English Premier League Preview – Gameweek 3

English Premier League

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With many of the Premier League’s Elite sides playing weaker opposition this weekend, there is a good chance that we will see even more goals than last week!

Blackburn Rovers vs. Arsenal:

Home: After a narrow 2-1 defeat away to Birmingham City, Sam Allardyce will be looking to keep his side’s exceptional home form intact. Rovers have only lost once in their last 11 Premier League games at Ewood Park and should prove to be a tough test for Arsenal.

Blackburn Rovers team news:

David Dunn is set to return to Blackburn’s starting line-up after being sidelined recently with a groin strain.  Keith Andrews has also been suffering from groin problems but and he is definitely out of the game.

Away: Following Arsenal’s 6-0 thrashing of Premier League new-boys Blackpool, Arsene Wenger is expected to restore all of his star players for this tricky away fixture. The Gunners coach believes that referees are not giving his players enough protection and has said that he fears that the Premier League games are suddenly bearing similarity to “rugby games”.

Arsenal team news:

Cesc Fabregas looks set to make his first start of the season, while Wenger is still unsure if Robin Van Persie is fit enough to play a full 90 minutes. Denilson is back in the squad following an abdominal injury. New signing Sebastian Squillaci will most likely start the game on the bench as Laurent Koscielny returns from suspension.

Player to watch:

Cesc Fabregas – The Gunners talisman has been the centre of attention all summer and was not even expected to still be with the club following the constant speculation about a move to Barcelona. Expect a big performance from the midfielder as he attempts to regain the love of the Arsenal supporters.

Prediction: Blackburn Rovers 1-2 Arsenal

Although Rovers have an excellent home record, the return of Fabregas and option of Van Persie should prove enough to the London side to take all 3 points.

Blackpool vs. Fulham:

Home: After an outstanding 4-0 win on the first day of the season, Blackpool were dealt a big serving of reality last Saturday as they suffered a 6-0 thumping away to Arsenal. Ian Holloway’s side will be relying on their home form if they are to have any chance of staying in the Division and will surely give it their all in an attempt to gain some crucial points even at this stage of the season.

Blackpool team news:

Luke Varney has joined the Tangerines on loan from Derby County and should go straight into the starting lineup as Marlon Harewood’s replacement as he picked up a hamstring injury in training on Thursday.

Away: Fulham will be hoping to build on an encouraging 2-2 draw with Manchester United last weekend by picking up 3 points over Blackpool. Mark Hughes’s side are unbeaten this season but are lacking the bite that is required to win games. Hughes will be hoping to be involved in the transfer window over the next week as he prepares to replace some players that are likely to leave Craven Cottage.

Fulham team news:

With the future of Mark Schwarzer still uncertain and Paul Konchesky’s move to Liverpool imminent, both will be expected to be left out of the starting lineup at Bloomfield Road. Zoltan Gera is expected to return to the first XI  to play in the hole behind Bobby Zamora.

Player to watch:

Luke Varney – The new signing will be looking to impress on his debut for the Premier League new-boys. Expect him to work tirelessly to get on the scoresheet and should link up well with Brett Ormerod.

Prediction: Blackpool 1-1 Fulham

Blackpool are expected to lose this game, but with the Tangerines playing their first home game of the season they should not be underestimated. If they give 100 percent they can come away with a result from this clash.

Chelsea vs. Stoke City:

Home: Chelsea have been playing some amazing football this season and have won their first two games 6-0. They will be expected to keep their excellent run going as they play a Stoke side they demolished 7-0 at the end of last term.

Chelsea team news:

Branislav Ivanovic is a doubt due to a back injury and with Jose Bosingwa still out, Paulo Ferreira will deputise at right back. Otherwise, Chelsea will be at full-strength for this game.

Away: Stoke have had a disastrous start to the season and have yet to put any points on the board. Tony Pulis’s side will be dreading this fixture after being humiliated at Stamford Bridge last season.

Stoke City team news:

Kenwyne Jones is unlikely to start against Chelsea due to fitness concerns. However, Liam Lawrence is expected to return for Stoke after returning to training this week following a calf injury.

Player to watch:

Didier Drogba – The Chelsea striker is unstoppable at the moment and will be expected to get on the scoresheet at least once tomorrow.

Prediction: Chelsea 4-0 Stoke City

Chelsea should dispose of Stoke City without much trouble. If the likes of Malouda, Lampard, Anelka and Drogba continue their current form, this game could finish with a very high scoreline.

