First of all my apologies dear readers for not providing you with any of my usually brilliant insight for the past 2 gameweeks. With the quick turnarounds and having to work an actual job I just wasn’t able to find the time. However, now I am back from my hiatus and ready to serenade you once again. So strap in and let’s get this show on the road!
Fulham v Chelsea
Well this fixture just got a hell of a lot more interesting! After escaping Stamford Bridge with win that absolutely should have been a draw Tuchel might have felt a sigh of relief. Those acting classes he paid for Mendy to attend really paid off as you’d swear he had been shot after Bowen lightly touched his shoulder. The stay of execution was short lived however. As after a 1-0 loss to Dinamo Zagreb in the Champions League Tuchel now finds himself on the unemployment line. The move has really caught Chelsea fans by surprise given all the money the new owners spent in the transfer window to bring in his type of players. Some veteran Chelsea fans may feel like they’ve seen this one before however. (Insert Di Caprio GIF here)
They now face what is proving to be a tough test as they make the short journey to take on London rivals Fulham. The Cottagers will be hoping to compound Chelsea’s misery and no doubt Mitrovic will already be looking to add to his already impressive goal tally. The Blues will be hoping for some sort of response to the sacking and the so called “new manager bounce”. Aubameyang now gives them a focal point and recognized ST which takes some of the pressure off Sterling and Havertz. Mount will be hoping to recapture his form of last season and Fofana has added some depth at CB. I just don’t know how this is going to go and maybe that’s what is the intriguing part of all this.
Speaking of intrigue, I don’t think anyone saw Fulham being as good as they have been this season. Mitrovic has carried over his form from the Championship and is averaging a goal a game so far. Wins over impressive teams like Brentford and Brighton whilst also being competitive against the likes of Arsenal, Liverpool and Spurs, Marco Silva deserves a lot of credit. Plus having seen what has been going on at Chelsea they will feel no fear.
Fear is also a word that is not in Mitrovic’s dictionary, loving the physical contact and bullying of CB’s and willing to put his head where others wouldn’t dare. He has proved to be the talisman of this team. You do feel thought that any sort of injury to him and they could be in trouble. Sure they signed Vinicius from Benfica as cover but he hardly set the world alight when he was on loan at Spurs. They’ve also only kept 1 clean sheet this season so you do feel liek they are reliant on scoring goals. At least until they can decide on a settled back 4 and give them time to gel together.
The early kick off game was always a hard one to predict but the Tuchel sacking has really thrown the cat amongst the pigeons here. Chelsea have won their last 6 games Fulham so could be a good omen for them. Ultimately, I think there will be goals in this one for both sides and I am predicting a score draw for this one but take that at your own risk!
Bournemouth v Brighton
If you wanted to look for a team to benefit from a mew manager bounce then you needn’t look further than Bourmeouth who sacked Scott Parker after their 9-0 loss to Liverpool. Having said that the sacking was more due to his outspokenness about the lack of quality in the squad. No doubt the owners heard his comments after the Liverpool match and said enough was enough. Since then they have gone on to draw with Wolves 0-0 and had a brilliant come back to beat also newly promoted side Nottingham Forest 3-2. The new manager bounce is well in effect.
The effect has seen the entire squad lift the levels a little bit. Playing Solanke up top instead of Keiffer Moore adds a bit more flexibility to their play. You do start to wonder if all the negativity about the current squad said by Parker really knocked their confidence. But confidence is something they’re no longer lacking and they head into this Brighton game with a sense of optimism. Whether or not this will continue will really depend on their visitors the Seagulls.
The Seagulls (or the gulls as the kids call them) are seeing their best ever run in the PL in their history. 4 wins from 6 and against so called “better” teams such as Man United, West Ham and Leicester Graham Potter deserves a lot of credit. It seems he has finally got the squad that he has been building for a while. They are playing to an incredibly high level and it really does feel like the sky is the limit for this side. They bounced back from a loss to Fulham by an absolute dismantling of Leicester in a game which they scored some great goals.
