Norwich v Stoke – Kick-Off (BST) 13:30
The afternoon begins with Norwich v Stoke, a match which sees two teams who picked up somewhat unlikely draws during last week’s opening game.
Stoke were impressive in shutting out high-flying Chelsea and look to be on course for another good Premier League season based on solid defence and an ability to pick up goals from set pieces and rare forays into opposition territory. Norwich, having come up from the Championship in the summer, were pleased to get off the mark with a 1-1 draw against Wigan.
As Wigan showed yesterday – in drawing 0-0 with Swansea – however, they are more likely to feature in a relegation scrap than the battle for European places that Stoke might find themselves in, come the season’s end, so Norwich must be right up to their best to get a result from their first Premier League home match.
Expect Stoke to be as tight as ever at the back, but also to pick up at least one goal at the other end. Whether or not Norwich are able to find a response will dictate their points return in this match: fail to score, and they will most likely get nought from this match at Carrow Road.
Wolverhampton v Fulham – Kick-Off (BST) 14:00
Mick McCarthy’s Wolves are on something of a run of better form, which, from the end of the 2010/11 season, saw them pick up their first ever Premier League victory after having gone a goal behind at Blackburn last week. They’ll be on a high from that match, so visiting Fulham could well have their work cut out.
That said, Fulham’s stingy defence proved a tough nut for Wolves’ neighbours, Aston Villa, to crack last week, so the home team will be desperate to get on the score-sheet in this match. If they do, they must also be better than normal in defence, for Fulham possess real ability at the other end, too, and have more than enough able players in Dempsey, Andrew Johnson and co to bag at least one against a team which employs Wolves’ somewhat gung-ho style.
This exciting prospect could easily be played three times back-to-back and produce all three different results, however, for the form both teams carry into this match, a score draw looks on the cards today at Molineux.
Bolton v Man City – Kick-Off (BST) 16:00
Two teams from the North West of England meet after each produced a stunning 4-0 win to share the provisional lead of the Premier League after opening weekend.
If one team can win out in this interesting encounter at the Reebok Stadium, Bolton, there’s every chance that team will be the only in the league with a 100% record – at least until Manchester United play Spurs at Old Trafford on Monday evening – so there’s real incentive for every player to put in a good shift in the last match of Sunday afternoon.
Manchester City, with their ever increasing squad of international superstars, would obviously be the favourites for this match, though, as Bolton showed last week, Owen Coyle’s men have real quality of their own: a tight defence now appears to be coupled with a more creative and free-scoring front-line.
City should win this one, but the longer Bolton can shut them out, the more things will swing in their favour: Wanderers have more than a puncher’s chance.
Barclays Premier League 2011/12 Fixtures, Sunday 21 August 2011
- Norwich v Stoke – Kick-Off (BST) 13:30
- Wolverhampton v Fulham – Kick-Off (BST) 14:00
- Bolton v Man City – Kick-Off (BST) 16:00