Aston Villa were supposed to follow an easy narrative. They were supposed to flail helplessly in the opening weeks before Roy Keane seized power in a terrifying coup. And then it was all going to kick off. That was the script. Instead, they beat Stoke at Stoke, always a bellwether result for judging the character of teams, and now they have a home game that, if they win, will ease the pressure on the team through the early Autumn. New signing Carlos Sanchez is expected to play some part in this game and, unlike some of Villa’s other signings, he looks exceptional. Newcastle have made lots of their own signings and they looked sprightly enough against Manchester City, but this could be just as tricky.
Villa are 2.55 to win
Chelsea’s second clash with a newly promoted team will surely go the same way as the first one. Burnley, for all their efforts and ambition, were ruthlessly crushed after they had the temerity to do a goal in the early stages. They won’t make that mistake again. Jose Mourinho has had his transitional year, he’s improved the team markedly in the final third and suddenly it all looks a bit ominous for everyone else. If Barcelona had scored Monday night’s dinktastic pass-frenzy, the second of three Chelsea goals, it would be racking up millions of views on YouTube by now. Leicester took a point from Everton last week, but they’ll have to do something special to take anything from Stamford Bridge.
Chelsea to score at least three goals is 1.97
Poor old Crystal Palace thought they’d have Malky Mackay in place for the visit of West Ham, but their plans really couldn’t have gone much more wrong. The only role for which Mackay currently seems suitable is a remake of ‘Till Death Do Us Part’. Instead, it’s good old Keith Millen who’ll stand purposefully on the touchline in his shorts and you wonder if Steve Parish might be better off just accepting the inevitable and giving him the job outright. Palace certainly looked organised and redoubtable against Arsenal last week where they were only felled by an injury time winner. West Ham, for their part, slipped up at home to Tottenham and another bad day here will intensify the pressure on manager Sam Allardyce. A tense afternoon awaits.
The Draw is 3.20
The early evening’s fixture sees Arsenal in their third game of the last seven days, an unenviable schedule for a club still missing its German contingent. After uninspiring performances, but acceptable results, against Crystal Palace and Besiktas, there will be no margin for error at Goodison Park. Roberto Martinez’s Everton have the same look as last year, but a different vibe. And while they were frustrated by Leicester last Saturday, they’ll remember well how they powerslammed the Gunners in April, switching to 4-4-2 and launching everything at Romelu Lukaku. Would Martinez dare play the same trick twice?
Everton to win without conceding is 5.20
But the big game of the weekend is up at the Stadium of Light where Louis van Gaal’s Manchester United will attempt to shrug off the trauma of their opening day false start against Swansea and take out their anger on Sunderland. The Black Cats have happy memories of last season’s four encounters with United. They knocked them out of the League Cup in the semi-finals, they beat them at Old Trafford and, even when they were beaten at home in October, they matched their visitors for much of the game. United are hardly in the best shape. A disappointing half with a back three was only followed by a sporadically competent half with wingers and a back four. Never mind a best team, Van Gaal is yet to discover a best shape. United fans spent most of last season making the entirely inaccurate prediction that their season, “couldn’t get any worse.” A defeat here will be overwhelming evidence that it always can.
Sunderland are 4.85 to win
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