EPL Week Three Preview

31 August 2012

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(Kickoff times are in AEST)

West Ham United v Fulham

Kickoff: 9:45pm, Saturday 1st September at Upton Park

West Ham are coming off a 3 – 0 defeat to Swansea City at Liberty Stadium, but can find solace in the three points banked against Aston Villa on matchday one. Although the newly promoted Hammers did struggle to gain any foothold in their most recent contest, the match says more about the sparkling form of the Swans than it does about the East Londoners.

Fulham were highly impressive and deserved a point against Manchester United at Old Trafford. There were plenty of positives from the 3 – 2 loss, particularly the form of Moussa Dembele in midfield. Although unfortunately for Fulham, the Belgium international has since been snapped up by Tottenham for £15 million. Having dismantled Norwich 5 – 0 to open their campaign, you would expect the Lily Whites to continue their sharp start to 2012/13.

Winning points away from Craven Cottage, a significant issue for Fulham last season, shouldn’t prevent them from doing so this week at Upton Park.

West Ham United 1 – 2 Fulham


Swansea City v Sunderland

Kickoff: 12:00am, Sunday 2nd September at Liberty Stadium

Along with top of the table Chelsea, Swansea are the form side of the Premier League. Two matches, eight goals scored and none conceded is an imposing record, albeit against relegation possibilities West Ham and QPR. Recent signing Michu has been an outstanding acquisition, already boasting a three-goal tally.

Sunderland had last weekend’s clash with Reading postponed due to a waterlogged pitch, following a rigid 0 – 0 draw with Arsenal at the Emirates in week one. Continuity is vital at this time of year, meaning the rest is likely to be more detrimental than beneficial to the Black Cats. Signing Adam Johnson should be a huge asset, making the move from Manchester City.

Opposition sides continue to struggle against Swansea at their Liberty Stadium fortress, and this will be no exception.

Swansea City 2 – 1 Sunderland


West Bromwich Albion v Everton

Kickoff: 12:00am, Sunday 2nd September at The Hawthorns

West Brom would be delighted with their opening results, beating Liverpool 3 – 0 at The Hawthorns and most recently sharing honours with Tottenham at White Hart Lane. A late strike by midfielder James Morrison pinched the 1 – 1 draw for the Baggies.

Not for the first time, Everton has begun the season by parting ways with quality players and opting to remain patient in the pursuit of potential replacements. Renowned for slowly building into season’s, the blue half of Merseyside has bucked the trend to date by beating Aston Villa 3 – 1 and Manchester United 1 – 0. Striker Nikica Jelavic continues to present himself as a genuine star, scoring 10 goals in 15 matches since joining Everton last January.

Both sides are unbeaten in 2012/13, and that won’t change this weekend.

West Bromwich Albion 1 – 1 Everton


Tottenham Hotspur v Norwich City

Kickoff: 12:00am, Sunday 2nd September at White Hart Lane

Tottenham has commenced the season indifferently, and has also lost star Luka Modric to Spanish giant Real Madrid in the process. A 2 – 1 loss away to Newcastle United was followed up by a 1 – 1 draw with West Bromwich Albion. There’s no cause for concern yet, but there are both big external and internal expectations for Spurs, meaning that maximum points are a non-negotiable for manager Andre Villas-Boas this week.

Norwich were humiliated by Fulham 5 – 0 first up and could only manage a 1 – 1 draw with QPR at their Carrow Road home last week. The Canaries beat Tottenham 2 – 1 in the corresponding game last season, and will need to use that as a source of belief and confidence to take on their highly fancied opponents.

Despite last season’s shock result between these sides, Tottenham should comfortably account for Norwich.

Tottenham Hotspur 3 – 0 Norwich City


Wigan Athletic v Stoke City

Kickoff: 12:00am, Sunday 2nd September at The DW Stadium

Excluding Wigan’s opening 10 minutes against Chelsea, where the Blues scored twice and maintained the lead to win, the Latics have performed well. They applied strong periods of pressure to the Blues after their early lapses and comprehensively beat Southampton 2 – 0. Victor Moses’ depature will be a significant hole in midfield.

