Arsenal v Spurs
Having been brought down to earth by a 3-1 defeat at Man Utd which suggested that early calls for a title charge were a tad premature, Arsenal showed their mettle again in a hugely one sided 3-0 victory at Brentford. This was exactly the sort of game that previous Arsenal sides would have dropped points in and so maybe this is truly a new dawn. They’ll be especially confident back at The Emirates where they’ve won 6 consecutive games.
Tottenham’s 6-2 defeat of Leicester in their last league game showed signs of the attacking threat their squad has promised after a start that has brought many points but not many convincing performances. Heung-Min Son’s 17-minute hat-trick will have been a very welcome return to form for Conte’s side. Despite having bragging rights over their North London rivals for a few seasons now, Tottenham have only won once at The Emirates since Arsenal’s move in 2006, a record fans will be desperate to improve upon.
With the two sides first and third in the league and the red-hot rivalry, this has all the makings of a classic. Arsenal just look the side most settled into the style their manager wants to play and that gives them the edge here and a home win.
Liverpool v Brighton
It seems the drubbing of Bournemouth was a false dawn for Liverpool as they returned to their stuttering ways in the Merseyside Derby last time out, struggling to break down a stubborn Everton and followed this with a comprehensive defeat away at Napoli before a less than convincing victory over Ajax. The Reds just cannot seem to get going and the visit of a Brighton side that they’ve only beaten once in the last 4 head to heads may not be the ideal team to rectify this against.
This will be the first game in charge for new Brighton boss Roberto De Zebri. Graham Potter played a pivotal role in establishing Brighton as a side who have consistently punched well above their weight and their confidence after going a goal down to Leicester before dispatching them 5-2 was evidence of the belief he has instilled in this squad. How well they adapt to life under De Zerbi remains to be seen but it’s certainly a tough introduction to life in England.
With the uncertainty at Brighton, Liverpool should have just enough to see them over the line here and a very welcome three points.
Crystal Palace v Chelsea
Patrick Vieira’s Palace side continue to earn plaudits and by no means sat back away at Newcastle, plundering 19 shots with 9 on target in their 0-0 draw. With Zaha back in the side and looking at his very best, they’re a match for anybody and seem to be approaching each game with an air of confidence. They do however lack a cutting edge up front and if Zaha can be nullified, you wonder where the goals are coming from in this side.
Graham Potter’s bow as Chelsea’s new man ended in a disappointing 1-1 draw with Salzburg which perhaps emphasised best the size of the task ahead of him. With a squad expensively assembled by Thomas Tuchel, fans will have been expecting much more from their team, especially away from home where they’ve now lost to Zagreb, Southampton and Leeds, all with very poor performances. What is for sure is that they’ll be desperate to improve their defensive record having already conceded 9 goals, a total it took them until December 1st to reach last season.
Palace feel like a nightmare opponent for a side in flux but with Potter’s reputation for shoring up defences along with Palace’s profligacy in front of goal aside from Zaha, I’m expecting a low scoring draw here.
Fulham v Newcastle
Fulham have made a great start to life in the Prem and sit pretty in the top 6 after 7 games. We saw a new side to Marco Silva’s men as they came from behind at the City Ground with 3 goals in 5 second half minutes. Aleksandar Mitrovic carried his stellar goalscoring form in to the internationals with a hat trick for Serbia vs Sweden and a game against his old club will add extra motivation here.
Newcastle had another frustrating afternoon to add to their previous three results as they failed to see off Bournemouth despite 20 shots at goal. Toon fans will be concerned that they’ve struggled to put Wolves, Palace and Bournemouth to bed. Alexander Isak has looked bright since his arrival so his untimely injury whilst on injury duty is a further blow. Eddie Howe will be hoping Callum Wilson can return from his own injury to fill the goalscoring void.
Two sides meet here that have both had very bright starts although one will be a lot happier than the other with their points tally. I’m sitting on the fence and going for another afternoon of frustration for Newcastle as they’re held to another draw.
Southampton v Everton
Southampton come in to the game off the back of a pair of disappointing defeats at Wolves and Villa that have somewhat dampened the mood at St Mary’s. Having conceded 11 goals in just 7 games so far, their defensive record needs improving and the Toffees may be the perfect opponents for this having scored just 5 times this season.
Frank Lampard has overseen something of a resurgence at Everton as they are now unbeaten in 5 league games after their victory against West Ham. There hasn’t been an away victory in this fixture since 2019 and with the visitors having taken just 12 points from their last 22 away trips, Lampard will be desperate to improve this record.
Once again this looks like two teams very difficult to separate and so we’re heading for a stalemate.
