The 2016-17 Premier League season continues this week with Matchday 2, and Sportsnet will have live coverage of five games:
Friday, August 19
• Manchester United vs. Southampton, 2 p.m. ET / 11 a.m. PT (Sportsnet World)
Saturday, August 20
• Liverpool vs. Burnley, 9:30 a.m. ET / 6:30 a.m. PT (Sportsnet ONE)
• Watford vs. Chelsea, 9:30 a.m. ET / 6:30 a.m. PT (Sportsnet World)
• West Bromwich Albion vs. Everton, 9:30 a.m. ET / 6:30 a.m. PT (Sportsnet World NOW)
Sunday, August 21
• West Ham United vs. AFC Bournemouth, 10:30 a.m. ET / 7:30 a.m. PT (Sportsnet World)
You can also follow all of the Premier League action this weekend online with SPORTSNET’S LIVE MATCH TRACKER featuring commentary from Sportsnet’s James Sharman.
Here’s what you need to know ahead of this weekend…
THE BIG GAME
For the second week in a row Arsenal will be involved in a marquee matchup when they pay a visit to reigning Premier League champions Leicester City.
Both sides are coming off disappointing losses: Arsenal dropped a 4-3 decision at home to Liverpool, while Hull City upset visiting Leicester 2-1.
The Foxes are the first reigning top-flight English champion to lose its opening game since Arsenal in 1989. No defending champion has started the following season with two straight losses since Aston Villa in 1981.
The Gunners will also try to avoid making dubious history, as they haven’t lost their opening two league games since the inaugural Premier League season in 1992-93.
Robert Huth is back from suspension for Leicester, while Laurent Koscielny, Mesut Ozil and Olivier Giroud could all return for Arsenal after facing fitness issues.
PLAYER TO WATCH
Philippe Coutinho: The Brazilian is coming off a man-of-the-match performance for Liverpool in last week’s win away to Arsenal—he scored two goals, set up another, and was a one-man wrecking crew against the Gunners’ back line. Look for the Brazilian to continue his brilliant form on Saturday morning when the Reds visit newly-promoted Burnley.
LLORIS OUT FOR SPURS
Tottenham suffered an early setback in the season when captain and starting goalkeeper Hugo Lloris picked up an injury in last week’s 1-1 draw at Everton.
The Frenchman had to be subbed out in the first half with a left hamstring problem, and he is expected to miss the next four weeks of action.
In the meantime, look for backup and former Swansea City star Michel Vorm to start in net this weekend when Spurs host Crystal Palace.
HART NO HIS WAY OUT AT MAN CITY?
England No. 1 Joe Hart was dropped to the bench for Manchester City’s first two competitive games this season under new manager Pep Guardiola in favour of backup Willy Caballero.
Hart’s demotion, combined with the fact that City has been linked with Barcelona goalkeeper Claudio Bravo, has led to speculation that Hart could be on his way out.
Asked during a Friday press conference in Hart can leave, Guardiola answered, “yes, of course. I want happiness for the players. I don’t want the players to stay here if they don’t want to stay.”
Ahead of every weekend this season, Sportsnet commentator James Sharman will give his three thoughts on what’s going on in the Premier League. These might not always be the biggest stories, but rather his personal observations as the games approach each Saturday.
Here’s an excerpt from this week’s blog…
Pep Guardiola arrived in England with the reputation of being a tactical genius, a man intent on reinventing the tactical wheel. For me, what has stood out so far is the transformation of Raheem Sterling. He was City’s best player in the first week, which considering how he ended last season and essentially wilted at Euro 2016 for England is rather impressive. Pep loves his projects, and it appears Sterling is his latest.
To read the full blog, CLICK HERE.
THE BIG QUESTION
Liverpool was brilliant in attack last week, scoring four goals away to Arsenal. But the Reds also conceded three times, and Alberto Moreno had a nightmare of a game.
All of which leads us to ask “The Big Question”…
Is Liverpool’s defence holding them back from being contenders?
Sportsnet wants to know what you think, so have your say by voting in the poll. Then tune in to Sportsnet’s Premier League coverage this weekend as soccer commentators James Sharman, Craig Forrest and Danny Dichio debate “The Big Question.”
HE SAID IT
“I have been in some of the biggest clubs in the world. This is like the top of my career, but it comes in the early stage of my career. Because, as a manager, I am really young, and I think I have the best years of my career to come up. Fifty-three plus 15 is 68, so I would say 14, 15, 16 more years, but I don’t see myself going home before 70.” – Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho to Sky Sports.