Now the final international break of the year has passed, the Premier League returns at full force this weekend. We preview Saturday’s four top-flight fixtures below…
Newcastle United v Chelsea
Frank Lampard’s Chelsea will look to move to the top of the Premier League – albeit temporarily – when they head to St. James’ Park for Saturday’s opening game.
After a summer of frivolous spending at Stamford Bridge, Lampard’s new-look Blues are starting to show signs of gelling into a side worthy of challenging for silverware this season.
Having added the creativity and firepower of Hakim Ziyech, Kai Havertz and Timo Werner, Chelsea are the top scorers in the Premier League this season.
However, the Blues’ shrewdest signings look to be settling at the other end of the pitch. Edouard Mendy has kept three clean sheets in his four Premier League appearances in goal for Chelsea, whilst experienced centre-back Thiago Silva is fast emerging as an influential figure in Lampard’s squad.
This weekend, Chelsea take on a Newcastle United side that has enjoyed a steady enough start to the season. However, Steve Bruce’s Magpies are second only to Manchester United when it comes to home goals conceded.
Chelsea historically struggle at St. James’ Park, with just one win at Newcastle in their last seven visits, but Lampard’s new-look Blues should have enough for the three points this time around.
Aston Villa v Brighton
With just one win in their opening eight Premier League games, Brighton and Hove Albion will be desperate to kick-start their campaign at Villa Park on Saturday.
Aston Villa have had been one of the surprise packages in the Premier League this season, and with another win on Saturday, Dean Smith’s side could return to the top of the league table.
Villa’s 3-0 win over Arsenal at The Emirates, before the international break, should perhaps not been seen as a huge surprise following their incredible 7-2 win over champions Liverpool earlier in the season.
But the Villains have lost their previous two Premier League games at home. Southampton outscored Smith’s side 3-4 in an entertaining encounter at Villa Park last time out. Before that, newly promoted Leeds United went home with a 3-0 win.
Graham Potter will tell you that his Albion side should be higher in the table following some spirited performances this season, but the table tells its own story. Brighton are winless in six, and 16th in the standings currently.
The Sussex side are also on a poor run against Saturday’s opponents. Brighton are winless in eight meetings against Villa, with their most recent win coming 40 years ago, in 1980.
The Seagulls will make history if they do get a win at Villa Park this weekend, having failed to win any of their previous 12 trips in all competitions. When it comes to games played in England’s top league, Brighton have lost all five of their previous trips to Villa.
It gets worse for Brighton. Jack Grealish has scored every time he has played against the Seagulls, scoring more goals against Brighton than any other opponent he has faced in his career. With Grealish in top form during the international break with England, you can expect the Villa captain to inspire his side to another victory here.
Tottenham Hotspur v Manchester City
The biggest game on Saturday comes from the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, where Spurs could become the third team to move top of the league standings within the same day!
Manchester City have been poor this season, by their standards. Meanwhile, Tottenham Hotspur have underlined their title credentials with a strong start, another win here will have Jose Mourinho believing.
Pep Guardiola’s City started the season with the aim of getting their title back from Liverpool but currently sit 10th.
The Citizens have won three of their opening seven games, drawing three and losing one, but the defeat came against league leaders Leicester who shocked everyone with a 5-2 victory at the Etihad.
Spurs won this fixture 2-0 last season, ending a winless run of six Premier League games against City and have lost just two of their previous 20 games when facing City whilst above them in the table.
Jose Mourinho’s side are on the longest current unbeaten streak in the Premier League, and with Harry Kane, Son Heung-Min and Gareth Bale all in stunning form, Spurs could dent City’s title aspirations, as they did last season.
Manchester United v West Bromwich Albion
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s Manchester United are still hunting their first home league win of the season, and with West Brom visiting this weekend, they might not get a better chance to get off the mark this season.
However, United have been terrible at home in the Premier League this season. With just one point from four games, they’re second-only to Burnley when it comes to the worst home form so far this season.
Nobody has conceded as many home goals as the Red Devils this season, but in West Brom, United welcome a side that no side has scored less than on the road in the top-flight this season. No side has conceded more goals on their travels than the Baggies, either.
Slaven Bilic’s side will be aware that they have won three of their last five Premier League trips to Manchester United, though. Add to that the fact that Manchester United have already had three home league defeats this season (which as a season total has only been exceeded twice in their previous Premier League seasons) then West Brom will have belief.
However, having failed to score in four of their last five Premier League games, West Brom may lack the cutting edge to inflict another home defeat on Solskjaer’s side.