The Special One is now the Sacked One. Chelsea’s disastrous defence of their title culminated in the exit of Jose Mourinho. It has been a difficult season for the Champions with key players failing to live up to their usual high standards. In such circumstances, the manager usually takes the fall. Due to Mourinho’s reputation at Chelsea, a poor start to the season meant he had more time to turn around the season. Every bad result meant that the patience of the hierarchy at Chelsea continued to wear thin. Sadly, it did not look that they had truly turned the corner at any point in the season.
The Chelsea star players have failed to perform this season (with the exception of Willian).
They will be expected to raise their game. If they miraculously do so in this game just 48 hours after the Portuguese manager was fired, will that make Mourinho’s claim that he has been betrayed by his players true? Chelsea’s recent form has been terrible. They have only taken four points from their last seven games, losing five games in that time.
Sunderland arrives at the Bridge in similar precarious position. This season has already seen a change of manager. They will be buoyed by the fact the miracle escape of 2014 included a victory at the Bridge and will hope for similar fortune against a Chelsea side lacking in confidence but with a lot to prove. Their records against Chelsea, however, have been poor with the Blues winning 18 of the last 21 meeting with the Black Cats. The Black Cats though will be encouraged by their improved recent showings which have seen them win two out of their last five trips to Chelsea.
Falcao is doubtful for the game with a calf injury while Hazard could miss out with a hip injury sustained at the defeat at Leicester City.
Lee Cattermole and Larsson are injured with back and knee problems respectively while Coates is doubtful due to illness.
Arsenal, Liverpool, Manchester City and Chelsea have been defeated by the Hammers this season. It has been a strange season for the London side. This season has seen them take to the cleaners the premier sides of the league. It has been against the so called lesser sides that they have been found wanting. Victory over Arsenal was quickly followed by losses at home to Leicester City and Bournemouth while an impressive win over Chelsea was quickly forgotten after defeat at the hands of Watford. If the trend is to continue, you will expect Slaven Bilic’s men to give Manchester United a very hard time and tough examination. After all, this is a side that has won convincingly at the Eithad, Anfield and the Emirates this season.
Manchester United are one point off the table but manager Louis Van Gaal has had to endure very strong criticism from the media and fans who feel the team is not playing the “Manchester United” way. Whatever way they are playing at the moment, Man United have been very comfortable at the back without giving too much away. It is in games like this that the English giants will be expected to go for the jugular but such gung-ho tactics will likely be punished if undertaken without some form of caution. West Ham’s results this season indicates this is a game they will believe they can pull off another upset.
The Red devils are unbeaten in their last 13 Premier League meetings with West Ham, winning 11 and drawing two. West Ham’s recent results at Old Trafford offers little room for optimism with an awful record of seven successive away defeats. But the incentive available for the London side is very great. A victory for the visitors will make them the first team in Premier league history to beat Arsenal, Liverpool, Man City and Man United away from home in the same season.
Wayne Rooney misses out due to an ankle injury he sustained in the draw at Leicester City last weekend. Marcos Rojo dislocated his shoulder in training on Wednesday and is therefore unavailable. Ander Herrera is a doubt due to a hamstring injury.
Diafra Sakho’s injury means Andy Carroll is expected to start up front for the Hammers. Mark Noble and James Collins are available again after serving suspensions.
Claudio Ranieri takes high-flying Leicester City to Wales to face a team who are gradually finding their way down the table. Swansea City are on a poor run of form and have won just one in their last 10 Premier games, drawing three and losing the other six. They come up against a Jamie Vardy who is in the form of his life. The English forward has scored in his last 11 Premier League games and there is a sense of near certainty that he could add a Swansea side low on confidence to his list of victims and conquest.
Swansea City have an impressive record at home to the Foxes and have won their last three league games at home against their opponents this weekend without conceding a single goal. However, the contrasting fortunes of both sides could make such stats history and even irrelevant. Swansea City has failed to score in six of their last 10 Premier League games. Ranieri has tried to play down the significance of Leicester City’s fine start but such modesty can take nothing away from his side who have lost just one of their 14 Premier League games so far this season – their lowest tally of defeats at this stage of a top-flight season and they have scored in each of their 14 Premier League games this season. Even the biggest pessimist will admit that this side has to be taken seriously.
Jonjo Shelvey is available again for selection after serving his suspension, but Franck Tabanou will be unavailable for several weeks after injuring a thigh muscle in training.
Leicester will be without Ritchie de Laet for around a month due to an ankle injury while Matty James will not recover in time for the game. Nathan Dyer is ineligible against his parent club following his loan move to the Foxes.
Arsenal’s disciplined and efficient performance against Bayern Munich in midweek has provided renewed optimism at the North London club. Confidence is flowing at the London club and the opening day defeat to West Ham seems like ages ago as they welcome Everton to the Emirates. Everton were well beaten by Manchester United last weekend in a game they lost 3-0. They face another difficult test when they travel to London to play Arsenal.
Roberto Martinez will hope his charges come up with a better performance in a game that they have not had too much success recently. The Merseyside club have won just once in the last 16 Premier League meeting between the sides with the Gunners recording nine victories in those meetings. Arsenal were starved of the ball for long periods in midweek against the German champions but Wenger will want his side to seize the initiative in this match. Arsenal ability to collapse and lose concentration is well documented and this Everton side will seek to capitalise on any such gifts. Ross Barkley and Romelu Lukaku will be the players Everton will hope turns up on the day if they are to get anything from the game.
Petr Cech has provided some much needed calmness to the Arsenal defence and already has seven clean sheets in his first 11 games. The veteran, who now has 167 clean sheets, is closing in on David James’ record of 169 clean sheets in the premier league and his recent form suggest that it is a record he is capable of beating in a matter of weeks. Olivier Giroud has found goals easy to come by in this fixture and has netted four goals in the last four meeting between the two teams. Wenger faces a selection headache and has to decide whether to bring in the French international or persist with Theo Walcott.
Aaron Ramsey suffered injury against Bayern in midweek and will be sidelined until after the next international break. Arteta is ruled out for the game against his former side after picking up an ankle injury in training. Gabriel Paulista is available for selection while Tomas Rosicky, Jack Wilshere and Danny Welbeck all have long term injuries. David Ospina is still sidelined with a shoulder injury.
Tom Cleverly and Steven Pienaar are available for selection after recovering from injuries.
