By Ben Brown, Leeds United writer
Leeds United will welcome a full capacity crowd back to Elland Road for the first time in 16 months as they host Everton in the Premier League. After waiting so long to see them back in the big time, it’s sure to be an emotional day for the fans with the club also confirming a minute’s silence will be held prior to kick off to commemorate the numerous club legends who sadly passed away during the Covid-19 pandemic.
On the pitch the home side will be looking to bounce back from their 5-1 humbling against rivals Manchester United on the opening day, where they conceded as many goals in 90 minutes as they had in their last 7 games of the 2020/21 season combined. They’ll have to do it without defender Diego Llorente as Marcelo Bielsa confirmed the Spanish international is a couple of weeks away from fitness after a minor knock, but summer arrival Junior Firpo may be handed a first start following his second half cameo at Old Trafford. Fans favourite Kalvin Phillips is also likely to start after being surprisingly left on the bench last weekend.
The visiting toffees meanwhile will be looking to build on their positive start under controversial appointment Rafa Benitez after their 3-1 opening day triumph against Southampton. Their list of absentees remains the same although they could welcome back forward Moise Kean after missing out last week with covid related reasons. History is on Benitez’s side having emerged victorious from all three of his previous visits to Elland Road, with each success coming whilst in charge of different clubs.
Leeds are the slight favourites on the site for this one, with 15 points available for a home win whilst an Everton success gives you a minor bonus of 20 points. I’ll personally go for a 2-1 victory for the home side, with Raphinha on the scoresheet to see him become the first Leeds player since recently passed icon Peter Lorimer to score in three consecutive appearances against Everton.
By Lewis Robinson
After not winning away at QPR for 70 years, Barnsley have won their last two visits to the Kiyan Prince Foundation Stadium.
A 1-0 win in the first game post-lockdown and a 3-1 victory in March 2021 means the Reds on Saturday lunchtime will be looking for their third victory on the trot in West London.
A response is needed, after a disappointing defeat to Luton Town on Tuesday evening, where the Reds looked pretty toothless in attack. An injury to striker Carlton Morris has certainly not helped this cause, along with the absences of summer signings Obbi Oulare and Aaron Leya Iseka.
Another question ahead of the trip to QPR is who plays at left wing-back. Ben Williams started the first two league games in that position but was replaced by Callum Styles against the Hatters. Josh Benson replaced Styles in the middle of the park, but with Markus Schopp wanting to bring a left wing-back to the club, it will be interesting to see the Austrian’s selection come Saturday morning.
It seems the squad is adjusting to new tactics, as expected with the introduction of a new head coach. Schopp has opted for a more patient build-up in attack, whilst keeping the high pressing principles that have been a common theme in the Reds’ playing style for a number of years now. This, combined with the lack of a full strength squad, will not help the new system translate to how the team play on the pitch most efficiently.
QPR will be a much tougher proposition than in the last couple of meetings, however, with the R’s having an unbeaten campaign in all competitions so far.
The one that got away, Lyndon Dykes, has made a decent start to the season, scoring twice so far and proving a threat up front.
At the other end of the pitch, performances have also been impressive, with Rob Dickie stealing the show at Hull last weekend with a goal-saving intervention and a goal for himself at the other end. No wonder then that the defender has been linked with a move away to the Premier League.
Despite Barnsley’s good form in recent meetings in West London, the game will be very tough for Schopp’s men, especially with the return of supporters to the stands. However, the Reds will be backed by 596 supporters in the away end. A great effort for a game on the television and that is kicking off at 12:30pm.
The Footrace points also lean towards QPR being favourites for the meeting, with 10 points being awarded for an R’s win. If you think Barnsley will get something from the game, 25 points are available. If you think the Reds will travel back up north with all three points, 30 points are available.
By Louis Pantziarka, Chelsea writer
Chelsea head to the Emirates on Sunday afternoon full of optimism, with their terrific end to the last campaign continuing this season with two wins from two and the first trophy already safely stowed in the cabinet.
A London derby between two fierce rivals needs no extra hype, but the prospect of Romelu Lukaku lining up against Arsenal’s shaky defence has Blues fans licking their lips. The Belgian powerhouse has been training with the squad since Tuesday and is in line to make his second debut for the club.
