Howdy and welcome The FPL Jingle Blog for gameweek 4! As always it is your favorite co-host Stephen here to take you through the week that was and the week that will be. Last week saw more than a few upsets as Leeds managed to upset the odds. Man United decided to revert to Ole tactics to upset Liverpool. We will break down each match up for gameweek 4 and see if we can improve on last weeks predictions.
Southampton V United
The first match up of the week see’s a revitalized United side, fresh off a derby win take on a Southampton side who fought back well to beat Leicester in the King Power. Starting with the home side and you could have been forgiven for thinking this was the same old Southampton after 60 mins. Apart from a chance that Mara stuck away before being called offside they didn’t create much. On comes Che Adams and the whole game seemed to change. Suddenly the Saints had a bit of fight about them. A long throw into the box saw them equalize and then a lovely JWP ball into the box gave Adams the chance to overhead kick them into the lead.
This is something that the Saints have been lacking in recent seasons. So often you see them concede and your mind then thinks “How many today?”. But things were different this time. All be it aided by the poor substitution choices from Leicester Southampton finally showed a bit of fight. They got themselves on the front foot and never relented and Adams was unlucky not to get a hat trick in this game. The problem is we need to see it consistently. Too many times we have seen them fail to take advantage of this momentum. United will be an interesting test for this side as the away team had troubles of their own until recently.
Speak of the Devil(s)! Credit where it is due they managed to put together some performance in the derby match against Liverpool. Fresh off a 4-0 humbling to Brentford there was nowhere left for this team to hide but they didn’t shy away. Instead what we saw was a performance reminiscent of the days under Ole. They soaked up the pressure from Liverpool when out of possession and then hit then fast on the break. Trent was targeted mercilessly as he would often be out of position after the turnover in possession. They had great joy down the left hand side the whole game and it resulted in the games opening goal. Elanga doing well to get the ball to Sancho who was composed and finished well. But they didn’t rest on their laurels.
Ten Hag was pragmatic in bringing on Martial for Elanga and pushing Rashford out to the left and this proved the decisive blow. Martial plays a great ball into space behind the scrambling defense and Rashford finishes well. It was the type of performance they have done for years. Play counter attack and win against the big teams but struggle and lose against the smaller teams when they are supposed to dominate. That is why this upcoming game is so interesting. Do they revert back to the style of play Ten Hag wants to play or do they stay as they are? Does Maguire and/or Ronaldo come back into the side and risk disrupting this momentum?
This promises to be an interesting game for a number of reasons. United now have a quick turnaround to get ready for this match whereas Southampton will have been preparing since Sunday for them. Which team can keep this good momentum going as they look to get their season finally moving in the right direction? United are 54% favorites to win this game but I can’t believe the idea that they have changed overnight. As risky as it is I am going for a score draw here as I feel United will somewhat revert back to how they were before the Liverpool game.
Chelsea v Leicester
Carrying on from the conversation about Southampton the Foxes looked far from fantastic on Sunday. Lacking a bit of that final killer ball or cutting edge. They made a change to a 4-1-4-1 formation to try and include both Dewsbury-Hall and Barnes and initially things looked promising. Barnes had one of the best chances of the first half. Latching onto the end of a loose pass only to fire wide. Vardy however looked a bit lost in the game. Having only signed a 2 year extension he just couldn’t seem to get involved in the play. Only for the graces of Maddison’s skill from a dead ball they might have failed to score at all.
The bench didn’t improve things much either mind you. Vardy being subbed after 1 hour was strange as even if he wasn’t having a good game he is still their best striker. And detrimental it proved to be as only 3 minutes after the changes the away side equalized and Leicester had to try find a winner. It is clear Rodgers needs some new blood in the team. They have too many squad players and not enough starters. Too many players like Albrighton, Praet and Mendy happy to sit on the bench. But with only outgoings looking likely as the transfer window closes you start to wonder how safe in his job Rodgers is.
If Leicester found themselves in a bit of misery after their match the same can be said of Chelsea. Entering into this game the Blues were off the back of a fiery performance against local rivals Spurs. Keen to build on what was a good performance and put away a plucky Leeds side. However things did not go according to the script. Early on it was evident that Leeds still carried on a bit of the Bielsa spirit. The front 4 pressed the Chelsea back 3 relentlessly, giving them no time to think. And despite Chelsea having a strong enough start to the game this pressure proved crucial as Mendy was caught napping.
