EPL Week 4
After a short break for international games the EPL returns this weekend for week four of the current season. Week four is not pack full of Blockbuster games like week three was, but is still packed full of excitement and promises to be captivating as a whole host of new players don the jerseys and take the fields of their new teams for the first time since the end of the summer transfer window.
Liverpool clean up EPL monthly awards
Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers and striker Daniel Sturridge have won the Barclays Manager and Player of the month for August.
Liverpool are the only side in the EPL to make a 100% start to the season having won all three of their opening games by one goal to nil. Victories over Stoke, Aston Villa and Manchester United mark the Reds best start to a season since 1994-95.
Rodgers wins the award for the second time, while Sturridge picks up the award for the first time in his career.
West Ham sends Carroll to specialist
Andy Carroll’s return to first team soccer has been put on hold with no timescale after it was revealed the striker is suffering from a plantar fascia injury.
The 24-year-old who joined for a club record of £15m ($22.5m) over the summer and has yet to feature for the Hammers this season. Carroll was thought to be close to returning to first team action, but was hurt during training on Monday.
Carroll has injured his plantar fascia, a tissue that connects the bottom of the foot to the heel.
West Ham are seeking specialist advice on treating Carroll’s injured foot after receiving his scan results.
Hammers boss Sam Allardyce said: “According to the specialist the chance of a recurrence of that type of injury is about 4% but unfortunately for Andy he was one of the unlucky ones.
“We had been very cautious, very patient with him along the way and it’s sad this has happened for him as well as us.
“He doesn’t need an operation but we need to give the foot time to re-heal, continue the rehab and get him back in training again.”
Carroll became Britain’s most expensive player ever when he signed for Liverpool for £35m ($52.4m) in 2011. However, he struggled with form and injuries scoring only six leagues goals for the club before being loaned out to West Ham last season, where he scored seven times in 22 appearances.
Predictions and Previews
|Man City v Hull||2-0||3-0|
|Cardiff v Everton||0-0||1-1|
|Newcastle v Fulham||1-0||1-1|
|Norwich v Southampton||1-0||3-2|
|West Ham v Stoke||0-1||1-0|
|Crystal Palace v Sunderland||3-1||0-0|
|Liverpool v Man Utd||1-0||1-2|
|West Brom v Swansea||0-2||2-1|
|Arsenal v Tottenham||1-0||3-2|
A correct result is worth ONE point. A correct score earns THREE points.
Last week I got three correct results, with no perfect scores, giving me a lowly combined tally of just three points—last season’s highest score was 14 points.
Lets hope I can improve in week 4.
|Man Utd v Crystal Palace||3-0|
|Aston Villa v Newcastle||2-0|
|Fulham v West Brom||1-0|
|Hull v Cardiff||1-1|
|Stoke v Man City||1-2|
|Sunderland v Arsenal||0-2|
|Tottenham v Norwich||2-1|
|Everton v Chelsea||1-1|
|Southampton v West Ham||1-1|
|Swansea v Liverpool||0-1|
Manchester United vs. Crystal Palace
Week four kicks off with champions Manchester United hosting newly promoted Crystal Palace at Old Trafford.
Manchester United have not had the best start to this season, picking up only four points from a possible nine. The Red Devils lost 1-0 away to Liverpool last week and despite dominating possession struggled to create any clear-cut chances—In fact, last week was the first time United have failed to score in back-to-back Premier League games since 2007.
Many felt David Moyes would bolster their center midfield by buying a big name creative midfielder, but after failing to land the likes of Barcelona’s Farbregas, Moyes instead moved for Belgian midfielder Marouane Fellaini and it will be interesting to see how and where the former Everton midfielder plays for United.
New promoted Crystal Palace picked up their first points of the season with a good 3-1 win over Sunderland. However, The Eagles could field a much-changed side against the champions as they signed a whole host of players on deadline day.
New signing Marouane Fellaini could make his debut for the Premier League champions with Tom Cleverly likely to drop to the bench.
Wayne Rooney looks unlikely to play as he recovers from a head injury with Danny Welbeck set to continue supporting Robin van Persie upfront. Meanwhile Chris Smalling may replace Phil Jones at right-back.
Crystal Palace new signings Barry Bannan and Cameron Jerome are both likely to feature at the Theater of Dreams, While Jonathan Parr could return after missing five months through injury.
Manchester United have yet to start playing the attacking free flowing soccer that brought them the EPL title last year and do look like their struggling to create chances at present.
Crystal Palace coach Ian Holloway likes to get his side playing attacking soccer and almost caused an upset a few years ago when he brought Blackpool to Old Trafford.
But Crystal Palace have never beaten Manchester United in the EPL and I imagine their miserable record will continue on Saturday.
Stoke vs. Manchester City
Stoke have made an impressive start to the new EPL campaign, winning two of their opening three games. The Potters decided to have a change of coach at the end of last season and their new gaffer Mark Hughes already seems to have influenced their style of play.
Manchester City bounced back from the shock defeat away to Cardiff by beating Hull 3-0 at home last week, but still looked like a team under transition. The Sky Blues had a change of coach over the summer and have bought a lot of new players, so it will take time for them to gel.