Tottenham Hotspur vs. Wigan Athletic:

Home: The last time Spurs played Wigan at White Hart Lane they recorded their best ever Premier League result by downing the Lactics 9-1. Jermaine Defoe scored five goals that day and will be hoping to get on the scoresheet again on Saturday.

Tottenham Hotspur team news:

Jermain Defoe looks set to play against Wigan as Harry Redknapp believes it isn’t necessary for the England international to have an operation just yet. Defoe has been suffering with groin problems for some time now. Heurelho Gomes is another doubt as he is also suffering from a groin injury that he suffered in mid-week European action. Carlo Cudicini is set to replace the Brazilian shot-stopper.

Away: Wigan have had a dreadful start to the season having leaked 10 goals without reply in their opening two fixtures. Roberto Martinez’s job is severly under threat and not even a mid-week Carling Cup win at Hartlepool may be enough to save his position for the immediate future.

Wigan Athletic team news:

Charles N’Zogbia looks set to be leaving for Birmingham City after the Lactics accepted an offer for him on Friday. On a brighter note, Maynor Figueroa has recovered from an ankle injury he sustained last weekend and should start against Spurs.

Player to watch

Gareth Bale -After scoring a sensational volley against Stoke last weekend the Welsh international’s confidence will be sky high. He will terrorise Wigan down the left-flank and is a good shout for a goal also.

Prediction: Tottenham Hotspur 2-0 Wigan Athletic

Spurs will come out on top in this one although it won’t be the demolition like we seen last season. Harry Redknapp’s side may be jaded after their efforts during mid-week and even though Wigan also played during the week I expect them to give Spurs a firm test.

Wolverhampton Wanderers vs. Newcastle United

Home: Mick McCarthy’s side have a very respectable home record and will be hoping to win the bulk of their season’s points at Molineux. Four points from their first two games is an excellent return for a team with limited resources.

Wolverhampton Wanderers team news:

Stephen Fletcher is a doubt for Saturday’s game but has trained with the squad during the week. He will most likely start on the bench.

Away: Newcastle will be full of confidence following their impressive 6-0 win over Aston Villa. Andy Carroll showed why was given the number 9 jersey at St. Jame’s Park and has been linked with an England call-up this week.

Newcastle United team news:

Apart from their long-term injury list, Newcastle will be at full-strength for their clash with Wolves. However, Steven Taylor will be leaving the club, as he was transfer-listed earlier this week.

Player to watch:

Andy Carroll – It has been an excellent week for the Newcastle striker and he will be expecting to build on his goal-scoring form last weekend.

Prediction: Wolverhampton Wanderers 1-1 Newcastle United

Although Newcastle are not the best on the road, they will have enough confidence in them after last week’s result to gain at least a point at Molineux.

Manchester United vs. West Ham United

Home: After a disappointing 2-2 draw away to Fulham last weekend, United will be hoping to bounce back against a poor West Ham side. Paul Scholes excellent form continued and the veteran midfielder scored a trademark strike that cemented his performance on Sunday.

Manchester United team news: Wayne Rooney will return to the starting line-up after recovering from a virus. Sir Alex Ferguson has to decide on his midfield and may rest Paul Scholes, although it may be difficult due to his outstanding form.

Away: West Ham have had a bad start to the season and defeat to Bolton last weekend means that they have yet to gain a point this season. West Ham boss Avram Grant is feeling the pressure already.

West Ham United team news: Tomas Hitzlsperger is out of the clash at Old Trafford, while Matthew Upson is a slight doubt as he suffered a facial injury against Bolton last weekend.

Player to watch:

Wayne Rooney – the England striker has not hit form this season and has not scored a goal for United since March. This could be the game where he turns it all around.

Prediction: Manchester United 4-0 West Ham United

United should get back on track  this Saturday, and if West Ham’s defence perform like they have in previous games we can expect United to score lots of goals.

Bolton Wanderers vs. Birmingham City:

Home: Bolton have had a very good start to the season. They have got four points from their opening two fixtures and Owen Coyle has them playing some good footbal. Martin Petrov is looking like an excellent signing. His creative touch is exactly what Bolton had been lacking last season.

Bolton Wanderers team news:

Ivan Klasnic is a doubt after he picked up a slight thigh strain in the Carling Cup win over Southampton. Bolton do not have any other injury concerns.

Away: Birmingham have improved drastically under Alex McLeish and appear to be a team that can finish in the top half of the table every season. After a slow start on the opening day they improved their performance against Blackburn last weekend. However, they are still vulnerable to sloppy mistakes away from home.

