After the week was filled with domestic cup and European fixtures, the Premier League continues into its third week and that can only mean we’re back for a round of predictions.
I hate to be the one to remind you, but last week wasn’t a good one at all for Liverpool as the Reds were out muscled 2-0 at Turf Moor to newly promoted Burnley.
The second round of the 2016/17 season began with a bright Friday night at Old Trafford, where a Zlatan Ibrahimovic lead Manchester United beat Southampton 2-0. Saturday’s action saw United’s neighbours Manchester City cruise past Stoke City at the Bet365 Stadium before Chelsea, Everton and surprisingly enough Hull City continued unbeaten starts to their season, earning three points each away from home.
Liverpool’s opponents this weekend, Tottenham Hotspur, also grabbed three points at home to Crystal Palace and title holders Leicester City recorded a goalless draw at the King Power Stadium against Arsenal – a result that meant both sides did little to change, what has been, a poor start to their respective campaigns. On Sunday, newly promoted Middlesbrough defeated Sunderland in the Tees–Wear derby before West Ham United opened up their account at their new London stadium with a 1-0 win over Bournemouth.
Heading into this weekend, there will obviously be sides who seek to continue with their positive starts to the season. However, it’ll be anything but easy, especially if those sides will be facing the eight that are still without a victory in the Premier League thus far. An improved tally of six results were correctly predicted last week so here I go again, looking to do better.
Tottenham Hotspur vs Liverpool
This is a big match to start off the weekend and a great opportunity for both sides to build on their early season confidence.
I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again: if Liverpool are to earn a place in the top four come the end of the season, taking three points off sides like Tottenham Hotspur will be imperative as the Lily Whites will no doubt be competing for Champions League football.
It’s not been a very bright start to the season for Mauricio Pochettino’s men. Sure, they’ve collected 4 points from two games but a closer look at those two matches would suggest that it’s taken a while for them to get going in the context of scoring goals – Spurs have scored only two goals in their opening two matches.
That can obviously change in an instant with Harry Kane on the pitch, but it could work to Liverpool’s advantage if they can keep them at arms length this weekend, as Everton and Crystal Palace managed to do for some time in their previous games.
I always seem to fancy Liverpool in these big games because unlike Burnley, sides like Spurs are always going to bring it, making the game a lot more open. Add to that the fact that Spurs haven’t won any of their previous six encounters against the Reds and the travelling Kopites may have more than one reason to feel bullish about their
chances at White Hart Lane.
But, I’m predicting a scored draw. I think it will be a tight affair and with all the attacking talent on the pitch, either side can surely win it but I just think there won’t be much to separate us in the end.
Prediction: Tottenham Hotspur 1-1 Liverpool
Chelsea vs Burnley
I can only see Chelsea’s one hundred percent start to the season continuing here.
It’s almost hilarious how I called for Burnley to start scoring goals last week and both their strikers get off the mark against Liverpool and they did just that. Sam Vokes and André Gray will once again pose a threat against the Blues and I’ll insist that their EFL Cup exit on Wednesday night is a blessing in disguise as it allows them to focus solely on their survival campaign.
Either way, Chelsea will already have an attacking threat of their own presented by in-form strikers Diego Costa and Michy Batshuayi, who have started their season brightly. They’ll surely be on hand to earn their side another win here.
Prediction: Chelsea 2-0 Burnley
Everton vs Stoke City
These two sides put together a brilliant game at Goodison Park last year, with Stoke the eventual winners by the odd goal in seven.
I have my doubts about whether it can happen again and I’m tipping Everton to a home win. Manager Ronald Koeman only added quality and plenty of fire-power with the signing of Yannick Bolasie from Crystal Palace and if he can convince Romelu Lukaku to stay, it would do his plans for the season the world of good.
As for Stoke, is it fair to say that they were handed a tough start to their campaign?
I mean, they had to travel to a newly-promoted outfit for their opening match and those fixtures can be unpredictable at best. Manchester City was always going to be a hard one and now they’ve got a confident Toffees side at Goodison before hosting Spurs after the international break. I think it’s going to be hard for them to build on the point they earned at Middlesbrough two weeks ago.
Everton are only going to grow under a manager like Koeman so perhaps the Red side of Merseyside may be looking across Stanley Park every now and then. I’m backing the Blues to get a home win.
Prediction: Everton 3-1 Stoke City
Crystal Palace vs AFC Bournemouth
Crystal Palace and Bournemouth have made very bad starts to the season. The Eagles and the Cherries have lost both their opening games so this makes for an interesting clash.
I think EFL Cup wins in midweek for both sides will encourage them to go for that first win in the Premier League and there will definitely be lessons to be learned from their first two Premier League outings.
I think Palace will come out the better of the two in this test. Alan Pardew finally has a striker in Christian Benteke, whom he can rely on to score goals but as defender Damien Delaney rather bluntly said this week, Benteke is no Messi and will need a lot of supply from his new teammates. With strikers such as Andros Townsend and Wilfried Zaha playing down the wings, I think he’ll get plenty at that.
That said, I’m predicting a win for the Eagles and I’ll take a step further and predict that Benteke will score his first for them.
