BPL This Weekend: Chelsea visits Old Trafford, Drama at Anfield, more

IMAGE, CHELSEAFC.COM

By MATTHEW LEVINE
Staff Writer

Chelsea continues to impress this season.

Only dropping two points so far into their campaign, the Blues are starting to open a gap between them and the other clubs chasing them.  One of those clubs is Manchester United, where Chelsea will visit this weekend. It’s a Red Devils side that isn’t vintage by any means and Old Trafford hasn’t been the fortress in recent times as it has been in the past.

The Red Devils will get a break as Diego Costa is set to miss out. He’s still dealing with a hamstring injury. However, that doesn’t mean the Blues may miss a beat. Cesc Fabregas will still pull the strings from midfield and Eden Hazard will take on a much larger role in the attack. Didier Drogba may be the option up front and he will look to turn back the clock after scoring his first Blues goal since his return mid-week in the Champions League.

Goals from Marouane Fellani and Daley Blind – their firsts for the club – salvaged a point against West Brom. However, that draw poses concerns for the Red Devils. Too often, gaps in the backline were too wide. If that continues this weekend, there is no doubt Chelsea will take advantage.

What To Look For:

1. Balotelli Drama– A shirt-swapping, in poor-form Mario Balotelli has a drama wave swelling at Anfield. Liverpool have struggled in the Champions League, but have fared much better in the Premier League so far.

However, the move for Balotelli isn’t panning out so far. Replacing one controversial striker in Luis Suarez for another in the Italian has not paid dividends. Balotelli has yet to score in the league.

More importantly, how much of a distraction will the striker prove to be? While the shirt-swapping incident is a little over blown, Balotelli’s play is more concerning. However, the other issues will continually be brought up and for Brendan Rodgers‘  sake, he will hope his team can keep those issues away from the pitch.

With a game against Hull forthcoming, the Reds should be able to get all three points. As far as Balotelli, it wouldn’t be at all surprising to see him on the bench.

2. West Ham to keep it rolling?– West Ham has been one of  the more surprising teams so far this season. They are currently in the Top Four after winning their last two games.

Diafra Sakho has been instrumental so far with five goals on the season. If his running mate Enner Valencia can chip in with more goals -he scored a weekend ago – the Hammers will have an even more potent attack.

So far West Ham has shown that they may be fore real. Maybe not Top Four at the end of the year, but certainly in the top half. They’ve already beaten Liverpool and nearly fought back against Manchester United in a 2-1 loss.

However, Manchester City will prove the toughest test to date. How well they play will be another indication of just how far up the table this team can finish.

One thing to watch is if the Hammers resort to more of a park the bus style or continue to let their flair players attack and have a proper go against City.

3. Berahino purple patch– When you think of which English striker is in the best form so far this season, Saido Berahino may not be the first to come to mind. However, he has six goals to start the Premier League season.

Those goals haven’t led to West Brom having a better league standing. They are currently in 14th.

However, he’ll look to keep his purple patch going against Crystal Palace. He will look to take advantage against a Palace side that is two spots below the Baggies on the table.

West Brom could certainly use a win against a side near them in the table. Backing Berahino to grab a goal, should provide good value.

4. Can Arsenal get going?– Plagued with injuries and too many draws to start the season, there’s a strong hint Arsenal should still be doing better.

For a team with title aspirations, falling 11 points behind the league leaders isn’t how you’d want to start the season. Only mustering a draw against Hull, the next two games provide great chances for Arsenal to pick up all three points.

Sunderland were recently gashed for eight goals and Arsenal should be able to cause problems for the Black Cats backline. Danny Welbeck has been in good form, although a few more goals from him would go a long way.

Aaron Ramsey needs to find the level where he was at for most of last season and Santi Cazorla needs to start capitalizing on the scoring opportunities he has gotten.

The Gunners can ill afford to drop more points against club’s below them and they should be able to take advantage of a Sunderland side that is looking devoid of confidence and ability at the moment.