It’s that time of the week again when we build up to the latest round of matches in the Premier League, with our very own prediction game!
Round seven opened with the third Friday night match of the season, which saw Everton draw 1-1 and miss their chance to become the early pace-setters after they hosted Crystal Palace. Liverpool will look to keep their momentum going with a win at Swansea City whilst other notable fixtures see winless Sunderland face West Bromwich Albion, before a top-of-the-table clash at Tottenham, who welcome unbeaten Manchester City.
You may still be dealing with a hang-over from a brilliant round of European fixtures in midweek, so here’s a reminder of how round six of the Premier League unfolded last week: Manchester United returned to winning ways with a rousing victory over champions Leicester before rivals City, Liverpool, Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur enjoyed respective wins, in what was a goal-mouth action weekend for the big boys.
Elsewhere, Everton suffered their first loss of the season while West Ham United and Sunderland’s poor runs continued with respective defeats at the hands of Southampton and Crystal Palace. Stoke City and West Brom shared the spoils before Burnley closed the round with an impressive 2-0 victory over Watford.
Winning will be especially vital this weekend as the English top flight’s 20 sides will each look to enter the international break with that all-important three points, however, it’s a cruel case of “many are called, few are chosen”, which begs the question, who will enter the international break on a high?
With five results correctly predicted last week, let’s see if I can correctly determine that this time around.
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Swansea City vs Liverpool
Last season, Liverpool were on the wrong side of a 3-1 scoreline at the Liberty Stadium. With a Europa League campaign to focus on, Jürgen Klopp’s squad was rather depleted on the day, but this time around the tables have definitely turned.
Swansea lost, arguably, two of their best players in André Ayew and Ashley Williams in the Summer and I don’t think anybody should look beyond them two when detailing exactly why Francesco Guidolin’s side have struggled this season and why the Italian is in the firing line, with former Manchester United assistant manager Ryan Giggs reportedly lined-up to replace him.
Liverpool bring a full-strength squad to south Wales and Reds fans could wax lyrical all day about just how good these boys have been performing lately but I feel compelled to give a mention to summer signing Sadio Mané.
If anything, he’s been the Premier League’s best buy and winning the PFA player of the month award for August and September this week very much confirmed that. But as mentioned by Klopp, both Mané and his teammates must look to build on this good start and victory against the Swans is the only way to achieve that ahead of, what should be, an epic night at Anfield against Man United.
I think the Reds will do that. Confidence and momentum is on our side and without under-estimating the threat of Swansea, I think we’ll experience another good day out here.
And with Loris Karius continuing in goal, I’m going to test my faith again and back us to keep a clean-sheet.
Prediction: Swansea City 0-3 Liverpool
Leicester City vs Southampton
This should be another great match, as it pits two talent-filled sides against each other.
Leicester City is having one of the most topsy-turvy seasons I’ve ever seen in a long time. They’re struggling for consistency and it seems as if boss Claudio Ranieri is putting all his eggs into a Champions League basket – let’s see how far that gets them.
Southampton enjoyed a fruitful day out at the London Stadium against West Ham last week but Saints fans would be forgiven for worrying about their team’s chances of continuing that good form as they’re fresh off a trip from Israel, where they recorded a 0-0 draw with Hapoel Be’er Sheva. It’s no secret that these long trips can affect any squad with fatigue and the signs may be visible for Claude Puel’s men this Sunday.
The first league meeting last season between these two sides saw them produce a thrilling 2-2 draw and I’d like to see the same display at the King Power Stadium. I think this time we will have a winner and I’m going to back the Foxes to edge it and summer signing Islam Slimani to continue his fine goal-scoring form.
Prediction: Leicester City 3-2 Southampton
Hull City vs Chelsea
Hull have conceded ten goals in just three league games, all of which they’ve failed to win. It’s not too shocking a statistic considering they’re a newly-promoted side but it can’t be ideal for their survival bid.
From a top-of-the-table perspective, Chelsea isn’t much better as well. I heard it’s been over 80 months since coach Antonio Conté has lost back to back league games. Well, the Italian will find that the Premier League is no respecter of records, even such monumental ones.
I find it utterly hilarious how some pundits can be easily drawn into snubbing Liverpool as title contenders because of their defensive problems, and yet the same “experts” back a Chelsea side with the very same problems and a bad case of star individualism to get close to Manchester City this season. If anything, the Blues’ last two games exposed these flaws, proving that Conté still has quite a job to do.
I do think Chelsea will bounce back, though. Hull have been mightily overwhelmed by the quality of the bigger sides in their last two matches – against Arsenal and Liverpool – and although I do back them to exploit a troubled Blues defence, I think the Tigers will struggle to manage with their opponent’s persistent attacking.
Prediction: Hull City 1-2 Chelsea
West Ham United vs Middlesbrough
West Ham’s shocking start to the season continued with a 3-0 home defeat against Southampton in the last round and if newspaper headlines after that are anything to go by, then captain Mark Noble’s labelling of their performances as “laughable” couldn’t have helped much.
The Hammers are definitely struggling to express themselves as they did last season and there are a few factors that contribute to this.