Combine this with the brilliant set piece move that saw Rodrigo head home and you started to wonder where the goals were going to come from for Chelsea. Alas, they would not come. Instead what we saw was a reverse of the 2nd goal with Rodrigo providing assister for Harrison. At this point Chelsea looked bereft of ideas. Then, with the hand fully out of sight Koulibaly decided to an early bath and miss the next game. Kante is a big loss for this side no doubt but the real worry is their lack of cohesion up front. They are missing a clear focal point for their attack. Aubameyang may be the short term solution but at 33 and given his discipline issues at Arsenal it is a bit of a gamble.
Ultimately I think this game will boil down to who is worse more so than who is better. Chelsea do have the better squad and with Koulibaly suspended I would expect to see Chilwell back in the team. The Blues are 70% favorites to win this game which seems appropriate. Having said that, Vardy goes love a goal against the top 6. My prediction here is a Chelsea win but both teams to score
Brighton v Leeds
Continuing on from the talk about Chelsea (it’s almost like I planned this), Leeds look a side reborn under Marsch. Having narrowly escaped relegation last year they were keen to make sure they aren’t in the same spot again. And the game against Chelsea was a perfect way to make that statement. They pressed high, ran more, were very vertical and direct in their attack. Marsch has adopted some of Bielsa’s principles while still implementing some of his own. The speed with which Aaronson and Adams have adapted to the premier league is to be commended. Fitting right into the team and filling some holes left by some key players.
Coming up against this defensively sound Brighton side I don’t expect Leeds to change their tactics. That isn’t how they are built. They will look for front foot ball and to get in behind. With Bamford still not 100% yet I expect Rodrigo to continue to lead the line. It has taken him a couple of seasons but he looks to have recaptured some of the form that saw him in the Spain squad. Harrison, who was subject of multiple bids from Newcastle seems to be playing a bit more free too. I do just wonder though, when tested how solid that defense is as we saw them surrender a 2-0 lead only the week before.
Arguably the surprise package of the season so far, the Seagulls are flying high after recording wins over top 6 hopefuls United and West ham. While it can be said that West Ham were poor take nothing away from Brighton. They had the better chances in the game and while giving the home side very few chances on goal. Welbeck looks to have had a bit of a renaissance after injury plagued seasons at United and Arsenal. Pascal Gross has proven to be the player that keeps Brighton ticking over and creating chances. Chances that players like Trossard have learned to finish after improving over the years.
They come into this game so, full of confidence in their abilities. How they set up to deal with the high press will be the first obstacle to overcome but with Graham Potter, these players will know what to do. The recruitment and the system have been set up in such a way that every player is familiar with their role and their team mates. There will be the chances against this Leeds defense but it is a case of taking advantage when presented to them.
Both sides are full of confidence and coming off the back of big wins. The home side are the obvious favorites and for good reason. I see Leeds putting up a stern test here but I think Graham Potters men will prove their superior on the day. I am going for a Brighton win here but Leeds will score and keep it interesting.
City v Palace
Fresh off a 6 goal thriller in St. James, City will be keen to get a win here and look to extend the gap on title rival Liverpool. City showed a few different sides to them in the game against Newcastle. Even with the majority of possession Newcastle showed how if you hit them with pace down the wings you can cause them problems. Saint-Maximin was a problem for them all day, never giving Walker a moments rest. When Ake went off injured you thought with Dias on that some of these issues would be resolved. But you would be wrong. After catching Newcastle asleep in the first 5 minutes with a wonderful Bernardo Silva cross and Gundogan goal City soon found themselves 2-1 down. Great work from ASM both times providing the assister for first Almiron and the Wilson to finish.
They found themselves even deeper in the hole when 3-1 after 54 mins. An upset looked on the cards. But City showed the other, extremely classy side to themselves and after 2 goals from Haaland and B. Silva within 5 minutes the game was turned on it’s head. Also full credit to Kevin De Bruyne for an absolutely beautiful assist for City’s third. They maintained their unbeaten record and now get back home to play Palace. A no doubt tricky fixture, but one they will absolutely think they can win, such is their mindset. B.Silva should be likely to keep his place given his contribution last game. The only question will be around Ake and if he is fit to start the game.
Palace never like to make things easy for themselves do they? As the opening of this game saw the visitors Villa take an early lead through Watkins. They never panicked however and through their talisman Wilfried Zaha they found themselves level 2 minutes later. Zaha was at the center of everything positive this game. Clearly carrying over his confidence from the Liverpool game. He had his penalty saved but converted the rebound and was a key factor in their 3rd goal. Giving Palace their much deserved first win of the season after a tough opening 2 games against Arsenal and Liverpool.
