Top five storylines heading into Week 2 of the Premier League

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Ahead of Week 2 in the Premier League, there are some intriguing matches heading your way.

The full TV schedule for the weekend can be found here, while below we break down the top five storylines from the upcoming PL matches.

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After an exhilarating start to the campaign, plenty of conclusions have already been made on teams after just 90 minutes of action, whether they like it or not.

Let’s have a gander at the top talking points this weekend…

Top four challengers collide at Goodison

Arsenal and Everton were battling tooth and nail for fourth place at the end of the 2013-14 Premier League, Arsenal prevailed and Everton tailed off. Over the offseason both teams have spent big and are battling to be in the top four once again. Arsenal splashed $60 million on Alexis Sanchez, Everton $50 million on Romelu Lukaku and this game will be a feisty affair at a fired up Goodison Park on Saturday (Watch live on NBC, 12:30 p.m. ET and online via Live Extra). After traveling to Istanbul in midweek for a Champions League play-off and grinding out a 0-0 draw against Besiktas, Arsenal’s players will be feeling the pressure at Everton. Arsene Wenger’s men are expected to challenge for the title but struggled to an opening day win over Crystal Palace. This could be the perfect time for Roberto Martinez’s Toffees to put down an early marker for why they deserve to be top four contenders this season. With U.S. national team ‘keeper Tim Howard in net for Everton, just 48 hours after announcing his sabbatical from international play until Sept. 2015, American fans will be hoping he can pull off yet another inspired display.

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Runners up vs. the Champions, Manchester City vs. Liverpool

Last season the two most entertaining teams finished first and second, I think we can all agree on that. Over the summer, Liverpool lost Luis Suarez and have replaced him with a plethora of young exciting talent (with Mario Balotelli on the way too), while City have added a few bodies here and there. Manuel Pellegrini’s men won the title by scoring 102 goals last season, Liverpool scored 101 and finished second. Surely, this match at the Etihad on Monday (Watch live 3 p.m. ET on NBCSN and online via Live Extra) will have plenty of goals in it? Liverpool’s defense looks much stingier, but if City score early it will force the Reds to attack. This match promises to be a thing of beauty.

source: Getty Images
Liverpool and Man City serve up a treat on Monday.

London derby between QPR, Spurs, Redknapp returns to White Hart Lane

Spurs beat West Ham 1-0 last weekend in a tight, tense London derby to open the campaign. Expect this match to be no different as Mauricio Pochettino manages his first game in charge of Tottenham at White Hart Lane vs. QPR on Sunday (Watch live on NBCSN, 8:30 a.m. ET and online via Live Extra). Spurs will work hard, press high and try to get at QPR but Redknapp will be eager to get one over his old club. Redknapp led Spurs from the relegation zone to the Champions League during his time in charge and is still a popular figure at the Lane. QPR played well against Hull City on the opening day in a fluid 3-5-2 formation and the R’s were punished for a missed PK and one piece of sloppy defending from a set piece. Tottenham played in Cyprus on Thursday and secured a comeback 2-1 win in their Europa League play-off. Their players may be tired from the traveling, so can Spurs win their second successive London derby to kick off the season or will QPR grab a shock victory?

Just how good are Chelsea?

After a good opening 45 minutes to the season against Burnley, you could be mistaken for thinking Chelsea have already won the Premier League title according to social media. Everybody was waxing lyrical about Jose Mourinho’s new-look side as Cesc Fabregas brought his silky skills to midfield and Diego Costa looks like the real deal up top. The truth is, they beat newly-promoted Burnley 3-1. They host another newly promoted side, Leicester City, at Stamford Bridge on Saturday (Watch live on NBCSN, 10 a.m. ET and online via Live Extra) and will be expected to pound the Foxes. Yes, Chelsea’s squad looks to have been assembled superbly by the ‘Special One’ but we shouldn’t talk up their title credentials until they face Manchester City, Liverpool and the other title contenders. That said, a big win at home over Leicester will probably get people doing just that.

Manchester United’s injury woes continue

Heading into Sunday’s match against Sunderland, (Watch live on NBCSN, 11 a.m. ET and online via Live Extra) Louis van Gaal is still struggling to piece together his Red Devils outfit. United had nine players injured last week and they still have seven missing for their trip to the Stadium of Light. New signings Luke Shaw and Ander Herrera are both out, as are Rafael, Johnny Evans, Jesse Lingard, Michael Carrick and Marouane Fellaini. Star striker Robin van Persie is back to give his new manager a lift, but speaking ahead of the game, van Gaal admitted he’d never suffered an injury epidemic quite like this one. Sunderland snatched a point on the road at West Brom on the opening day and Gus Poyet’s side will be looking to snatch more than that when United come to town on Sunday. With LVG still settling into English soccer, he and his side won’t get a friendly welcome from the Black Cats on Sunday.

Bayern fans unhappy with Champions League ticket prices

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MUNICH (AP) Bayern Munich fans were unhappy with the price of tickets for their team’s match at Anderlecht in the Champions League.

[ MORE: Study to show long-term affects of playing soccer ]

The fans held banners during Wednesday’s game saying, “Are your necks not full? Is your greed now finally satisfied?”

A Bayern fan group, Club Nr. 12, issued a statement saying Anderlecht had made 85 percent of the tickets available to the German club’s fans priced at 100 euros ($118).