Midfielder Glenn Whelan is doubtful for Stoke with a hamstring injury, though fellow midfielder Charlie Adam should feature despite withdrawing from the Scotland squad because of a back spasm.
Manchester City may hand a debut to Stevan Jovetic, but David Silva is out with a thigh problem.
Stoke are renowned for their aerial style of soccer and will be confident of their chances of scoring against Manchester City who have looked vulnerable from set plays so far this season.
But the Potters will also have to be wary of the aerial threat possessed by City, who under new coach Manuel Pellegrini have actually had more headed attempts on goal than any other top-flight club and have netted three – compared to just six headed goals in total last term.
Stoke struggled to score goals last season and it almost got them relegated, but I fancy them to get a goal against City who are really struggling at the moment in defense with key defenders out injured.
City have never beaten Stoke at the Britannia Stadium in the EPL (D4, L1), but the Sky Blues have a whole host of quality players that are able to score and decide games on their own and that is why I think they will just edge this one.
Sunderland vs. Arsenal
Sunderland just survived the drop last season and look as if they will struggle again this season having just picked up a solitary point from their first three games of the new season.
The Black Cats lost 3-1 away to newly promoted Crystal Palace, but having purchased 14 players over the summer I guess it is not entirely surprising they haven’t hit the ground running.
When Arsenal lost the opening game of the season 1-3 at home to Aston Villa many thought the Gunners might struggle to qualify for the Champions League, but a few wins later coupled with the £42.5m ($63.75m) signing of Mesut Özil and now they are being touted as possible title contenders.
The Gunners got a good win against rivals Tottenham and will be expecting to pick up all three points during their trip to Wearside.
Sunderland will be without captain John O’Shea who serves a one-game ban, although the Ireland international could be out for longer after injuring his ankle while on international duty.
Steven Fletcher is in line to start his first game since March and could be partnered by new signing Fabio Borini.
Arsenal’s record signing Mesut Özil is in line to start despite missing training on Friday, replacing the injured Tomas Rosicky.
Per Mertesacker is likely to miss out due to illness with Thomas Vermaelen deputizes in his place.
Sunderland have only won once in their last 19 encounters with Arsenal in the League, and in their present form it is hard for even the most optimistic of Sunderland fans to imagine them winning on Saturday. Stranger things have happened in soccer, but I will put my neck on the line and go for a comfortable win for the Gunners.
Tottenham vs Norwich
Tottenham have officially sold Gareth Bale and can now begin the process of forming a new side.
The north London side has brought in a lot of quality players over the summer spending close to £110m ($165m). They lost 1-0 away to neighbors Arsenal last weekend and still look like they need time to find their feet.
Norwich got their season up and running with first win of the new campaign, and will be relishing the challenge ahead of them at White Hart Lane. The Canaries had one of the poorest away records last season, but have done well during their last to trips to the capital taking four points form six.
New signings Christian Eriksen and Erik Lamela may make their first starts for Tottenham.
Emmanuel Adebayor, Etienne Capoue and Aaron Lennon are all out, while new signing Vlad Chiriches is unavailable as he waits to obtain a work permit.
Norwich striker Gary Hooper is in line to make his debut after recovery from a shin injury, though Elliott Bennett remains out for the foreseeable future.
Norwich have a good record at White Hart Lane losing only two of six EPL visits to London. The Canaries are actually unbeaten in their last three games against Spurs and will be confident of their ability to cause this new look Spurs side some trouble.
But Spurs have signed some really exciting and quality players and I expect the likes of Lamela, Soldado and Paulinho to show their class and help spurs edge this one.
Everton vs. Chelsea
This is the standout fixture of week four and should prove to be a compelling contest.
Everton have yet to win this season, but they have played well and should really have more points than they do. The Toffees lost their best player from last season Marouane Fellaini on the final day of the transfer window, but also made some very good signings, adding James McCarthy, Romelu Lukaku and Gareth Barry to their squad.
Chelsea have made a good start to the season so far only dropping points in their 0-0 draw away to Manchester United. The Blues have added a few additions to their squad with the free signing of Samuel Eto’o perhaps the highest profile.
James McCarthy and Gareth Barry could make their debuts against Chelsea on Saturday, but on-loan striker Romelu Lukaku definitely will not feature as he is ineligible to play against his parent club.
Jose Mourinho says Samuel Eto’o will make his Chelsea debut against Everton, though whether or not he will start remains to be seen.
Everton have a good recent record against Chelsea at Goodison Park having won three of their last five encounters against the west Londoners. However, Chelsea did do the double over Everton last year and were the only EPL team to beat the Toffees at their own backyard last season.
Everton are in a state of transition having changed their coach over the summer and are still finding their rhythm. Their old in your face style of play which caused so many teams problems is being replaced with a more progressive passing approach and will take time to implement. Nevertheless, the crowds at Goodison Park are a noisy and boisterous bunch and always make it difficult for opposing teams.
I’ll predict an honors even exciting fast paced game.