Recent games involving the two sides have thrown up some significant moments in the past few seasons. Games between these unfriendly neighbours have helped to laid down markers and decide the destination of titles. This match, however, coming relatively early in the season will not decide the destination of the title as there will be lots of twist and turns. For Manchester United, it represents their second big test of the season after they failed the first one woefully at the Emirates.
United responded at Everton last weekend following their abysmal showing at Arsenal and were duly rewarded with a solid win at Goodison Park. They will hope to carry on from where they left off when they welcome City. City so far has managed to navigate the first two games following injuries to Sergio Aguero and David Silva. But make no mistake, this will prove to be a big test for Wilfred Bony and Kevin De Bruyne as they seek to provide the goals and assists in the absence of the Argentine and Spanish superstars.
Rooney’s form has largely been criticised this season and there is a belief that if this United side is to really kick on, the English captain may have to be dropped if he fails to regain the form that made him one of Europe’s most feared strikers. He will look to prove his critics wrong in a game none of the two sides will want to lose. Rooney has scored ten goals in this derby and United faithful will hope he can improve on this record in order for his side not to lose ground in the title challenge. Manchester United, under Louis Van Gaal, have an impressive home record with 17 wins in 23 games under the Dutch manager. The continuation of this record will be largely dependent on which Man United midfield turns up on the day and the selection. A repeat of the same lethargic performance that characterized their performance will most likely be punished.
City have enjoyed success in this fixture recently with six wins in the last eight Manchester derbies and are looking to notch up half a century of wins over their arch rivals in this competition.
There are no new injury worries for the host. Ashley Young could be fit in time for this game.
City are without several keys players. Sergio Aguero, David Silva, Gael Clichy, Samir Nasri and Fabian Delph are all sidelined. Vincent Kompany is available for selection again.
West ham and Chelsea face off in this London derby with the two sides in very unfamiliar positions in the league standings. West Ham have had a fine start to the campaign and sit in 4th place. Slaven Bilic has proven to be an inspired choice with the Hammers playing some very exciting football and claiming major scalps this season.
Chelsea has had a poor start to the campaign but last weekend’s home win against Aston Villa provided the league Champions with some much-needed points and confidence. They will look to continue in the same vein but must be wary that this will be a very difficult game against a side that has claimed wins at Arsenal and Liverpool. Chelsea knows that to win this game, they need to keep Dimitri Payet quiet. The French international has adjusted quickly to life in England and has aided his team’s cause with five goals and three assists.
Chelsea have enjoyed huge success in recent meetings with West Ham, winning 13 of the last 18 and have not conceded in the last five against the Hammers. Jose Mourinho’s side have a chance to build some momentum after a poor start to the season. They face a side capable of troubling any team in the country.
Victor Moses is ineligible to play as he is on loan from Chelsea. Enner Valencia is in line to make his first start of the campaign. Winston Reid is however ruled out with a back injury.
Chelsea are without Pedro, Loic Remy and Branislav Ivanovic,. First choice goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois is still sidelined.
Jose Mourinho has probably run out of individuals or bodies to blame following Chelsea’s poor start to the season. The doctors and physio have been blamed. Match officials and the FA have also taken some share of the blame. The star players of the team have also not been exempted. And of course, Arsene Wenger. Chelsea were taken apart by Southampton two weeks at Stamford Bridge despite taking the lead. Their defence has been poor with Ivanovic being the main culprit. The Serbian defender will miss the game due to injury but there will probably be no Chelsea fan that will lose sleep over this. The Serbian has been poor this season but has somehow managed to survive the chop.
Chelsea have another opportunity to kick-start their season yet again against an Aston Villa that has failed to win since the opening day victory at Bournemouth. Villa have picked up just one point since then and even with Chelsea’s current predicaments, the Champions will be expected to get a positive result against the Birmingham side who are having their worse start of a top flight season. Tim Sherwood will be looking to avoid a fifth consecutive league defeat. Mourinho will have to find a way to shore up his defence. Their defence has leaked in at least two goals in seven of their eight games.
Chelsea will welcome back Diego Costa from suspension and the Spaniard will aim to hit top form quickly to help Chelsea up the table. Aston Villa’s records at Chelsea are pretty poor and have conceded 30 goals from their last eight visits to the London club. Chelsea may have lost five of their last ten league games, but surely this is a game they will be expected to win. Villa on the other hand will hope that Chelsea will come bearing gifts.
Diego Costa returns after completing a three game suspension for violent conduct. Ivanovic is ruled out due to a hamstring injury sustained while on international duty. Thibaut Courtois is still sidelined with a knee injury and could return in December.
Villa are still without Gabby Agbonlahor and Ciaran Clark who are both out with calf and thigh injuries. They are joined on the sidelines by Okore and Gardner.
The Saints march into this fixture in buoyant mood after their comprehensive victory at the home of the Champions. Their poor start to the season seems like ages ago and the manner in which they dismantled Chelsea with ruthless and clinical efficiency must have impressed their Dutch manager. Leicester City has also carried on from where they ended last season and a change in manager has not affected the side. They have been very impressive going forward and this game has the potential of being a classic.
Jamie Vardy has been a bright spark in Leicester’s line up and the forward has troubled defences across the country. He has found the back of the net eight times in his last nine Barclays Premier League games, including in his last five consecutive matches. The Foxes have also been notoriously difficult to beat and their resilience and determination to avoid defeat has seen them win six points from losing positions; which is the highest in the division. They have also scored in all the games they have been involved in this season.
Leicester City is unbeaten in their last seven away games and their fans will have good reasons for optimism. They have however struggled away from home against the Saints in the past with only one victory in their previous 18 away meetings in the Premier League. The Saints have won ten of those games. the Foxes have also failed to keep a clean sheet this season and an in form Pelle may be able to keep that stat alive
Shane Long will miss the game after damaging his ankle ligaments while on international duty. Jordy Clasie could finally make his Premier League after been sidelined since July. Fraser Forster and Florin Gardon remain sidelined due to long-term injuries.
Nathan Dyer is fit again after recovering from a knee injury sustained against Aston Villa last month. Riyad Mahrez and Jeff Schlupp are also in contention after returning late from international duties for Algeria and Ghana respectively.