There are a couple of boosts on the injury front - N’golo Kante is fully fit again and Hakim Ziyech is back in training earlier than expected after his shoulder injury in the Super Cup Final. Ziyech’s return is particularly timely, as Christian Pulisic has returned a positive Covid test and will therefore miss the game, as he begins his isolation period.
We’ve mentioned Lukaku, but this feels like an equally big game for Timo Werner and Trevoh Chalobah. Chelsea fans have largely stuck by Werner, but he did take some stick at an open training session this week and it feels important that he gets off the mark with a goal sooner rather than later.
On the other hand, Chalobah’s had an excellent start to the season and all the reports coming out of the club this week suggest he’ll be kept in London and offered a well-deserved new contract. If he can perform anywhere near as well against Arsenal as he did against Palace, he’ll write himself into Chelsea folklore for good.
Chelsea are the clear favourites and that’s reflected in a fairly meek 7 points available for an away win on Sunday, but 28 for a draw seems more reasonable. Having said that, backing Arsenal might not be as crazy as it seems. The Gunners did the double over the Blues last season and seem to find a little extra fight against their London rivals – you’ll bag yourself 40 points for a home win.
By Fletcher Smith, Bradford City writer
The Bantams are heading into this fixture with lots of momentum and confidence following their 4-1 triumph over Stevenage mid-week and will be looking to carry their unbeaten start to the 21/22 League Two campaign.
Mansfield are in a very similar place to Derek Adam’s side, after sitting 3rd with 7 points from 3 following their disappointing 95th minute collapse to Colchester United but still remain unbeaten in the league this season.
From Bradford’s side it’s hard to pick out a stand-out performer as every player has performed very consistently so far. However, after Tuesday’s fixture it would be rude not to give the ex-Mansfield forward, Andy Cook a shout. A first-half hattrick leaves him as City’s top scorer. Will he get revenge on his former club?
The Stags' star man has been the midfield-dictator George Maris, he’s distributed a stunning 171 passes so far this season, which is the highest between both of the sides. Maris also netted against play-off finalists Newport County on GW2 after he curled the ball into the bottom right corner from 30 yards out.
The Bantam’s currently have 4 first-team candidates injured, Lee Angol had a scan yesterday, Levi Sutton, Abo Eisa and Oscar Threlkeld are all out.
This clash is set up to be an end-to-end game of football between two promotion sides, combined the nearly sold-out Field Mill it’s going to be a great watch.
A home win for the Stags gives you 12 points, a draw is worth 22 points, and an away win for the Bantams claims 25 points.
By Archie Burkinshaw, Tottenham Hotspur writer
If two results could represent Tottenham Hotspur it would be beating Manchester City and then losing to Paços de Ferreira. Of course there was more context to this defeat, the entire starting XI against City were left at home. Teenagers Nile John and Dane Scarlett also made their first starts for the club - and J'Neil Bennett and Maksim Paskotsi came on for debuts.
However do not let that distract from how poor a performance it was - Spurs did not even register a shot on target. It is very rare that I regret watching a football match, especially a Tottenham one, but if I could claim back those 90 of predictable dross, I would.
It was a disjointed performance from a side looking void of ideas. Nuno reverted to a 3-4-3 formation, which was his preferred formation at Wolves, unfortunately it failed miserably. The midfield duo of Winks and Lo Celso were bypassed, instead the ball was pumped long towards Gil and Scarlett, much to the enjoyment of the Paços defence.
There were a few positives that are worthy of a mention. Gil and Sessegnon were bright for most of the game. Gil in the first-half was a constant threat picking up the ball and driving at the opposition defence. Similarly in the second-half, Sessegnon looked dangerous, but the youngsters still look far away from challenging for a starting XI place in the Premier League.
New centre back signing Romero looked rusty throughout and was caught out for their goal as Lucas Silva ran in behind too easily to latch on to Nuno Santos' through ball and slot into the bottom corner, perhaps Gollini could have done better.
In my preview I did say I wasn’t to fussed about playing in the Europa Conference League this season, however I would be fussed if we didn’t even make the group stage as that would equal total embarrassment. The priority will always be the Premier League, but the Europa Conference League can at least give some minutes to youngsters and those recovering from injury.
Hopefully Nuno names a stronger side next week and we do at least progress to the group stage of the competition, now all eyes on Sunday as Spurs take a trip to Nuno’s old stomping ground at Wolves. No doubt this will be a tough game.
