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Friday, 19 September 2014

5 things to watch this Barclays Premier League weekend

 1.      European hangovers

It’s the first set of Premier League fixtures after teams performed in the group stages of both the Champions League and Europa League and one can expect the games to have an impact on these sides’ domestic performances.

Both Liverpool and Chelsea played their European ties at home and despite Liverpool snatching a late win in what was supposed to be a routine victory over Ludogorets and Chelsea only drawing against Schalke you would not expect either side to be feeling the physical effects going into their respective weekend fixtures against West Ham and Man City. Similarly Everton played their Europa League clash at home to Wolfsburg, a game they won 4-1, the confidence gained from this win is sure to make it more of a benefit than a hindrance.

Two teams who potentially could experience the hangover will be Manchester City and Arsenal, both of whom travelled to Germany and came home with demoralising defeats. Arsenal, who played on Tuesday, you would expect to have recovered physically from their exerts as they succumbed to a 2-0 defeat at the hands of Dortmund, the mental effects of this loss will be Arsene Wenger’s only worry ahead of their Aston Villa clash. Manchester City on the other hand will be feeling both physical and mental fatigue after their heart-breaking loss to German champions Bayern Munich, conceding a last minute goal after an energy sapping display, they will however have to get over the loss quickly as they face league leaders Chelsea on Sunday.

Spurs made the long trip to face Serbian side Partizan Belgrade, after being held to a goalless draw Spurs will be hoping they have a squad to deal with the fatigue from travelling such a long distance for the game with West Brom.

1    2.      Liverpool’s response

After last weekends home defeat to Aston Villa and a below par performance mid week against Ludogorets where they scraped a win, all eyes will be on Upton Park on Saturday for the late kick-off to see if Liverpool will bounce back and return to winning ways.

Having scored his first goal for the club on Tuesday night, Brendan Rodgers and the Liverpool faithful will be hoping Mario Balotelli can push on and set them on their way to another away win.

The game comes too early for star man Daniel Sturridge who is in contention to return for the derby the following week. With it being the fifth game of the Premier League season it is time for this Liverpool side to start gelling before its too late and they find themselves miles behind the Premier League frontrunners.

1    3.      Mesut Ozil
Arsenal’s record signing has come under increased scrutiny this week following another below par performance in his home country against Borussia Dortmund, in one German newspaper his performance was rated the lowest on the pitch adding to the calls that he has been another big Premier League flop.

Much criticism has been put to Arsene Wenger about his use of their most expensive asset, Ozil has increasingly been played on the left side, a position he is neither comfortable nor capable of performing to the best of his ability in.

After the poor performances of late, interest is high on whether Ozil will start or will he be finally dropped for their trip to Aston Villa, should he start it will be interesting to see if Wenger listens to the pleas of many and plays him through the middle or whether he continues to try the German on the left.

 4. Pardew and Newcastle

A week on from Newcastle’s embarrassment at the hands of Southampton, Pardew and his men play host to Hull in a game you feel they must win should Alan Pardew still be in a job by Monday.

In a week where Pardew admitted he is fighting for his job and the Newcastle fans continued to voice their discontent at the team’s current form, Newcastle will be looking to get their season back on track and start climbing the table.

Currently lying bottom of the table, a home game is exactly what Newcastle need and despite the good start to the season made by Hull, all of Newcastle will be expecting three points or else we could see the first Premier League sacking of the season.

1    5.      Manchester City vs Chelsea 

Last but certainly not least, the biggest game of the weekend and season so far takes place on Sunday at the Etihad Stadium as rampaging league leaders Chelsea travel to champions Manchester City in what is being billed as an early title six pointer.

With both sides having ambitions of winning this seasons Barclays Premier League this game promises to be a classic, being at home Manchester City will try to take the game to Chelsea who similarly will want to exert their dominance early on in the game hopefully resulting in an entertaining game.

Chelsea main man Diego Costa will be hoping to continue his great run of 7 goals in 4 games while Man City poacher Sergio Aguero will be hoping to add to his 3 goals this season, one would expect which ever team can stop the opponents striker will take a giant step to winning the game.

Already five points behind, a defeat for City could be vital, a win however will see them close the gap to two points, no matter what this game promises to be a cracker.