Premier League weekend preview
Brentford v Brighton
Brentford followed up a 0-0 stalemate at Bournemouth with a 5-1 drubbing by Newcastle and now have just one win in their last seven league outings. A concern across these fixtures will be that the Bees are allowing 14 shots against them per game, a total which is exposing them at the back and leading to the concession of plenty of goals – only two sides have conceded more.
Roberto De Zerbi’s possession heavy style failed to garner any points in his home debut against Tottenham. With central midfielder Alexis Mac Allister turning all Rodri on us with 118 passes, it is clear that the Seagulls will be looking to build from the back, but they looked a little unsure of how to break down a stubborn Spurs backline and will be hopeful that Brentford’s poor defensive record means they will be an easier door to unlock.
Brighton did the double over Brentford last season without conceding and the sides look in quite contrasting condition right now and so I’m going for an away victory.
Leicester v Crystal Palace
Foxes fans were reminded of their struggles last weekend, brought down to earth with a thud losing at Bournemouth. Once again, they surrendered an early lead – the fifth occasion they’ve done so this season – and allowed the Cherries two quick fire goals to turn the game around. This susceptibility when leading in games is a real concern and one that has to be addressed if Rodgers is to survive another week in charge.
Crystal Palace completed a turnaround of their own to see off Leeds at Selhurst Park for only their second league win of the season. Palace will feel that their league position is not representative of their performances so far this term and a tie at Leicester represents another opportunity to make some headway up the league table. However, having not beaten them in their last 6 meetings, this may not be a foregone conclusion.
Despite their poor head-to-head record, Crystal Palace look the team to get behind here as Leicester flattered to deceive once more last weekend.
Fulham v Bournemouth
With both sides expected to struggle for safety this season, it’s a welcome surprise for this fixture to be a battle between two sides in the top 10. However, the two teams arrive on slightly different trajectories. A 3-1 loss at West Ham extended Fulham’s unwanted record to just 1 victory in the last 29 London derbies and the three goals conceded now make it 2 or more goals conceded in 7 of their 9 league games. Aleksandar Mitrovic was a key less and they’ll be desperate for him to be available for this one.
Bournemouth come into this fixture unbeaten in five games after the weekend’s 2-1 victory over Leicester and continue to look more promising than many expected they’d be. Caretaker boss Gary O’Neil is certainly staking his claim for the role full-time and having seen a return of 9 points from his 5 games in charge, another positive outcome here will surely see him get the job. One area for improvement will be getting Dom Solanke firing after he drew another blank and has just 1 goal to his name this season.
Although they have had contrasting fortunes recently, I expect Fulham to return to form here but the resurgence of Bournemouth can’t be ignored and so it’s a repeat of both head to heads last season – score draw.
Wolves v Forest
Wolves continue to struggle and a sixth blank of the season in their loss at Chelsea showed exactly where the problems lie. At the time of writing, they are still managerless having been turned down by Julen Lopetegui and have the worst goal scoring record in the entire Football League. A visit from Forest may be just the tonic though with the newly promoted visitors having shipped 22 goals this season.
A new contract was perhaps not the outcome Steve Cooper was expecting given Forest’s form, but it did lead to a first point in six games after the 1-1 draw with Villa on Monday night. It was the fourth time this season that they’ve led in a game but failed to have seen it out and they’ll need to kick this habit quickly if they’re to survive the drop.
Two sides that hardly get fans on the edge of their seats in front of goal here, Wolves to snatch a much-needed win.
Tottenham v Everton
A formation change to 3-5-2 worked wonders for Tottenham as they saw off Brighton in a much more assured performance. Desperate to pay tribute to player-favourite fitness coach Gian Piero Ventrone who sadly passed away last week, Spurs could have been forgiven for letting the occasion get the better of them but produced a performance to make the Italian proud. On the pitch, they kept Brighton at arm’s length relatively comfortably and will be confident of doing similar to Everton here. Strangely, Spurs returned to a 3-4-3 in the Champions League and again struggled to control Frankfurt despite the visitors having a man sent off. It will be interesting to see what formation Conte opts for here.
Excusing the home loss to United last weekend, Frank Lampard deserves a lot of credit for the way he has turned Everton’s fortunes around. The arrivals of James Tarkowski and Connor Coady have added some much-needed defensive stability and the way they responded to going a goal down at Southampton showed that they have much more about them this season than the team who would have rolled over in a similar situation last term.
Much has been written in this article about Spurs looking lacklustre but the change in formation has given them a new lease of life and they should have too much for Everton here, home win.
