Martin King brings you his latest predictions ahead of the fifth round of the 2017/18 Premier League season.
Last weekend saw the Premier League return from a hectic transfer window and busy international break with some big and important results.
Manchester City set the bar high with a 5-0 thrashing of Liverpool, Chelsea followed with a 2-1 win at Leicester, while Tottenham Hotspur enjoyed a 3-0 victory at Everton.
Watford won 2-0 at Southampton, Arsenal beat Bournemouth 3-0, while Brighton & Hove Albion defeated West Brom 3-1.
Stoke City and Manchester United played out a 2-2 draw, West Ham beat Huddersfield Town 2-0 and sandwiched in-between were respective 1-0 wins for Burnley and Newcastle United over Crystal Palace and Swansea City.
Grabbing the headlines this week has been the beginning of a new campaign in European competitions, as well as the Premier League’s first sacking of the season, Crystal Palace’s Frank de Boer the unfortunate casualty.
In comes the rather contentious signing of Roy Hodgson to steer the Palace ship but will the world’s eyes stay on the new Palace boss after the weekend, or are there yet more headlines waiting to be made elsewhere?
Let’s look ahead to the action with a round of predictions.
Liverpool vs. Burnley
It’s been a very frustrating week to be a Liverpool fan.
First, the Reds lost 5-0 at Manchester City and just when you thought they were on their way to putting that horrendous display completely behind them, they add to their disappointment by failing to win on their return to Champions League football – a match they seemingly had a strong grip on.
That said, all the focus turns to rectifying their mistakes (again) against Burnley this Saturday.
The Clarets travel to Anfield with the knowledge that they can not only frustrate Liverpool to another draw but that the chance to win is just as likely. Expect a very compact line-up from Sean Dyche, who will look to nullify Liverpool’s attacking threat and hope to nick a goal or two from a set-piece.
Either way, it feels natural to predict a Liverpool win, with the Reds being at home and under immense pressure to respond.
Prediction: Liverpool 3-1 Burnley
AFC Bournemouth vs. Brighton & Hove Albion
The weekend is opened up by a Friday night encounter between two teams on opposite ends of the mental form scale, in Bournemouth and new boys Brighton.
Bournemouth are lingering at the bottom of both the league table and a disappointed mood. The Cherries have started the season with four straight defeats and have just one goal to their name, as their often ambitious mindset has been humbled by their struggles.
They host Brighton, who after making a start not too different from their opponents, are boosted with confidence thanks to a 3-1 victory over West Brom that saw them earn their first three points of the season.
Chris Hughton’s men will be eager to cement that confidence with another fine result at the Vitality Stadium, while their opponents will be desperate to get their season up and running.
Both sides are good value for money if they turn-up for this match and I think each is well capable of giving another a tough time.
I’m going to predict that both teams score, in a match I think Bournemouth will just edge a win out of.
Prediction: Bournemouth 2-1 Brighton & Hove Albion
Chelsea vs. Arsenal
Chelsea are looking more and more like last season’s league winning team and one can make the argument that they’re getting better as the season’s early weeks go by.
A resilient 2-1 win over Leicester was followed by a 6-0 cruise past FK Qarabag in the UEFA Champions League and you get the feeling that regardless of whoever was involved, those two wins lifted the squad’s confidence higher and Antonio Conte will be expecting the Blues to combine it with their application this Sunday, against Arsenal.
The verdict from the Emirates faithful, following a 3-0 victory over Bournemouth, last week was that their team looked much better, though, that point was quickly followed up by a strong reminder: it’s only one game.
I completely agree with that view and think that if Gunners are on a high right now, they’re going to be brought back down to earth at Stamford Bridge.
Chelsea have already shown what they can do against a top side this season, with a strong performance against London rivals Tottenham.
A similar performance, or better, gets them the three points here and Arsenal’s Europa League involvement may not quite help them.
Prediction: Chelsea 2-0 Arsenal
Crystal Palace vs. Southampton
The appointment of former England manager Roy Hodgson may have been met with many worldwide social media jeers, however, Selhurst Park must be prepared to offer up some support for their new manager, even if only for the sake of the Crystal Palace side.
The Eagles and Frank de Boer went their separate ways midweek after four straight defeats opened up their season.
Despite having a fairly talented line-up, Palace have so far failed to find the back of the net and their defence has failed to hold strong, conceding seven goals, the last of which was due to a poor error by midfielder Lee Chung-Yong.