By Charlotte Atherton, Wigan Athletic writer
Wigan Athletic travel to the capital this weekend as they take on Charlton Athletic at The Valley.
As a player Charlton manager Nigel Adkins spent the majority of his career as a goalkeeper for Wigan, but this weekend he will be hoping The Addicks will be able to secure the three points as his side go in search of their first win of the season.
Charlton have had a disappointing start to the campaign, albeit just three games in, having picked up just one point so far.
Their opening day of the campaign ended in a goalless draw against Sheffield Wednesday, and they have since suffered defeat to Oxford United and MK Dons.
Adkins has a few players unavailable at present, including ex-Wigan player Alex Gilbey who is still suffering from the aftermath of Covid-19. During their game against MK Dons on Tuesday night, striker Conor Washington picked up a knock and so is a doubt for this weekend’s fixture.
Wigan had to settle for a draw against Wycombe Wanderers in midweek, meaning The Latics have now drawn one, won one against Rotherham United and lost one following opening day defeat to Sunderland.
Latics have no new injury concerns, but James McClean will be eager to make his second debut for the club having re-joined Wigan in midweek.
Wigan were made to pay for not taking their chances on Tuesday night against The Chairboys and the Latics will not want to make the same mistake this weekend. There are 12 footrace points available for a Charlton win but maybe 25 footrace points for an away win is a more tempting offer.
By Tyler Khan, Leicester City writer
West Ham host Leicester City in the Premier League on Monday as the Foxes will be looking to make it two wins from two against a Hammers side that has been in decent form during the pre-season.
Unfortunately, there was more bad news on the injury front as James Maddison is looking doubtful after he was subbed off at the King Power last weekend with what is being reported as a minor back injury.
It was confirmed that last weekend new signing Ryan Bertrand will not be in the squad due to a positive coronavirus test. Rodgers has reported that Bertrand has taken a lateral flow test since the game which has come back positive. There is also a small doubt that Caglar Soyuncu may well miss the game as he was also missing last week due to testing positive for coronavirus.
On a positive note, Timothy Castagne has been reported to be training very well and has ‘’Virtually done everything he could and we would want for him to participate in the game’’ as quoted by Brendan Rogers. We have also been told that Jonny Evans is expected to be back by mid-September after suffering from Plantar Fasciitis at the back end of last season. While new signing Jannik Vestergaard looks set to start at the weekend, which would be his debut for the club.
There was also some big news from the King Power Stadium that Harvey Barnes signed a new deal which will see his contract run until 2025. This is huge for Leicester City and the fans who will be hoping now that Barnes can carry on improving with full focus at the club and hopefully continue to develop.
Kelechi Iheanacho is going to be key in this game having been involved in four goals in his last four Premier League games against West Ham (three goals, one assist).
And there is potential for Cengiz Under to make an appearance, as he undergoes late fitness tests to find out if he can join the squad at the London Stadium on Monday.
The Foxes are favourites coming into this clash; however, I see a fair few goals for both teams in this game but ultimately see The Foxes coming out on top in this one.
However, West Ham are favourites on the Footrace game, as they are worth 15 points, while the points available for a draw or Leicester win are close – 20 points for the visitors to win, or 21 points for a draw.
By Obiaju Akachukwu
Newcastle United are travelling to the West Midlands hoping to get their season back on track having lost their season opener at St James’ Park to West Ham United.
Newcastle manager Steve Bruce will be looking for a much-improved performance having seen his side lead 1-0 and 2-1 at St James' Park but allowed West Ham to score three unanswered goals in the second period to pick up an impressive comeback win.
Newcastle travel to Villa Park to face an Aston Villa side still adapting to the departure of ex-captain Jack Grealish, as Dean Smith's side fell to a shocking 3-2 defeat against recently promoted Watford on the opening day of the new season.
Villa have had a busy summer, just before losing their talisman to Manchester City they had already bolstered their ranks with the arrival of Emiliano Buendia and Leon Bailey, while Danny Ings joined after the deal was struck with Grealish.
However, Villa will again be without the services of Trezeguet and Bertrand Traore who picked up a hamstring injury in a behind-closed-doors friendly with Liverpool.
Steve Bruce has been backed this summer and will welcome new signing Joe Willock to his starting lineup, the English midfielder will be aiming for a similar impact that saw him notch an impressive seven goals in seven Premier League games becoming the youngest player to achieve that feat.
