Gameweek two provides another exciting set of Premier League fixtures and the chance for all teams to finally have their homecoming with fans. Here we preview the weekend’s games.
Liverpool vs Burnley – Anfield – 21st August 12:30
Liverpool ran out 3-0 winners on the opening day of the season at Carrow Road, a stadium they have been happy travellers to for a number of years. However, last season The Reds lost this fixture so face a tough test to put those bad memories behind them. Mohamed Salah, Diogo Jota and Roberto Firmino are all already up and running in the goalscoring charts, Salah grabbing a goal in gameweek one for the fifth consecutive season, a Premier League record. Kostas Tsimikas is expected to start once again as he fills in for the injured Andrew Robertson meanwhile Ibrahima Konate could come in for Joel Matip to make his Premier League debut.
(Konate in pre-season action for Liverpool: Getty Images)
Sean Dyche’s side got off to the a losing start against Brighton & Hove Albion at Turf Moor, he did mastermind that victory at Anfield last season but there was an absence of the intimidating home crowd. The Burnley manager has previously got on the wrong side of Jurgen Klopp as they were pictured arguing in the tunnel last time out. Burnley will look to play a low defensive block in their usual 4-4-2 formation and win the game from set pieces, James Tarkowski scoring a head from a corner last week.
(Burnley defender James Tarkowski: Getty Images)
Aston Villa vs Newcastle United – Villa Park – 21st August 15:00
Aston Villa got off to poor start to the season as they lost 3-2 at newly promoted Watford and were 3-0 down before consolation goals from John McGinn and new striker Danny Ings. Dean Smith should rotate to field a stronger looking side for this game, Douglas Luiz has returned to training after winning the Olympics in Brazil, while Ollie Watkins will remain out after he missed gameweek one with a knock. Leon Bailey came off the bench to make his Premier League debut at Vicarage road and assisted McGinns goal, he should start this time out.
(Douglas Luiz plays in the Olympic Gold Medal match: Getty Images)
Callum Wilson was amongst the goals as Newcastle lost 4-2 to West Ham on opening day. Wilson and Saint Maximin were part of a team that looked full of energy and much more attacking threat than the dull football of last term. However, Newcastle were wide open at the back and a half-time team talk from David Moyes allowed West Ham to exploit their lack of defensive shape with three goals without reply. This contest based off week one should be full of goals, Aston Villa will be the team who control possession but if Steve Bruce can tighten up the backline Newcastle have the forwards to cause damage, Joe Willock may also make his first appearance since returning to the club permanently from Arsenal.
(Joe Willock celebrates while playing for Newcastle last season: Getty Images)
Crystal Palace vs Brentford – Selhurst Park – 21st August 15:00
This will be Patrick Viera’s first Premier League game in charge of Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park, so will be extra motivated to get a result. Palace lost last weekend to Chelsea 3-0 at Stamford Bridge and offered little threat. The squad is full of new young talent and may take some time to work. However, you would expect Viera’s side to have more of the ball in this match, this will allow the likes of Wilfried Zaha the chance to run at the Brentford defence, it will be interesting to see how Palace’s two striker formation will work against The Bees three at the back system.
(Wilfried Zaha against Chelsea: Getty Images)
Brentford face a different challenge in this game compared to opening day. The Bees opened the Premier League season on friday night last weekend as they put in an impressive defensive display against Arsenal, keeping a clean sheet and winning 2-0. Thomas Frank (who won performance of the week in GW1) has Shandon Baptiste and Matthias Jensen back in training and may opt to select either of them for more creativity with the ball for this match-up. New signing Yoane Wissa didn’t feature last weekend but may get his first minutes in a Brentford shirt at Selhurst Park, he may prove to be a potential match winner as his pace and eye for a goal may cause havoc if brought on in the later stages.
(Brentford midfielder Matthias Jensen: Getty Images)
Leeds United vs Everton – Goodison Park – 21st August 15:00
As far as starts go Leeds United got off to the worst possible one as they lost 5-1 to old rivals Manchester United at Old Trafford. The ego of Bielsa’s side will be bruised and it is how they deal with that which could determine the outcome of this game. Leeds under Bielsa have been a team who bounce back, their high pressing style and desire to play for the coach gives them a chance in every game, they will be clashing with a pragmatic Rafa Benitez team which could make it difficult for them.