They now find themselves with the same tough test, going to play Man City in the Etihad. Viera will probably try and adopt a similar system to what they did at Anfield. Sacrificing an out and out striker and play Zaha up top to hit with pace on the counter. It proved successful at Anfield but City will have no doubt analyzed the game and be wise to it. If Eze or Ayew can step up and take some of the focus off of Zaha then that could be of great benefit.
It should come to the surprise of nobody that the home side are the overwhelming favorites here at 83%. Palace have already gone to the well once this season, pulling off a shock draw at Anfield. To ask them to do something similar here just feels like too much. I am going for a Man City win to nil here.
Liverpool v Bournemouth
And speaking of Anfield! Our next game see’s the Reds, still winless in the league after 2 draws and a loss to Man United. Taking on newly promoted Bournemouth who must be wondering if someone is playing a joke on them having to face City, Arsenal and Liverpool in back to back to back. Liverpool have had their worst start to a season in recent memory and fans may already be thinking that the league title is out of sight given the teams current form. Against United the midfield looked lost and out of shape. They were clearly missing the likes of Fabinho and to a certain extent Thiago. The defense doesn’t look to know what each other are doing at various times and Mane looks like a big miss up front.
There is no doubt that Liverpool have the quality in their squad and once a few players a back from injury this will ease some of the burden. But they need to sort out these problems and fast and the games are going to come at them thick and fast. Jota could add some much needed cohesion up front, Matip can continue his successful partnership with Van Dijk and Thiago can help control the tempo of the game. This game against Bournemouth is the perfect chance for them to correct some of these issues and get this show on the road.
I am not sure how much there is to say about Bouremouth at the moment. They had a key opening day win to give the club confidence that they can compete at this level which was important given their next 3 opponents. As such it feels harsh to judge them on 4-0 and 3-0 losses to City and Arsenal. Scott Parker looks to be a good manager with a good head on his shoulders. If he is able to convince the club to spend some money to bring in new players then they do have a real shot at staying up.
Moore looks like the classic target man and has shown he can be very good at hold up play. This is key as it allows time for the midfield and wing backs to get up and support him. Singings like Neto, Fredricks and Senesi add some great top level experience in some key areas of the pitch. They have also retained a lot of the squad that was there the last time they were in the premier league. Parker will no doubt use these games to gain valuable experience for the more important games to come further down the road.
It is stating the obvious here but this is a must win game for Liverpool. They simply cannot allow this slide in form to continue and Bournemouth prove the perfect opposition at the perfect time. A big scoring Liverpool win to nil is exactly what should be happening here.
Brentford v Everton
After they’re historic win over United the week before, Brentford were brought back down to earth this week. During the local derby with Fulham they were reminded that last week’s result doesn’t mean anything. Jumping out to an early 2 goal lead after 20 minutes, Brentford were a bit out of sorts after changing to a 4-3-3 formation as Frank thought it would be better. They did regain their composure however and fought back to level. Jensen providing the assist to Norgaard from a corner before HT. Then Ivan Toney bringing the sides level with a tap in. It was not to be however as Mitrovic scored in the 90th to consign the Bee’s to their first defeat of the season.
Frank took a gamble by altering the formation and I think even he would admit that it probably wasn’t the best idea. This game had the momentum swinging back and forth between the teams until ultimately a winner was decided. Brentford can take some positives from the fight back they put up. The same as they did against Leicester but will want to avoid this becoming a reoccurring theme. Everton now pose an interesting challenge as they are yet to get a win and still look desperate for any sort of goal threat. Will Frank try the 4-3-3 again or try and match Lampards 3-4-3? Either way Toney will be they key for them as always. He has had a fantastic start to the season.
What can you say about Everton that hasn’t already been said at this stage. Losses to Chelsea and Villa could probably have been predicted but against newcomers Nottingham Forest at home you would have fancied them to get the win. And yet there they were, 1-0 down after 81 minutes. Having created very little all game they now found themselves needing a goal. Who did they turn to? Their keeper of course. Pickfords long range pass cutting out the entire Forest team and leaving Gray 1v1 with the keeper to finish. Forest at the start of the day would have been happy with a point but after the game will feel hard done by.
They must now travel to face a Brentford side that are a lot of things they are not. Comfortable in their system, attacking threat up top and guided by a good manager. It feels insane to think that this team were relying so heavily on a player who was injured almost all of last season. But this is just the case. Lampard will need to set up in the 3-4-3 he has all season and hope that Gray and Gordon can provide some individual brilliance. Onana may get the start in midfield so could provide some box to box presence.