The last time the two sides met was in March when the game ended 1-1. In the last ten meetings between the two sides, Aston Villa and Newcastle United have won twice each with an impressive six matches ending as draws.
Newcastle will be hoping to improve their tally of twenty-two points on the road which saw them lose nine games in the process. The Geordies will look to Callum Wilson to lead the line again, the English man was involved in 58 percent of his side's goals when selected in 2020/21, more than any team-mate, and has certainly picked up where he stopped netting the opener last week. One thing is certain, there will be goals in this game.
Newcastle are outsiders on the Footrace game, valued at 35 points, while Aston Villa are favourites worth just 8 points. A draw is worth 27 points.
By Owain Wyse, Sheffield United writer
Sheffield United will be looking to register their first league victory of the season as they face Huddersfield at Bramall Lane on Saturday.
Last time out the Blades were beaten 4-0 away at West Brom so they will be hoping to bounce back with a much better performance in front of the home crowd. United have failed to score a league goal in the first 3 games of the season and will be looking to break their duck this weekend.
Saturday’s opponents Huddersfield recorded their first win in the league against Preston on Tuesday night at the John Smith’s Stadium emerging victorious thanks to a Sepp Van Den Berg own goal in the 74th minute. The Terriers are currently managed by Spaniard Carlos Corberan, this his first job in senior football in England after his appointment from the Leeds United Under 23s side. He also has experience in Cypriot football as he is the former head coach of Ermis and Doxa in the premier division.
The Blades could call upon new signing, Liverpool loanee Ben Davies, to make his debut in an attempt to shore up the defence. Davies has experience at Championship level featuring in 129 games across 3 and a half years, for former club Preston. Davies is extremely highly regarded in the Northwest with many fans disappointed to see him leave when the former champions came calling. Another position in contention for United is in goal, Michael Verrips and Wes Foderingham are pushing for the position after the departure of Aaron Ramsdale to Arsenal. Verrips got the nod to start during the week however after a poor performance Jokanovic could decide to go with the former Rangers stopper on Saturday.
Throughout the week United have been repeatedly linked with Manchester United youngster Amad Diallo. The Ivory Coast international cost Manchester United just shy of £20 million when he joined them last season from Atalanta, however, Diallo has only made 8 appearances for the Red Devil’s first-team scoring one goal and registering one assist in his brief spell at Old Trafford so far. Diallo could be just what the Blades need, adding pace, direct running, and skill in the wide areas.
As for Saturday, the Blades quality should shine through and help them outclass the Terriers to record their first win and get Jokanovic’s reign underway.
If you fancy Sheffield United in this one, 6 points are available. A Terriers win would be worth 45 points, with the spoils being shared worth 30 points.
By Lewis Williamson, Stoke City writer
Stoke City welcome Nottingham Forest to Staffordshire on Saturday afternoon, looking to continue this week’s run of form.
Michael O’Neill’s Potters face Forest on the back of a 3-1 win against Swansea on Tuesday night, against a Forest side that is looking to get their first win on the cards this campaign.
The Reds have suffered three successive 2-1 defeats in the league so far, with Jordan Lawrence-Gabriel picking up a red card in their midweek loss to Blackburn Rover leaving Forest short at full-back.
Chris Hughton’s side has suffered from injuries and new arrivals in their team selection seeing only a handful of players starting every game of the campaign so far.
This has been made worse by Jordi Osei-Tutu picking up a hamstring injury adding another short-fall in the full-back position.
Forest are uplifted by the prospect of Tyrese Fornah getting his first start in the Championship after impressing off the bench against Rovers if Hughton wishes to go with youth in the midfield.
The Potters on the other hand have been revamped this season with their new signings all impressing so far, with Norweigen centre back Leo Østigård getting on the score sheet against Swansea midweek.
Nick Powell was also on the score sheet at the Liberty Stadium for the Potters but will likely miss Saturday’s clash due to picking up a thigh injury in the game.
Stoke City look set to continue their unbeaten run in this fixture, with Michael O’neill’s team looking hard to beat at this rate.
Forest will look to upturn their fortunes but Chris Hughton’s side look set to go without any points from their first games unless something drastically changes.
A home win for the Potters will gain you 8 points, an even split gets you 27, and a Forest away upset will net you 35.