(Patrick Bamford signed a new contract for Leeds United during the week: Getty Images)
Benitez got off to a winning start last weekend against Southampton with his team flooding the box with crosses. Dominic Calvert Lewin and Richarlison are both threats in front of goal and in the air, if Everton adopt a similar game plan this weekend they could see more success. Leeds like their team to attack as a unit with the whole side being involved in a move, the full backs often push high up the pitch. Andros Townsend and Demarai Gray will be key fort exploiting those spaces left by the Bielsa press, if they produce quality it could cause a lot of damage to this Leeds team.
(Calvert-Lewin scores a diving header against Southampton: Getty Images)
Manchester City vs Norwich City – Etihad Stadium – 21st August 15:00
If recent seasons standards are anything to go by then Manchester City can’t drop too many more points , especially in games they’re highly favoured in such as this. They lost 1-0 at Tottenham last week and that could be bad news for Norwich with Pep Guardiola out for an instant comeback. Kevin De Bruyne may make his first start alongside new signings Jack Grealish in midfield while Gabriel Jesus could make his way into the team after Guardiola played a false nine system at Spurs.
(Kevin De Bruyne features as a substitute against Tottenham: Getty Images)
Norwich City have been handed a tough return to the Premier League as they travel to the Etihad after losing 3-0 to Liverpool at Carrow Road. The Canaries will always look to attack which will give City’s creative players more freedom, however Guardiola’s teams have struggled when the game is taken to them in the past. Farke will need to find the correct mix between attack and defence to stand a chance of avoiding defeat in this encounter.
(Norwich City Head-Coach Daniel Farke: Getty Images)
Brighton & Hove Albion vs Watford – Amex Stadium – 21st August 17:30
Graham Potter’s Brighton were clinical in both boxes in their 2-1 victory over Burnley last week, something they were famously poor at last season. Neal Maupay and Alexis Mac Allister were on the score sheet, two players who epitomize what is good about this Brighton team with their hard work and great close control due to high technical ability. Watford’s visit to the AMEX will be another game in which Potter’s team look to dominate the ball and get bodies forwards into the box to latch onto crosses.
(Alexis Mac Allister celebrates scoring the winner for Brighton at Turf Moor: Getty Images)
Watford also had a positive start beating Aston Villa 3-2, they got off to a rampant start but did show weaknesses as they let Villa back into the game. If last week is anything to go by, this match will be open with Brighton’s passing game and Watford looking to exploit the spaces using the pace of Sarr, Sema and Dennis. Despite this educated assumption, Watford were great in the Championship for the defensive record they built under coach Munoz, the worry of being open at the back could see Watford adopt a back against the walls and low defensive block approach. It will be interesting to see how the away team take on this game as the home side always stick to the same principles.
(Watford forward Ismaila Sarr: Getty Images)
southampton vs Manchester United – ST Marys – 22nd August 14:00
The Saints have had a turbulent summer with Danny Ings and Vestergaard leaving which you could argue left a hangover on the team. However, there are positives for Southampton as new signing Adam Armstrong was on the scoresheet on his debut at Goodison Park. Despite the team’s weaknesses Hassenhutl’s side will always look to press high, so if United are poor in possession the pace and workrate of Adam Armstrong and Che Adams could cause nightmares for their defence.
(Adam Armstrong scores on his Southampton debut: Getty Images)
Manchester United top the Premier League going into gameweek two. On opening day they thumped a high-pressing team in Leeds United 5-1 as the goal threat of Fernandes and Greenwood as well as the creativity of Pogba cause too much of a threat for the away side. United will be hoping its business as usual with their counter-attack style of play suiting this fixture, it’s expected to be a very long afternoon for Southampton, United even beat them 9-0 last season.
