Martin King returns with his latest predictions ahead of the seventh round of Premier League football.
It is, as ever, a game of contrasting fortunes.
For the neutral, the Premier League has offered an entertaining view of life in the top flight of English football thus far, however, for those who associate themselves with each of the twenty clubs, it’s been a roller-coaster ride that has been as thrilling as it has been disappointing.
It’s all set to continue this weekend, after the previous one saw Tottenham Hotspur and Liverpool achieve 3-2 away wins at West Ham United and Leicester City respectively.
Chelsea enjoyed a 4-0 win at Stoke City, while Watford left it late to beat Swansea 2-1, Manchester United took a 1-0 win away from Southampton and rivals City defeated Crystal Palace 5-0.
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There was a rare 0-0 draw between Burnley and Huddersfield Town, Everton beat Bournemouth 2-1 before Brighton beat Newcastle United 1-0.
Arsenal rounded the week off with a 2-0 Monday night victory over West Bromwich Albion.
Looking ahead to this round, there is a top of the table clash to whet our appetites, but let’s begin our build-up with an equally intriguing trip to Tyneside.
Newcastle United vs. Liverpool
Liverpool visit what has become something of a bogey-ground for them this Sunday in Newcastle United’s St. James’ Park.
The Reds have lost four of their last six matches at the home of the Magpies, with their last win being a dominant 6-0 thrashing of Newcastle back in 2013. That said, their latest trip presents another fresh challenge for manager Jürgen Klopp, who is still yet to achieve a win over Rafael Benitez’s men – Klopp’s only two meetings with Newcastle as Liverpool boss ended in respective defeat and draw.
The newly-promoted side should, as a result, be looking at the aforementioned statistics with great courage, especially knowing they face the equally important task of bouncing back, after their league run of three straight wins came to an end at Huddersfield last week.
Key to their success in this match will certainly be scoring the first goal. Liverpool have failed to win all six of the games (in all competitions) they’ve conceded the first goal in so far. Add to that the Reds’ notorious defensive vulnerability and Benitez, like every other Premier League manager, may not have too painful a headache in trying to figure out his team’s best route to claiming victory in this match.
For the visiting side, the route to victory is all too clear. Klopp will be boosted by the return from suspension of Sadio Mané, who forms part of an attacking trio boasting nine league goals between them this season.
Add to that midfielder Philippe Coutinho’s rediscovered form for his side and once again, Liverpool would be very disappointed to not walk away from St. James’ Park with three points.
It’s sure to be a tough battle to earn them, though, I’m going to just stick my head out for the Reds and back them to win.
Prediction: Newcastle United 1-2 Liverpool
Chelsea vs. Manchester City
It’s yet another early-season clash of titans at Stamford Bridge as Antonio Conte’s Chelsea take on Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City.
This time a match of first versus third, the fixture has, for a quite a while, carried major title significance, as the two have gone at it for English football’s top prize, and you can’t help but feel it’s all too similar this time around.
Chelsea have ensured that their opening day loss to Burnley remains their only one this season, as Conte’s side have again shown their reactive powers with four convincing wins and a draw to put them back in serious consideration for title glory for a second season running.
Man City, meanwhile, overcame a slow start themselves to easily become this league’s bullies.
5-0, 6-0 and 5-0 is how the score-sheet of each of their last three has read in their favour, as the Citizens have given little care of who stands in their way, going shoulder to shoulder with their closest rivals Manchester United.
The question then is how will this match go? Will it be the strong powers of Chelsea that grind a win out or should we expect another entertaining goal-mouth show from Man City?
I’m split. I think this one could go either way so I’m going to grab a drink, some chips and sit comfortably on the fence come Saturday evening.
Prediction: Chelsea 2-2 Manchester City
Huddersfield Town vs. Tottenham Hotspur
With four goals in his last three league games, Harry Kane has again got up and running after another absent start to the season and is looking like leading his Tottenham Hotspur side to yet another strong campaign.
The Englishman added a UEFA Champions League hat-trick in midweek to take his tally up to nine goals in all competitions so far and will once again be important to his side’s hopes of earning what should be a vital three points – especially when taking the above fixture into consideration – away at Huddersfield.
To the Terriers’ credit, it would be unfair to say they’ve fallen away from their great early season form because despite being without a win in the previous four matches since, the newly-promoted side have kept their status as being one of the league’s toughest sides to get a win over – Huddersfield have lost only one of their previous four league games – and boss David Wagner will expect no less from his side against a favoured Spurs outfit.
Favourites they are on paper and in my mind as well, so I’m expecting another tough old match at the Kirklees Stadium, which I’m predicting the Lily Whites just edge a win out of.
Prediction: Huddersfield Town 1-2 Tottenham Hotspur
West Ham United vs. Swansea City
This should be an interesting match between two sides who I feel are the most frustrating in the Premier League at the moment.
I say that because for all the talent they possess both on the pitch and in the dugout and no matter how strong your backing is for them, they just can’t seem to get the job done on match-day.
The Swans and the Hammers both sit 15th and 18th respectively, with just one win all season, putting managers of both sides under intense scrutiny, especially considering that the first bullet has recently been fired the way of Frank De Boer by Crystal Palace.
The London Stadium hasn’t exactly been the fortress West Ham want it to be, but for certain parts of their match against Spurs, it was rocking and reminiscent of Upton Park.
