It’s Matchday 2 of the English Premier League this weekend, highlighted by Saturday’s Top 6-matchup between Arsenal and Chelsea. Additionally, there are a couple other games for casual and dedicated fans to keep an eye on this weekend between attacking-minded teams that will feature goals and chances galore.
1. Chelsea v. Arsenal – Sat. 11:30 am. ET
Not only is this the best matchup of the week, but also the most important in a battle between two new managers, Arsenal’s Unai Emery and Chelsea’s Maurizio Sarri.
Arsenal can hardly afford another defeat after their opening loss v. Manchester City, 2-0. Emery’s squad looked fairly poor for a good chunk of the match, even though City did not start Kevin de Bruyne or David Silva.
The Gunners are in need of at least a strong showing at Stamford Bridge, even if it doesn’t result in a win, to give players and supporters confidence heading into another tough London-derby v. West Ham.
The advantage surely lies with Chelsea after their strong showing in a 3-0 win at Huddersfield. First-year manager Sarri has a squad very capable of making a Europa League title run and achieving a top-four league finish after retaining Eden Hazard and N’Golo Kante. The addition of Jorginho to pair with Kante in the central midfield figures to be an impassable force for opponents, but the question will be if Chelsea can score enough without an accomplished striker.
Arsenal will look to Mesut Özil to be more active and dangerous than he was against Manchester City, where he was invisible for the majority of his 90 minutes on the pitch. It’s quite clear Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang needs better service to be successful, and Özil is his best bet in doing so.
Prediction: Chelsea 1, Arsenal 0
2. Leicester City v. Wolverhampton Wanderers – Sat 10:00 am. ET
Despite losing brilliant winger Riyad Mahrez to Manchester City this summer, Leicester looked comfortable and strong in their 2-1 defeat to Manchester United on the opening weekend. They brought no points home with them to King Power Stadium, but Jamie Vardy, James Maddison and Rachid Ghezzal all looked fabulous for the Foxes, despite not playing much of the match. They may not have the firepower they did in their title winning season of 2015-16, but Leicester look to be one of the better teams in England this season with an underrated squad around Vardy and star centre-back Harry Maguire.
Wolves earned a somewhat disappointing draw versus Everton to kick off their season. They were up a man and tied for the entirety of the second half, but could not stop Richarlison, who scored twice for The Blues. They arguably weren’t even the better team in the second half, despite the man advantage. However, with the pure money and talent they acquired over the summer after their promotion in May, Wolves are bound to look better than they did last Saturday as the season progresses.
This figures to be a really fun one to watch between two teams who play exciting brands of football. Leicester will have the home-pitch advantage, plus the advantage of being the experienced Premier League side, while this will be Wolves’ first road match in the top-flight since 2012.
Prediction: Leicester 3, Wolves 1
3. Crystal Palace v. Liverpool – Mon. 3:00 pm ET
This will be a Monday night thriller, as title contender’s Liverpool are away to a Crystal Palace side who are buzzing after not just their 2-0 win against Fulham, but also winger Wilfried Zaha’s five-year contract announcement.
Liverpool thrashed West Ham 4-0 in their season-opener in a dominant performance. Once again, their attacking trio of Firmino-Mane-Salah were unstoppable, but more importantly midfielder Naby Keita and centre-back Virgil van Dijk were fantastic which is a good sign for the Reds heading forward. There may be no team more fun to watch in the world of football than manager Jurgen Klopp’s team right now, so an opponent in Crystal Palace that also plays aggressive and does not back down from bigger and better teams makes for an exciting game.
Palace will be home at their Selhurst Park, a great environment, and will need former Liverpool-man Christian Benteke to play well and perhaps convert on a header from a set piece to give Palace a chance against this phenomenal Liverpool outfit. They also must be disciplined in their attack to prevent counters, where the Reds really make opponents pay.
Prediction: Crystal Palace 1, Liverpool 1