The loss of Sergio Aguero has dominated the headlines over the past few days at the league leaders. The Argentine superstar scored five times against Newcastle and his goals will surely be missed over the next one month. Pellegrini’s woes were compounded when Kolarov and David Silva also returned from the international break with injuries which the Chilean manager hopes does not derail his side’s title ambition. The kind of football Manchester City played against Newcastle was a joy to behold and breathtaking at times. Kevin De Bruyne has been hugely impressive following his big money move from the Bundesliga and over the next few weeks, he will need to take up most of the creative responsibilities for his side. The Belgian has contributed three goals and two assists in his last three matches
In spite of City’s injury problems, Bournemouth know that they have a difficult task at hand if they are to go home with a point. They have so far picked up a respectable eight points this season but their away results have been far from encouraging and have lost three of their first four away games. Their task is made even harder by the fact that their top scorer, Callum Wilson, has been ruled out with a long-term injury. Their defence will also have their work cut out as they face a side that has found the back of the net in 23 of their last 24 Premier League games.
The Citizens and the Cherries have not met at this stage before. However, before Man City’s new found riches, the host won four and drew two in the six previous meetings between both teams. An upset is unlikely but with both sides’ injury worries, the Cherries may fancy their chances of getting something from a game no one expects them to win.
Manchester City have been hit with news of the loss of three key players. Aguero, Kolarov and Silva will all miss out following an international break with so many casualties for the club. Gael Clichy and Fabian Delph are still sidelined and a makeshift left back may have to be drafted in due to the absence of Clichy and Kolarov. Vincent Kompany is available again while Wilfred Bony will lead the lines in the absence of top scorer Aguero.
It has been a season of injuries for Eddie Howe’s side. Captain Tommy Elphick became the latest casualty and will be out for approximately eight weeks. Tyrone Mings, Callum Wilson and Max Gradel are all ruled out with long-term injuries.
At full-time against Arsenal, Louis Van Gaal couldn’t find reasons as to why his team had played badly in their first real test of the season. The decision to press high without actually winning the ball was brutally exposed and clinically punished by Arsenal. At Everton, he needs to find answers against a tricky Everton who have developed a habit of making life difficult for opponents. At the Emirates, the midfield was nonexistent and this left Chris Smalling and Danny Blind brutally exposed. Ross Barkley will be hoping for more of the same from Man United. The decision to play Schweinsteiger and Carrick together was wildly criticised and the manager will have to decide if he will stick with the same combination or make changes as they face a very competent Everton.
Wayne Rooney and Memphis Depay have so far failed to match the expectations of fans. Depay could be forgiven for still trying to adapt to a new league but the performance of Rooney must surely be a huge source of concern to the Dutch manager. Van Gaal will therefore have to decide whether to remain patient and hope that his two star players hit top form or make changes.
Romelu Lukaku will fancy his chances against the United defence and will be buoyed by the fact that he is one of only four players to have scored a Premier League hat-trick against the Manchester side. It promises to be a very busy afternoon for the central defender if the Belgian hits top form this afternoon. Everton’s recent home form against United in the league has also been encouraging with three consecutive home wins but they have only won one game in their last six at home.
John Stones and Seamus Coleman are set to return in defence against United following their recoveries from knee and hamstring injuries respectively. Kevin Mirallas returns from a three match suspension while midfielder Tom Cleverly is also in contention to face his former club.
Wayne Rooney is available for selection after missing England’s games against Estonia and Lithuania during the international break due to an ankle problem. Michael Carrick and Bastian Schweinsteiger have also recovered from injury but Ashley Young is ruled out.
At Anfield, the Klopp-mania has swept through the city and now it is time for the Jurgen Klopp era to begin. His track records certainly suggest that Liverpool fans will be in for a fun ride. Dortmund were a breath of fresh air with their playing style and ultra pressing game.
However, this will be no easy game against a Spurs side that is gradually finding its feet after a slow start. Manchester City were their last victims at home at White Hart Lane and with Eriksen in fine form, this is a team capable of deflating all the optimism the new German manager has brought with hm. The “normal” one will be hoping for a good start.
Liverpool is aiming for their 6th consecutive win over Spurs and have scored 18 goals in the last 5 meetings between the sides, conceding just 4 goals in those games. The timely return of Daniel Sturridge should be a boost to this side but he has however failed to score against the North London side since he moved to Merseyside. Tottenham has built a good and solid defensive unit so far and are yet to lose in their last 7 league games and also have the best joint defensive record in the league, allowing just 7 goals this season. The London side will want to prevent a 6th consecutive defeat in the hands of their opponents, a feat only Newcastle has managed to inflict on them.
Tottenham are facing an injury crisis in midfield with Ryan Mason and Nabil Bentaleb out injured. Eric Dier who has starred in midfield this season is also suspended after picking up his fifth booking of the season. That means inexperienced Tom Carroll or Musa Dembele could start. Son Heung-Min and Alex Pritchard remained sidelined with injuries.
Jurgen Klopp will look to Divock Origi and Sturridge for goals following a cruciate ligament injury to Danny Ings. Christian Benteke and Roberto Firmino are also sidelined but they should be back in full training in one week. Joe Gomez is also ruled out with a cruciate ligament tear and is joined on the injury list by Jordan Henderson. Playmaker Philippe Coutinho is available for selection after recovering from a groin problem.
Both sides head into the weekend still in search of their first league win of the season. If there is one opponent Spurs will want at this time, it probably will be Sunderland as they are unbeaten in the last 10 meetings between the sides. Sunderland’s poor start can be attributed to a host of factor, one of which is a series of comical defending. Tottenham, however, have sometimes in recent away games left their scoring boots at home.
Tottenham’s start to the season has been poor by their standard. They threw away a 2 goal lead at home to Stoke and Harry Kane’s form has been nowhere what it was last season. The success of the London club will depend on the ability of the Englishman to regain his goal scoring form and the supporting cast to lend a hand.
Dick Advocaat will be encouraged by his attackers’ showing in the 2-2 draw away at Aston Villa and the recent acquisition of Fabio Borini provides more reasons for optimism. But doubts still linger about the ability of his defence. Kaboul was expected to bring in some much-needed calmness and experience to that backline but that hasn’t materialized yet. The Black Cats have already shipped in 10 games this season with defeats at Leicester City away and home to Norwich City particularly disturbing. They have somewhat steadied the ship but they will know that they need to quickly convert recent draws to win in order to avoid another relegation dogfight.
Fabio Borini is in line for his second debut for the Black Cats after signing from Liverpool. However, on-loan DeAndre Yedlin is ineligible to play against his parent club. Jordi Gomez and Adam Johnson are back in training but are unlikely to feature due to a lack of match fitness.
Son Heung Min is available to make his premier league debut but Eriksen misses out due to a knee injury. Mousa Dembele is sidelined as well with a foot problem.