Birmingham City team news: James McFadden suffered a knock during Birmingham’s Carling Cup game against Rochdale in mid-week and may be a doubt for the game. Kevin Philips is still a long-term injury.

Player to watch:

Martin Petrov -The Bulgarian has added a new dimension to Bolton’s game and it is only a matter of time before he starts scoring goals rather than just creating them.

Prediction: Bolton Wanderers 2-2 Birmingham City

This game has a few goals in it. Birmingham always seem to concede on their travels and Bolton have the ability to capitalize on that. However, Birmingham have a fighting spirit when they are behind and will do enough to take a point from the game.

Liverpool vs. West Bromwich Albion

Home: Liverpool have had a poor start to the season, however their first two fixtures were against very good opposition. In the eyes of many Pool fans, Saturday is a new start to the season and expectations will be high at Anfield.

Liverpool team news:

Steven Gerrard and Fernando Torres will return to the starting lineup after they were rested for Liverpool’s mid-week European fixture. Joe Cole is serving a three-match ban after being sent off against Arsenal on the opening weekend of the season.

Away: Despite being thumped 6-0 by Chelsea on the opening weekend, West Brom are not a team to fall apart. A solid performance last weekend earned them a well-deserved 1-0 victory over Sunderland.

West Bromwich Albion team news:

Marek Cech is out of this game and will be sidelined for six weeks after he suffered a fractured metatarsal in the Carling Cup game against Leyton Orient. The Baggies have re-signed Marc Antoine Fortune from Celtic but he is not expected to be involved against Liverpool.

Player to Watch:

Fernando Torres – Another player that has not been in good form, this is the perfect chance for Torres to prove that he is one of the best strikers playing in England today.

Prediction: Liverpool 3-0 West Bromwich Albion

Liverpool will win this game comfortably and many will expect them to score plenty of goals. Could be a big day for Torres.

Sunderland vs. Manchester City

Home: Sunderland have suffered from complacency in their opening two fixtures. They gave away a two-goal lead against Birmingham and were less than impressive against West Brom. Steve Bruce has a lot of work to do.

Sunderland team news:

Lee Cattermole and Michael Turner will return to the starting lineup for Sunderland. Nedum Onuoha is ineligible as he is on loan from Manchester City. Andy Reid made his long awaited return in Carling Cup action during the week but will not be risked against City.

Away: A very impressive 3-0 victory over Liverpool has put fear into the elite teams in England. Manchester City look like genuine title contenders. James Milner made an excellent debut on Monday night and Adam Johnson is looking better every week. City look to be the real deal.

Manchester City team news:

After resting some player for their mid-week European fixture, Roberto Mancini should reinstate all his first-team regulars. Adam Johnson should start, leaving David Silva on the bench. Mario Balotelli may make his Premier League debut, however it may also be from the bench.

Player to watch:

Carlos Tevez – The little Argentinean scored twice against Liverpool last Monday. His work rate, pace and desire make him an opposing defender’s worst nightmare. He will make life miserable for Titus Bramble.

Prediction: Sunderland 1-3 Manchester City

Two weeks ago many would have called this a tricky fixture for City but with the depth they have in their squad they should have enough options to come away with three points.

Aston Villa vs. Everton

Home: Villa have had a terrible week. First Newcastle destroys them 6-0 then Rapid Vienna knocks them out of the Europa League. Can things get any worse for the midlands side? They will be hoping that Stephen Ireland can find his feet soon as Villa are lacking the creativity that they got with James Milner.

Aston Villa team news:

Gabriel Agbonlahor was substituted at half-time during Villa’s midweek defeat and is considered doubtful for the Everton clash.

Away: Everton are another team who have had a bad start to the season. The Toffees have only tabled one point in their opening two games. Last weeks 1-1 draw at home to Wolves was very disappointing for the Merseyside club.

Everton team news: Phil Neville is doubtful with a foot injury, while Yakubu, Yobo and Anichebe are definitely out.

Player to watch:

Mikel Arteta – The Spanish midfielder has only showed glimpses of his excellence over the last two weeks but this may be the weekend he finally flourishes in the Everton midfield.

Prediction: Aston Villa 0-2 Everton

There seems to be no hope of Villa improving until they get a new manager. They seem like a team in limbo. Everton have been stuck in first gear over the last two weeks and this may be their chance to hit full throttle.

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