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The Premier League is back in action after the international break, and Matchday 8 is jam-packed with storylines.
Will Cristiano Ronaldo get the start and reclaim his famous celebration? How will Newcastle kick off its new era under big-money Saudi Arabian ownership? And, can Patrick Viera recreate some "invincible" magic in his return to Arsenal?
Here’s a preview of all the biggest matches this upcoming week:
Leicester City vs. Man United
Saturday, Oct. 16 at 10:00AM ET | Live stream
Result: Leicester City (+250), Draw (+260), Man United (+100)
Over/Under Goals: 2.5
Manchester United is fourth in the table, tied with Manchester City and just two points back of Chelsea for the Premier League lead. Seems pretty good, right?
It’s great for them, considering the club’s recent form suggests it shouldn’t be anywhere near the top of the table, let alone one win away from potentially being first.
Since Ronaldo made his second debut for the Reds in a 4-1 thrashing of Newcastle in mid-September, United has gone 2-1-3 in all competitions, with losses to Aston Villa, West Ham and Young Boys.
Before the break, manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer came under heavy criticism for starting the 36-year-old Ronaldo on the bench in United's draw with Everton. In the match, Toffees winger Andros Townsend trolled CR7 by attempting his famous “Siuuu!” celebration after equalizing.
Andros Townsend did the Cristiano Ronaldo celebration 🤣 pic.twitter.com/3AlBgrlqnV
— DAZN Canada (@DAZN_CA) October 2, 2021
In Leicester City, the Reds once again face a club they’re favoured to beat this weekend.
The Foxes have consistently competed with the Premier League's best since 2015-16, but this season appears to be falling by the wayside. They’re winless in their last four and currently 13th in the league despite having the EPL’s leading goal scorer in Jamie Vardy.
The 34-year-old isn’t getting much help at the moment. Of Leicester’s nine tallies, six belong to Vardy, and the team’s 12 conceded goals rank fourth-worst in the Prem.
But the Foxes could benefit from the possible absence of United first-choice centre backs Raphael Varane and Harry Maguire, both of whom are questionable for Saturday. United could be looking at the return of Marcus Rashford, though, which surely adds a boost to the offence and team morale.
Newcastle vs. Tottenham
Sunday, Oct. 17 at 11:30AM ET | Live stream
Result: Newcastle (+240), Draw (+260), Tottenham (+105)
Over/Under Goals: 2.5
A new era of Newcastle football is on the horizon after a depressing 14 years of mediocrity for the historic club… but it’s not quite everything the Magpie faithful could’ve dreamed of.
Owner Mike Ashley’s reign is over, and taking majority ownership are Saudi Arabian royals (along with a couple British minority owners), whose human rights track record is extremely questionable.
Loads and loads of money now back the club – Saudi Arabia’s sovereign fund has an estimated value of over $400 billion. So instead of dreaming about diamond-in-the-rough bargain purchases, Newcastle supporters can genuinely dream big. Names like Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Mesut Ozil and Raheem Sterling are already circulating.
Newcastle United now have the richest owners in the Premier League... by quite a distance 💸 pic.twitter.com/TAmM3pN4g6
— DAZN Canada (@DAZN_CA) October 7, 2021
Whatever they choose to do, the only direction is up.
Newcastle is winless in the Premier League this season, currently dwelling in 19th place, and manager Steve Bruce will be gone sooner rather than later.
Whether it’s Bruce, Lucien Favre, Antonio Conte or Frank Lampard on the sidelines come Sunday, Tottenham poses a difficult matchup for the Tyneside club to kick off its new era. Son Heung-min continues to prove he’s one of the top attacking threats in world football, while Harry Kane, who's still scoreless in the Premier League this season, is bound to open the floodgates at some point.
Still, Spurs are only in eighth place after a shaky start to the season, and perhaps Newcastle’s Allan Saint-Maximin, Miguel Almiron and crew can turn in a performance worthy of three points in front of new ownership at St. James’ Park.
Arsenal vs. Crystal Palace
Monday, Oct. 18 at 3:00PM ET | Live stream
Result: Arsenal (-167), Draw (+275), Crystal Palace (+500)
Over/Under Goals: 2.5
Patrick Viera is back in North London, set to face his long-time Arsenal from the sidelines as manager of Crystal Palace.
Though Arsenal’s home stadium is no longer the historic Highbury where Viera captained the Gunners to the only undefeated league campaign in the last century, it’s sure to be a dramatic homecoming for one of the “Invincibles” poster boys.
The Frenchman dove into a managerial career after retirement in 2011, with stints for New York City FC and OGC Nice, and rumours often circulated that he could be in the mix for the Arsenal job post-Arsène Wenger. But it’s a different former Gunner who’s basking in that glory right now… sort of.
After a pathetic start to the 2021-22 season that prompted a large portion of Gunners faithful to call for his head, Mikel Arteta has turned things around – and even won September’s Premier League Manager of the Month award.
Arsenal won three in a row after losing to Man City 5-0 in late August – including an emphatic 3-1 North London Derby victory.
🗣"Arsenal have their boot on the Tottenham throat!"
Aubameyang adds a superb second! 🎉 pic.twitter.com/mfkJS5wlj7
— DAZN Canada (@DAZN_CA) September 26, 2021
But neither Arteta nor the team can rest on their laurels.
Last week they drew Brighton & Hove Albion to drop points, and they’re still far from where they want to be, sitting 11th in the table. They’re heavily favoured against Viera’s Palace at home but haven’t won this fixture at the Emirates since Wenger left.
Watch for Bukayo Saka to build off his excellent form with the England national team and for new signing Takehiro Tomiyasu to continue impressing with the Gunners.
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