It is hard to think of a side with less positives going for them than Everton. A thick layer of angst hangs over the club and unless some serious business is done before the window shuts, they will be in another relegation fight. I am predicting the home side to win this game and pressure will continue to mount on Lampard.
Arsenal v Fulham
The premier leaders are back to take on Fulham in another edition of Saturday night football. Arteta’s men are the only side with 3 wins from 3 and looking to make it 4 on the bounce here. Last week was another convincing win against Bournemouth where they didn’t even really give the home side a sniff. Jesus looked in great form again, proving key in setting up the first 2 goals for Martin Odegaard. Add to that Saliba’s stunner in the 2nd half and a clean sheet and it was as complete a performance as we’ve seen from them so far. The main thing will be to keep the squad grounded which won’t be an issue given what happened at the end of last year.
Arteta will very likely name an unchanged side as why would you change a winning formula? Fulham are in good form as of late and so the Gunners will need to be on their toes. Zinchenko from LB will push forward into midfield and allow Xhaka to get into the Fulham box. Or if Zinchenko goes the Xhaka fills in for him. Saka has yet to really catch fire but the burden is lessened on him now thanks to Marintinelli and Jesus. Then having players like Tierney, Smith-Rowe and Nketiah to bring off the bench also adds an extra dimension should it be needed.
Life has been good for Fulham so far this season. Two draws and a win see’s them in the top half of the table and they’ll be hoping to stay there as long as possible. They had a a topsy turvy game against local rivals Brentford and managed to come out of it with 3 points in the end. Fans will be glad to see Mitrovic put that penalty miss behind him, scoring the winner in this game. What might prove a bit of a concern was how easy it was that they conceded the 2 goals. A corner set piece where no man defended the front post and a sloppy bit of defending for the 2nd. If Ivan Toney had waited just a fraction longer he also might have been onside and Fulham would have been in real trouble.
They will have to be on their A game in this one. Leno will be returning to face his former team while new signing Issa Diop could start to help them defensively. Palhinha looks to be a good signing and will be have his work cut out for him. A lot of the burden will fall on Mitrovic to try and bully Gabriel and Saliba and give his teammates time to flood around him. Marco Silva is an experienced premier league manager so will know what to expect.
With Liverpool and Chelsea falling further behind it could be up to Arsenal to challenge for City for the title! (Jk) But in all honesty Arsenal need to keep this going as long as possible and get as many points as they can. A period in the seaosn will come when they might wobble so winning these very winnable games is key. Fulham will prove a decent opponent but I fancy Arsenal to get the job done and keep their 100% win record going.
Wolves v Newcastle
The home side come into this game off the back of a resilient performance against Spurs but ultimately saw them leave London empty handed. Back at home now and with the new signings bedded in they will be hoping for their first win of the season. Wolves played well in the game and had purple patches where they were the dominant team. The problem is that they don’t have anyone to stick the ball in the net. Scoring is probably the hardest thing to do in football and Wolves prove that point. Solid at the back with a good mix of youth and experience in midfield and creative wingers like Podence, Neto and Guedes. It is just the focal point up top they are lacking.
So Jimenez coming on as a sub in this game was a sight for sore eyes for Wolves fans. If he can get back to his best they will be able to kick on and have a good season. Newcastle will be a stern test however as they have massively improved under Eddie Howe and put in a big performance against the champions last week. Podence and Neto will likely prove the danger men once again. Collins, who had a good game for for 88 of the 90 mins last week will need a similar performance. Bruno Lage may look to bring Jimenez back into the starting XI also.
The Magpies went to a gear some of us (or maybe just me) didn’t think they had last week. Coming back from a goal down against City to go 3-1 was not in anyone’s script. Saint Maximin and Wilson were in particularly good form. Constantly running at the City defense and causing no end of headaches. They will be disappointed to have let a 2 goal lead slip like that but will nonetheless take the point. Howe will no doubt take a lot of positives from the game and look to use them as they make the journey to Molineux.
Wilson and ASM are the real danger men for Newcastle. If you can keep them quiet then you can keep Newcastle quiet. Putting the burden more on the likes of Almiron or Willock might be the game plan for Wolves. If Matt Targett is back for Newcastle that could be a big boost. He offers a wide threat from the left and has a good delivery so Wolves would have to try and deal with that threat. Bruno Guimaraes has yet to return to the goal scoring form that he had at the end of last season but remains a threat. How they choose to approach this game will be interesting.
This is a game that could really go either way. Wolves are yet to really find their flow and Newcastle are still in the building phase for this long term project. I can see both teams finding the back of the net and sharing the spoils. My prediction for this game is a score draw.
