Premier League Preview: Cristiano Ronaldo set for his second Manchester United debut
The Premier League is set for another exciting weekend of fixtures following the international break.
Severeal teams will be hoping they can keep up their unbeaten run so far, with Tottenham Hotspur currently the only side to win all three of their opening games.
Meanwhile Arsenal, Norwich City and Wolverhampton Wanderers are the three teams still searching for their first point this season - with the former two facing off on Saturday afternoon.
Crystal Palace v Tottenham Hotspur
Tottenham Hotspur could be without a host of players ahead of the London derby as they look to pick up their fourth win in as many games.
Giovani Lo Celso, Cristian Romero and Davinson Sanchez are unavailable as they need to follow Covid-19 protocols having played for their countries over the international break, while Son Heung-min is a doubt after injuring his calf after South Korea’s draw against Iraq.
Spurs’ bad luck during international break didn’t stop there, With Ryan Sessegnon, Oliver Skipp and Steven Berwijn all picking up injuries.
Crystal Palace could definitely benefit from Tottenham’s injury list - timed well with the proposed debuts of Odsonne Edouard and Michael Olise.
The early kick-off is likely to be a tough one for both sides and Spurs’ will be facing an even harder challenge with their long list of absentees.
Prediction: Crystal Palace 1-1 Spurs
Arsenal v Norwich
Arsenal have endured a horrific start to the 2021/22 campaign, losing all three games and failing to score in each - despite their 6-0 hammering of West Brom in the Carabao Cup.
Norwich are also sat at the foot of the table with zero points - though their poor start was definitely more expected than the Gunners.
The Canaries may be thinking ‘if Brentford can do it, why can’t we?’, however I’m not sure Mikel Arteta and his players will allow yet another loss to a newly promoted side - no matter how bad they have been so far.
Prediction: Arsenal 2-0 Norwich
Brentford v Brighton & Hove Albion
Brentford and Brighton have both enjoyed a very positive start to their Premier League season and will be preparing for a very tough test this weekend.
The Bees will be hoping Ivan Toney can produce his usual magic after getting off the mark with his goal against Aston Villa in their previous fixture, while Neal Maupay will be searching for his third goal in four games as he takes on his former club.
Thomas Frank’s side haven’t played in front of the home crowd in the league since their opening day victory over Arsenal and I expect this will give them the extra edge of their opponents this weekend.
Prediction: Brentford 2-1 Brighton
Leicester City v Manchester City
Manchester City will be hoping for revenge following their defeat to Leicester in the Community Shield last month and are certainly in good goalscoring form to do so - bagging ten goals in their previous two matches.
Despite taking two wins from a possible three so far this season, the Foxes haven’t been at their best and were beaten 4-1 by West Ham in their second game, while their victory over Norwich City could have easily gone the other way.
However, Brendan Rodgers’ side could be handed a boost with the potential returns of Jonny Evans and Jannick Vestegaard, while Ryan Bertrand could make his first start for the club.
Prediction: Leicester 1-3 Man City
Manchester United v Newcastle United
Manchester United’s clash against Newcastle United is the one that everyone is waiting for, despite being a 3pm kick-off.
The Red Devils will welcome the long awaited return of Cristiano Ronaldo to Old Trafford on Saturday afternoon - and you have to feel sorry for Newcastle!
Man United could see Ronaldo, Raphael Varane and Jadon Sancho all start this weekend, while Fred is unavailable under Fifa rules.
The Magpies have suffered a poor start to their Premier League campaign and I’m not sure they will be turning any heads during their trip to Old Trafford either - especially without Callum Wilson.
Prediction: Man Utd 2-0 Newcastle
Southampton v West Ham
West Ham picked up where they left off after a brilliant 2020/21 campaign and have claimed seven points from a possible nine so far - scoring ten goals in their opening three games.
Despite a debut goal for Southampton summer signing Adam Armstrong in their opening fixture, the Saints have struggled so far and seem to be missing their former key players in Danny Ings and Jannick Vestegaard.
A possible debut for Kurt Zouma could also be a huge boost for the Hammers this weekend.
Prediction: Southampton 1-3 West Ham
Watford v Wolverhampton Wanderers
Wolverhampton Wanderers are without a point so far and could be dealt an even bigger blow if Raul Jimenez is forced to sit out of their trip to Watford due to Fifa rules.
Despite losses in their previous two fixtures, Watford impressed in their opening day win over Aston Villa and also narrowly beat Crystal Palace in the Carabao Cup last month.
Both sides will believe this fixture is winnable for them, but I expect a tight game.
Prediction: Watford 1-1 Wolves
Chelsea v Aston Villa
Chelsea have had a superb start to their first full season under Thomas Tuchel, scoring six and conceding only one to Liverpool.
A point at Anfield shows what Chelsea are all about this year and they definitely don’t seem a team capable of as many slip-ups as in previous seasons.
Aston Villa have had a mixed start to the campaign but should benefit from the returns of Leon Bailey, Bertrand Traore, Ollie Watkins and John McGinn - however Dean Smith’s side will be without Emi Buendia and Emiliano Martinez who have been away on international duty.
The Blues know Villa will prove a tough test for them even without Jack Grealish, however it is hard to see them putting a stop to Chelsea’s unbeaten start.
Prediction: Chelsea 1-0 Aston Villa
Leeds United v Liverpool
Leeds United’s opener against Liverpool last season was an absolute thriller as they lost 4-3 to the former Premier League champions, however the reverse fixture saw the Whites take a point thanks to a late Diego Llorente goal.
This weekend’s clash could quite easily be as exciting as that 4-3 scoreline, however Liverpool have looked very impressive so far this season with Mohamed Salah in sublime form and Virgil Van Dijk back in the side.
Leeds United are a very difficult team to predict but with Robin Koch, Raphinha and Stuart Dallas all potentially out of Sunday’s match, they may have to wait a little longer for their first win of the season.
Prediction: Leeds United 1-2 Liverpool
Everton v Burnley
Despite criticism around Rafa Benitez’s arrival at Everton, the Toffees have started the season brightly and Richarlison and Dominic Calvert-Lewin are looking as threatening as ever, while new signing Demarai Gray has been brilliant so far.
Meanwhile, Burnley have struggled so far and don’t look like they are going to be improving much on last season.
The arrival of Maxwel Cornet from Lyon will be a boost for them but it could take a while for the Frenchman to get settled at his new club rather than making an immediate impact on Merseyside.
Prediction: Everton 2-0 Burnley