A composite of the top 8 EPL teams that will benefit or suffer due to the International break this weekend:
Manchester City – Hurt
While it seems like nothing can hurt the league table leaders right now, the international lull could cause City to become complacent in their number 1 spot. It is vital that they return from the break just as hungry as they’ve started out the first four weeks of the season.
Crystal Palace – Help
Crystal Palace has the opportunity to use the weekend to their full advantage and conduct extra studies of their next opponent Manchester City. While City has everything to lose coming into the match-up Crystal Palace is on a tremendous upswing jumping from fifth in the table to second in the last two weeks. If they come out rested, prepared, and hungry they may be the first team to beat Manchester City this year.
Leicester City – Help
The foxes were off to a solid start this season with two strong victories. Unfortunately their last two outings have resulted in draws causing them to let Crystal Palace sneak in front of them. Time off should help the offense to work out the kinks and get back some of the magic from their first two weeks.
Swansea City – Push
It’s hard to say how Swansea will handle the break. On one hand they are riding high off of a major victory over Manchester United and Gomis and Ayew are firing on all cylinders. The other reality is that Swansea have failed to string together back-to-back wins yet this season. The international break may wobble some of the wheels on the dynamic offense they’ve been capable of generating thus far.
Manchester United – Help
The international break should give the Red Devils time to lick their wounds and get fired up about long-time rivals Liverpool. Expect Van Gaal to conduct a relaxed weekend and have his men come into the practice week tenacious. United want to be at the top of the table, and they would love to run through Liverpool to get there.
Arsenal – Hurt
Wenger’s men have been on the upswing since their week 1 debacle against West Ham, but be wary of them coming back from the break in such a high form. Their first match back is Stoke City. If the weekend break is a little too good to the players that lethargy may carry over into practice and preparation for the number eighteen seed. Everyone in the club knows that they should win the next match-up, and thinking like that sometimes leads to slovenly preparation.
Liverpool – Help
Liverpool enters the weekend with the taste of blood in their mouth after a nightmare of a loss to West Ham. The break will help them to channel all the animosity of their last loss toward their next match-up. Conveniently that match-up is against Manchester United, an encounter heralded as one of the oldest and most famous rivalries in all of football. The feud dates back to the industrial ages, so expect Liverpool to heap the extra gasoline from their previous defeat onto the inferno going into Week 5.
West Ham United – Push
It’s hard to know what this West Ham team will do. Their victories have been brilliant high-scoring affairs. Their defeats (including surrendering Bournemouth’s first victory) have been brutal. They enter the break coming off a big win over Liverpool, but their next match-up is a tough (albeit struggling) Newcastle United. West Ham haven’t been able to consistently hammer the opposition yet, and if the club underestimates the magpies it could be in trouble.