Changing of the guard - This Saturday by 5pm?

So the International break finally draws to a close and the Premier League returns this weekend.  Liverpool host Newcastle in the gamblers cursed early kick-off.  Norwich host Manchester City in what is sure to be a free-flowing game of football.  Super Sunday consists of Bournemouth v Everton and Watford v Arsenal.  The weekend's games are rounded off at Villa Park on Monday night where West Ham are the visitors looking to improve upon a record of just two wins in 15 premier league meetings at Villa Park, stretching back to 1999.

However there are a couple of games kicking off at the traditional Saturday 3pm slot that interest me this week.  With the 'Big 6' occupying the said top six positions in the league the past three seasons, there had been quiet whispers that some of the chasing pack were going to close the gap, maybe even surpass the status quo this coming season.  Two of the sides mentioned face off against 'top six' opposition this weekend.  Wolves host Frank Lampard's Chelsea and Leicester travel to Old Trafford.  Leicester were one of the last two sides to break into the traditional top six, with that fairytale title winning season back in 2015/16 still in the minds of every football fan today.  Southampton were of course the other side that season to break into the top 6, finishing 6th after an impressive season which seen them beat Man City and Tottenham in the closing weeks of the season and finish just 3 points off the top four.  But now on to the featured games:

Let me start with the home side.  I personally think any fan of the red half of Manchester was expecting more from the start to this season.  The defeat at home to Crystal Palace was a bitter blow after equalizing so late on.  They have seen their side take the lead on the other two blemishes so far, away at Southampton and Wolves.  It is not all doom and gloom though with the 4-0 win on the opening day against Chelsea propping the side up to 8th in the table after four games.  That game showed that if given the time and space to hurt you on the counter attack, this is still a dangerous side.  There are question marks over Martial, Wan-Bissaka, Pogba and Lingard among others, giving Ole a potential selection headache this weekend.  It is expected the majority of these will be fit to play.  One impressive stat for United fans is Man United have won 9 of their last 10 home matches against Leicester in all competitions.  The goal will be to get that stat into double figures. I will be intrigued to see how Harry Maguire gets on against Jamie Vardy.  Maguire has made a solid start to the season for his new club but hasn't gone up against someone like old team-mate Vardy.  Will Daniel James continue his form against one of the two proven full backs in Chilwell and Pereira?

You can see Ole back at the wheel here as Man United beat Chelsea 4-0 on the opening day

On to Leicester and Brendan Rodgers has built an impressive and exciting team since he joined the club in February.  Granted many of the players were already at the club, he has lifted the shackles off the players placed on them under Claude Puel.  There were question marks over the defence when Maguire left for this weekend's opponents but Soyuncu has slotted in seamlessly.  I can't see Johnny Evans, an ex-red himself, as a long term solution but he is only 31 and is playing well alongside Soyuncu so far.  My most major concern for Leicester is their squad depth because they have a very strong looking starting XI.  I'd give Leicester the beatings of their opponents in midfield if Pogba doesn't play and up front Vardy is on fire so I'd say there is more than quiet confidence among Leicester fans that they could improve upon an abysmal record of 2 wins in 26 Premier League meetings with the red devils.  Presuming Brendan Rodgers decides to go with a 4-1-4-1 formation with Maddison out left, an interesting battle with Wan-Bissaka (if fit) will be worth a watch.  All that is missing so far for Leicester is a scalp against one of the top sides to prove their credentials this season, after missing a golden opportunity in the 1-1 draw at Stamford Bridge earlier this season.

Watch this - Jamie Vardy scores a stunning chip to put Leicester on their way to victory against Bournemouth

Ole Gunnar Solksjaer will give an update on Friday morning on the availability of his players so this game might be easier to analyse then, but if Leicester turn up at their best, there is a real possibility they could leave with more than a point.  For Manchester United, a lot will depend on Paul Pogba.  I do believe he will be the difference in this game, one way or the other.  Ndidi has had an excellent start to the season bar his mistake against Chelsea, where he also fully redeemed himself with a bullet header, and it will be his job to keep tabs on Pogba when he bursts forward.  Maguire vs. Vardy, Ndidi vs. Pogba and Maddison vs. Wan Bissaka will be the key battles to watch out for.  This is an extremely difficult game to predict without fully knowing the team news at Man United but I'm going for a high scoring draw, both sides utilizing the counter attack in a fast paced game.

So it has been a winless start to the Premier League season for Wolves.  Nuno Espirito Santa has guided his side into the Europa League group stages and the noise around at the moment is that the Europa League has already stretched the squad.  Nonsense.  It's been a difficult start, but by no means should alarm bells be ringing.  Draws against Leicester and Man United are not a time to get worried, although three points would have been expected at home to Burnley, who themselves have looked solid up to the home defeat by Liverpool.  Winning both legs in the Europa League playoff round against Torino was highly impressive for a side playing Championship football the season before last.  The 3-2 defeat at Everton would have hurt after drawing level with just 15 minutes to go but the season has not long started, even for Wolves, so the players are fit and fresh and ready to go.  The real test will come when the Europa League starts proper.  It will be interesting to see how the new signings, Cutrone in particular, get on as the season gathers pace.  Sometimes it's easy to forget Wolves were newly promoted last year and are now playing in Europe, but they will be relishing the chance to claim a scalp at home against Chelsea, considering they are undefeated in their last 10 Premier League home matches.

Wolves win a five goal thriller in Turin

Where to start with Chelsea so far this season? - Entertaining coming from a neutral standpoint,  errors galore, emerging talent and a club legend overseeing this and more.  Slipping up to Sheffield United was a massive disappointment and there are no ways to sugar-coat it.  The blues led 2-0 and a Kurt Zouma own goal salvaged a last minute point for the blades.  Sheffield United have started well this season but it was a game Chelsea needed to win and should have.  People are pointing to the emergence of Mason Mount and Tammy Abraham who have shown they have a future at this club, but a club like Chelsea needs results.  Leicester should have taken all three points at the Bridge, while Man United punished Chelsea late on at Old Trafford.  Super Frank just does not seem to have the right balance yet but I don't think he's far away.  Emerson out for this one at left back will be a loss; I have been really impressed with him so far this season.  When Hudson-Odoi and Kante are back fully fit I think we will see a better Chelsea side.  There is a lot more to come, however, I feel we may have to wait and be patient to see the best of it.  Thankfully for Chelsea, it's a club legend at the helm and he may just get that time.

Watch as Abraham bangs in two goals only for Chelsea to be pegged back by Sheffield United

Again, I see goals.  Boly out suspended will be a miss for Wolves, but I am still tipping them for a victory this weekend.  Neves and Moutinho will run the midfield and Dendonker is slowly improving and his game should complement the duo.  With a vibrant, energetic attack Chelsea will get on the score sheet but I can't see it being enough - Wolves to win and both teams to score.

Maybe not quite a changing of the guard, but a promising weekend ahead for Wolves fans in particular.  That is of course if I am right, but we all know by now the Premier League follows no rules, just ask Leicester fans.

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