Alright, here’s the plan. Every week this column will run over some of the previous week’s games and look ahead to the next week’s games in an attempt to keep you up to date with the hectic but awesome English premier League. Let’s jump into some of last week’s action.
Top Club: Manchester City & Bolton
Wins were hard to come by in the EPL’s first week but these teams cleaned up and are sitting at the top of the table for now. Bolton ran QPR off the pitch in a game most were pegging for a warm QPR welcoming to the Premiership even without Holden or Lee (who are out long-term). Manchester City also cleaned up Swansea and showed Kun Aguero off to their fans to great effect. He played one half and was absolutely stunning. Swansea is not the competition City would like to be compared to but they certainly looked fine on the day.
Top Striker: Kun Aguero (Manchester City)
Holy crap. They will miss Tevez, but not that much. Aguero was stunning, especially that assist for Silva (who was pretty good himself). In a week where there were not many goals this is a clear choice.
Top Midfielder: Matthew Jarvis (Wolves)
I will be honest. I did not watch enough of the games to really have an excellent opinion on who the best midfielder was in the EPL this week. Hell, this section may be discontinued because it is so impossible to choose the best midfielder when their tasks are so varied. However, for this week I am going with Matt Jarvis who had an excellent day terrorizing Michel Salgado and propelling Wolves past Blackburn. He was immaculate on the wings and his crossing was spot on. Many cases could be made here.
Top Defense & Goalie: Asmir Begovic (Stoke)
Rolling these all into one as individual defenders are so much a part of a unit at the back. Chelsea threw the kitchen sink at Stoke and couldn’t get a single goal from them. Perhaps Stoke’s stadium deserves some credit here as well but he was outstanding on the day against an attack that can be truly ferocious. Shay Given of Aston Villa also deserves mention.
It would be easy to pick out the worst defenders, strikers, etc, but let’s stick to the positives. I think we can all tell, more or less, that there is a large divide between the good and the bad among players. Look at even Tottenham’s lineup vs some of the middle-lower clubs as far as talent. Let’s stick to the positives.
The Upcoming Week (Home team comes first)
Aston Villa vs Blackburn
Do not be afraid to miss this one. I expect Villa to grab a 1-0 win but the overall lack of quality here means it will likely be a match decided by a single goal. Give me Villa 1-0.
Chelsea vs West Brom
This one is kind of interesting but I am betting on a 2-0 Chelsea win. WBA have a tough opening schedule but they were a bad deflection away from earning a point and could certainly do the same here. HOWEVER, new manager Andres Villas-Boas is likely to come out guns blazing, in his home debut, players psyched up and ready to atone for a rough opening weekend at a stadium that is nearly impossible to win at (Brittania). Bounce back game written all over this one. Chelsea 3-0.
Everton vs QPR
Everton is one of those clubs e did not get to see the opening week because of the riots. We saw quite a bit of QPR, unfortunately so the edge has to go to Everton. However, the Toffees generally start pretty slow so this one could be closer than you’d think. I still have Everton, just by a slimmer margin than you’d expect. 2-1 Everton.
Arsenal vs Liverpool
This is one of the marquee games of the weekend but it will not look it on the field. Arsenal are down a good striker in Gervinho, their skipper is now Barcelona colors and Nasri looks set to leave. Yikes. Liverpool were far from perfect in their opening week too, allowing a Sebastian Larsson strike to steal a couple of point from the Reds. Suarez opened his account for the season, but also missed a penalty. Neither team will be at full strength but I have Liverpool going on the road and picking up an impressive win against an Arsenal team that just looked anemic against Newcastle. I have Liverpool 2-0 in a close game that they close out late. Regardless, it is the game you should watch this Saturday.
Sunderland vs Newcastle
We have a derby (or rivalry for you American-folk)! Both teams were glad to take a point from their opening round game against the teams we just mentioned. I will take Sunderland here but with derbies, anything can happen and would be shocked if Joey Barton did not get in a fight. Sunderland 1-0.
Swansea vs Wigan
Hard to form an opinion here as not much separates these teams as far as talent. In that type of situation, the best option is always a draw, but let’s make it 1-1.
Wolves vs Fulham
This is a tough one to pick for me. I really like Wolves to click this year a bit but Fulham is so, so solid I cannot see them getting too phased by a Wolves attack that is largely run out on the wings and then crossed in. On the other hand, I have a couple questions about Wolves defense but Fulham has very little to test them with. I will take a Fulham 2-1 win in a hotly contested affair that will not be too high on entertainment.
Bolton vs Manchester City
Bolton did well without CY Lee and Stu Holden against QPR. They will sorely miss them after this match. Manchester City did struggle a good bit early on, but with Silva and Aguero up top instead of the unappealing Dzeko, I think the City machine runs rampant against a Bolton back like that is far from sterling. Throw on top of that Bolton’s lack of firepower and this one has City written all over it. Man City 3-0.
Norwich vs Stoke
Do I have to? Are you sure? Ummmm… I mean they both have…. I do kinda like… Yeah I have no interest in this game. Stoke will probably take it but they are a very different team on the road and Norwich could certainly steal this one. Stoke 1-0 in a yawner.
Manchester United vs Tottenham
Here’s a game I can get behind! United looked good but far from great against WBA (especially newcomer De Gea who will be fine) and Tottenham did not play but was irresistible against Hearts in the Europa League today. They will be rested and I am sure they will score at least once, because that is what Spurs do. However, United OWNS Spurs at Old Trafford. I do not have the numbers in front of me but Spurs never win at Old Trafford and it will not start this week. Give me United 2-1 Spurs with Rooney, Nani and Van Der Vaart scoring.
- Aston Villa 1-0 Blackburn
- Chelsea 3-0 WBA
- Everton 2-1 QPR
- Arsenal 0-2 Liverpool
- Sunderlaand 1-0 Newcastle
- Swansea 1-1 Wigan
- Wolves 1-2 Fulham
- Bolton 0-3 Man City
- Norwich 0-1 Stoke
- Man United 2-1 Tottenham
- Fernando Torres (Chelsea)- Hey, someone has to do the scoring in Chelsea’s bounce-back week. He will bag at least one.
- David Silva (Manchester City)- We all knew Aguero was fantastic but Silva was excellent as well and will bag at least one against Bolton.
- Clint Dempsey (Fulham)- Is this a homer American pick? Yes, but he will score against Wolves (which is far from a sure bet) and star in the match.
- Robin Van Persie (Arsenal)- It will not be fully his fault since service will lack but I think he gets frustrated during the game and hurts his own cause further.
- Whoever fills in at RB (Manchester United)- It will not cost them, but I have a feeling Gareth Bale will impose his will on the left side at timse during this match.
- Ivan Klasnic (Bolton)- This is hardly going out on a limb, but he had a good first game and will fall back to earth against City. Not too bold of me but still.