Ar­se­nal, Le­ices­ter look to bounce back

Chronicle (Zimbabwe) - - Sport Starts Here -

THE new sea­son kicked off in style last week­end, with last sea­son’s cham­pi­ons Le­ices­ter and sec­ond-placed Ar­se­nal both suf­fer­ing de­feats — the lat­ter, of course, to Liver­pool, 4-3, in the game of the week­end. That vic­tory was the ideal start for the Reds, who will have gained a huge amount of con­fi­dence from beat­ing one of their ri­vals away from home. Away from the drama at the Emi­rates, there were pre­dictable open­ing wins for Man City, Man United and Chelsea, as Pep Guardi­ola, Jose Mour­inho and An­to­nio Conte all started with three points. Le­ices­ter’s 2-1 de­feat to rel­e­ga­tion favourites Hull City was the shock re­sult of the week­end, with the cham­pi­ons sim­ply never get­ting go­ing. This week­end prom­ises to be full of yet more en­ter­tain­ment, con­tro­versy and talk­ing points, with 10 matches of dif­fer­ing ap­peal on of­fer. It is easy to get car­ried away about one de­feat, but both Le­ices­ter and Ar­se­nal will have felt pretty down in the dumps last week­end. The Foxes’ de­feat to Hull was a real sur­prise, while Ar­se­nal’s even­tual 4-3 de­feat against Liver­pool was prob­a­bly gen­er­ous on them. At one stage, it looked as though the Reds could score six or seven. Le­ices­ter and Ar­se­nal are badly in need of a re­sponse when they meet this evening, with two de­feats on the spin fairly un­think­able for both. Less is ex­pected of Le­ices­ter this sea­son, in fair­ness, but an­other loss for Ar­se­nal would really get the vul­tures cir­cling around Arsene Wenger. We for­ever ques­tion whether for­eign play­ers and man­agers could han­dle ‘ a cold Tues­day night in Stoke’, but Pep Guardi­ola has dodged a bul­let in that re­spect as he takes his Man City side to the Bri­tan­nia Sta­dium to­day.

A 5-0 win in mid­week against Steaua Bucharest showed ex­actly what City are ca­pa­ble of this sea­son, but Stoke are likely to give them a far tougher game.

This is the first real test of Guardi­ola’s cre­den­tials in Eng­land, with away matches in Eng­land’s top-flight so of­ten tricky af­fairs, plenty of new man­agers have come un­done in the past with such fix­tures. Stoke will fancy their chances of caus­ing an up­set.

Over the last decade or so, if not more, Liver­pool’s Achilles heel has been beat­ing the weaker clubs, rather than their clos­est ri­vals.

So of­ten, they do the hard work and win at Old Traf­ford or the Emi­rates, as was the case last week­end, be­fore fol­low­ing it up with a poor per­for­mance against lesser op­po­si­tion.

The vic­tory over Ar­se­nal was a thrilling re­sult, and one that still feels good nearly a week later, but Jur­gen Klopp’s men sim­ply must back it up with a win at Burn­ley to­day.

Klopp has dis­cussed the need for con­sis­tency and two wins on the bounce at the start of the cam­paign would set us in the right di­rec­tion.

It will all feel very flat if Liver­pool don’t go to Turf Moor and pick up three points — if we have top four as­pi­ra­tions, we have to be win­ning these games.— thi­sisan­

Caster Se­menya

Arsene Wenger and Clau­dio Ranieri

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