(Manchester United midfielder Paul Pogba: Getty Images)
Wolverhampton Wanderers vs Tottenham Hotspur – Molineux – 22nd august 14:00
Wolves will be looking to get their first win under new boss Bruno Lage as they welcome back their old coach Nuno Espirito Santo for the visit of Spurs. Lage kept the same system that Nuno built at Molineux over his tenure, a three at the back system, if he keeps it the same again Nuno should know how to exploit the system as well as having a great understanding most the players. It will be a tough ask for Wolves but they will be backed by a terrific crowd on their homecoming.
(Wolves Head-Coach Bruno Lage: Getty Images)
Spurs and Nuno got off to the perfect start beating Manchester City without main man Harry Kane as he is continually linked to a move away. Kane has been training this week so could see a return to the side for this match which would be a big boost to the threat Tottenham can offer, however the decision will depend on whether the coaching staff feel the number nine is in the right frame of mind to play for the club. Spurs adopted a 4-3-3 formation with great fluidity last time out, Son, Moura and Bergwijn proving dangerous on the counter attack while academy graduate Oliver Skipp in midfield a notable addition to the team. New signing Cristian Romero could also be handed his first start at the centre of defence.
(Oliver Skipp in action for Tottenham against Manchester City: Getty Images)
Arsenal vs Chelsea – Emirates Stadium – 22nd August 16:30
The Gunners have boosted their ranks during the week with the signings of Martin Ødegaard and Aaron Ramsdale for a combined £60m. Despite Ødegaard’s familiarity with the team after his loan spell during the 20/21 campaign, he will most likely miss the starting XI for this match as will Ramsdale. The bolstering of the squad will no doubt have a positive impact on the feeling within the Arsenal camp as well as the fanbase as a tense and toxic crowd was initially expected for the London derby after the 1-0 loss to Brentford a week prior. It is unclear whether Aubameyang or Lacazette will return for this fixture so we may see another young lineup selected by Arteta.
(Martin Ødegaard and Mikel Arteta: Getty Images)
Romelu Lukaku should make his first Chelsea start of his second spell with the club, the Belgian striker added to a squad that won 3-0 on opening day for a fee in the region of £100m. The Blues will play their familiar 3-4-3 formation under Tuchel which shows great fluidity and patience on the ball, Chelsea’s quality in possession a key reason for their impressive defensive statistics’. Christian Pulisic will miss the match with covid so we could see the Germans Kai Havertz and Timo Werner operate either side of Lukaku, a frightening front three. The interesting matchup to keep an eye on is how Ben White deals with the Chelsea number nine as he struggled with the physical battle of Ivan Toney at Brentford.
(Pulisic is substituted for Havertz: Getty Images)
West Ham United vs Leicester City – London Stadium – August 23rd 20:00
The free flowing Hammers will have to be on top form once again as they welcome Leicester City to the London Stadium. A key component of this game is off the pitch as both teams are very evenly matched on it. The atmosphere surrounding West Ham fans has been toxic in recent years but their team has been on fine form during the break of fans in stadiums, therefore they return in a different mood and promising a buzz around the ground, which should be infectious and help the players thrive. Said Benrahma and Michail Antonio linked up greatly last week and pose many different treats from skill and long range goals to pace and aerial ability. David Moyes will need to make sure his team stay concentrated at the back for 90 minutes as they struggled against a poor Newcastle side with Craig Dawson having a very tough time.
(West Ham United boss David Moyes waves to the fans: Getty Images)
The Foxes will be looking to pounce on any mistakes, Jamie Vardy a thorn in the side of Premier League defences for years with his exceptional work rate, pace and importantly eye for goal. Leicester City announced Harvey Barnes extended his stay at the club until 2025 during the week which may give a boost to the winger’s already impressive performances. The injury of Wesley Fofana was a blow for Brendan Rodgers during pre-season but City’s great recruitment struck again as they signed Jannik Vestergaard from Southampton, he may make his first Premier League start for the side and be perfect for dealing with Antonio in the air, the Dane stands at 6ft 6in tall.
(Ça?lar Söyüncü and Jannik Vestergaard: Getty Images)