Stoke has been typically dour and rigid, relying on strong bodies, long balls and height to grind out results. Their 1 – 1 draw against Reading was followed by an uneventful scoreless draw with Arsenal at Britannia Stadium. They need to find an offensive spark.

Another tight tussle for Stoke, and another important point for Wigan.

Wigan Athletic 1 – 1 Stoke City


Manchester City v Queens Park Rangers

Kickoff: 2:30am, Sunday 2nd September at Etihad Stadium

Manchester City has been somewhat unconvincing by their lofty standards, yet they still have four points next to their name. The Premier League title-holders outlasted a gallant Southampton 3 – 2 and were fortunate to leave Anfield with a 2 – 2 draw against Liverpool. Carlos Tevez is back to his powerful best and given the absence of star striker Sergio Aguero, the timing has been ideal.

QPR has made a plethora of changes to their squad, obtaining several quality and proven Premier League players. In a massive coup, Rangers have added Inter Milan goalkeeper Julio Cesar to that list in the last 24 hours. However, the alterations haven’t created a spike in form to date. The 1 – 1 draw against Norwich last week was a vast improvement from the 5 – 0 smashing Rangers received at the hands of Swansea.

In the rematch of the 2011/12 title defining clash (arguably the most dramatic Premier League game ever), Manchester City should have far too much class.

Manchester City 3 – 0 Queens Park Rangers


Liverpool v Arsenal

Kickoff: 10:30pm, Sunday 2nd September at Anfield

After a frustrating 3 – 0 loss to West Bromwich Albion in Brendan Rodgers’ first league match as manager, Liverpool had the spotlight firmly placed on them against Manchester City last week. The Reds embraced the challenge and outplayed City, but a late backpassing error by Martin Skrtel handed the Sky Blues a gift goal and a 2 – 2 result. In his first Premier League start, 17-year-old winger Raheem Sterling excited the Kop with his exceptional pace and footwork.

Arsenal has lost potency in the front third, largely due to the high profile departure of talisman Robin van Persie to rivals Manchester United. Ironically, their biggest problem from last season, defence, has been the only reason for their two draws. 180 minutes equating to zero goals for and against is not the style of manager Arsene Wenger.

The match of the round on paper should be the first Premier League victory for the Reds’ Rodgers revolution.

Liverpool 2 – 1 Arsenal


Southampton v Manchester United

Kickoff: 1:00am, Monday 3rd September at St Mary’s Stadium

Southampton is one of only two sides yet to earn a point in 2012/13, but they have been better than the results indicate. 2 – 1 ahead against Manchester City until the 72nd minute, the champions cream rose to the top and sunk the Saints 3 – 2. Southampton were more than in the contest against Wigan too, having more shots and corners in the 2 – 0 loss. The newly promoted side has plenty to be positive about.

Manchester United has made a slow takeoff to their title mission, but it is a common tendency for the Red Devils. Going down 1 – 0 to Everton, United bounced back with an enthralling 3 – 2 win against Fulham. The Cottagers were good value and fully deserved a point, but United were ultimately too classy. Shinji Kagawa and Robin van Persie were instrumental in the victory.

Southampton will throw the kitchen sink at the English giants, and will again fall just short.

Southampton 1 – 2 Manchester United


Newcastle United v Aston Villa

Kickoff: 1:00am, Sunday 3rd September at Sports Direct Arena

Newcastle has had two tough matches to begin the season, facing top four and title aspirants Tottenham and Chelsea. Hatem Ben Arfa’s penalty gave the Magpies a 2 – 1 win against Spurs, while the Blues Eden Hazard and Fernando Torres handed the Toon a 2 – 0 defeat.

Aston Villa has been nothing short of woeful. Sitting bottom of the table, the Villans looked rudderless against Everton and promotion side West Ham United. The 3 – 1 and 1 – 0 defeats could be an indication of where they will be placed in the Premier League landscape for much of the season – relegation threatened.

On form, Newcastle will make light work of the struggling Claret and Blues.

Newcastle United 2 – 0 Aston Villa

Paul Bastin is a third-year Bachelor of Media Studies student at La Trobe University. He is the current deputy sports editor for upstart. You can follow him on Twitter: @paulbastin10