Author: Richard Farley


Premier League Preview: Arsenal vs. Everton

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The main event of Premier League Saturday takes place at Goodison Park, where an Arsenal team that got its season off to a victorious start returns to Everton, where the Gunners lost 3-0 last season. Coming off a draw at Leicester, the Toffees will be looking to repeat last April’s feat for their first win of the season, one that would vindicate the brave few who’ve picked the Blues to crack the top four.

Coverage begins at 12:30 p.m. Eastern on NBC, with the match also available to stream live via NBC Sports Live Extra.


For Everton, the match presents an opportunity to build on an opening weekend that saw Roberto Martínez’s men take two leads King Power Stadium. Each time, however, the Foxes fought back, forcing the Toffees to settle for a 2-2 draw. While Martínez was complementary of his team’s performance, he also noted the need to make more of just under 60 pct. possession they had against Leicester.

For Arsenal, the season got off to a rocky start, giving up a goal at home to Crystal Palace 34 minutes into the campaign. Laurent Koscielny provided the response, but it wasn’t until the 90th minute that Aaron Ramsey secured full points for the Gunners. The 2-1 result has Arsenal third after round one, but the close call against a weak opponent leaves room to improve.

Both teams, facing their first major tests of the season, will need more on Saturday. And between two squads that bear striking resemblances to last year’s teams, the Gunners will be looking for a measure of redemption.

What they’re saying

Everton manager Roberto Martínez: “What we have in our favor is that we are still hurt after dropping two points at the weekend. I like that. It shows our standards and that we don’t accept second best.”

Arsenal manager Arséne Wenger: “Everton was a low point last season, yes. In the quality of our performance, and even more than that in mental resistance, the mental steel on the day. That was one of our low points.”


That Apr. 9 loss wasn’t the only time Arsenal had trouble with Everton. Though they posted an impressive win over the Toffees in the FA Cup, the Gunners were held to a 1-1 draw in the teams’ first meeting of the season (Dec. 8 at the Emirates).

Even in that FA Cup win, three of Arsenal’s four goals came in the last 23 minutes. If that stretch proves an aberration — if Wenger hasn’t quite figured out Martínez — we should see another Everton win at home. 2-1, Toffees.

Premier League Preview: Chelsea vs. Leicester City

Let's talk about Cesc...
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Chelsea’s revamped team, one picked by many to win this year’s Premier League, takes its competitive bow at Stamford Birdge on Saturday, when the visiting Foxes of Leicester City will be the second straight newly promoted club to face the Blues this season. But whereas Burnley saw an early lead crumble to a 3-1 defeat on Monday at Turf Moor, last year’s Football Championship winners will be hoping to build on the 2-2 they earned in Round 1 against visiting Everton.

The match will air live on NBCSN at 9:45 a.m. Eastern – after the day’s opening match between Aston Villa and Newcastle. As with all Premier League games, the action will also be available to stream at NBC Sports Live Extra.


The Blues come into the season’s second weekend on top of the Premier League table, with an set of easy matches to start the year giving the likes of Diego Costa, Cesc Fábregas, and Thibaut Courtois a chance to settle in. On Monday at Burnley, Costa and Fábregas made standout debuts, with the former Atlético man’s goal matched by two assists from the former Arsenal captain.

Leicester also found success on opening day, coming back from two one-goal deficits to earn a point at home against Everton. Against a team expected to compete on the fringes of the top four, the Foxes got a standout performance from Leonardo Ulloa, whose 22nd minute goal provided a platform for Chris Wood’s 86th minute equalizer.

On Saturday, the opposition and venue become more difficult for Nigel Pearson’s team, but as heavy underdogs, Leicester can arrive at Stamford Bridge knowing any points dropped were never part of the plan to stay up.

What they’re saying

Cesc Fábregas, on adjusting to life at Stamford Bridge: “It’s something I never expected. I’m very happy and enjoying my football. They’ve made it so easy for me. I’ve felt comfortable from day one and expect to have a really good year in front of me.”

Nigel Pearson, on Leicester’s approach at the Bridge:When people talk about parking the bus it is not always that they want to do that – nobody wants to soak pressure up for long periods of time. But sometimes you work that hard when you don’t have the ball that when you get it players aren’t capable of changing their mindset … People don’t give us much hope. But we have a pretty strong resolve and some very talented footballers. I want us to express ourselves. We have to defend as a team but attack as a team.”


From a Chelsea team still testing its potential, there may be no let up. The Blues, who’ve had a number of strong starts in recent years, will stay top of the table, even if City manage to keep up on points. 4-0, Chelsea.

WATCH: José Mourinho discusses virtues of light early schedule

Jose Mourinho
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These are the easy days for Chelsea. At least, as easy as it’s going to get this season. No fixture congestion, facing teams enjoying new life in the top flight, the Blues are getting time to sort out their squad, something especially valuable when key additions like Diego Costa, Cesc Fábregas, and Thibaut Courtois are getting accustomed to new surroundings.

Speaking to the press hits week, manager José Mourinho discussed the virtues of playing only once per week at the start of the season. Without Champions League, FA Cup, or League Cup concerns, the early season schedule gives his players a chance to find out where they stand in the squad.

Of course, those concerns are fast approaching (at least, for two of the competitions), but for now, the Chelsea boss is happy to concentrate on the Premier League.