Prediction: Crystal Palace 2-1 Bournemouth
Leicester City vs Swansea
This match may just present the perfect opportunity for champions Leicester to get their season up and running, after losing and drawing their first two games of the season.
Swansea were stunned by Hull City last week, losing 2-0 to the Tigers. It may not have been entirely obvious in their first outing of the season at Burnley, but I think they already miss the leadership and defensive prowess of former captain Ashley Williams. Francesco Guidolin must look to replace him, otherwise days like their last visit to the King Power Stadium (when the Swans were thrashed 4-0) may start coming regularly.
I’m predicting a home win for Leicester. I think Swansea are still light in defence and that can only be a positive for strikers Jamie Vardy and Riyad Mahrez, who owe the Foxes a match winning performance on Saturday.
Prediction: Leicester City 2-0 Swansea City
Southampton vs Sunderland
It’s never what football fans want to hear but Sunderland, as re-iterated by David Moyes in midweek, are already in for a relegation fight.
Two games, two defeats. That’s how their season looks thus far and I don’t think a trip to St.Mary’s is going to produce anything different. I was very disappointed with their loss in the Tees-Wear derby last week as it was the kind of match they just had to win. Moyes has it all to do now.
Southampton were simply outclassed against Manchester United last Friday but I fancy them for this home tie. Claude Puel is still strengthening his squad with Lille midfielder Sofiane Boufal reportedly set to join for a club record fee. A complete squad will be useful for the French boss given their participation in the Europa League.
I think the Saints will get their first win of the season in this match. Sunderland can be disastrous on their day and I’m backing the attacking talent of Southampton to cruise past them.
Prediction: Southampton 3-0 Sunderland
Watford vs Arsenal
Watford crashed out of the EFL Cup in midweek, losing 2-1 to Gillingham.
The Hornets haven’t made a good start under new boss Walter Mazzarri, as they’re without a win in three games in all competitions. Part of the problem has been their defence, which has let in some poor goals and their strikers haven’t got off the mark in the league yet.
Arsenal still haven’t made a new signing despite frustrated calls from their supporters to do so. I think Arsené Wenger needs to give them what they want before deadline day because his squad is still not fit and strong enough to challenge for the Premier League title. They’re not even guaranteed a win at Vicarage Road, such is the unpredictable
nature of this league.
I think Watford will hold the Gunners to a draw here. Wenger’s side have a good record against their opponents but I think the fact that their squad still has holes in it may play to the Hornets’ advantage.
Prediction: Watford 1-1 Arsenal
West Bromwich Albion vs Middlesbrough
Aitor Karanka’s men continued a decent start to their season last week with a 2-1 victory at rivals Sunderland. Once again, I was impressed by them and for the first time this season, I actually fancy them to get something out of the match.
West Brom score a lot of goals from set-piece situations. Their two goals in the Premier League so far have come from a corner and a free-kick and though their aerial prowess may be a strength, I think they need a striker with some flair. Someone who can create as well as score goals regularly because they’re surely not going to win all their games with corners and free-kicks, are they?
Tony Pulis has that man in Saido Berahino, however, the striker has wanted nothing to do with the club for a while now. With that being the case, I think the Baggies’ move for Southampton’s Jay Rodriguez will yield good fortune as the Englishman fits the aforementioned profile.
Either way, I’m going to predict that this one ends in a draw. I just think Boro will offer a good challenge for the Baggies at home but as we all know, they’re a difficult side to beat.
Prediction: West Bromwich Albion 1-1 Middlesbrough
Hull City vs Manchester United
This is a continuation of what has been a fortunate start for Manchester United. Looking at their fixture list at the start of the season, with Bournemouth and Southampton standing in their way, I always expected them to make a good start (that comes with an apology to my Red friends) and I don’t see this clash with Hull City changing that.
I wonder if backing the Tigers to a win in this match would be crazy or reasonable because they’ve been the surprise package of the first two weeks of Premier League football for me. Both of their wins over champions Leicester and Swansea were largely unexpected and they could have a few more rabbits in their hat to pull out.
But, I’m going to resist the urge and predict a win for our rivals. Once again, they were handed a very fortunate start to the season and will surely have too much for their opponents again on Saturday evening – Though, I would love to be proven wrong.
Prediction: Hull City 0-3 Manchester United
Manchester City vs West Ham United
Manchester City qualified for the Champions League in midweek after a 6-0 aggregate victory over Steaua Bucharest. That was obviously a target under new boss Pep Guardiola and now that it’s reached, it gives them plenty of confidence that their other targets under the Spaniard can be achieved.
Their opponents, West Ham enjoyed a good first day at the London Stadium last week and I think Slaven Bilic is not quite done with putting his squad together. The Hammers boss even admitted his interest in signing City’s Wilfried Bony and I think he’d represent a great signing for them.
But that’s a story for a different day and Sunday will be their main focus after playing in a Europa League play-off on Thursday night.
The Hammers beat City 2-1 at the Etihad last season but I think this one will go the way of the home side in the end. I think Man City’s quality will shine through on the way to a 3-1 win.
Prediction: Manchester City 3-1 West Ham United