While Welback might not be amongst the goals a lot he provides a good focal point for them up top. Pascal Gross and Leandro Trossard continue to score goals and get assists. McAllister was denied a beauty of a goal by VAR but made up for it with a stunner of a free kick. The defence is very well settled and been together for a couple years now. The main thing now is that they have a bench and players they can bring on to keep the energy levels high. Billy Gilmour, who was signed on deadline day, could prove to be a good signing.
Whilst Bournemouth are having themselves a bit of a second wind (all be it a bit early) I find it hard to see past Brighton in this one. Their form is too good and they have the betters squad. I am predicting a Brighton win and clean sheet for this one.
Southampton v Brentford
The Saints continue their yo-yo like form this season as they only ever go between win and losses. Draws are not something that interest this side. Against an out of form Chelsea side they were the better side and managed to get a deserved win. However they then followed that up with a some what disappointing loss to a Wolves side that is struggling for goals and fit strikers. The new owners have put the money into the squad and now it is up to Ralph to get the results. Whether or not the current form is good enough for them only time will tell.
Time is something that Adam Armstrong probably needed. Having been signed from the Championship last season he struggled to get a regular starting spot. This season however he seems to have found a new lease of life on the LW spot. Che Adams continues to prove inconsistent and you do wonder where some of the goals will come from. New signings like Lavia and Bella-Kotchap look real players though. This is a young side and so probably need a bit more time to get it together.
A side that seem to have gotten it all together is Brentford. After the win against United they went on a bit of a meandering run. Draws to Palace and Everton continue to show that this is a side that will just never say die. Thomas Frank will just be hoping they don’t to keep needing all these great escapes! Their latest game, the 5-2 win over Leeds was another example of Brentford at their very best. And Brentford are at their best when Ivan Toney is at his best. A hattrick for the forward in this game and if he keeps this form up will surely be knocking on Southgate’s door.
And they’ll be hoping to show Southampton the exit door on Saturday and keep this form going. it is unclear if the Bee’s will keep their 4-3-3 formation or opt for something a bit more defensive minded. A lot of the starting XI from last week will remain unchanged with maybe Wissa the only player brought in. They have a few tough games coming up as well so will be hoping to get a result here.
This one is a bit tough to predict. It kind of boils down to which Southampton side is going to show up. Brentford have won 2 of the last 3 between these sides. I am going to go for a score draw in this game and say honours even.
Liverpool v Wolves
In normal times this game would nearly not even be worth talking about. However these are not normal times for Liverpool. Struggling to score goals up front whilst also conceding them at the back. It is not quite panic stations yet but it is getting a bit closer to it. A goalless draw against Everton in a Merseyside derby where the hosts had the best chance of the game. Something has to change. This weeks opening game of the Champions League away to Napoli could prove a chance to try and reset but it won’t be easy.
The signing of Arthur on loan on deadline day felt a bit like panic as they are still like in midfield/getting older. Teams are not exploiting Trent getting so far forward by punting balls in behind him. Salah is being man marked out of games and Nunez has yet to catch fire. Klopp will be hoping to get the likes of Thiago back asap to help steady the ship and this game against a Wolves side struggling for goals might prove a decent game for them.
Fortune has also not been so kind to Wolves. They signed ST Kalajdzic only for him to tear his ACL almost 30 mins into his debut. Diego Costa’s application for a work permit was rejected and so now they are in talks with Andy Carroll (no it isn’t 2015). Despite this lack of a goal threat they still managed to get a 1-0 win over Southampton and maybe eased the pressure off of Bruno Lage for the moment. Playing Liverpool at the moment might not prove a bad idea given their form.
Collins has inserted himself into that defence like a glove and showed Conor Coady might not be as big a miss as first thought. Matheus Nunes has breathed new life into their midfield and provides them with a bit more legs going box to box. I feel like a broken record saying “if Jimenez can get back to his old form”. I hope he can but the window to prove this is getting smaller and smaller. The signing of Kalajdzic is evidence of that. It is up to him now to take advantage of this chance he’s been given.
