It was just two out of five last week for Ed Acteson as Chelsea and Manchester United overcame their respective injury crises to beat Leicester and Wolves. He’s confident of a better showing this week though, with some intriguing fixtures taking place on Saturday afternoon. If you agree with his Premier League tips want to join his Pick 8 Syndicate, click here.
Leicester vs. Tottenham
The Foxes let me down badly last weekend when I tipped them to take advantage of an injury ravaged Manchester United. Instead they capitulated to a 1-0 defeat despite boasting the majority of possession.
They come up against another top four hopeful this week in Spurs, a side who are on a slightly bizarre away run. Spurs have drawn three consecutive away games 2-2 and have let two goal leads slip in the last two, against Olympiakos and Arsenal.
They blasted Crystal Palace off the pitch last week, scoring all four goals in a hugely mismatched first half, and when they went two up inside half an hour against Olympiakos, the Greeks must have been fearing for their safety. Instead Spurs were undone by 34-year-old Mathieu Valbuena, who provided a goal and an assist as they came back to share the spoils.
It’s hard to know who will have taken the bigger mental hit after those results and Spurs on paper clearly have the edge. However, a midweek round trip to Greece isn’t ideal preparation for a Saturday lunchtime kick off and I worry about fatigue playing a part. As such I’ll take the draw.
Burnley vs. Norwich
What an astonishing result it was for Norwich last week as they beat Manchester City 3-2 at Carrow Road.
Teemu Pukki has adjusted brilliantly to life in the top flight and, in scoring the winner, he netted his sixth goal of the season to earn Norwich’s sixth point.
It hasn’t escaped my notice though that all six of those points have come at home where they have been particularly strong. Far stronger than their two matches away from home where they have accrued zero points and a combined goal tally of one scored and six conceded.
Burnley have secured their only win so far at Turf Moor, a 3-0 victory over Southampton on the opening day, and I fancy their chances of adding a second here. Sean Dyche’s side have only lost to ‘big six’ sides so far, suffering defeat to Arsenal and Liverpool, yet managed that win against Southampton as well as draws with Wolves and Brighton.
Quite often the mental and physical toll of upsetting a giant affects a smaller club in their following match. Last season Crystal Palace, Newcastle and Leicester were the only sides, other than Chelsea, to beat City in the league and they managed a single point collectively in their next matches, which came against relegation-bound Cardiff. I foresee a Norwich hangover.
Everton vs. Sheffield United
The knives are out once again for Marco Silva after his team lay down against Bournemouth last week. He desperately needs a response against a spirited Sheffield United are the vultures will truly be circling.
Last week I mentioned that I felt Sheffield United would start struggling in the league, yet tipped them to earn a point against Southampton. They promptly lost and I won’t be making the same mistake this week.
Everton simply must win this game if Marco Silva isn’t to find himself doing down the job centre next week doing job interview roleplays and I think they will do exactlt that. The Toffees have been decent at home so far, winning both of their matches against Wolves and Watford, and I would expect them to win this one comfortably.
Man City vs. Watford
On one hand we have a Man City side with defensive problems to solve who were exposed by Norwich last week. On the other hand we have Watford, who are unbeaten in two and seemed to get the new manager bounce last week as they battered Arsenal in the most one sided draw you’re likely to see. Is there a possible upset on the cards? No chance.
Three of City’s four defeats last season came in quick succession, all occurring within the space of four games in December. However, they were unbelievable at home all season and won 18 of their 19 matches at the Etihad, the outlier being the aforementioned shock defeat to Palace.
Watford should tighten up defensively now that Quique Sanchez Flores has taken over but this fixture isn’t where that change will start. Expect a fired up City to prove a point after their embarressment at Carrow Road last week by putting Watford to the sword.
Verdict: Man City
Newcastle vs. Brighton
The Chris Hughton derby. Both sides were tipped to struggle this season and, sure enough, find themselves in 18th and 16th respectively after five matches.
Each have a single win to their name so far with Newcastle taking advantage of a Spurs side who hadn’t fully clicked into gear and Brighton beating Watford on the opening day.
Newcastle are one of the few clubs in the league who you can’t say particularly enjoy home advantage due to the toxic atmosphere in St James Park, as Mike Ashley’s relationship with the supporters continues to boil over.
There’s nothing particularly encouraging to be found in the form of either of these sides. Newcastle still have injuries and, as I mentioned, a hostile atmosphere at home so I’m tempted to give the edge to the visitors but will opt for the draw.