BPL This Weekend: Early title favorites clash, Arsenal try to slow down fast start Villa, more

IMAGE, CHELSEAFC.COM

By MATTHEW LEVINE
Staff Writer

Currently there is no hotter team than Chelsea and no striker banging in the goals for fun than Diego Costa.

The Blues get their sternest test of the early season and put their perfect four wins from four games up against Manchester City. Not only has Costa been fantastic to start the season, so has also fellow Chelsea new boy Cesc Fabregas. He continues to pull the strings and provide crucial assists from midfield. Jose Mourinho has his team playing an attractive brand of soccer that is atypical of the style the Special One likes to deploy.

Away at the Etihad Stadium, it wouldn’t be a shock to see Chelsea use a more pragmatic approach and look to hit City on the counter with Eden Hazard or Andre Schurrle.

Chelsea have shown they can concede goals. Seeing three fly past against Everton and another two against Swansea, City should be able to capitalize. Sergio Aguero is always lurking in the box and players like Jesus Navas and David Silva are capable of playing the Argentinean into dangerous areas.

The game could very well boil into a midfield battle. Players like Fernando and Yaya Toure will need to keep Fabregas in checks.

What To Look For

1. Can Arsenal cool hot Aston Villa start?– Aston Villa has finished seasons towards the bottom of the table in recent years. However, they’re quick start has them at second in the table.

Showcasing a strong defense to start the campaign, Villa has 10 points from four games. American goalkeeper Brad Guzan has kept three clean sheets so far. While Aston Villa hasn’t scored too many goals so far, they will look to capitalize on an hurting and somewhat inexperienced defense from Arsenal. The Gunners once again showed their defensive naivete during a midweek Champions League clash with Borussia Dortmund. If Arsenal come out with a similar approach, Gabby Agbonlahor could be vital in Villa counter attacks.

Arsenal have only won once – their opening fixture – to start the season. Inability to score often enough and conceding the first goal far too often, the Gunners have some work to do. Mesut Ozil is still a passenger in the Starting XI and will need a bit better play from Aaron Ramsey as well. Fiery players Alexis Sanchez and Jack Wilshere have started the season brilliantly and it’s time now for their teammates to follow the lead.

2. Man United on the uptick?– After scoring four goals with several new faces, it’s easy to anoint Manchester United as being back. However, one big victory over Queens Park Rangers tells very little. They will need to find a level of consistency before they are back in contention for a Top Four place let alone a title.

Up next for the Red Devils is Leicester City, who have given teams problems thus far. Everton and Arsenal while they’ve gotten a win against Stoke City. Leonardo Ulloa has been the Foxes star man with three Premier League goals already. He will be the one to cause the United defense trouble.

However, with a potent attack with the likes of Wayne Rooney, Angel Di Maria and Radamel Falcao in some combination, this will be a difficult match for Leicester. If the Red Devils can get another win under their belts it will continue to go towards their overall confidence and a more positive outlook after a slow start.

3.  Newcastle Nightmare– Sitting at the bottom of the table, manager and club in turmoil is the current predicament of Newcastle United. Things need to turn around and quickly for Alan Pardew‘s men or he could very well see himself out of a job.

Next up for the Magpies is Hull, who have had a modest start to the season with five points. Newcastle are coming off a 4-0 thrashing against Southampton as they looked completely out of sorts.

A match against Hull last season sparked a Newcastle spiral. It was the same game of the infamous headbutt by Pardew on David Meyler.

Could this in turn work the other way and spark the Magpies to renewed form? They will have to hope so or they will continue to dig a deeper hole at the bottom end of the table.

4. Swansea-Southampton early Top Four clash– Both Swansea and Southampton have both gotten off to a flying start – to the surprise of many.

Southampton is the bigger surprise after their summer exodus, but manager Ronald Koeman has them confident and playing well. They recently scored four goals against Newcastle. They’re getting strong play from new signings such as Graziano Pelle as well as familiar faces like Morgan Schneiderlin. They’ve also scored seven goals in the last two games.

The Swans started a perfect three wins in three games before suffering a loss to Chelsea in the past weekend. However, one loss shouldn’t damper what play of Swansea this season. Manger Garry Monk has done a great job entering his first full season.

While it’s not expected both of these sides remain in the Top Four, they both could be poised for very big seasons if early results continue.