As bad as Liverpool have been of late I just can’t see them losing this game. They are at Anfield and unbeaten in their last 6 games Wolves. I think it will be a tight affair but Liverpool will win to nil.
Leicester v Aston Villa
Where do you even start with the Leicester side? Completely devoid of any idea’s, confidence or moral, they continued to stay rooted to the bottom of the league after a 5-2 loss to Brighton. They had the perfect start too, scoring inside 1 minute. But it became obvious straight after that goal that they would not be getting anything from this game. The Athletic reported on players unsure of the tactics and constant changes by Rodgers weekly and it shows. Combine this with the reported losses of the club even after selling Fofana and it doesn’t smell like a recipe for success. It does maybe give an idea as to why Schmeichel was allowed leave with so little fuss.
Maddison and Barnes are doing their best to provide and attacking threat. Vardy just seems out of sorts and has seen his minutes reduced more and more to the point of being benched. The back 4 seem to be at odds’ with one another, particularly Amartey who was terrible against Brighton. And a GK who doesn’t look fit to start in the PL. Their only saving grace is that they play host to a side and in particular a manager who is in as much hot water as they are.
Yes Steven Gerrard, the heir apparent to Dean Smith. he inherited a lot of this squad but has also had 2 transfer windows to bring in his type of players and been backed sufficiently. So you wonder where has it all gone wrong so far? Well it seems that no matter how hard he tries he isn’t able to coach his team to defend. They have yet to keep a clean sheet against anyone they have faced this season ( including Bolton in the EFL Cup). Combine this with all the chopping and changing up top and it is not too dissimilar to Leicester.
They did however manage to scrap together a draw against Man City and had the linesman not intervened could have had a winner. We might never know on the latter part there but that point will have felt like a win to this Villa side. The problem they face here is that the same tactics won’t work against a side of equal caliber. Watkins will want to get back on the score sheet here and it might not be a bad game to see if Buendia and Couthinho can start together. Villa has 1 of the easiest runs in the league and if they don’t deliver during this stretch Gerrard could see himself out of a job.
Surprisingly, Villa have won 3 of the last 6 meetings between these sides. With both teams in terrible form it is hard to make a prediction here. I do think though that Gerrard’s men will carry on this good feeling they have and get the win. I think they will concede in doing so but I just can’t see Leicester putting up that much of a fight.
Man City v Tottenham
Erling Haaland just makes football look so easy doesn’t he? My God. Most goals in scored by a player in August ever (although there was 1 extra game this season due to the world cup). Fastest player to reach 10 goals in a season ever. And then Rodri says he still hasn’t even grasped the all the concepts that Pep wants in the team. Think about what he could be like when he does? He might not touch the ball much but when he does it is usually a goal. Finally giving Man City a real ST and a chance to threaten for this seasons Champions League.
But anyway about the rest of the team. The draw with Villa was unfortunate but with their supposed title rivals Liverpool in the form they are in was not the worst result. Pep will be hoping to get Laporte back to solidify what has been a somewhat shaky defense. Or that Akanji can win the starting spot over Stones and Ake until then. De Bruyne looks back to his best and already seems to have a telepathic relationship with Haaland. Sterling doesn’t seem to be too much of a loss and Bernardo Silva has already proved how good a player he is. Both scoring goals and providing assists. Spurs though have always proved a bogey team for City though.
Speaking of Spurs, they continued their climb up the table to with a win over Fulham that proved a bit nervy in the end. Conte rested players like Perisic and Kulusevski for that game, no doubt with the Champions League in mind. Son meanwhile was once again absent from the score sheet and has only registered 1 assist this season. It is a testament to Conte that they no longer need to rely on him to win games. Richarlison looks like he will fit in that squad ,coming in for either Kulu or Son when needed. Potentially Kane also but probably only if he is injured.
