. They suffered a real scare against Reading midweek and only won due to a mistake by the linesman with 10 minutes to go. Chelsea have two wins from two, but have been far from convincing. They offer up a lot of chances and Newcastle have two of the best finishers in the business in Cisse and Ba.
Newcastle were lucky to win against Spurs, and this will be another very tough test for them. They have done very well to retain most of their key performers from last season and Pardew has strengthened in the right areas to keep the progression going. If Newcastle can take their chances, they may well test this Chelsea side. Hazard has been an absolute revelation, if you can be at the price of 35m, but if they can control him I think Newcastle may make the most of Chelsea’s defensive frailties to nick a point.
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