Rejoice, rejoice, the Premier League is back! We were actually pretty lucky with the international break, but it’s still fun to have club football back all over our weekends.
While you calm down from the sheer excitement of Premier League action, we are going to take a wander through four of the 3pm kick-offs.
BURNLEY vs West Ham
Even after victory over Swansea before the break, Slaven Bilic is under severe pressure. Considering that, a trip to face the in-form Burnley is hardly going to be enjoyable.
The Clarets have defied all expectation again to take points from several of the top six so far this season and currently sit in sixth place, having lost just one of their league matches to date.
Their superb home record last season seemed almost impossible to replicate, but Sean Dyche’s side look comfortable Premier League residents now and this is one of the toughest away days on any calendar.
To call West Ham’s start to the season underwhelming would be pretty kind. A couple of wins do little to mask the poor performances, and I think they are up against it at Turf Moor.
Burnley were excellent away at Everton before the break, and returning to the comforts of their hostile home ground can only be a positive. Dyche’s reputation is growing by the week, and Bilic could take another step towards the sack.
TIP: Burnley to win @ 8/5
MANCHESTER CITY vs Stoke City
Squeaking past Southampton at home in their last match pulled Stoke away from the anxieties of the relegation zone after a tough start, but they face possibly the hardest test of all this weekend.
Manchester City dominated Chelsea at Stamford Bridge a couple of weeks ago, and are understandably strong favourites against the Potters, who are missing Joe Allen, Bruno Martins-Indi and Ryan Shawcross.
Pep Guardiola might be without Sergio Aguero, Vincent Kompany and Fabian Delph, but another rout for the Etihad faithful is probable. Mark Hughes will have his work cut out to limit the damage, even though the Potters picked up a point in this fixture last season.
City are title favourites, and are capable of tearing apart any defence in the world on current form. A patched up Stoke backline has little chance of shutting them out.
TIP: Manchester City to win and over 3.5 goals @ Evens
Crystal Palace vs CHELSEA
Crystal Palace’s zero-point, zero-goal record to date has been well publicised. Roy Hodgson torturous beginnings to his tenure continue as the Eagles welcome the champions to Selhurst Park.
Chelsea, though, are a good team to be facing this weekend. Well, maybe not for Palace, but it’s as weak as you could face Antonio Conte’s side.
Still wounded from the Manchester City defeat, and without the key duo of Alvaro Morata and N’golo Kante, the Blues are far from the juggernaut of last season.
Opening their goal scoring account for the season will still be challenging against a Chelsea defence that has conceded just twice in their last five league matches, but Palace can have relative optimism ahead of this one.
The visitors are still hefty favourites, however, and should have enough to pick up a key three points.
TIP: Chelsea to win @ 4/11
SWANSEA CITY vs HUDDERSFIELD TOWN
Performances have not brought results for Swansea thus far. Paul Clement desperately needs that to turn around sharply if he is to keep his job, and the Swans are to avoid becoming embroiled in another relegation battle.
David Wagner’s Huddersfield, meanwhile, have slipped off after a good start. They have not won in five league games, and only scored once in that period.
Their tally of nine points is probably better than they may have hoped for, but momentum has been sapped with their form of late. Goals are the concern, of course, and opening day hero, Steve Mounie, is likely to miss out again in south Wales.
Given the Terriers’ difficulties and how much is at stake for Swansea, a cagey affair is likely. Neither team are going to blow the other away, and it could well be decided by one goal.
TIP: Under 2.5 goals @ 13/25