The one area that Spurs looked a bit weak was in midfield. That was more due to their passing and getting overrun in midfield by other teams. This might also be an area where City can try and hurt them thanks to the likes of KDB, Gundogan and Silva. Spurs also face the toughest next 10 fixtures of any team in the league. So how they handle this next period could well shape their season.
As crazy as it is, Spurs have won 4 of the last 6 games against City. The 2 games City have won have been at the Etihad however. This promises to be another exciting game between the two and if Conte’s men can get a result here they could be title contenders. I fancy both things to score here and I am going to go for a City.
Arsenal v Everton
The 100% record has finally come to an end as last Sunday Arsenal were beaten by a rejuvenated Man United. While the Gunners were arguably the better side in the game, United just took advantage of the opportunities when they had them and Arsenal didn’t. The run was always going to come to an end at some point and with Everton next on the horizon is a chance to get back on track.
Arteta will be hoping to get Parety back before the international break to retake his spot in midfield. Lokongo has deputized well but it still feels like he isn’t quite there yet. It is unclear if there will be any changes for this game but I would be watching out for their Europa league team to get an inkling. With all that said this really feels like a must win game against an Everton side yet to get a win this season.
That’s right, despite being on 4 points so far all those have come from draws. Anthony Gordon has done his best up top to provide the goals but DCL can’t get fit soon enough. Neal Maupay was signed as his back up and very much looked like the Maupay we all know, missing the best chance of the game against Liverpool. Onana and Gueye will add some physicality in midfield but maybe not much creativity. Coady and Tarkowski have made a good pairing at the back with Patterson proving an interesting RWB.
They will no doubt set up the same way they did against Liverpool, soak up the pressure and look to catch arsenal on the counter. It will be up to the Arsenal coaching staff to plan for this. Being 6 games into the season and still without a win is worrying. If Everton don’t cop on soon they will find themselves in another relegation battle.
I can’t see anything other than an Arsenal win here. Everton will no doubt put up a stern fight but I just don’t think they will have enough. At the end of the day I still struggle to see where the goals are going to come from.
West Ham v Newcastle
The Hammers have every right to feel hard done by from their last game. A soft decision by VAR to award a foul has since been declared the wrong decision by the PGMOL. Combine that with just 1 win from their last 6 games and things start to look even bleaker. Antonio and Scammaca haven’t been in good form and Bowen has been almost anonymous since the start of the season. Moyes will hope the deadline day signing of Lucas Paqueta will add some much needed creativity to the midfield and let them be able to play through the middle as well as the wings.
They play host to a Newcastle side in a somewhat similar vein of form, with their only win being on the opening day of the season. Although the visitors have been playing the better football. West Ham will likely have their fair share of chances as Pope has been 1 of the busiest keepers in the league so far. What they will need to be wary of is the Newcastle front 3. Isak looked impressive against Liverpool and if Saint-Maximin is back fit will cause problems down their right hand side. West Ham will really need a full team performance you feel against this Eddie Howe side
Speaking of Howe, you can see that this team finally starting to take the shape he wants it to. With financial fair play in effect they couldn’t just run out and throw truck loads of cash around much like City or Chelsea did after they were taken over. They have to be smarter and also try and recruit the right types of players and they seem on the right track. 4 draws in their last 5 games but when you consider some of these games were against the likes of Man City and away to Brighton it adds a bit of perspective. They should however have probably won more than 1 game by now.
That might be why this game feels a bit more important. West Ham are a side there for the taking and if Newcastle are to be taken seriously then this is a game they should win. Away from home or not. Getting Bruno Guimaraes and ASM back would be a massive boost for them. Fraser can deputize in that LW spot but is just not the same threat. The defense itself will probably need to improve a bit as well. They are allowing too many shots on goal and this will come back to bite them at some point.
