Last weekend the Premier League returned and we should have known it would come bearing gifts and surprises. Just when you think you think you have all the answers, the questions get changed.
Was he really only 16? Why did the ref disallow it? They were 3-0 up after 15 minutes? Those were just some of the questions to come out of the opening weekend, but that’s all soon forgotten as attention quickly turns to this weekend and the 2nd round of fixtures. Here’s five things to keep an eye on over the weekend. Starting tonight.
One Night Only
If you had Friday night plans, it’s time to ring your mates and cancel, because Aston Villa and Manchester United will be kicking off the Premier League weekend tonight, live on Sky Sports 1 at 7.45pm.
The match was originally billed for Sky’s Saturday Night Football at 5.30pm, however due to policing concerns of a planned English Defence League march in Walsall tomorrow, the match has been pulled back 24 hours. It couldn’t be played on Sunday, because United face Club Brugge on Tuesday for a place in the Champions’ League group stages.
Last week both teams enjoyed success with Villa beating Bournemouth 1-0 away and United seeing off Spurs by the same score line. Louis Van Gaal will want to see a much better performance from his team, while Tim Sherwood will be hoping new boy Rudy Gestede can cause plenty of headaches for the travelling Red Devils.
Either way, it’s set to be a tasty affair under the floodlights of Villa Park, so get comfortable on the sofa, order a takeaway, and get ready for this one night only unique spectacle.
Six pointer already?
Sunderland take on Norwich City this weekend and whilst it may seem harsh to dub this one a relegation battle already, the outcome will certainly give us an indication of what’s to come for these two teams.
The Black Cats had the worst possible start to a season being 3-0 down to Leicester City after 15 minutes, they eventually lost the game 4-2, and much was made of their poor defending, especially new signing Younes Kaboul.
The Canaries also suffered defeat on the opening day at the hands of Crystal Palace, after losing 3-1 at home, it’s fair to say it wasn’t a welcome return to the top flight, but Norwich will take pride knowing they had a perfectly good goal by Cameron Jerome scratched off and a strong penalty appeal turned down, which could have seen them level the score.
Dick Advocaat abandoned his retirement plans to stay at Sunderland and he will be keen to prove that was the right decision, he’ll also be boosted by the news that new boy Yann M’Vila has been cleared to play despite being sent off playing against Norwich’s U-21’s.
Alex Neil is new to the Premier League and will also be hoping to establish himself early on, and has no fresh injury concerns to worry about. This is a must not lose for both teams and could prove to be a six pointer come the end of the season.
Oxford graduates from West Ham academy
Whenever a young English player performs on the big stage, the weight of expectation from the country and media falls on that players shoulders. Well, the latest person to suffer that fate is West Ham’s Reece Oxford, after his flawless display against Arsenal.
At the tender age of 16, Oxford became The Hammers youngest ever Premier League player, and was one of the standout stars as West Ham stunned the Gunners at the Emirates beating them 2-0.
Funnily enough the youngster actually supports Arsenal and tweeted the club two years ago, pleading with them to sign Mesut Ozil, which they did, ironically though the German was non-existent in the match with many people suggesting he was in Oxford’s pocket.
Unfortunately with all this praise comes pressure, and lots of eyes will be tracking his every move as Slaven Bilic has stated he’s likely to line up against Leicester City on Saturday. England fans just remember to remain patient, he’s only just got his GCSE results.
What did the Fox say?
On the pitch Leicester City had no problems continuing where they left off last season, but the same can be said of the pitch, after yet more controversy surfaced this week. Jamie Vardy was caught on video in a casino making a racist comment to a Japanese man.
During the summer The Foxes released three players after being involved in a racist orgy, and it appears lightning can strike twice. Vardy was quick to apologise and take full responsibilities for his actions, in response the club have issued the player with a substantial fine and ordered the 28-year-old to undergo diversity awareness training.
Manager Claudio Ranieri was quick to talk down the issue and said: “Jamie has apologised and for me it is OK.” When referencing the club’s new Japanese striker Shinji Okazaki, Ranieri added: “There’s a good relationship between Jamie and Shinji. We go only forward.”
Leicester take on West Ham away this weekend and the tinker man Ranieri has said Vardy is likely to play, probably because of his exceptional form as of late, which earnt him first England call-up at the back end of last season.
If Eva there was a Hazard
Jose Mourinho’s men didn’t start the season as he would have wanted, after twice throwing away the lead to Swansea they eventually drew 2-2. Thibaut Courtois was sent off during the match, but it was another incident that got the Portuguese manager hot under the collar.
Chelsea’s medical staff ran onto the pitch to treat the injured Eden Hazard, this meant the Blues would temporarily be down to 9-men. Mourinho lost his cool and after the match he said “it showed a lack of understanding of the game”. Physiotherapist Eva Carneiro was then banned from future games and training sessions.
However, it’s emerged later this week that footage from the match shows Eva Carneiro was twice summoned by referee Michael Oliver to enter the field of play. If she hadn’t treated Hazard, she would have been in breach of her contract.
Mourinho may have to backtrack on his original decision and today said: “They are not on the bench Sunday, but that doesn’t mean they cannot be in the future.” When speaking about Carneiro’s and Jon Fearn position at the club.
If things couldn’t get any worse, Chelsea face a daunting trip to Manchester City, in an early title clash. City impressed on Monday beating West Brom 3-0, and all eyes will be on the Chelsea manager and his staff as they aim to stamp their authority as champions and put down a marker. You won’t want to miss this one, expect fireworks.