Martin King continues his Premier League fixture preview with a look at this week’s games.
We have reached the tenth week of the Premier League football season and to say that it’s been exciting would almost be an understatement. The league has risen up to and broken expectations, leaving enthusiasts to wonder just what’s next on what has already proved to be an unpredictable line-up of fixtures.
Last week, Liverpool returned to winning ways with a 2-1 victory over West Bromwich Albion, before which the round saw London clubs Tottenham Hotspur and Arsenal drop points at the top of the table, with respective 0-0 draws away to Bournemouth and at home to Middlesbrough. At the other end of the table, Stoke City and West Ham United continued their campaign to drag themselves out of the mud with wins at Hull City and at home to winless Sunderland respectively.
Champions Leicester enjoyed a comprehensive 3-1 beating of Crystal Palace while Swansea City continued their search for a first win under new manager Bob Bradley with a draw at home to Watford. Burnley condemned Everton to a second loss of the season at Turf Moor before Manchester City were held at home by Southampton and the one that Liverpool fans surely enjoyed, Chelsea thrashed Manchester United 4-0.
It is now time to look ahead to this weekend’s action and coming off round nine which saw me record six correct results, including one perfect scoreline, I’ll be looking to improve on that with gameweek ten of our very own prediction game.
Crystal Palace vs. Liverpool
This is surely set to be another physical test for Liverpool and it doesn’t get any easier after the last two tests faced at Anfield against West Bromwich Albion and Manchester United.
In the past, Selhurst Park hasn’t been the best place for Liverpool to visit (the Reds have won just one of their last three league games at the home of the Eagles). Add to that the fact that there’s a big Belgian apparently looking to prove a point against us and you can be certain it’s going to be a tough encounter for us.
However, I look at our last match at Palace (a dogged 2-1 win), the ground out win at Swansea City and the fact that Alan Pardew’s men are coming off consecutive defeats and I am more than convinced that Jürgen Klopp’s men have it in them to earn a win, be it dirty or clean.
I’m going to back the Reds to win this one.
Prediction: Crystal Palace 1-3 Liverpool
Sunderland vs Arsenal
Arsenal blew their chance to top the league table last week with a goalless draw at home to Middlesbrough.
Many, including myself, would’ve argued that it was the sort of match they just had to win and I surely can’t say any different about today’s clash against a winless Sunderland.
As if the Black Cats’ woes weren’t enough, manager David Moyes had to get himself sent off in their EFL Cup tie against Southampton in midweek and has now been charged by the Football Association. They seemed to give West Ham United a much tougher match than they initially expected last week but again, they just can’t go a match without letting in goals.
You would think that only plays to the advantage of a Gunners side that scores for fun on occasions (and it does!) but how many of us would be surprised if Arsené Wenger’s men blew it again to fall further away from the summit of the log? I know I wouldn’t be.
Either way, I’m going to predict that they pick up a win after their EFL Cup win against Reading in midweek.
Prediction: Sunderland 1-3 Arsenal
Everton vs West Ham United
Everton got a taste of what it was like for us Reds to lose at Turf Moor earlier this season.
The Toffees slumped to a 2-1 defeat and I think the more results like these come their way, the more it becomes clear that talks of a top-four finish are all but premature.
West Ham, on the other hand, is beginning to find the form that instilled fear in a lot of their opponents last season and their midweek victory over London rivals Chelsea would’ve brought them an awful lot of confidence.
They won their last league encounter at Goodison Park last season and will surely fancy themselves to grab another result this time around.
I’m gonna back them to just earn a draw. I think it’ll be a tough match for Everton and the Goodison faithful won’t be blamed for wishing that it was the West Ham of earlier this season that was turning up.
Prediction: Everton 1-1 West Ham United
Tottenham Hotspur vs Leicester City
This is an eye-catching clash between two of last season’s closest title contenders.
Although they were never glaringly close to the top last season, Tottenham Hotspur gave the Foxes a good run for their money. This season, nobody expects Leicester to be anywhere near that top four battle but their opponents are certain to be in and around it come May 2017.
I think White Hart Lane will experience another great match that I expect Spurs to make the most of. Leicester has , without a doubt, struggled against the top sides this season and I foresee another tough match for them.
I’m fancy Spurs to win it.
Prediction: Tottenham Hotspur 2-0 Leicester City
Middlesbrough vs AFC Bournemouth
I know that Boro was pleased to take a point away from the Emirates Stadium last week but I think they could’ve and probably should’ve taken all three.
