Premier League preview: What will and won't happen this weekend
Swansea vs Manchester United (Saturday, 12.30pm)
- The Swans have never kept a clean sheet against Manchester United in the Premier League in 12 contests. The last Swans goalkeeper to keep a clean sheet versus the Red Devils was Dai Davies in December 1982.
The big talking point: United’s opening weekend performance. A genuine sign of intent or just a measure of how bad West Ham were? Swansea won't provide a litmus test, but we'll at least see whether Jose Mourinho's adventure extends beyond Old Trafford.
What will happen: Another comfortable victory. Paul Clement has had to wait for Gylfi Sigurdsson’s sale to be completed before improving his squad, so United will face a restricted Swansea team that carries some obvious, longstanding weaknesses. Midfield in particular might be a problem, with Nemanja Matic now anchoring a group that looks terrifyingly vertical.
What won’t happen: Any sign of Victor Lindelof. Mourinho left him out of his squad completely last weekend, citing a lack of readiness for Premier League football. It looks like it’s the Swede's turn to be ‘that’ guy.
FFT predicts: 1-3
Bournemouth vs Watford (Saturday, 3pm)
- Bournemouth have conceded 135 goals in the Premier League since they were promoted in 2015, more than any other top-flight side.
The big talking point: Not a talking point as such, but a curiosity: what are Marco Silva’s Watford going to be? Their game with Liverpool was enjoyable and entertaining, but not necessarily the type of fixture which provides basis for proper judgement. Bournemouth will be that type of game, though: a tricky match against a side that Watford should be directly competing with.
What will happen: Andre Gray will likely start. Interesting, because he will now be supported by a diversity of supply he never enjoyed at Burnley and, of course, be playing for a more offensively imaginative coach and with a more talented group of players.
What won’t happen: A goalless draw seems highly unlikely. Each of these teams had their defensive issues last season, and with mobile forwards and static defenders in opposition all over the pitch here, both goals-against columns could get a stuffing.
FFT predicts: 2-3
Burnley vs West Brom (Saturday, 3pm)
- West Bromwich Albion haven’t won both of their first two games in a top-flight league season since 1978-79. They ended that campaign in third place; the last time that they finished in the top three places within the top-flight.
The big talking point: Stamford Bridge. Chelsea may have fought back against Burnley and applied some modesty to the scoreline, but it was still as seismic a result as the opening weekend has ever produced.
What will happen: Well, what will have to happen is a big emotional adjustment: there’s an energy which comes from facing the defending champions that doesn't radiate from the prospect of playing West Brom at home. This will be a day for professionalism and, given the opponent, a lot of grind.
What won’t happen: New Burnley creativity. Andre Gray has gone and George Boyd has also left – so where are the goals coming from? That might be a slightly joyless response to last week’s achievement, but it’s a fair question. Beyond relying on Sam Vokes’s ability in the air, what options do Burnley actually possess other than relentless, percentage shelling?
FFT predicts: 0-1
Leicester vs Brighton (Saturday, 3pm)
- Brighton forward Anthony Knockaert made 109 competitive appearances for Leicester City, scoring 16 goals overall. He failed to score in any of his nine Premier League apps for the Foxes, however.
The big talking point: Leicester also lost their first game, but the need is greater for Brighton. Newly promoted sides crave the sense of belonging which comes with winning their first points, and Chris Hughton’s players need to remove that zero as quickly as possible.
What will happen: A difficult tactical decision. Given the size of the transfer fee, Kelechi Iheanacho will almost certainly become a starter once Craig Shakespeare deems him ready. The trouble is, that would likely involve dropping Shinji Okazaki and Leicester underestimated his influence to their cost last season. There's certainly a creative, supporting-forward aspect to Iheanacho's game and - in addition to goals - he will have to provide a bridge between Jamie Vardy and the supporting players.
What won’t happen: This will be tight - no walkover. Leicester ran Arsenal close at the Emirates a week ago, but the scoreline made it appear closer than it really was; Shakespeare’s side scored from their all three of their shots on target. Brighton aren’t favourites here, but being away from home and feeling entitled to sit quite deep should suit them.
FFT predicts: 1-1
Liverpool vs Crystal Palace (Saturday, 3pm)
- Roberto Firmino has both scored more and assisted more Premier League goals than any other Liverpool player since the start of 2015-16 (22 goals, 15 assists).
The big talking point: Liverpool’s defence. Each passing game presents more evidence that Jurgen Klopp’s back four will be prohibitive to his ambition. Right on cue, a bogey side is heading to Anfield: Palace have won on their last three visits and scored some very soft goals in the process.
What will happen: A battle between a side that channels their energies into a Champions League qualifier in midweek, and one that currently looks flummoxed by their new head coach’s instruction. Liverpool should have enough to win, but don't expect anything particularly stylish from either side.
What won’t happen: No Philippe Coutinho, who will most likely be a Barcelona player by the time this game kicks off. Klopp has been restrained in the market so far, admirably so, but losing Coutinho will deny him a different thrust to that provided by Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah. He’ll need replacing, particularly if Klopp's aim is to keep whitewashing fragility with attacking power.
FFT predicts: 2-1