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How Will The Big Boys Fare This Weekend?

The 2017/18 title race is perhaps the most hotly anticipated to date and with good reason.  After disappointing seasons United and City have spent big and their opening day results bode well for their ability to mount serious title challenges this season. Spurs and Chelsea have retained much of the squads which saw them perform so strongly last campaign while Arsenal and Liverpool are likely to be there or thereabouts having bolstered their attacking options. The opening week of the 2017/18 season began in typically gripping and unpredictable fashion and with that aide lets see how the big boys could fare in week two.

Early leaders Manchester United kick us off at the Liberty Stadium, looking to make it two from two after a performance that will have given the red half of Manchester a huge amount of confidence as to their prospects of finally mounting a title challenge. Swansea return to South Wales fortunate to have a point on the board after a wasteful Southampton failed to put away their myriad of chances. The Swans’ failure to test Fraser Forster over 90 minutes will be a huge concern to Paul Clement facing a United side who look capable of scoring with every attack, they will need to be much improved to stand any chance of avoiding defeat.

United’s neighbours City face an Everton side who many have picked to be featuring at the right end of the table come May after a productive transfer window. Rooney’s goal on his return to Goodison was enough to see the Toffees take the spoils against Mark Hughes’ Stoke and he is sure to be fired up on return to Manchester, with an opportunity to give his old employers an early advantage at the top of the table and continue Everton’s promising start. Everton may hand a debut to Gylfi Sigurdsson after the Icelandic international’s £45 million move was completed on Wednesday. City came through a potential banana skin on the south coast with a 2-0 victory, a result which Guardiola described as a ‘relief’, they’ll be looking to put last years’ home record behind them by starting off with a victory at the Etihad. But it won’t be plain-sailing for City, who took 70 minutes to break down Brighton, albeit in a fairly dominant performance. Koeman’s new look outfit are likely to be much tougher opponents with the ability to fashion opportunities of their own. Pep will be hoping for an early goal to settle an expectant home crowd, Monday’s fixture might be one to leave out of the accumulator.

Liverpool and Crystal Palace will both be looking to bounce back from disappointing opening day results when they meet at Anfield. The Reds’ defensive frailties have been well documented and were once again on show against Watford but they were unlucky not to win, missing a penalty and conceding a late goal which replays later showed was offside. A midweek win at Hoffenheim in the Champions League play-off will have given Klopp’s side a welcome confidence boost heading into the weekend but this has to go down as a must win. They face a Palace side who were poor against newly promoted Huddersfield, seemingly struggling to adapt to the new style of play De Boer is looking to introduce. Despite Liverpool’s problems at the back they remain a side capable of scoring goals, it looks set to be a difficult afternoon for the Eagles.

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Spurs will play at Wembley for the first time in the Premier League as they host Chelsea in the game of the week on Sunday. The visitors will be without Cahill and Fabregas through suspension but Blues fans will be expecting a response after last weeks’ horror show which has added an extra dose of pressure for Conte’s men in what will already be a spicy London derby. Spurs on the other hand will head into this fixture with confidence after easing to victory away at Newcastle, where Alli and Eriksen impressed alongside debutant Kyle Walker-Peters, who put in a man of the match performance to ease Pochettino’s right-back headaches. He’ll be hoping that his side can fare better at their adopted home this year than last, where they lost two of their three Champions League home ties as they failed to qualify for the knockout stages. A bumper crowd will be behind the favourites but a fired-up Chelsea, with Morata likely to start after last week’s goal from the bench, have plenty of firepower to spoil the party.

Arsenal’s next task after snatching victory from Leicester is a trip to Stoke, an unhappy hunting ground for Arsene Wenger’s sides. Arsenal have won on just one of their last seven visits to the Bet365 Stadium in the Premier League, failing to score on three of those occasions. The traditionally slow starters will be looking to stake an early claim for the title this time around and could be boosted by the welcome return of centre back duo Mertesacker and Mustafi from injury after Wenger’s defensive options were stretched thinly against Leicester owing to notable absentees. Coquelin could also be fit but crucially Sanchez and Koscielny remain sidelined and will be big losses for the gunners. Hughes was happy with his sides’ performance at Goodison Park despite being on the end of a 1-0 defeat. Back on home soil he’ll be confident they can disrupt Arsenal and get under their skin as they strive to retain their bogey team status. However, having sold Arnautovic and Walters they have lost much of last season’s goal scoring capability, new signing Jese has captured the imagination of much of the Stoke faithful and much could hinge on how he takes to life in the Premier League. This certainly has the potential to be a coupon buster.

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