Aston Villa V West Ham
The stoppable force meets the movable object in a clash of the giants, making them both look normal size! Jokes aside this game really feels like a bit of desperation for both sides. Villa got off to a flyer against Palace before being thoroughly out classed. They struggled to cope with Zaha all game and never really created too many chances of their own. Gerrard’s team seem to always struggle a bit defensively and have not really improved much since he took over. Martinez did well to save Zaha’s penalty and was unlucky to send it right back into his path. Bailey looked good for the 60 mins he was on the field while Buendia did probably enough to keep his spot over Coutinho. Watkins seems to be the only player in form at the moment.
They find themselves back home, which hasn’t really been much of a fortress as of late and in West Ham they possibly have some ideal opponents. The away side are also struggling to stay above water, having lost their all their games so far. Gerrard had an opportunity to give some players a bit of game time against Bolton in the EFL cup during the week. Ings and Bailey both got on the score sheet so maybe not too much to read into here. They need to put in a decent performance here as they have played well in patches but never for a full 90 mins. This game poses a good opportunity but Villa need to capitalize.
Meanwhile the visitors from the capital will be thinking the same could be said for them. Last weeks game against Brighton was one Moyes will be keen to move on from. Outplayed and outclassed against a well coached Brighton side. The Hammers failed to create any real clear cut chances and never really looked like scoring. New signing Timo Keher had a debut to forget, giving away the penalty and being caught short for the second goal. It was maybe a bit naïve from Moyes to start a player who hadn’t started for PSG in a while and also Ligue 1 is not the same speed as the premier league. With zero points from three games they will be desperate to get some points on the board.
That is why is game could prove to be interesting. Both sides may look to throw the kitchen sink here to try and get a turn around in form. Scammaca scored in their Europa Conference League qualification game and could maybe get a start here in an effort to shake things up. Bowen has looked non existent so far and will be keen to get more involved in the game. Benrahma and Fornals have been trying to take some of the burden off of him which is a positive. West Ham need to get their defense in order first though to have any chance in this game
This could prove to be either a very open game or a very tight game. An early goal here could see both teams having a go but if it is 0-0 after 60 mins I could see both teams sitting back and taking the draw. I am going to predict a Villa win here just as I think Watkins and Ings are in some form and West Hams defense is not what it was last season.
Nottm Forest v Tottenham
And so we reach the final game of the weekend as we see Forest play host to Spurs in the Sunday main event. Forest can be happy with how things have gone so far this season. Four points from their opening three games is a great start for the side back in the premier league after so long. Arguable it should be 7 points. They went into Goodison park with a good game plan and were rewarded late on thanks to Pickford palming the ball away to Johnson to finish. Getting caught out ny the long ball like that so late on in the game is a lesson learned. But the point is that Forest look like they can compete with the teams who will be in and around that relegation zone.
Add to this the 16 signings they have made to the squad so far and things look positive for this side. The issue Steve Cooper will have is getting the players to gel together and play his style of football. Spurs at home as the Sunday main event will be something the fans and club should relish because they have nothing to lose. Dennis could be in line for his debut after signing from Watford while Gibbs-White could also be in line to start. Neco Williams has impressed so far at RB and has a nice strike on him. Henderson is probably making United feel foolish in their decision to send him out on loan now. They just need to be wary that this Spurs team is still a Conte side at the end of the day.
Speaking of Conte, he has gotten this Spurs team playing the way he would have envisioned when he took over from Nuno during the middle of last season. The game against Wolves felt like the nervy type of games the Spurs of old would have, well, Spurs’d it up. But Conte has a strong mentality and that seems to have seeped down to the players. They didn’t panic and managed to dig out a result when they weren’t playing well. Perisic looks to have solidified his spot at LWB already. Kane looked sharp and alert to get the goal and Kulusevski was still influencing the game. Son may be the only area of concern but they no longer have to panic when this is the case.
So going into this game Spurs will be looking for another win here. I would expect Conte to name an unchanged side here. Romero would be the only player that may come in if he is back fit. They just need to make sure they don’t get over run in midfield. For the Chelsea game and at times against Wolves it felt like Hojberg and Bentancur were being over run. Forest will most likely try and do the same with maybe Lingard dropping in when out of possession. The front three will no fancy their chances as Forest adjust to the pace in the top flight.
This game Spurs will be heavy favorites for and for good reason. They will be pushing for a top 4 finish and these are the types of games you have to win to do that. I expect Forest to put up a good fight like they did with West Ham. However I think that Spurs have too much quality and will get the win here. I am going for a Spurs win but unsure if they will keep the clean sheet.