Dimitri Payet almost looks a shadow of his usual self and the absence of key players in Andy Carroll, Diafra Sakho and Aaron Cresswell has only made the situation worse. Add to that the fact that Slaven Bilič’s summer signings haven’t done the business and you have a recipe that has left Irons fans devastated.
It seems like in every Premier League season and with every newly-promoted trio, there will always be at least one side that will stand out in terms of being difficult to beat. Last season it was Watford, this year it’s Middlesbrough.
Okay, so Aitor Karanka’s men have lost more games than they’ve won thus far but sometimes it’s the manner of a side’s defeats that tell us a lot about their potential. That Boro hasn’t been on the end of a real thrashing (with Spurs even toiling for their money last week) says a lot about their defensive resilience. If they can display the same resilience in front of goal, they will surely start winning some matches.
I’d love to back them to win this match but I think West Ham just have to get the three points, and they know it. It’s a big, big gamble considering their recent form but I’m going to back the Hammers to nick a result here.
Prediction: West Ham United 2-1 Middlesbrough
Manchester United vs Stoke City
Back to back wins in the league and Europe and Manchester United seem to have their confidence again.
The Red Devils were excellent against Leicester, not so much against Zorya Luhansk in the Europa League but the job was done. They, as well as Liverpool, will undoubtedly be looking forward to October 17th and will be looking to head into that huge meeting at Anfield in a good mood with three points.
I think United will get the points against Stoke, who are on a poor run of form and whose Old Trafford record is much worse.
Prediction: Manchester United 3-1 Stoke City
Watford vs AFC Bournemouth
To echo captain Troy Deeney’s words after their match at Turf Moor, Watford were bullied against Burnley. They were physically outplayed and the 2-0 result was a setback after that 3-1 victory over Man United.
Bournemouth will be keen to avoid a setback of their own following a 1-0 victory over Everton last week. Cherries fans will hope that rumours linking manager Eddie Howe with the vacant England managerial post are just that, as he’s a good manager who I can’t imagine they would want to lose.
Vicarage Road will be a tough place for them. Not only can Watford match them in attacking terms, but I think the Hornets are a tad better defensively, which is why I think Walter Mazzarri’s men will bounce back here.
I’m going to predict a victory for the home side.
Prediction: Watford 3-1 Bournemouth
Burnley vs Arsenal
Burnley got their second win of the season against Watford on Monday and was full value for their money on the night.
I watched that match and amongst other talking points, I was impressed with the impact of summer signing Steven Defour. They’ve got quite a player in him, he ran the show alongside Jeff Hendrick in midfield and it was his fine technical ability that had me applauding him as he was substituted in the second half.
Sean Dyche will need him to be just as good, if not better, on Sunday against an in-form Arsenal side. The Gunners backed their 3-0 victory over Chelsea last week with their first win in Europe and they’re building momentum again.
It will be interesting to see two styles of football clash in this match. Burnley is obviously going to commit numbers in defence while Arsenal will be more than happy to have the ball.
In the end, I think Arsené Wenger’s men will just edge it. Putting ten men behind the ball may frustrate them but the longer they have the ball, the more dangerous they will prove to be.
Prediction: Burnley 1-2 Arsenal
Sunderland vs West Bromwich Albion
Sunderland fans were left wondering just what their side need to do to get a single win this season when they lost 3-2 to Crystal Palace right after they had taken a 2-0 lead.
I feel for them because they always bring fantastic support on Wearside, however, I can’t express any sympathy for their team or manager David Moyes.
First of all, Sunderland doesn’t score goals if it’s not for Jermaine Defoe, do they?
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, the Black Cats are over-reliant on him. It’s good to have a marksman but if your other attacking options can’t chip any goals in, it spells danger if you’re fighting for survival and that’s where Sunderland are at the moment.
West Brom will be looking to continue their decent form after a draw at Stoke last week. I think the Baggies will bully their opponents here because they’re physically gifted with players like Craig Dawson, Salomon Rondon and Jonas Olsson.
They probably won’t outplay Moyes’ men but they will keep them at arm’s length so I’m going to predict a win for them in this fixture.
Prediction: Sunderland 1-2 West Bromwich Albion
Tottenham Hotspur vs Manchester City
This must be the stand-out fixture of the weekend. A top-of-the-table clash at White Hart Lane.
Both these sides remain unbeaten and are in great form.
Tottenham earned their first three points in the Champions League in midweek while Manchester City shared theirs with Scottish giants Celtic. Last season saw the Lily Whites do the double over City and despite striker Harry Kane’s absence, they will feel confident of a win thanks to the pulsating form of Son Heung-Min.
I think the absence of Kevin De Bruyne is a big blow for Man City. The Belgian was tearing the league apart but is now sidelined for at least three weeks with a hamstring problem. Either way, I still think the Sky Blues are a dangerous side to play against at the moment.
It’s going to be an entertaining match at White Hart Lane and I think we’ll see plenty of goals.
I fancy City to come out on top of it, though, even though Spurs will give them a good run for their money.
Prediction: Tottenham Hotspur 2-4 Manchester City