The weekend is here again, the last weekend of league football just before the International break kicks in, here is my preview of the ever intriguing Premier League.
First against Second
Tottenham Hotspurs play host to table toppers Manchester City in what is unarguably the biggest game of the weekend, Mauricio Pochettino’s men have enjoyed a fine start to this seasons’ campaign, continuing form where they stopped in the last one, in the absence of Harry Kane, Son Heung-Min has ensured the sun keeps shining at White Hart Lane with his goals and they will welcome City at this time after seeing their 100% winning record halted at Celtic in the Champions League.
For Pep Guardiola, he may have helped Raheem Sterling regain confidence which have seen him score two in his last two, but he needs to work that magic wand on his defense as they looked flat footed against a speedy Dembele. Manchester City are without their one of their best players thus far in Kevin De Bruyne and know that a win in this game will see them put some form of daylight between them and the chasing pack.
Prediction: Tottenham 1 Manchester City 1
Bolasie takes on old mates
For Everton, many wonder if their defeat at Bournemouth is the beginning of a meltdown after a fine start to the season, Manager Ronald Koeman will be hoping not. Everton host Crystal Palace in the Friday night fixture with Alan Pardew’s men stealing all three points at the last minute after going 2-nil down against Sunderland. Former Palace boy, Yannick Bolasie who has adapted well to life at the Mersey side will be hoping to continue his fine form, similar strikers in Lukaku and Benteke for both sides and the duo have showed impressive displays already, looks all set for an interesting game and Manager Alan Pardew who this week was mentioned as a likely candidate for the vacant Three Lions position will be hoping to end the week on a high
Prediction: An Everton win
Like Hull City, Like Chelsea
Antonio Conte is under some form of pressure as Chelsea Manager in just his 7th week, after enjoying victories in his first three games with some late winners, his team have suffered back to back defeats against teams you would argue are fellow contenders for the title. For Conte, his defense is a concern as skipper John Terry remains out and Gary Cahill seems to be stuck in wonderland, the blues are away at Hull who are also desperate for a victory after successive defeats and growing indiscipline as they have collected red cards in their last outings. For Mike Phelan, he survived the predicted doom at the start of the season but all that would count for nothing if they don’t start to halt the wave of bad results.
Prediction: Chelsea should win this
Will the Klopp effect continue in Wales?
Swansea City host in-form Liverpool with player of the month Sadio Mane expected to continue in his fine streak. For Swansea, they were in the game for long periods against City last week till some loss of concentration and defensive naivety cost them at least a draw. Liverpool are off the back of a 5-1 mauling of Hull City and know that a win in this with Tottenham playing Manchester City could see them go second on the log.
Prediction: Swansea 1 Liverpool 3
After 3 successive defeats, is it 3 consecutive wins for Jose?
Jose Mourinho rang the changes in the game against Champions Leicester last week with captain Wayne Rooney and Maroune Fellaini dropped for Juan Mata and Ander Herrera, this paid off as the red devils made light work of the foxes in a first half performance that was almost as perfect as they come. Whilst Fellaini returned to starting lineup in the Europa cup, Rooney was again benched and this is expected to continue when Stoke City come to town.
For Mark Hughes, it has been a horrible start to the season, his team lie 19th on the log, yet to pick a win and despite a fair number of talented individuals, look short of confidence and at times ideas, the manager would be looking for some form of spark on a ground where he had a solid career, for Jose it will be more about momentum and getting close to the leaders just before the break.
Prediction: Manchester United win
Who can stop the Gunners?
Arsenal has scored 5 goals in their last two games, games where they could easily have racked up cricket scores. The team looks to have shaken off the early season snooze and are in a no prisoners mood, Mustafi has easily fitted into the defense, Granit Xhaka is looking a fine buy in place of the injured Coquelin and going forward, Arsenal have some of the best talents in Europe with Alex Iwobi, Alexis Sanchez, Mesut Ozil, Santi Cazorla and a reborn Theo Walcott. Burnley have however claimed the scalp of Liverpool and an in-form Watford, so Arsene would be wary as he continues his 20th year celebration in charge of the gunners.
Prediction: Another comfortable Arsenal victory
West Ham VS Middlesbrough
The Hammers have lost three of their last four games and whilst having steadied a leaking defense in their last game, they desperately need a win under their belt. Sitting just two positions above them is Aitor Karanka’s Boro who are also without a win since the second week, both sides could do with three points but have not been good enough for a win this season
Prediction: A draw
Leicester City VS Southampton
The Champions bounced off the 4-1 drubbing at Old Trafford to earn a 1 nil win against Porto in the Champions league blaming the defeat to United on new league rules, they welcome the Saints to the King Power Stadium where a win is required to make some form of consistency at home. For Southampton, Charlie Austin seems to have found his form at the right time and they have not conceded in the last four.
Prediction: Leicester City to edge this
Sunderland VS West Bromwich Albion
Manager David Moyes says his defenders need to take some form of responsibility after seeing his team squander a 2 goal lead in their defeat to Crystal Palace and stay bottom of the log. He is without Adnan Januzaj for this one but will be delighted with Jermaine Defoe getting in on the goals again. Tony Pulis men seem to have steadied the ship with striker Rondon in fine form earning them a share of the spoils at Stoke.
Prediction: West Brom to at least get a point.
Watford VS Bournemouth
High flying Watford got brought back to reality at Burnley and this week following calls from fans to see Odion Ighalo dropped after another poor showing, it will be interesting to see if manager Walter Mazzarri sticks to a player who got 17 goals in all competition last season and was a factor in the team retaining their Premier League spot or if he does a Jose and drops him. Bournemouth are off the back of an impressive win over Everton and would carry that confidence into this one.
Prediction: A score draw