With seven games already in the books, the Premier League’s opening weekend concludes on Saturday with three more fixtures, including the 2018-19 campaign’s first clash of top-six sides.
Liverpool vs. West Ham United — 8:30 a.m. ET, on NBCSN and NBCSports.com
Champions League finalists — and fourth-place finishers in the PL — just four months ago, Jurgen Klopp has given himself an incredibly tough act to follow and a high bar to clear. The Reds are pretty widely agreed to have had the best summer transfer window of the 20 PL sides, while one could make a very strong case for West Ham to finish as runners-up: Felipe Anderson and Andriy Yarmolenko just shy of being considered world-class wingers on their days, while Carlos Sanchez and Issa Diop are likely to plug longtime holes at defensive midfield and center back, respectively.
New Hammers boss Manuel Pellegrini likely played a key part in the above summer signings choosing West Ham over a number of other suitors, and Sunday will be the Chilean’s first chance to put his stamp on the club on the field.
INJURIES: Liverpool — OUT: Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (knee), Jordan Henderson (fitness), Dejan Lovern (fitness), Simon Mignolet (fitness); QUESTIONABLE: James Milner (head) | West Ham — OUT: Manuel Lanzini (knee), Andy Carroll (ankle)
Southampton vs. Burnley — 8:30 a.m. ET, on NBC Sports Gold
Just a year or two ago, Southampton were the PL club to go from recently promoted side to Europa League qualifiers in a relatively short period of time. While Saints were busy falling into a relegation battle last season, however, Burnley were more than happy to barge their way up the table and finish seventh. Now, it’s the Clarets’ turn to prove they have the depth and desire to compete on domestic and continental fronts this season, while Southampton hope to simply stabilize a club that has seen its fair share of turmoil over the last 24 months.
Arsenal vs. Manchester City — 11 a.m. ET, on NBCSN and NBCSports.com
Last season’s runaway champions begin their title defense against a top-six side in the midst of arguably the greatest transition period the PL has ever seen — Arsene Wenger left Arsenal in May, and Unai Emery has replaced him. To state the obvious, it’s a tall task for Emery to end his winless run against Pep Guardiola, whom he has never beaten in 10 meetings, while also taking charge of his first competitive match at the Emirates Stadium.
Wenger’s Arsenal didn’t fare any better against Guardiola than Emery has done, as City dominated all three meetings between the two sides last season, winning 3-1 at home and 3-0 away in league play, plus another 3-0 thrashing away from home in the League Cup.