If the fans can bring that atmosphere from the start of this match against Swansea, I’d like to think it would be enough to encourage their side to a win.
Prediction: West Ham United 2-0 Swansea City
AFC Bournemouth vs. Leicester City
Life doesn’t get any harder if you’re a Bournemouth fan, the Cherries are undergoing a frustrating run of form that demands a lot of patience from even the most demanding of supporters.
Two Fridays ago life was a little sweet, a 2-1 home win over Brighton & Hove Albion (their first victory of the season) a strong motivator of that but fast-forward a week from then and the result at the end of Saturday matched the bitterly disappointing run experienced before the former match: a four-game run of losses that confined Eddie Howe’s men to a place in the relegation zone.
Up next for them is a home opportunity to salvage a positive result against Leicester City.
To be fair, the Foxes gave it their all against Liverpool, as expected, but unfortunately fell short of a result. That means Craig Shakespeare’s men will again be eager to ensure that the final result on the scoreboard matches their efforts on the pitch, so their opponents should rightly expect a difficult afternoon.
Only four fixtures exist between these two in Premier League history, with Bournemouth winning only one of them and drawing the other three.
I’d like to back them to earn another win simply because they need it but I just fancy Leicester to have a huge say in the result of this match, so I’m predicting a 2-1 win for Shakespeare’s men.
Prediction: Bournemouth 1-2 Leicester City
Manchester United vs. Crystal Palace
In South London, it doesn’t rain, it pours.
It’s fair to say that Roy Hodgson already knew the sort of predicament he was walking into when he took charge of Crystal Palace two weeks ago and despite the former England manager’s best wishes for his new side, their situation hasn’t improved by any means, as two more defeats at home to Southampton and then away at Manchester City have followed.
I can’t see a third one not coming in their Saturday afternoon trip to Manchester United, as Jose Mourinho’s men – still unbeaten – have not only been a danger on the attack but have looked a much more solid and mature outfit in defence, conceding only two goals.
I fully expect the exploits to continue in this match against the Eagles, with the only difficult thing for me to predict being the severity of the score-line.
Predictions: Manchester United 4-0 Crystal Palace
West Bromwich Albion vs. Watford
I’d usually back Tony Pulis’ West Brom at home on most weeks but I think they face a tough challenge in the shape of Watford this weekend.
The Hornets have surprised me this season, to be honest. I didn’t see them managing away wins at either one of Bournemouth, Southampton or Swansea and they went away with the three points on each occasion. It speaks volumes of the impact manager Marco Silva is having on the side.
West Brom, meanwhile, are winless in four games so the pressure has been slowly piling on them to solve that problem with a win and it won’t be any different this Saturday afternoon against Watford at the Hawthorns.
I think it’s going to be a tight contest.
Watford boast the better record between these two, with two wins in their four Premier League encounters against West Brom but I’m going to predict a closely contested draw to end this match.
Prediction: West Bromwich Albion 1-1 Watford
Arsenal vs. Brighton & Hove Albion
I can’t see beyond an Arsenal win in this one.
Manager Arsene Wenger rested his big guns for his side’s trip to Bate Borisov in the UEFA Europa League on Thursday, so following a decent win in the league for them on Monday night, they will be keen for successive wins.
Brighton, on the other hand, are certainly going to play hard to break down but do they have the attacking outlet to trouble Arsenal at the Emirates?
I’m inclined to think they do but I can’t see them getting as much joy as they usually do at the Amex Stadium.
That said, I think Alexandre Lacazette, who scored a brace against West Brom to take his tally up to four goals – will get on the score-sheet again on his side’s way to a 3-0 victory.
Prediction: Arsenal 3-0 Brighton & Hove Albion
Stoke City vs. Southampton
In my opinion, if a game lost at home is immediately followed by another home fixture, that match should always be approached as a second chance, a good shot at redemption because regardless of who you are, you do not want to be losing two games on the spin in front of your own fans.
That is the challenge that confronts Stoke City, who suffered a 4-0 defeat to champions Chelsea at the Bet365 Stadium last week and are under pressure to respond with a positive result.
Add a loss at Newcastle and two consecutive draws to that and Mark Hughes’ men are without a win in four league games, making a win in this match all the more vital.
The Potters host Southampton, who are also looking to bounce back following a 1-0 loss to Man United last week.
Minus the goal by Romelu Lukaku, I thought the Saints put in a decent enough performance, but for a team with a strong attacking influence, that they’ve only scored two or more goals in only one match this season probably means they’re yet to get up and running under Mauricio Pellegrino.
I fancy Stoke to win this one, even if they have only one home win against Southampton in their ten Premier League meetings.
I just think they’re under pressure to deliver a winning performance and it’s going to have to come this Saturday, otherwise they fall behind and fans start to get restless.
Prediction: Stoke City 2-1 Southampton
Everton vs. Burnley
Fairly enough, there was plenty of relief-talk following Everton’s late show against Bournemouth, as without it, the Toffees faced four straight defeats and continued unrest in both the stands and the media.
They have to follow it up now and Burnley – unbeaten in four games – are clearly no push-overs, so expect a tough, physical battle of wits likely to test patience and application.
I don’t think Everton can afford anything less than a win, so I’m going to predict that they just edge one out of this Sunday afternoon clash.
Prediction: Everton 2-1 Burnley