Speculations over the future of David De Gea can finally be laid to rest. Following Real Madrid’s failed attempt to sign the Spaniard, the young goalkeeper has signed a new contract. The Manchester club will hope that the end of the prolonged transfer saga will see them bounce back to form after they were beaten at Swansea 2 weeks ago. Liverpool were also easily torn to shreds by West Ham, a game in which they were comprehensively beaten.
The Red devils decided to allow a lot of their attacking talents depart before splashing the cash on Martial on transfer deadline day. The young French attacker will be in for huge scrutiny considering how much the English giants paid to acquire his services. He will look to Rooney for assistance as he makes the tough transition to English football. It is unknown if he will be thrown straight into deep waters against Liverpool but Wayne Rooney will be brimming with confidence after breaking the English national team goalscoring record which was held by Bobby Charlton. He, however, has failed to find the back of the net in 10 attempts in the premier league.
Games between these two sides usually do not follow the form books due to the age-long rivalry between both sides but recently Liverpool have found themselves on the losing side more often. They have lost 5 of the last 7 Premier Leagues meeting with their arch rivals with 16 red cards dished out in Premier Leagues involving both side. Manchester United’s recent home record have been poor with only one win in four attempt while Liverpool has won just once in 7 trips away from Anfield. This could be won by the team that wants it more.
David De Gea is available for selection after committing his long-term future to the club. He will have to wait and see if he will regain his spot back from Sergio Romero who has played since the start of the season. Michael Carrick has been declared fit after recovering in time from a calf injury. New signing Martial could make his Premier League against Liverpool.
Phillipe Coutinho is suspended after been sent off in that calamitous 3-0 defeat at home to West Ham. Daniel Sturridge remains sidelined while Jordan Henderson and Adam Lallana will undergo late fitness test to see if they are fully recovered ahead of kick off.
Arsenal goes into the game against Stoke City hoping to extend a run of 7 consecutive Premier League victories against the visitors. All competitions considered, Stoke’s away record at the North London side has seen them been beaten in their last 13 attempts. They will have to reverse this trend without Nzonzi who has since joined Sevilla and Afellay who is suspended. Much of their creative play will therefore depend on Xherdan Shaqiri who is gradually adapting to the demands of the league.
Arsene Wenger has been criticised for not reinforcing a strike force that has failed to really fire. Their chance conversion rate stands at a woeful 5.6% with Olivier Giroud bearing much of the criticism. The Frenchman, whose hold up play which has become so important to the Gunners, will look to silence his critics and repay the faith his manager has shown in him by not making a new signing.
Stoke under Mark Hughes have been pleasing to watch. The Arsenal manager even described them as a more technical team. But such praise will count for nothing if their rotten record at Arsenal is not brought to a halt. They have the unenviable job of keeping the likes of Alexis Sanchez, Ozil and Cazorla quiet and getting past Petr Cech who has slowly recovered after his nightmare debut against West Ham.
The manager will have the opportunity to choose his first choice centre back pairing of Laurent Koscielny and Per Mertesacker, even though Gabriel has shown he can be a reliable deputy if needed. There are no new injury concerns for the Gunners. Jack Wilshere, Danny welbeck and Tomas Rosicky remained sidelined with injuries.
Creative players Ibrahim Afellay and Charlie Adams are both suspended for 2 and 3 games respectively while there are fitness doubts over the availability of Glen Johnson, Mame Diouf and Marko Arnautovic. Nigerian Peter Odemwingie could also miss out as he still lacks match fitness. Ryan Shawcross is also ruled out with injury.
There is something not right with this Chelsea side. The Blues defence has been uncharacteristically leaky often bearing gifts to oppositions who have had no problems taking advantage often times. The buzz generated by Pedro’s stellar premier league debut has since disappeared following a convincing Crystal Palace victory at the Bridge. Chelsea will look to kick-start their season yet again when they visit Everton at Goodison Park in the early kick off of the weekend.
The corresponding fixture last season ended 6-3 in favour of the defending Champions but Jose Mourinho will hope that his side are not as generous as they were last season. The usually stingy defence has shipped in 8 goals in their last 3 away league games. Former Chelsea man Romelu Lulaku will look to punish any defensive frailty on the part of his former club. Jose Mourinho has been unimpressed by the form of some of his key players, notably Eden Hazard. The Belgian superstar is on a 7 Premier League games goalscoring drought. His form will be crucial if Chelsea’s season is to be revived.
Chelsea have come out tops in 2 of the last 3 meetings between the sides at Goodison Park and have a superior record over their host in recent meetings. The London side boast of 5 victories in their last 6 meetings and will hope to continue their impressive run against Everton. Everton, however, have failed to score in their last 2 games but will surely fancy their chances if Chelsea maintain their new-found bad habits.
Aaron Lennon, Ramiro Funes Mori and Leandro Rodriguez are all available for selection while Tom Cleverly could be out for up to 2 months with an ankle ligament damage.
Asmir Begovic will start in goal after it was announced that Thibaut Courtois has a knee injury. John Terry is available again after serving a 1 match ban
It has been a fantastic start to the season at the sky blue half of Manchester. Teams have been beaten convincingly and there is a swagger about the City side which has made them odds on favourite to win the title. With UEFA failing to follow through the Financial Fair Play effectively, City have gone on to make some stellar signings and Kevin De Bruyne is expected to join soon.
Watford have had 3 draws so far and making it 4 will be seen as a huge achievement against a side that easily dispatched Chelsea. Manchester City’s assault on the title is led by Sergio Aguero. The Argentine has continued from where he stopped and Pellegrini will know that keeping him fit will probably be the single most important factor in their bid to reclaim a title they lost to Chelsea last season.
The stats do not favour the newly promoted side. City boasts an impressive home record with 14 victories in their last 18 league games while Watford have just won 3 of their last 39 Premier League away games.
Pablo Zabaleta, Fernando and Gael Clichy remain sideline due to injuries. Bony could miss out as well due to a gashed leg. New signing Nicolas Otamendi could make his debut today
Quique Sanchez Flores will definitely name a very different side from the one that lost in midweek to Preston. Miguel Britos is suspended following a red card on his debut on Tuesday. Joel Ekstrand remains injured.
Jose Mourinho goes into his 200th Premier League game in charge of Chelsea looking to continue his impressive record at the bridge. The Portugese manager has suffered just one home defeat in his first 99 games at Stanford Bridge, winning 76 of those games. After Pedro’s impressive introduction to English football, the doom and gloom of their start to the season can be finally laid to rest against Crystal Palace with another win.
