Sunday’s slate of Premier League action kicks off with the defending champions, Chelsea, who find themselves mired in struggles and controversy — for right now, at least — at the start of the 2015-16 season.
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Sunday’s schedule finishes up with the last side not named Chelsea to win the PL title, just two years ago, Manchester City, who just last week put a real hurting on the Blues. We’re also still in the process of getting to know one of the newly promoted sides, Watford, who are set to face last year’s Cinderella side, Southampton.
West Bromwich Albion vs. Chelsea — 8:30 am ET, on USA and Live Extra
Chelsea come into Week 3 the talk of the PL, but for all the wrong reasons. Not only did they lose 3-0 to Man City last week, but manager Jose Mourinho continues to create unwanted and unflattering headlines for the club and his team. Since it’ll be fun to say the following and unlikely to happen for a very long time again: Chelsea currently occupy 18th place in the Premier League, which is the third and final relegation place. West Brom are one spot below them, also on one point from two games.
The Blues are expected to be without midfielder Oscar for a second straight game, while while West Brom have no new injuries to report (goalkeeper remains out following knee surgery last season). The home side won each of these two sides’ meetings last season (2-0 at Stamford Bridge and 3-0 at The Hawthorns), though West Brom’s victory came after Chelsea had already clinched the league title.
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Everton vs. Manchester City — 10:30 am ET, on NBCSN and Live Extra
While Chelsea toil away at the bottom of the table (for the time being), no one is flying higher than Man City, who are one of two teams (Liverpool) possess a 100 percent win record to go along with their league-leading +6 goal differential after two games. A return to grace for captain Vincent Kompany (two goals and two clean sheets in two games) has City firing on all cylinders these early days. On the other side, life is pretty good for Everton, as Roberto Martinez’s side has returned to its expected region of the league table, currently seventh, after struggling to an 11th-place finish a season ago.
Fabian Delph (hamstring) remains out of Manuel Pellegrini’s squad and it was announced this week that Pablo Zabaleta would miss close to a month with a knee injury. Meanwhile, the Toffees will be without Leighton Baines and Aiden McGeady. Man City took four points from their two meetings with Everton last season, winning 1-0 at home and drawing 1-1 at Goodison Park.
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Watford vs. Southampton — 11 am ET, on Live Extra
Will this be a season of regressing to the mean for Southampton, who finished seventh a campaign ago (currently 17 with one point from two games), or can they establish themselves as a perennial top-half team? One stumbling block this year will undoubtedly be Europa League fixtures Thursday nights and league games being played on Sundays, as is the case this week. For Watford, a pair of draws (2-2 away to Everton and 0-0 at home against West Brom) have been a very good platform for Quique Flores’ bunch to build on in their first season back in the PL.
Saints will once against be without midfielder Jordy Clasie (hamstring) and defender Ryan Bertrand (knee), while the Hornets have a mostly clean bill of health. It’s been almost four years since these two sides last met in the Championship.