Bournemouth v Brentford
Bournemouth are another side who have addressed their alarming start having taken 5 points from their last three games including a battling victory from two goals down at Forest and a spirited display at Newcastle earning them a point. The Cherries had a very tough start to life in the Premier League after facing Man City, Liverpool and Arsenal in their first four fixtures but aside from these matches, they’ve taken eight points from four games against teams they would consider their main rivals and will be more than happy with a 12th place position.
Brentford arrive at the Vitality as the team who have scored the third highest number of goals in the league and will be looking to add to this against a Bournemouth side who have conceded 19 goals in 7 games – although 13 of these were to Liverpool and City. Ivan Toney is in great form and will be confident of adding to his tally of five goals. A particular source of success for Brentford could be in set pieces where they have scored four and Bournemouth have conceded five.
Despite Bournemouth’s resurgence, it’s difficult to overlook their lack of goals and the amount they’ve conceded. Couple that with Brentford’s attacking nous and it looks like a Bees victory.
West Ham v Wolves
Coming in to this game in the relegation zone is evidence of Hammers’ fans concerns that new signings are not gelling quickly enough and they’ll want to get back on the win trail ASAP. In stark contrast to the last two campaigns, David Moyes is under real pressure and failure to get a result here could see owners getting twitchy. West Ham have struggled in front of goal with just three goals this season, a tally only matched by opponents Wolves so this should be a tense contest with little goalmouth action.
Having nicked all three points against Southampton in a trademark low scoring affair, Wolves returned to drawing blanks last time out against Man City. For all their spending and exciting signings in the transfer window, they still look very blunt going forward and as mentioned previously, just three goals in seven games is a paltry return.
With both of the games between these sides last season ending 1-0 to the hosts, I’m expecting another narrow home win here.
Man City v Man Utd
The Man City juggernaut continues to roll on after a comfortable 3-0 victory at Molineux followed up with consecutive Champions League wins. Pep’s side look irresistible in front of goal and have already racked up 23 goals in seven league games and it feels just a matter of time before they are back atop of the Premier League. Haaland and De Bruyne have looked every bit the dream partnership they promised to be with the pair combining for 19 goal involvements so far – 82% of City’s league goals.
On the other side of Manchester, it seems many of us have underestimated Erik Ten Hag at United. Ridiculed and written off after their 4-0 reverse at Brentford, his side have responded with four consecutive wins, seeing off both Liverpool and Arsenal in the process. New signing Antony looked every bit the new Old Trafford hero in his goalscoring debut and with Marcus Rashford and Jadon Sancho looking re-energised, whisper it quietly but the Red Devils look like real challengers for the top 4 again.
With the two sides in good form and looking comfortable in the systems their managers have opted for, this looks to be another mouth-watering derby. With Man City having won 3 of the last 4 head to heads and looking so good going forward, I have to side with the Citizens for a win here.
Leeds v Aston Villa
Leeds come in to this game having had expectations tempered somewhat by a 5-2 defeat at Brentford in their last game. The Bees were able to bypass the high press far too often and Ivan Toney had a field day, a performance which showed Jesse Marsch hasn’t quite exorcised the defensive demons of the previous season. Without the goal threat of Rodrigo, Leeds fans will be desperately hoping that Patrick Bamford is fit to start to add some end product to the talents of Sinisterra although a long trip home from international duty also makes him a doubt.
Steven Gerrard’s Villa side managed a much needed 1-0 win over Southampton before the international break. A result that will have had him breathing a huge sigh of relief after early results saw him under pressure although it appears he is still unsure of his best eleven. Flip flopping between Bailey, Coutinho and Buendia has brought mixed results but having only won one of their last eight Premier League away games, there’s reason for pessimism for Villains fans.
With Villa’s poor away record and Leeds having had a week off before the international break for Marsch to further stamp his mark on the side, I fancy Leeds to return to winning ways at Elland Road.
Leicester v Forest
Somehow, Brendan Rodgers has survived the international break with his job intact, even admitting himself that this Foxes side is ‘nothing like the Leicester of recent years’. Having taken the lead at both Brighton and Tottenham in their last two games, they looked like a side who had absolutely no idea what to do next and duly shipped 11 goals across these two fixtures to take their record to 22 goals conceded in just seven games – three more than any other side. Coming in to this off the back of six consecutive losses in the league, it feels only a matter of time before Rodgers finds himself future endeavored.
What a difference two games can make in football. Forest went in at half time against Bournemouth looking comfortable and came out of the game being touted as relegation certainties with a bloated squad that lack identity or direction. They then followed this up by giving up another home lead to Fulham, conceding three goals in five minutes. The biggest concern for Forest fans will be the way in which they are surrendering an advantage, in particular to sides they would expect to be competing with to stay up. Four consecutive defeats have left a squad that looked to have a good chance of competing this season in to one that could be in for a very tough campaign.
A Midlands Derby between two of the worst sides in the division might not make for a classic on Monday Night Football but I’m hopeful that it can rouse a Leicester side and bring them to life and so am going for a home win here.