Palace has started the season strongly with 2 wins in 3. Regardless of the result today, they will be encouraged that they have picked up at least 6 points and would have played 2 of last season’s top 4 sides. Pardew’s team have been particularly difficult to beat away from home winning seven of the last nine, with one of two defeats coming at Chelsea.
Their record at Chelsea has been far from perfect having won just twice in their last 21 visits. The last win recorded away at Chelsea was in March 1982. To change this trend, they will look to Zaha, Sako and Bolasie to trouble a Chelsea defence that has looked uncharacteristically leaky this season. The absence of Terry and the unconvincing form of Ivanovic means this may be a far from straight forward for Chelsea
Chelsea captain is suspended so Gary Cahill is expected to start alongside Kurt Zouma. Baba Rahman could make his debut while Victor Moses and Oscar are doubts for the game as a result of injuries.
Mile Jedinak is ruled out with a hamstring injury sustained in the midweek League Cup win over Shresbury. Yannick Bolasie will also take part following the death of his father.
Arsenal has had a poor start to the season considering the optimism generated by their strong pre season. Against Liverpool, the Gunners were denied by some poor finishing and excellent goalkeeping. Doubts may exist about Olivier Giroud’s ability to lead a title charge, but there is no denying the fact that he has a tremendous record against the Magpies. He has scored 8 goals in 6 appearances against the team from Tyneside.
Steve McClaren’s side produced a heroic display against Manchester United and the manager will expect the same level of commitment. Florian Thauvin has a bright start to life in English football. AT Old Trafford, he looked comfortable before putting Northampton to the sword with a hat trick of assist and one in a convincing 4-1 win.
The likes of Thauvin, Mitrovic and Wijnaldum will look to capitalise on any uncertainty in the Arsenal defence where Chambers and Gabriel may continue in the continued absence of Per Mertesacker and if Koscielny fails a late fitness test.
The records do favour Arsenal though who have picked up 7 wins against Newcastle in 9 meetings, with the other two ending in draws. Newcastle’s home ground is not exactly a fortress. The club has only won 2 in 11 games played at ST. James Park. The Gunners have also had a lot of joy on the road where they have picked up 19 points out of the last 21 available.
Sissoko remains a doubt with a groin problem while RIviere and Marveaux are definitely ruled out with knee and groin injuries. Siem De Jong is also available after having a difficult last season which was disrupted by injuries. He completed 90 minutes in midweek in the Carling cup and even scored in a convincing Newcastle win.
Arsenal will definitely be without Danny Welbeck, Jack Wilshere and Thomas Rosicky who are all ruled out with injuries. Koscielny may miss out with a back problem while Mertesacker is unexpected to recover from illness in time for the early kick off. Gabriel and Chambers are expected to deputize for the pair.
Sunderland may have been poor last week, but Norwich must be praised for seizing the opportunity and beating the black Cats with such ruthless efficiency. Goals from Russell Martin, Steve Whittaker and Nathan Redmond led to a 3-1 victory and gave the newly promoted side their first win of the season after they had suffered an opening day defeat to Crystal Palace. There will definitely be some temptation for Norwich manager Alex Neil to select the same starting line-up that beat Sunderland. After all, if it isn’t broken, why change things?
Stoke showed they must be taken seriously after earning a creditable draw at Spurs even though they were 2 goals down at some point in the game. Mark Hughes will hope his side can build on the momentum generated at White Hart Lane. However, their away records haven’t been particularly pleasing to the eye. They have picked up just 3 points from the last 18 points available away from home and have scored 4 goals in those games. The absence of Bojan and Peter Odemwingie would make it even more difficult for those records to be improved upon.
Alex Niel has enjoyed a fantastic start to life at Carrow Road. He has won 18 of the 27 games he has overseen for Norwich, and in that period oversaw the Canaries’ return to the big league. Many of those wins may have come in the Championship, there is no doubt that he is building a stubborn side that could cause problems for many teams on their day. If recent records between the two teams count for anything, Norwich City should feel confident going into this one. They have lost just once in 10 games against Stoke at Carrow Road, winning five of them and drawing four.
Kyle Lafferty, Martin Olsson and Youssef Mulumbu are all unavailable due to injuries.
Xherdan Shaqiri could make his English football debut after serving his one match suspension carried over from the Coppa Italia. Marc Wilson could also make his first appearance of the new season while Bojan will probably not be fit enough to participate following his long-term injury. Ryan Shawcross and Peter Odemwingie are injured.
When the final whistle blew at the Emirates stadium on the opening day of the season, West Ham had just deflated the optimism at Arsenal. Slaven Bilic was getting all the plaudits. However, 2 weeks is a long time in football. They got a taste of their own medicine when Bilic’s men suffered defeat to a determined and efficient Leicester City and their woes compounded when number one goalkeeper, Adrian, was sent off for a challenge on Jamie Verdy.
In the absence of Adrian, Darren Randolph, a free transfer from Birmingham, will be called up to deputise. However, the new signing has had a torrid time in his previous meeting with the Cherries. He has conceded 16 goals in the last 3 games against the opposition.
For Bournemouth, they were praised for their exciting brand of football on their way to winning the Championship last season. In their debut Premier League season, they have been guilty of poor finishing and victims of refereeing mistakes. Against Liverpool, they produced an encouraging display. But a good display was decided by a Christian Benteke goal and two poor refereeing decisions.
Eddie Howe will hope his side’s spirited displays will produce goals and points as they are yet to register a point or goal as they head into the third match-day. The Cherries are expected to take advantage of any nervousness or loss of confidence on the part of West ham.
Adrian is suspended after been sent in the game against Leicester. In his place, Randolph will make his Premier League debut for the Hammers. Andy Carroll, Zarate and Valencia are all sidelined with injuries. There are doubts over the availability of O’Brien and Oxford and they will be assessed by the medical team to see if they can take some part in the game.
Eddie Howe has no new injury worries. Harry Arter, however, remains unavailable due to injuries. Tyrone Mings and Sylvain Distin are available and could make their club debut.
It is safe to say that Billy Jones or anyone who will play right back for Sunderland against Swansea will not be looking forward to this game. Jefferson Montero has taken the title of Tormentor-in-chief and has already made Branislav Ivanovic look like a Sunday league footballer. Janmaat was sent off for 2 bookable challenges on the Ecuadorian international. Gary Monk will expect him to carry on from where he stopped.
Sunderland have suffered two back to back defeats this season but what will be more worrying for Dick Advocaat will be the manner of the defeats. The defence has been poor, the experienced players underwhelming and the manager would be expected to shake things up.