I was listening to Paul Merson on Sky Sports News HQ last Friday and in backing his former side to win that clash, he strongly insisted that Boro has no pace in their side – way to go Adama Traore for the entire English football community wrong!
Today they host Bournemouth at the Riverside Stadium and a confident Bournemouth side as well. The Cherries have been on a good run and will be confident of grabbing a win after their stalemate against Spurs last week.
Boro remain the only side, other than Sunderland, without a home win this season and I’d back them to change that today but I fancy Bournemouth to take the points today and extend their unbeaten run.
Prediction: Middlesbrough 1-2 Bournemouth
Watford vs Hull City
Hull City eased the pressure on their newly appointed manager in midweek with a League Cup victory over Stoke City, who beat them in the league just a few days prior.
A visit to Vicarage Road presents a different challenge and that’s exactly what Watford is, a different challenge. There are few tougher sides to face in mid-table than the Hornets because whilst many of the so-called smaller sides are defensively strong, the same can’t normally be said about their front-line.
With Watford, however, there’s a great combination of organisation and class up-front and I reiterate, they just lack a bit of consistency.
I don’t think it will be an easy afternoon for Mike Phelan. His Hull side have lost Robert Snodgrass, who is so vital to their attacking moves and at the back, they can be vulnerable as well, so I’m going to back Watford to earn a win in front of their supporters here.
Prediction: Watford 3-1 Hull City
Manchester United vs Burnley
Man United aren’t going through their best run at the moment so their win in the Manchester derby on Wednesday night was a much-needed result.
I’d be surprised if they didn’t use that to their advantage by bouncing back against Burnley this afternoon.
The Clarets are coming off a good win against Everton and it’s as I said last week: Turf Moor is where anybody can expect to get results but away from home, especially against the top sides, they can easily get beaten.
Because they’re such a compact side, I wouldn’t be surprised if this one ended in a draw but that won’t be good enough for the Old Trafford faithful, will it?
I’m predicting a win for them.
Prediction: Manchester United 2-0 Burnley
Southampton vs Chelsea
I wonder if Chelsea fans should be worried that manager Antonio Conté didn’t really seem bothered by their midweek exit from the League Cup.
I wonder, even more, if the Blues’ rivals should be concerned because that exit now means Chelsea only have Premier League football to worry about for the rest of the year. They will surely look to make full use of that opportunity and don’t be surprised to see them move further up the table, as we have already seen what a lack of cup commitments can do for a team.
Southampton still have all their cup commitments after their win over Sunderland sealed progression to the quarter-final and I expect this match to be a real belter given how well they’ve been performing as of late.
I’m going to predict that this ends in a very exciting draw. It is by no means a straightforward affair because both the Saints and Chelsea have all the attacking and defensive talent to take each other on.
Prediction: Southampton 2-2 Chelsea
West Bromwich Albion vs Manchester City
It is often said that the Premier League is no respecter of records, stature or even quality. If this is true then I think this match will be the perfect proof of that statement.
Tony Pulis’ West Bromwich Albion side are coming off a 2-1 defeat away to Liverpool, however, typical of the Welshman, that won’t change his style heading into this match so we can all expect the same physical, very well organised and tough to beat Baggies side.
If Pep Guardiola stands firm on his refusal to change styles and adapt to the English league (arrogantly using his 21 titles as the reason why) then I don’t know about you but I’ll be laughing at him all day because this league just doesn’t work that way.
From a Fantasy Premier League point of view, I’ll be hoping that striker Sergio Aguero starts after he was left out of two big matches against Barcelona and Man United respectively. That would’ve upset him for sure but should he find himself in Pep’s starting line-up at the Hawthorns, I think he’ll prove to the Spaniard just why he belongs there.
I’m going to predict a win for City (and a couple of points for my FPL side!) but bear in mind that West Brom is the league’s draw specialists so I wouldn’t be surprised if they nicked a point.
Prediction: West Bromwich Albion 1-2 Manchester City
Stoke City vs Swansea City
Stoke’s loss to Hull in midweek would’ve been a big blow to their run of form. They had just recorded a win over the same opponent in the previous round and will be looking to bounce back in this Monday night fixture.
Swansea experienced a fruitless encounter against Watford last week. We’re yet to see the stamp of Bob Bradley on that team and it’s obviously going to take a while to appear but so far, I think the signs are promising.
Stoke haven’t had the best of starts to a season but we do know that at the Bet365 Stadium, they’re a difficult side to live with.
I’m going to predict a win for them as I think that Swansea is going through a spell of transition at the moment.
Prediction: Stoke City 2-1 Swansea City