Just before the International break sneaks in, we get served a full dose of Premier league football yet again, a complete lineup of fixtures starting off with the lunchtime mouth-watering encounter between Tottenham Hotspurs and Liverpool at the White Hart Lane and closing the curtains of Saturday is a surprisingly ‘top of the table’ clash between Hull City and Manchester United which features varying sub-plots.
For the Manchester sides, they could not have asked for a better start, the new mangers picking 2 wins out of two, new players settling in quite well and clear signs of improvement from both camps, here is my weekend preview and predictions:
Tottenham Hotspurs VS Liverpool (White Hart Lane): Lunchtime kick-off and the weekend opener sees Tottenham Hotspurs who have started the season in decent form hosting Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool. For Klopp, finding a balance to his team is key, as they tend to portray performances as unpredictable as Countinho scoring a belter every other week. Victor Wanyama’s sole strike earned Spurs the three points in their last game whilst Liverpool’s defense remains a worry for the fans, the two sides have the potential to serve up an explosive fixture and we only hope this turns out to be a good curtain raiser of goals as we kick off the week.
Prediction: Tottenham Hotspurs 2 Liverpool 1
Chelsea VS Burnley (Stamford Bridge): Two late goals from Diego Costa in two games where he arguably should have been sent off has heralded Antonio Conte’s start to Premier league football, a mentality is clearly brewing amidst the squad and with the brilliant late display of Fabregas in the second half of the tie at Watford, Batshuayi getting in amongst the goals and Mikel Obi’s return from the Olympics to vie for a midfield slot, things seem to be shaping up in the right direction for the Blues. Burnley on the other hand enjoyed a well-deserved victory over Liverpool in week 2, they were pleased to pass on possession and took their chances quite well, don’t expect them to come lying down at the bridge as Chelsea has to earn this win.
Prediction: Chelsea 3 Burnley 1
Crystal Palace VS Bournemouth (Selhurst Park): At some point last season, Alan Pardew’s side were 4th on the league but have since lost their punch and don’t seem to have recovered yet. Two sides lying 19th and 20th on the log with no points from two games, way too early to be a relegation 6-pointer but this is a fixture that they will both like to secure victories to kick-start their season especially Palace with their financial outlay on transfers and their poor run of form since the turn of 2016.
Prediction: Crystal Palace 2 Bournemouth 1
Everton VS Stoke City (Goodison Park): Manager Ronald Koeman will be pleased with the return of some of his top players as they come up against a Stoke side which had absolutely no answer to Man City’s firepower at their home ground. Everton has picked up 4 points whilst Stoke are yet to get a win from their opening fixtures, another of those games that will be close, guaranteed of excitement and strong robust play from both sides especially taking into consideration the performance Stoke put in on their last visit to Goodisson.
Prediction: Everton 2 Stoke City 1
Leicester City VS Swansea City (King Power Stadium): The defending champions are yet to get a win in the opening fixtures but their performance against Arsenal, a side that defeated them on both occasions when they met last season showed some signs of improvement, manager Claudio Ranieri should be pleased with the performance that top signing Ahmed Musa put in during the few minutes he was on the pitch and it would be interesting to see if he gets more minutes this time around, for Swansea having lost key players, survival is paramount and a win already is good enough motivation going into this, though I however strongly expect Leicester to get its first win of this campaign in front of their home crowd.
Prediction: Leicester City 2 Swansea 0
Southampton VS Sunderland (St. Mary’s): Claude Puel’s welcome to the Premier league has not been a grand entry, struggling with the loss of major players and bedding in new ones, the Saints have looked a shadow of the team they were in past seasons, For Sunderland, there is actually no surprise here as bookmakers had prior to the season tipped David Moyes’s men to be relegated hence no points from two games is a step in that direction. This is one game that may just turn out to be one of the games of the weekend as both managers, new to the teams desperately need a win under their belt, but Sunderland doesn’t look any shade like a team ready to upset the odds, so Puel may just be getting his first win this weekend
Prediction: Southampton 3 v Sunderland 1
Watford VS Arsenal (The Hawthorns): There is this buzz of expectations from the Emirates and their supporters following the almost done deals for striker Lucas Perez and Valencia defender Mustafi, the fans craved for top signings and Wenger obliged, whether these are players who will improve the squad or just add to the numbers, it remains to be seen. For Watford, Walter Mazzarri will still be sulking over the two late goals conceded to Chelsea, for long spells they looked in control and sure to pick up at least a point but they ended up losing all three, he will definitely welcome his first victory but will it be at the expense of an under pressure Arsene Wenger who rumors continue to trail his future at Arsenal and would be eager to at least burn out his candle on a glorious note.
Prediction: Watford 1 v Arsenal 1
Hull City VS Manchester United (KC Stadium): The unlikely case of third against fourth, both sides with perfect records from their opening two fixtures and whilst that of United may have been expected, Hull City has surprised all with their performances despite the many issues around the team. Senior squad members remain out and the team under temporary manager Mike Phelan have made just one substitution in two games. For Mike Phelan, this is a familiar threat as he faces a side he knows very well having understudied Sir Alex for many years. United fans can’t wait to see Pogba play again and hope Zlatan makes it five goals in four games. Jose seems to be settling down into what his staring 11 will look like and he liked the shape of the Pogba/ Fellaini combination in midfield, will be really hard to look beyond United in this tie.
Prediction: Hull City 0 Manchester United 2
West Brom Vs Middlesbrough (The Hawthorns): The first of the Sunday games sees Tony Pulis side up against Aitor Karanka’s imports. Boro have adjusted to their return to the top flight pretty well with a win and a draw whilst West Brom have also been able to pick a win from their opening fixtures, this is a game that looks equally balanced and I don’t really expect goals to rain in this.
Prediction: West Brom 1 Middlesbrough 1
Manchester City VS West Ham (Etihad): The final fixture for the week and before the international break sees Pep Guardiola’s men who have started the season like a house on fire with star striker Kun Aguero leading the lines up against Slaven Bilic’s West Ham who are actually built for games like this causing major upsets against top sides. City seem to have finally solved their ‘rather unnecessary’ goal keeping uncertainty following the capture of Claudio Bravo whilst West Ham are also expected to add Simone Zaza to their ranks of exciting talents. City had a near perfect display away to Stoke, a ground where some expected Pep to face a serious test and with the form of Sterling, Nolito, I expect them to get yet another victory this weekend.
Prediction: Manchester City 3 v West Ham 1
Tottenham Hotspurs VS Liverpool
Chelsea VS Burnley (3pm)
Crystal Palace VS AFC Bournemouth (3pm)
Everton VS Stoke City (3pm)
Leicester City VS Swansea City (3pm)
Southampton VS Sunderland (3pm)
Watford VS Arsenal (3.00pm)
Hull City VS Manchester United (5.30pm)
West Brom VS Middlesbrough (1.30pm)
Manchester City VS Westham United (4pm)