Swansea’s season has been the direct opposite. They have played some exhilarating football defeating Newcastle and giving Chelsea a hard time before the Champions held on to draw the opening game. The partnership between Bafetimbi Gomis and Andre Ayew has proven that it could be a very productive one and the striking duo will fancy their chances against a Black cat defence that has been out of sorts since the start of the season. With Montero causing havoc on the left side of attack, it could be a very long day for Sunderland.
Sunderland were well beaten by Leicester and Norwich in the first 2 games, sides that are expected to struggle for safety alongside the black cats. The defence have been the worse culprit having shipped in 7 goals so far this season and 12 in their last 6 home Premier League games. They also have a tendency to never recover after conceding the first goal having not won in the last 17 games in which they conceded first. Swansea will be confident of improving their record against Sunderland which has seen them pick just one win in their 12 top-flight games against Sunderland with the Black Cats keeping 3 clean sheets in the last 4 meetings between the sides.
Jordi Gomez will not be involved this weekend as he continues to work his way to full fitness. John O’Shea could be recalled for this one after missing the first 2 games this season. Adam Johnson remains sidelined with a shoulder injury.
Ki Sung-Yueng is Swansea’s only fitness doubt for the game. The South Korean midfielder suffered a hamstring injury on the opening day of the season at Chelsea.
After opening day victories, Crystal palace and Aston Villa were brought down to earth after suffering defeats in their second league games. Both sides clash hoping to banish memories of defeats they suffered last weekend. Crystal Palace suffered defeat to Arsenal last weekend after matching the Gunners for long spells, before the superior quality of Arsenal eventually showed. Villa, however, were poor against Man United and never really looked like they were going to get anything from the game.
Crystal Palace enjoyed a fine 2014/2015 season following the appointment of Alan Pardew after he decided to leave Newcastle. Their improved performance and league position was mainly due to their ability to pick points away from home. Last season, the London side claimed only six home wins. They will be aiming to improve on that record and possibly make Selhurst Park a fortress and a much more difficult place to visit this season.
Aston Villa is expected by pundits and analysts to struggle this season following the departure of some key players. Christian Benteke, Fabian Delph and Vlaar have all departed the club while the new signings continue to settle in their new environment. Aston Villa’s recent trips to London do not give too much reason for optimism though. They have only found the back of the net twice in their last 10 visits while Palace have lost just once in the last 6 league meetings between the two sides, claiming 3 wins in those games. Villa opened the season with a 1-0 win over Bournemouth before succumbing to their usual annual defeat to Manchester United. They lacked invention and inspiration at home to United. They will need to produce a better performance against a very difficult Crystal Palace who will fancy their chances against the Birmingham side.
Bakary Sako could make his debut after missing the Arsenal game. Marouane Chamakh and Julian Speroni remain sidelined due to hamstring and hand injuries respectively.
Former Barcelona striker Adama Traore is unlikely to start as his manager stated he is short of match fitness. In his absence, Jack Grealish and Carles Gil should be available for selection after recovering from injuries picked up in pre-season.
If the league had started on April 1 this year, Leicester City would be top of the league. They have carried on their fairytale run which saw them comfortably avoid relegation last season even though they were rooted to the bottom of the table for a very long time. A change of manager has not altered the positive feeling at City and they are one of 4 teams with a 100% record this season. Consecutive victories over Sunderland and West Ham mean that there is genuine optimism that this season will not contain another struggle to avoid relegation.
The Midland club may have lost Estaban Cambiasso on a free transfer but they have moved quickly to bring in experienced and proven Gohkan Inler from Napoli. If he has the same impact the Argentine had, it will prove to be an inspired signing. Spurs on the other hand, have had a disappointing start to the season and will want to get their season up and running. If they fail to get their first win soon, they risk been left behind by those challenging for European places. The London club do have a good record against the Foxes and have taken 10 points from a possible 12 in the last four meetings between them.
In spite of their good fortunes against the Foxes, they will know that all that will count for nothing and their contrasting fortunes this season will give Leicester some confidence going into this game. Spurs squandered a two goal lead last weekend against Stoke in a game they should have won considering they had built up a significant lead. The Foxes will be hoping that the North London Club will visit bearing similar gifts.
Claudio Ranieri has maintained the optimism around the King Power stadium. Another win will go a long way in maintaining that. Their style of play has been brilliant too. They easily dismantled Sunderland on the opening day before beating West Ham without too much discomfort in a game that was expected to be tricky. Spurs will have to be wary of the threat the opposition poses and will look to Harry Kane to continue his impressive goal scoring record against Leicester.
Gokhan Inler is in line for his debut while Matty James is ruled out with a knee problem.
Andros Townsend (ankle) remains a doubt for Tottenham while striker Clinton N’Jie who signed from Lyon last weekend could feature for the first time.
Manchester United were dealt two heavy blows in the transfer window when targets Otamendi and Pedro agreed moves to rivals Manchester City and Chelsea respectively. They will however look to put those disappointments behind them when Newcastle United visits. They produced their best display in midweek against Club Brugge, a game which saw Memphis Depay produce his best display in a United shirt.
The Red devils have had a good but unspectacular start to the season but will be encouraged by the fact that they have picked maximum points so far this season. at this stage of the season, winning is the most important thing and not necessarily the performance.
For Newcastle United however, their past away form has been far from impressive and they are on a run of seven consecutive Premier League away defeats and has lost ten of their last thirteen league games, winning one and drawing the other two. McClaren returns to the ground where he spent more than 2 seasons as Alex Ferguson’s right hand man between 1999 and 2001. The highlight of his stint at the club was a European Champions League win. He will be well aware that he needs to get his side firing and quickly too if they are to avoid another relegation battle after they were well beaten by Swansea City last weekend.
If the recent meetings between the clubs are to be considered, Man United will expect to pick up their third consecutive win of the season having won their last three meetings with the Magpies and 25 overall since the inception of the Premier League.
David De Gea is expected to be excluded as speculations over a probable transfer to Real Madrid refuse to go away. Marouane Fellaini remains suspended while Phil Jones misses out due to illness.
Florian Thauvin who completed a move from Marseille is in line for a debut but would probably start from the bench. Daryl Janmaat is suspended after picking up a red card last week against Swansea while Moussa Sissoko remains a doubt after limping off at half time with a groin injury
Tottenham and Stoke go in search of their first league win of the season following opening day defeats against Man United and Liverpool respectively. Stoke have however been informed that their £12m signing Xerdan Shaqiri will not be allowed to make his league debut due to a suspension gotten in Italy while playing at Inter Milan.
