Several of England’s traditional powers will have to deal with potentially tricky challenges this weekend, as the English Premier League returns from the international break.
In what could be the weekend’s most impactful match on the Premier League at this point in the season, Manchester United plays host to Leicester City on Saturday.
United Struggling to Find Results
After shocking the world by winning the Premier League in the 2015-2016 season, Leicester have remained a solid club, but have never come close to recapturing that kind of success. The side is once again out to a strong start, grabbing eight points in its first four matches to sit in third place on the EPL table, behind only Liverpool and Manchester City.
Meanwhile, Manchester United have been a little more tepid. After a demonstrative 4-0 win over Chelsea to open the season, the Red Devils have only managed two draws and a home loss to Crystal Palace, leaving them sitting in eighth place after four weeks.
That sluggish start has put pressure on manager Ole Gunnar Solskajer, who appeared to have the team moving in the right direction when he took over midway through last season. And while expectations will be high for United on Saturday, Solskajer knows there are no guarantees against a side that has proven it can compete with the best.
“Leicester is always a tough game, as a team, a club wanting to push into the top four,” Solskajer told reporters. “They’ve got good players, a good manager, a proven top manager, Brendan’s teams always play good football and we’ve got to play well to get the three points.”
Bookmakers think it is an open question as to whether United will be able to escape with a win at home. FanDuel Sportsbook gives the hosts +100 odds of grabbing the victory, while Leicester is only a +280 underdog to pull off an upset, and a draw (+240) is seen as a strong possibility.
Chelsea, Wolves Off to Slow Premier League Starts
A similar matchup pits Wolverhampton at home vs. Chelsea. Both sides will feel that they have underperformed so far this Premier League season: the Wolves have just three points and have yet to earn a win, while Chelsea sits in 11th place with just five points from four matches.
That makes this an ideal time for Chelsea to hit a struggling Wolves side, and push their way back up the table. But, Chelsea manager Frank Lampard is wary that the Wanderers will wake up sooner rather than later.
“Great record against the so-called bigger teams last season for a reason, because they defend so well, counterattack so quickly,” Lampard said at a press conference. “We need to be ready on all levels because their record has been good recently.”
Chelsea (+145) are a slight favorite over the Wolves (+190), but this is undoubtedly a match in which none of the three possible results would come as a shock.
Arsenal will face its own challenge on Sunday when the Gunners travel to take on Watford. While Watford is off to a dreadful start with just a single point so far in four matches, oddsmakers say there’s still plenty to play for, with Arsenal only getting even money odds of walking away with a win over the Premier League’s 20th-place club.
England’s other top clubs are heavily favored this weekend. Liverpool (-750) should have no trouble at home against Newcastle (+1700), while Manchester City (-900) is expected to get three points at Norwich (+1700). Tottenham (-280) should see a bit more resistance, but is still expected to get the three points at home against Crystal Palace (+750).