Maybe a little bit surprisingly Newcastle have the better record in this fixture, winning 3 of the last 6. With both defenses being quite poor I can see goals for both sides in this game. I am going to go for a Newcastle win here and compound Moyes’s misery. I do think though that he is the right man to turn it around though.
Crystal Palace v Man United
A couple of weeks ago I would have said this would be a great time to play United but now that might no longer be the case. A couple of draws has maybe slowed down the momentum Palace had going for them but they will no doubt relish the challenge. I say a couple draws but against Newcastle they had a goal disallowed that, again, the PGMOL has said should have stood. Zaha has been in great form and continues to be the talismanic player for them that he has been for years.
The Palace defense might not be as good as it was last season. They have only kept 1 clean sheet so far and will be hopig to improve on that. Eze has played well but maybe not had the stats such as goals and assists to back it up. If Olise can get consistent minutes I think he is a better option on the RW than Ayew. How they cope with the pace of the Man United front line. Playing the game at Selhurst park could also be a big factor for them.
Ten Hag meanwhile has proved to be a big factor for this United sides change in fortune. A big win against Arsenal that he himself admitted was far from perfect. As long as the results keep coming then everyone will be happy. That win makes it 3 in a row now for United and with the new signing Antony getting off the mark in his debut all seems positive. This game against Palace will prove another stern test for the Red devils as Viera has proved himself a manager who knows how to play against the bigger sides. (Apart from Arsenal of course)
When you have a winning formula the last thing you want to do is make changes. I don’t see any changes to that starting XI which means club captain Maguire continues to sit on the bench (and not a bad thing for everyone). Rashford up top looks like he is close to being back to his best. The LF position is probably his best but with Sancho and Antony on either wing, ST is the only position open at the moment. They will need to change the game plan slightly as they will have the lions share of possession here. This means that they might not be able to hit Palace on the counter like they did with Arsenal.
United are no doubt the favorites for this game and probably rightly so. They have won 3 of the last 6 games and 2 of them to nil. I think United will come out on top in this game but I don’t think they will have it all their own way. Palace are threatening in front of goal and they could nick one.
Leeds V Notts Forest
Marsch’s men will probably feel a bit hard done by with some of the decisions that went against them in the Brentford game. Marsch himself ended up getting sent to the stands for his troubles. Truth be told though Brentford were just the better side on the day. 1 of the positives to take out of the game is that they seem to have found a good replacement for Raphinia in Sinisterra. The goal he scored in this game was a great piece of individual brilliance. The problems however remain the same, a lack of goals up top and a slightly leaky defense.
Leeds will be hoping to get Bamford back soon especially after Rodrigo dislocated his shoulder. A real shame as he finally started to show the talent he hoped to deliver when he first arrived. With all the injuries going on at Leeds I am surprised they haven’t called Paul Pogba’s witch doctor! This game against Forest though is one that they should be winning. Regardless of all the signings the visitors have made Leeds still have enough quality to win this game.
Life in the PL has proved to be everything Forest fans would have hoped it would be. Win, draws, losses and come from behind defeats (well maybe not that last part). And all this while managing to add a small army to their squad. Steve Cooper can’t complain that he is light on options now. The loss against Bouremouth will sting as it was at home to a side they should have beaten, were 2-0 and had just sacked their manager. Cooper will need to get the players to reset and focus on Leeds while he tries to find his best starting XI at the same time.
Forest also play a nice style of football, which is nice to the viewer. The aim though is to translate that into wins. With the 3 at the back they will look to stretch Leeds wide. Lingard and Gibbs-White are two attacking players capable of playing good through balls too. Kouyate adds some much needed PL experience and muscle in midfield. All the pieces are there and after seeing the tape against Brentford Cooper will think they are well in with a chance here.
Much like the sides two previous games I think this will be a high scoring affair. It’s been almost 3 years since these sides last played each other and so much has changed so you can through that out the window. Ultimately I think Leeds will have just enough to come out on top but it will be close.