Both sides will be harbouring hopes of qualifying for European football at the end of the season but will be aware that they need to get their season up and running if they are not to be playing catch up so early in the season.
Tottenham will be looking for better results this season against the visitors having lost both of their Premier League games against Stoke last season. They also had a player sent off in both games (Vlad Chiriches and Kyle Naughton).
Charlie Adam, who has turned out to be a crucial player for Stoke, has had mixed fortune in his previous games against Spurs. He has scored three times but has been sent off twice in seven Premier League games in these encounters.
Tottenham will be looking to Harry Kane to lead the way. The striker is in line for his 50th Premier League appearance in this match and has scored 24 goals in 49 PL games; and will look to join an elite group which contains 15 players who have scored 25 goals in their first 50 Premier League appearances.
Hugo Lloris is set to start for Tottenham after head coach Mauricio Pochettino reported a fully fit squad. Andros Townsend and Danny Rose are also back in contention, while Alex Pritchard marked his return from injury with two goals for the Under-21s against the Toffees. Aaron Lennon and Emmanuel Adebayor have not been given squad numbers and may be on their way out of the club. Roberto Soldado who flopped during his time in English football has completed a move back to Spain where he will join Villareal.
New signing Xerdan Shaqiri misses out due to suspension. Arnautovic and Marc Wilson participation remains doubtful after the pair missed last Sunday’s home loss to Liverpool due to thigh and ankle problems respectively. Peter Odemwingie (hamstring) and Bojan Krkic are unlikely to take part as well due to injuries. Ryan Shawcross faces between two and three months on the sidelines following back surgery.
Manchester United will be looking to extend their run at Aston Villa having not lost on one of their favourite Premier League grounds in 20 years. In fact, Aston Villa have found success against their Friday night opponents difficult to come by as they have won just once in their last 39 meetings. The Red Devils had to settle for a 1-1 draw in last season’s corresponding fixture, with Radamel Falcao scoring the equalizer. However, the home side enter this game on the back of a confidence-boosting opening weekend win over Bournemouth.
Key players like Christian Benteke, Fabian Delph and Ron Vlaar may have departed this summer, but new recruits like Rudy Gestede have given reason for optimism. Gestede stepped up from the substitute bench to score what turned out to be the winner against Bournemouth and could be in line for his first start even though the manager admitted that he is not fully fit.
For United, De Gea will not be in contention for the game as there are doubts if he will be at the club at the end of the transfer window. United have won 32 times against Villa since the beginning of the Premier League and their talisman Wayne Rooney will look to improve his impressive goal scoring tally against Villa. He has scored 13 goals against them, more than any other side.
Michael Carrick believe that the results are more important than the quality of their game at the beginning of the season. He said: “The first game is so important. I think we found that last season as we didn’t really start well in the first game and straight away we were playing catch-up. So it was vital we won on Saturday. The performance wasn’t what we would expect, really, it was not up to the standard we want, but it was all about the result and I’m sure the performances will come in the weeks ahead.” Micah Richards comes up against a side he once regarded as a fierce rival having come through the ranks at Manchester City. He was in confident mood and hope that Villa’s poor record will be stopped on Friday; “They’ll always be special games to me, coming up against United. I can’t wait for this first one at Villa. I wish the game was right now. It will be a tough game. United will obviously be one of the favourites for the title and they have some world-class players. But we’ve recruited well. We have hungry and talented players in our dressing room and we’ll be giving it everything to get the right result.”
Jack Grealish and Carles Gil are not expected to feature after been ruled by their manager and there are doubts over the involvement of Jores Okore and Gary Gardner
David De Gea will not be recalled to the Manchester United side against Aston Villa on Friday, Louis Van Gaal has confirmed. Argentine Sergio Romero retains his place in the starting line up after an impressive Premier League debut. Marcos Rojo remains a doubt while Phil Jones and Maroune Fellaini are ruled out with sickness (mild thrombosis) and suspension respectively.
Premier League champions Chelsea begin their title defence with a tricky tie at home to Swansea. Their pre-season preparation and results have been far from ideal but they will be expected to improve as the season begins. They suffered 2 consecutive defeats against Arsenal and Fiorentina as they rounded off their pre season commitments.
Gary Monk, however, has proven to be a solid manager. The loss of talisman Wilfred Bony did not derail their season and they will be confident of a better showing this time around. Chelsea will have to be wary as the Welsh side brought Manchester United down to earth in last season’s opener at Old Trafford. Any form of complacency from the champions will surely be punished.
The Blues have a record of always starting the Premier League season in good form. In 23 Premier League seasons, the defending champion has never lost their opening game, winning 20 and drawing three. Also, Swansea have lost all four Premier League trips to Stamford Bridge to date. These stats should give confidence to the Champions and their fans but they will also be aware that records are there to be broken and stats can easily be rewritten in 90 minutes.
Chelsea will hope that Diego Costa can be fit in time for the clash against Swansea. He has an impressive scoring record against their opponent netting five times in two previous appearances against the Welsh outfit. Costa sat out Chelsea’s Community Shield defeat to Arsenal last weekend and then the midweek defeat to Fiorentina at Stamford Bridge with a hamstring injury. and the striker remains a concern ahead of the first Premier League game of the new season. Jose Mourinho must decide between Loic Remy and summer signing Radamel Falcao to play up front if Costa is ruled out.
Andre Ayew is expected to make his premier league debut for Swansea, but fellow newcomers Kristoffer Nordfeldt, Franck Tabanou and Eder may have to settle for places on the bench. Jordi Amat is an injury doubt with a foot problem.
For Bournemouth, the fairy tale continues. The Championship winners were hailed for delivering some exhilarating and breathtaking football on their way to the title. However, they know that to survive in their first ever season in the top flight, they will need to be at their very best all through the season. Eddie Howe’s appointment has proven to be a success and the fans will believe that this side is capable of pulling some surprises over the course of the season.
Bournemouth will be looking to Sylvian Distin to provide the experience as they try to navigate through their Premier League debut. Yann Kermorgant goals were important as the Cherries claimed the title last season. 10 of his 15 league goals turned out to be the winning goals and a similar outing this season will ensure that the Cherries survive on their first attempt at the big league.
Aston Villa enjoyed something of a renaissance after the appointment of Tim Sherwood but will be hoping for a better performance than what they produced at the FA Cup final where they were comprehensively beaten by Arsenal 4-0. Their task will not be easy though following the departure of Christian Benteke and Fabian Delph. Dutch defender Vlaar has also left the club on a free transfer. Aston Villa have never beaten a newly promoted Premier League side on opening day (D1 L2).
