With opening day of the Barclays Premier League under 35 hours away, let’s take a moment and look at three potential upsets that could transpire.
Arsenal v. Aston Villa (Emirates Stadium)
The Goonahs will be furious at my identifying this match as a potential upset but what can I say? When the stars align the stars align.
This one all comes down to injuries plaguing the North London side.
Just today Arsenal released word that midfielder Mikel Arteta will be out four to six weeks with a torn quadricep.
The loss of the Spaniard adds to Arsenal’s injury woes as Thomas Vermaelen and Nacho Monreal are both out with back injuries, Bacary Sagna tweaked his ankle on international duty with France and Aaron Ramsey did not play for Wales this week due to an ankle injury suffered in last week’s 3-1 win over Manchester City.
Even assuming those players are out, Arsenal are still overwhelming favorites to win this game. But opponents would do well to tread lightly against Paul Lambert’s young, hungry squad led by the impressive Christian Benteke and his slick partner in crime, Andreas Weimann.
Norwich City v. Everton (Carrow Road)
Proof positive, in addition to my choosing Everton to finish 7th in the table this season, that I stay objective as possible when it comes to the Toffees.
There are a few reasons why the Canaries can upset the odds here.
First, it’s never easy for an incoming manager to win his first match with his new club. Especially one who employs a new style of play like Roberto Martinez is doing at Everton.
Second, history. Norwich are unbeaten in their last four matches against Everton, Martinez has yet to win a Premier League match at Carrow Road and Everton have lost four of their last five opening league fixtures.
Third, the Norwich City attack has the potential to be downright vicious. Manager Chris Hughton knew exactly what he was doing when he discarded the aging Grant Holt for the hard-working, blustering style of Gary Hooper and paired him with the slick skills of the man with the best name in world football, Ricky van Wolfsfinkel (pictured). Mark it down – these two will be sneaky good this season.
Swansea City v. Manchester United (Liberty Stadium)
How dare I???
Yes, I dare.
C’mon fellas, even the staunchest United fans have to admit that they’re just a biiiit worried about this fixture. And with good reason.
The main reason?
David Moyes. Or the lack of Sir Alex Ferguson. Same difference at this point.
The bottom line is that after 26+ years, there’s a new sheriff in town and right now, he cuts a jaded figure. Sub-par pre-season results, Wayne Rooney, and the inability to sign a new center midfielder have all weighed heavily on Moyes, as is obvious from his press conference soundbites.
On the other hand, the Swans have nothing to lose. They’ve increased their talent by bringing in guys like Jordi Amat, Wilfried Bony, Jose Canas and Jonjo Shelvey and they’ve kept all the players that made them successful last year.
Factor in that Swansea are notoriously difficult to beat at home and that they can play just about anybody off the pitch with their free-flowing passing, and this game is easily the leading upset candidate heading into this weekend.