For the second time in a week, Manchester City heads to London to take on Arsenal.
After the 3-0 win in the Carabao Cup final at Wembley Stadium last Sunday, Pep Guardiola‘s side heads to the Emirates Stadium to face Arsene Wenger and co., looking for a chance to win again and keep pushing the lead at the top of the Premier League. (Watch live, 2:45 p.m. ET on NBC and online via NBCSports.com).
Manchester City is looking to continue its unbeaten run as it travels to face the Cherries of AFC Bournemouth (Watch live at 7:30 a.m. ET Saturday on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com).
Pep Guardiola‘s side is coming off a hard-fought 1-1 draw with Everton but Guardiola is still phasing in some of the team’s new signings, including Bernardo Silva and Benjamin Mendy, who could make his debut this weekend, especially with the suspension of Kyle Walker.
The Cherries meanwhile are off to a tough start, dropping to 16th in the Premier League with losses to West Bromwich Albion and Watford in the first two weeks. Having Jermain Defoe finally fit and a midweek win over Birmingham City in the EFL Cup could be enough to lift the club’s spirits ahead of a tough challenge with Manchester City.
Pep Guardiola on Bournemouth: “The Premier League is so complicated, so special. Sometimes in Champions League the teams they play and they let you play. Bournemouth are a team who want to play. The manager is so good in those terms. They did a fantastic season last season. Okay, They start with two defeats but sometimes that can happen, it’s just the beginning.”
Bournemouth manager Eddie Howe on his team’s start: “It gets tougher every year, the competition gets more intense and the players get better. This will be the hardest Premier League ever because it’s the most recent one. With the money in the Premier League now the standard of the players coming in is always improving and that makes it ever-harder for each team to compete. It’s a challenge we always look forward to taking on.”
History says this is Manchester City’s game to lose and based on the way both teams have started this season, there’s no reason to believe it won’t be a similar outcome, even with Man City on the road. Manchester City 3-1 Bournemouth
Burnley manager Sean Dyche achieved a feat that hadn’t been accomplished at the club in the Premier League era: Survival.
The club managed to stay up, surviving relegation by six points with a 40 point total in 2017, giving Dyche and Burnley a second-consecutive season in the Premier League. The last two times the club had been in the Premier League, in 2009-2010 and 2014-2015, it had gone straight down.
The goal again this season will be survival, and considering the signings made, Dyche is more worried about his defense than signing a striker who can create a moment of magic that could excite fans and lift the team on the field.
After selling top centerback Michael Keane to Everton in a big-money move, it will be difficult to see Burnley remain in the Premier League, but Dyche is an expert motivator and tactician, and it’s expected that Burnley will be fighting for a top-17 place in the table until the last day of the season.
Best, worst case scenario: Burnley will finish 15th after improving its defensive form and finding a new scoring outlet other than Sam Vokes, or seeing Vokes have a breakout year with 15 or more goals. More likely, Burnley will sit in the relegation zone for most of the season, and it will be a mental grind to see if they have what it takes to pick up important points.
– 16th place in Premier League
– Second round of EFL Cup
– Fifth round of 2016-17 FA Cup
Star player: Tom Heaton – The 31-year-old goalkeeper was once again Burnley’s savior, producing many fine saves and keeping the club in a position to stay up. Heaton, who’s form has lifted him into the England National Team squad, earned 10 clean sheets and 11 wins last season along with 141 saves including one on a penalty kick. With such an inexperienced and light defense, Heaton will be as important as ever this season if Burnley wants to stay in the Premier League.
Coaches’ Corner: One of the few English managers in the Premier League, Burnley’s management has shown tremendous faith in the former centerback, sticking with him when the team was relegated from the Premier League in 2015 all the way through now. Dyche has a knack for organizing his team tactically to make them tough to break down, but at times last year when they were broken, the floodgates were open. Dyche will have another rough challenge on his hands this season, and he’ll need to guide his team mentally through the grind of the Premier League.
PST predicts: Burnley will have a tough time dealing with the loss of Michael Keane from the backline, as well as facing the other sides, many of which have improved more this offseason. The club will likely be in the relegation dog fight all season long, but if the team can improve its road form, they can have a path to survival, provided the club’s home form remains the same.
Bournemouth, led by rising coaching star Eddie Howe, finished a club-record ninth last season in the Premier League, recording 46 points and winning three of its last four matches. The club’s offense was something to behold, scoring 55 goals, the sixth-best mark in the league.
But the club isn’t resting on its laurels. Howe and co. made some impressive summer signings, bringing back three players with a history at the club. Jermain Defoe, Asmir Begovic and Nathan Ake, the club’s new record signing, all played at some point in their careers for the club on loan, while youngster Connor Mahoney joins from struggling Blackburn.
Now the question for Bournemouth is whether its reached a ceiling. And if not, how much more could it improve in the standings.
Best, worst case scenario: The best case scenario for Bournemouth right now is another mid-table finish, perhaps pushing Everton or Southampton on the edge of a European place, as well as a nice run in the League and FA Cups. Worst case, it’s another relegation battle for Bournemouth that it can’t seem to extract itself out of, whether due to a fractured locker room or injuries keeping important players off the field.
Star player: Joshua King – The former Manchester United youngster had a breakout season in the Premier League, scoring 16 goals and helping stave off relegation for Bournemouth for a third-consecutive season, all while putting himself in the shop window for Europe’s biggest clubs. Now the question is whether he can repeat these numbers, or how his production will change alongside Jermain Defoe. Bournemouth will need to find goals from somewhere, and another 15-plus goal season from King should keep the club in the Premier League for another season.
Coaches’ Corner: Eddie Howe has done the unthinkable, keeping tiny Bournemouth in the Premier League for yet another season. It’s why his name is constantly linked with other Premier League openings, including Arsenal should Arsene Wenger ever retire or be forced out. But more impressively, Howe’s done it his way, choosing to play an expansive brand of football in a league where sometimes that is punished. And in a way, he was punished, with his team giving up 67 goals last season. But by scoring 55 goals, many of those timely towards the close of the season, it ended up canceling out some of the rough games earlier in the year. Howe is a future England National Team managerial candidate for a reason, and with an even stronger squad in 2017-2018, it will be interesting to see where he can guide the team.
PST predicts: If Bournemouth’s current squad remains whole through the end of the transfer window (with perhaps another defensive signing), the club have a terrific chance of repeating its mid-table finish. PST believes that Bournemouth will be in the thick of the relegation battle, but should manage to separate itself from the rest by at least 10 points once more.
A Closer Look: The opening 10 PL matches for the Big Six
The release of the Premier League schedule marks the start of a new season, and with that the hopes and dreams of the millions of fans around the world.
As Premier League clubs gear up or are well into a busy summer of transfers, expectations can start to be set based on the schedule and where certain games fall.
With Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester City, Manchester United and Tottenham all pushing for the Premier League title, we thought it would be good to go in depth and look at how each team will open the season, focusing on the first 10 games of the campaign.
Chelsea of course won its first three games before drawing with Swansea City and losing to Liverpool and Arsenal, which allowed manager Antonio Conte to make his famous switch to the 3-5-2 formation that paid such dividends for Chelsea down the road.
While we can’t predict a future like that, here’s our take on the opening 10 games of the season for each of the top six teams.