The two sides will be meeting for the first time in league competition since 1987/88 season but Villa did beat the Cherries 2-1 in the FA cup last season on their way to the finals.
Summer signings Max Gradel, Lee Tomlin and Sylvain Distin are all available to make their debuts.
Jordan Amavi, Jordan Ayew, Jose Crespo, Rudy Gestede, Jordan Veretout, Idrissa Gueye and Micah Richards will be expected to play some part in a new-look Villa team. Jores Okore misses out with a knee injury, while Sherwood also has concerns over the fitness of Jack Grealish, Carles Gil and Carlos Sanchez.
Norwich will be looking to win on the opening day for the first time in 13 years as they make their return to the Premier League. They return to the top division following a 2-0 Play off final victory over Middlesbrough. Andre Wisdom and Robbie Brady could both make their debuts for Norwich for the home side who will be hoping for a better performance in the premier league this time around. Crystal Palace, meanwhile, have lost their last four season openers.
Alan Pardew’s side impressed after he took over at the club last season. Their improvement was remarkable and if last season’s premier league had started after he took over, Crystal Palace would have finished 6th. The Canaries have scored exactly once in 10 of their last 12 league games against Palace, failing to score in each of the other two. Palace do have good memories of their recent visits to Carrow Road and have only lost two of their last seven visits and winning three of their last five.
Norwich will know however that of they are to remain in the top division, a lot of it will depend on the ability of Bradley Johnson to replicate his last season Championship form which saw him net 15 goals. No Championship midfielder scored more goals last term than the Norwich midfielder; level with Matt Ritchie and Bakary Sako. Norwich under Alex Niel last season were impressive for long spells and won 68% of their regular season league games under Alex Neil last term.
Youssouf Mulumbu misses out after undergoing an operation on a fractured metatarsal. Martin Olsson and Kyle Lafferty are also unavailable to Alex Neil due to shoulder and knee injuries respectively.
Yohan Cabaye and Connor Wickham are set to make their debuts for Palace, but Julian Speroni is expected to miss the first three games of the season with a finger injury so either Wayne Hennessey or another new signing, Alex McCarthy, will start in goal for the visitors. Marouane Chamakh has a hamstring injury.
Chelsea will start as favourites when they clash with Arsenal in 2015/2016 English Premier League curtain raiser. Chelsea’s recent participation in the pre-season showcase match has been generally poor as they have lost four of their last five appearances. Records also show that only seven Premier League winners have won in the previous 23 community shield matches. However, Jose Mourinho’s superior record against Arsenal and Arsene Wenger cannot be ignored with the French boss still seeking for his first win over his fierce rival and serial nemesis. The French has failed in his previous 13 attempts and will hope that the capture of Petr Cech from their London rivals will help in reversing that trend.
It should be noted that Chelsea won their most recent Community Shield meeting with Arsenal, managing a 2-1 win over the Gunners in 2005 courtesy of a Didier Drogba brace with Cesc Fabregas scoring what turned out to be a consolation for Arsenal. Chelsea most recent win in the community shield was against Man United in 2009 where Carvalho, Lampard, Nani and Rooney scored in a 2-2 draw because the Premier league Champions triumphed 4-1 on penalty shoot-out.
Head to Head (Wenger Vs Mourinho)
Arsenal 2-2 Chelsea (December 22, 2004) EPL
Chelsea 0-0 Arsenal (April 20,2005) EPL
Arsenal 1-2 Chelsea (August 7, 2005) Community Shield
Chelsea 1-0 Arsenal (August 21, 2005) EPL
Arsenal 0-2 Chelsea (December 18, 2005) EPL
Chelsea 1-1 Arsenal (December 10, 2006) EPL
Chelsea 2-1 Arsenal (February 25, 2007) League Cup Final
Arsenal 1-1 Chelsea (May 6,2007)
Arsenal 0-2 Chelsea (October 29, 2013) League Cup
Arsenal 0-0 Chelsea (December 23,2013) EPL
Chelsea 6-0 Arsenal (March 22, 2014) EPL
Chelsea 2-0 Arsenal (October 5, 2014) EPL
Arsenal 0-0 Chelsea (26th April, 2015) EPL
Arsenal ?-? Chelsea (2nd August, 2015) Community Shield- Wembley
With both side set to clash again in the league in September, a victory for either side could provide a significant psychological boost in the build up to what promises to be an exciting season. Arsenal have had a brilliant pre season carrying on exactly how they ended last season with the 4-0 drubbing of Aston Villa at Wembley. A comprehensive demolition of a Singapore Select XI was followed by convincing wins over Everton, Lyon and Wolfsburg. Chelsea, however, have had an indifferent pre-season but will be hoping to continue their fine record against Arsenal and possibly strike a telling blow to a team that many now consider a genuine threat to their title ambition.
Former Chelsea goalkeeper, Petr Cech, is expected to start in goal against his former club for the current FA Cup and Community Shield Holders. However, Danny Welbeck is expected to miss out on the game due to a persistent knee problem while Chilean sensation, Alexis Sanchez, returns to training on Monday after helping his country win their first Copa America title. Chuba Akpom is expected to complete a season-long loan to Hull City and may not feature in Sunday’s game. They will therefore rely on Oliver Giroud, Theo Walcott and other supporting acts to provide the goals, something Arsenal has failed to do in their last six appearances against Chelsea in all competitions.
Diego Costa and Gary Cahill have been declared fit for the Wembley Showdown after suffering injuries in Chelsea’s final pre season tour match against Barcelona in Washington, a game that ended 2-2 before Chelsea prevailed 4-2 on penalties. New signing Asmir Begovic, who arrived as a direct replacement for Petr Cech, could feature on Sunday. Radamel Falcao would be hoping to play some part as he seeks redemption following a disappointing loan spell at Manchester United. Jose Mourinho believes he is the right man to get the Colombian firing again and will hope he can form a formidable partnership with Costa like they did during their time at Atletico Madrid. Hazard will be looking to continue from where he left off last season. The Belgian had a sensational season last year and Wenger will have to decide on whether to start with the experienced Debuchy or relatively young but rapidly improving Hector Bellerin at right back to contain the threat Eden Hazard provides.
Chelsea begins their title defence against Swansea while Arsenal lock horns with their London neighbours West Ham on 8th and 9th August respectively.