Aston Villa v Chelsea
Villa come to the Midlands unbeaten in their last four games but will have been frustrated having failed to beat Forest on Monday. Languishing in 16th place, Steven Gerrard is once again under pressure. The Villains boss has lamented his strike force saying he ‘can’t see much else wrong’ and their goal tally of just 7 suggests he has some justification. If they are to improve on this, they’ll need to up their shots per game average which currently sits at 10.9 – the 4th worst record in the league.
Having completed a Champions League double over AC Milan midweek, Chelsea seems to have adapted to life under Graham Potter well. It’s now 4 wins in a row in all competition and the way they dismantled Wolves 3-0 was much more like the Chelsea fans will have expected this season. A hallmark of their improvement has been sharing the goals around with 8 different goalscorers in these games showing the strength in depth they possess.
Villa have only beaten Chelsea once since 2014 and there’s no reason to believe that record is about to improve. Potter’s men go marching on.
Man Utd v Newcastle
Man Utd returned to form with a comfortable victory at Goodison Park to exorcise some of the demons from their Manchester derby mauling the week before. Despite that loss, they’ve now won 5 of their last 6 in the league and look to be hitting their stride under Erik Ten Haag. Antony kept up his record of having scored in every league appearance since his arrival at Old Trafford and there was a much welcome 700th club career goal for outcast Cristiano Ronaldo to boot.
The Magpies appear to have shaken off their slow start with a 5-1 victory over Brentford to follow up the 4-1 success of the week before. They’re now sat in sixth and the fact they’re doing so having already suffered injuries to Callum Wilson, Alexander Isak, Allan Saint-Maximin and Bruno Guimaraes makes that even more impressive. The return to goalscoring form of fan favourite Guimaraes will have particularly delighted the Toon Army.
Man Utd have won 4 of the last 5 head to heads and can be fancied to do so again here in what promises to be an entertaining battle.
Leeds v Arsenal
The Gunners re-asserted their authority in the title race with a first victory over Liverpool in nine attempts to follow up their confident dismissal of Tottenham. They seem to have found some defensive stability to go with their attacking flair and with Granit Xhaka relishing his more advanced role, they look a real force to be reckoned with this season. Arteta’s men have certainly found their feet in front of goal with only Man City bettering their 23-goal haul so far. With four consecutive victories over Leeds, they’ll arrive at Elland Road in buoyant mood.
The Whites last beat Arsenal in 2001 and in their current state, few can expect them that record to change here. They’re now without a win in five league games. The ecstatic atmosphere that was present after their dismantling of Chelsea feels a long time ago and another battle with relegation looks more likely. The one positive for Leeds will be the returning Rodrigo and Bamford which should add more attacking output alongside Sinisterra’s marauding runs.
Arsenal looks so full of confidence that it’s more a question of how many they win by rather than if they win here.
Southampton v West Ham
Southampton return to St Mary’s on the back of four consecutive defeats with the loss at City adding to the disappointing collapse against Everton. They are yet to keep a clean sheet in the league this season and so the visit of a side with 5 goals in their last 2 games will be the last thing they’ll want. With tough fixtures to come against Arsenal, Palace and Newcastle, Southampton will need to get something here to avoid dropping into the bottom three.
Consecutive league victories for the first time since January have seen The Hammers lift themselves out of the bottom three. These victories were in no small part down to consecutive league goals for both Scamacca and Bowen, two key players whose confidence looks high and whose partnership is showing signs that it is beginning to click. With Lucas Paqueta starting to demonstrate flashes of his talent too, West Ham look set to climb the table after a slow start.
West Ham have all the momentum and Southampton’s form is a sea of red and so it’s another Hammers victory here.
Liverpool v Man City – CITY
Liverpool continues to flatter to deceive and their 3-2 loss at Arsenal will have done little to dispel the doubters. Languishing in 10th position will not have been the start that anyone expected, especially having faced just three sides who finished inside the top ten last season. They’ve only won two league games this campaign, one of those needing a 98th minute winner and all is clearly not right on Merseyside. Injuries to Trent Alexander-Arnold, Joel Matip and Luis Diaz only make this task look even tougher. They did look more like their old selves in a dominant display over Rangers in the Champions League but converting that to Premier League form has proved problematic so far.
What can be said about Man City that hasn’t been said already? They added 4 goals to their tally in blowing away Southampton at the weekend and have now racked up 33 goals in just 9 games. Erling Haaland continues to defy the record books and despite failing to add a fourth consecutive home hat-trick, he’s already looking a shoo-in to become the record goalscorer in a single Premier League season. The one question mark is still in defence where Man Utd and Newcastle were able to score three times, however, this side definitely seems to have been built in the ‘you score 3, we’ll score 4’ mould. The frustration of a 0-0 draw in the Champions League will only make them angrier and does anyone fancy lining up against a fully rested Haaland?
The two sides look further apart than they have done in a long time right now and you just can’t see past another City win here.