It’s time, ladies and gentleman, for the main event.
No, you’ve not stumbled upon a boxing website, but instead a preview of Sunday, Aug. 16th’s monumental slate of games in the Premier League.
[ MORE: Saturday’s Premier League roundup ]
Sure, there’s only two games on tomorrow’s docket, but boy oh boy, are they a couple of big ones. When the 2014-15 season came to an end, all four teams found themselves inside the top 10. The PL title won’t be decided on Sunday, but when one of Manchester City and Chelsea lift the trophy come May, Sunday’s meeting will have played a big part in the triumph and failure of either side.
Crystal Palace vs. Arsenal — 7:30 am ET, on NBCSN and Live Extra
Following a strong finish to the 2014-15 season, an even stronger summer transfer window and a dominant performance last week, Crystal Palace are very easily one of the trendiest picks to move into and finish inside the top third of the league this season. On Sunday, they’ll face a far more formidable foe than Norwich City, their opponents in Week 1 — Arsenal.
Following their opening week defeat to West Ham United, Arsene Wenger’s are set to open their 2015-16 home campaign as they visit Alan Pardew’s Eagles at Selhurst Park. The Gunners will once again be without midfielders Jack Wilshere and Tomas Rosicky (injuries), both of whom would be quite useful against Palace’s stout central midfield unit led by Mile Jedinak, James McArthur and Yohan Cabaye. The last of that bunch, a club record ($15 million) signing from Paris Saint-Germain this summer, scored on his Palace debut last week.
For Arsenal, much criticism this week has fallen on the Gunners’ toothless attack (22 shots in a 2-0 loss to West Ham) and suspect defense (two miserable, mistake-ridden goals conceded). Arsenal won both games between the two teams last season, each by a score of 2-1.
Manchester City vs. Chelsea — 10:30 am ET, on NBCSN and Live Extra
This is, for all intents and purposes, the main event of the second week of Premier League action. With both Man City and Chelsea expected to be very much in the title race, you could even call it the main event of the season. While the defending champion Blues struggled to a 2-2 draw with Swansea City on opening day, City put in the opening weekend’s most emphatic performance when they ran roughshod over West Bromwich Albion.
Jose Mourinho will be without goalkeeper Thiabut Courtois (suspension) and midfielder Oscar (injury) for their trip to the Etihad Stadium. On the other side, Manuel Pellegrini could be without either one or both of Yaya Toure and Fabian Delph for the season’s first matchup between major title chasers. City’s previously shoddy defensive unit was much improved in Week 1, though we’ll have a much better sense of where Aleksandar Kolarov, Eliaquim Mangala, Vincent Kompany and Bacary Sagna (left to right) stand as quartet after they face the likes of Eden Hazard, Diego Costa and Cesc Fabregas for 90 minutes.
For Chelsea, talk all week long has surrounded Mourinho and his decision to remove a pair of team doctors from the bench ahead of this weekend’s game; not on his side’s underwhelming performance in Week 1 — something which will surely please the Portuguese greatly. City and Chelsea drew each of their 2014-15 league meetings, both by a final score of 1-1.