Southampton, it must be said, have surprised me.
You would’ve looked at their opening four games and thought: ‘Those are some winnable fixtures’, but that they’ve managed to win only one of them, drawing two and losing the other probably humbles high opinions of them.
Once again, Palace face a must-win match and considering the clear fact de Boer’s Dutch style of football didn’t quite work for them, I think Hodgson will likely revert back to what works for the Eagles.
I’m just going to stick my head out and back them for a win.
Prediction: Crystal Palace 2-1 Southampton
Manchester United vs. Everton
This could be another tricky test for Man United but it’s one I think they will eventually pass well.
Everton’s form in the big games has been poor this season. Grabbing a point away at Manchester City was encouraging enough, but the Toffees’ consecutive 2-0 and 3-0 defeats to Chelsea and Tottenham Hotspur respectively have easily dampened the mood and I don’t think it will improve against a powerful United side on Sunday.
Prediction: Manchester United 3-0 Everton
Huddersfield Town vs. Leicester City
Huddersfield Town’s dream start to life in the Premier League may have come to an end with a 2-0 Monday night loss at West Ham United, however, I think David Wagner would’ve already educated them on not dwelling on a loss, especially given how well they’ve been playing thus far.
The German boss will have every right to look forward with excited anticipation, as his side next host Leicester City at home and I think we’re going to witness an interesting match here.
Leicester obviously like to soak in pressure and hit teams on the break but their opponents have so far shown they are capable of doing the same.
My initial thoughts are that this match will end in a draw, but I also feel like there will be a winner and I’m only just backing the home side to be that.
Prediction: Huddersfield Town 2-1 Leicester City
Tottenham Hotspur vs. Swansea City
I’m going to predict a win for Spurs here.
The Lily Whites were excellent midweek against the tough challenge of Borussia Dortmund and before that a win against Everton at Goodison Park. Add to that Harry Kane’s rediscovered form and the entire squad’s improved displays as a whole and they’re reasonable favourites going into this clash at Wembley.
Swansea have been a bit all over the place in that they have struggled for consistency. I can’t really see them taking much out of this match, unless of course Spurs’ Wembley hoodoo still exists.
Prediction: Tottenham Hotspur 2-0 Swansea City
West Bromwich Albion vs. West Ham United
Whilst one side’s good run came to an end, another’s fortunes started looking up in the last round.
West Brom’s unbeaten start to the season ended with a 3-1 defeat at the hands of Brighton before West Ham ended their torrid run with hard-earned victory over Huddersfield.
It’s obviously a question of which side’s run, be it positive or negative, continues here and I think West Brom are in a suitable position at the Hawthorns to get their positive run of results back underway.
That said, I’m predicting a win for them.
Prediction: West Bromwich Albion 2-0 West Ham United
Watford vs. Manchester City
Manchester City’s 5-0 victory over Liverpool was a much-needed confidence boost their talented side needed, in my opinion.
Despite an unbeaten start to the season, the Citizens were yet to truly dominate a single match as we know they can and although they did get fortunate with the sending off of Sadio Mané shifting the balanced match their way, credit goes their way for taking each chance as it came.
Facing Watford up next, I think they’re in for a good test of their patience and will-power, as Marco Silva’s unbeaten start to life as Hornets boss has so far produced a team that seems assured of each of their roles both in defence and attack.
Either way, with the Vicarage Road outfit having never beaten Man City in Premier League history, Pep Guardiola’s men are clearly the favourites here and I’m going to reinforce that by backing them for a win.
Prediction: Watford 1-2 Manchester City
Newcastle United vs. Stoke City
I had a terrible week last time out with my gameweek 4 predictions and one of the results that let me down was Newcastle’s win at Swansea – I saw the Swans winning that one!
Either way, credit has to be given to Newcastle for a performance that displayed more than anything else their staying power in a Premier League match. It wasn’t all that straightforward in South Wales but they kept their composure and saw the match through.
They face a similar, if not better, challenge in the form of Stoke City.
The Potters are riding a high wave thanks to four well-earned points from home games against Arsenal and Manchester City, which saw some strong performances from Mark Hughes’ men.
A trip to St. James’ Park doesn’t make things any easier and I don’t see them winning it if I’m honest.
In fact, I think Newcastle will win this one.
Prediction: Newcastle United 2-0 Stoke City