The Premier League jumps straight in at the deep end this weekend with Manchester United’s visit to Brighton opening the third round, although fans will be forced to wait until Monday night for the star attraction when Liverpool entertain Arsenal.
Last weekend’s home defeat to Crystal Palace was a shock to Manchester United fans, immediately prompting fears that last season’s progress could be lost after a frustrating summer in the transfer market.
Brighton meanwhile impressed with a 3-0 thrashing of Newcastle United and the game is already looking like a watershed moment for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, who needs a quick reaction in order to calm jittery Old Trafford nerves.
Crystal Palace’s win at Old Trafford means they are one of five teams with six points from two games and they will face another team with a perfect start when Everton visit Selhurst Park on Saturday afternoon. The game sees the side with the best pass completion numbers in the Premier League (Everton 88.3 percent) against Palace, who have the worst a pass completion rate (56.4 percent), so it’s probably fair to say we can expect a contrast in styles.
It is also worth bearing in mind that Palace have failed to score in six of Everton’s last seven visits to south London.
West Brom have had a difficult return to the top-flight, conceding eight goals and scoring just two in their opening games, and things may not get much easier when they entertain Chelsea this Saturday. West Brom acted to shore up their defense in the week with the signing of former Chelsea legend Branislav Ivanovic and the man who played 377 times for the ‘Blues’ could go straight into the ‘Baggies’ starting 11 on Saturday.
Meanwhile all eyes will focus on whether new signing Edouard Mendy goes straight into the Chelsea side or if Frank Lampard keeps faith with Kepa Arrizabalaga after another bad error last weekend.
Saturday ends with Southampton facing a tricky visit to play Burnley. Southampton have lost both league games so far and were dumped out of the Carabao Cup by Brentford, while Burnley lost their only league game away to Leicester City, before bouncing back to beat Milwall in the Carabao Cup. They have a good record against Southampton with four wins and three draws against them since October 2016.
There should be goals when Sheffield United face Leeds United in Sunday’s Yorkshire derby, which could be a baptism of fire for Leeds’ new signing Diego Llorente given that his side has scored seven times and conceded the same number in their first two games of the campaign.
Both Tottenham and Newcastle have produced Jekyll and Hyde starts to the season, with Spurs losing to Everton and then scoring five away to Southampton, while Newcastle beat West Ham before being thrashed at home to Brighton and then netting seven in the Carabeo Cup. Given those records anything could happen when the two teams meet at White Hart Lane.
Leicester City will be without Wilfred Ndidi for 12 weeks with a groin injury and he will be an important absentee for their visit to face Manchester City, who kicked off their season with a 3-1 win away to Wolves, who visit West Ham.
West Ham will have Alan Irvine on the bench after David Moyes tested positive for Covid-19 along with Issa Diop and Josh Cullen ahead of their midweek Carabao Cup win against Hull City, while Nelson Semedo could make his Wolves debut after joining from Barcelona.
Monday ends with Fulham looking for their first points at home to Aston Villa, before Liverpool entertain an Arsenal side that defeated them on penalties in the Community Shield at the end of August.
A month has passed since then and the game will be a good test of Liverpool’s ability to defend their title after beating Chelsea a week ago and also of how much Arsenal have improved under Mikel Arteta.