“Even by the standards of the generally high-priced Champions League, this represents a new dimension for a first-round game,” said the statement, which thanked Bayern for supplementing the tickets so fans had could pay 70 euros ($82.50).

Many Bayern fans avoided the trip to Brussels altogether, while 91 percent of more than 2,500 Club Nr. 12 members said in a survey that ticket prices were “completely unacceptable.”

[ MORE: Premier League player power rankings ]

Anderlecht spokesman David Steegen told The Associated Press that Bayern fans were charged “exactly the same price” as home fans who bought single tickets to the game. He said fans who bought a three-game Champions League bundle were offered a reduction.

UEL roundup: AC Milan advances after big win; Arsenal, Everton fall

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Both Premier League sides fell in Thursday’s UEFA Europa League play, but for one side the result didn’t effect their progression into the next round.

[ MORE: Ex-Brazil forward Robinho handed nine-year prison sentence ]

Arsenal dropped a 1-0 result to Cologne, however, the Gunners still moved into the Round of 32 after their Group H counterparts, Red Star Belgrade and BATE Borisov settled for a scoreless draw.

Meanwhile, Everton’s 2017/18 woes continued on the day as the Toffees suffered a brutal 5-1 defeat at home against Serie A side Atalanta. The win secures Atalanta’s place in the knockout phase, along with fellow Group E club Lyon — who also won on Thursday.

AC Milan put up five goals of its own in a convincing win against Austria Wien, while Lazio, Nice and Red Bull Salzburg were among the other sides to move into the next round after picking up the necessary results.

Below are all of the scores from Thursday’s Europa League action.

Astana 2-3 Villareal
Konyaspor 1-1 Marseille
Rosenborg 0-1 Real Sociedad
Lazio 1-1 Vitesse
Viktoria Plzen 2-0 Steaua Bucuresti
Lokomotiv 2-1 Copenhagen
Zenit 2-1 Vardar
Red Bull Salzburg 3-0 Vitoria
Athletic Bilbao 3-2 Hertha Berlin
BATE 0-0 Red Star Belgrade
Ostersunds 2-0 Zorya
Koln 1-0 Arsenal
Nice 3-1 Zulte Waregem
Lugano 1-0 Beer-Sheva
Ludogorets 1-2 Istanbul
Braga 3-1 Hoffenheim
AEK 2-2 Rijeka
AC Milan 5-1 Austria Vienna
Lyon 4-0 Apollon
Maccabi Tel Aviv 0-2 Slavia Praha
Sheriff 1-0 Zlin
Partizan 2-1 Young Boys
Skenderbeu 3-2 Dynamo Kyiv
Everton 1-5 Atalanta

Ex-Brazil forward Robinho sentenced to nine years in prison

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Former Brazil international Robinho has been sentenced to nine years in prison after being convicted of rape on an Albanian woman back in 2013.

[ MORE: Study will look at long-term effects of playing soccer ]

At the time, Robinho was playing for Serie A side AC Milan.

The court decision came down on Thursday after the 33-year-old forward had failed to attend any court hearings in Italy, where the crime reportedly took place.

Robinho is believed to have acted in the crime with five other Brazilians, to which their whereabouts are unknown to this point.

Reuters has reported that Robinho is entitled to up to two appeals and “Italy would only launch extradition proceedings once this legal process is exhausted.”

The Brazilian is known for his club playing days at AC Milan and Manchester City, among other clubs in addition to his time with the Selecao. Robinho took part in the 2006 and 2010 World Cups with Brazil.

Premier League Preview: West Ham vs. Leicester City

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  • West Ham is winless in last six against Leicester
  • Jamie Vardy has two goals, two assists in last 4 games vs. West Ham
  • Hammers have nine points through first 12 matches

West Ham United will host Leicester City from the London Stadium on Friday (Watch live at 3 p.m. ET Friday on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com) as David Moyes and Co. look to climb out of the relegation zone.

[ MORE: Prince-Wright’s Premier League picks ]

Moyes and West Ham currently sit 18th in the Premier League through 12 games, and will be hoping to see an improvement in their form with the potential returns of Andre Ayew and Marko Arnautovic.

The Hammers are without Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez and Michail Antonio, as well as James Collins.

The Foxes are winless in their last two matches, and coming off of a 2-0 defeat to Manchester City over the weekend. Robert Huth and Matty James remain sidelined for Puel’s group, but otherwise, the club is relatively healthy.

What they’re saying

West Ham boss David Moyes on turning the team’s form around: “We need to give the supporters something to shout about and something that looks half decent, and then they will support us. I want everyone to be together. I am not aware of the problems before I came, I was a bit surprised when I heard (chanting against the board). “I want them behind us to give us a chance of winning.”

Leicester’s Claude Puel on confidence in his players“I have a good feeling with the players; they listen, they work hard on the pitch and I feel their ambition. We will see in the next games, with a good adaption and rotation, to see them approach it with a positive attitude.”

Prediction

The Hammers are missing several key attacking pieces, including Hernandez, which will surely make the defensive task easier for Leicester. The Foxes attack hasn’t been at its finest, but they’ll be facing a West Ham back line that allows over two goals per game (25 in 12 matches).
West Ham 1-3 Leicester