The Premier League is back and better than ever, with everything from high scoring drama to unexpected transfers. With the first matchweek wrapped up, matchweek two features a London derby and a battle of potential contenders. Let’s take a look at the huge news out of North London, then the week of games to come.
Tottenham’s Transfer Coup
Gareth Bale has always been the one that got away for Tottenham Hotspur. When he left to Real Madrid in 2013 for a record fee, Spurs couldn’t seem to replace him. The likes of Nacer Chadli, Georges-Kévin Nkoudou and Érik Lamela were all brought in with that goal in mind, but only Lamela is left, and he’s far from the talent Bale ever was. Now, seven years later, Gareth Bale will be replacing Gareth Bale at N17.
While there’s fear he isn’t the player he was—injuries and attitude were a problem throughout his time in Madrid—Spurs supporters can’t help but feel optimistic. Since he left White Hart Lane, he’s won the league twice and the Champions League four times with Madrid. José Mourinho will hope that he can bring in the winning mentality Spurs have lacked over the last decade.
Bale did have offers elsewhere. Manchester United had interest, but according to Bale’s agent, Tottenham “is where Bale wants to be.” He isn’t the only player United were interested in who is joining Spurs instead. Young left-back Sergio Reguilón will be joining Bale on a flight from Madrid to London. With Danny Rose seeking a permanent exit, Reguilón will likely take the starting role from Ben Davies.
There were also rumors of struggling Spurs midfielder Dele Alli going to Madrid as part of the Bale deal, but that appears to be off the table. Bale and Reguilón will likely be officially announced Friday, but it is unknown if they will be available for Sunday’s match. That match takes place at Southampton, where Gareth Bale rose through the youth ranks and began his professional career.
Matchweek Two Headliners
The match of the week is Sunday’s midday (ET) match between heavyweights Chelsea and Liverpool. Last year’s champions will be looking to bounce back after a shaky first match that saw them limp past newly promoted Leeds 4-3. That match in West London will be unlikely to see American star Christian Pulisic. Chelsea’s new number 10 has been struggling with a hamstring injury since August’s FA Cup final.
Saturday, Liverpool’s first opponent of the season takes on Chelsea’s local rival, as Leeds United and Fulham clash in a battle of the newly promoted. While Leeds impressed in defeat week one, Fulham looked like an early relegation candidate. They lost 3-0 to Arsenal.
The late game Saturday sees Arsenal in a London derby against West Ham United. West Ham were held scoreless by Newcastle, who are predicted to finish near the bottom of the table. Arsenal will likely be rejuvenated by the news of star attacker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang signing a new contract, keeping him at the club for three more years.
Monday night (or evening for Americans) football sees Manchester City take on Wolverhampton Wanderers. Wolves rolled to an easy win matchweek one against Sheffield United, but matchweek two gives them a whole new challenge. City have yet to play a match in the Premier League this season, as the late finish to the Champions League meant they got an extra week’s break. This year seems to be title or bust for them, so they should be firing on all cylinders this week.
TGH’s Premier League preview and prediction said Liverpool didn’t add any pieces, but they really didn’t need to. Well that’s changed. The Merseyside club added recent Champions League-winning midfielder Thiago Alcantara to their already stacked side. They got him for well below market value, only £20 million, thanks to his Bayern contract expiring at the end of the season. Manchester United were also in talks with the German giants for the Spanish midfielder, but they were put off by his £200,000 a week wage demands.
Old talent may have to make way, though. Dutchman Georginio Wijnaldum has caught the eye of his countryman Ronald Koeman, who is the new Barcelona manager. Koeman is likely very familiar with Wijnaldum, thanks to his time managing the Dutch national team and Liverpool’s rival Everton. The Dutch midfielder has only a year on his contract, so it would be business smart for Liverpool to let him go now before he goes for free.
Return of the Fans
“Premier League clubs have urged the government to remain committed to the scheduled controlled return of fans on October 1 following a virtual meeting on Thursday,” Sky Sports report. It’s unsurprising that clubs are willing to risk fans in stadiums, as they have already lost a massive amount of revenue. There’s no word on whether or not the government will agree, but one thing is for sure, the game’s not the same without the fans.
Full Matchweek Two Fixture List
Everton vs West Brom 7:30 am ET
Leeds vs Fulham 10:00 am ET
Manchester United vs Crystal Palace 12:30 pm ET
Arsenal vs West Ham 3:00 pm ET
Southampton vs Tottenham 7:00 am ET
Newcastle vs Brighton 9:00 am ET
Chelsea vs Liverpool 11:30 am ET
Leicester City vs Burnley 2:00 pm ET
Aston Villa vs Sheffield United 1:00 pm ET
Wolves vs Manchester City 3:15 pm ET
All matches can be found on the NBC family of networks and their new streaming service, Peacock, in the states.
Make sure to check out our EPL page for more updates!