The second set of fixtures since the international break offer 2 fixtures on Sunday which are long-standing, heated rivalries but the matchweek starts on Friday night with the second Sky visit of the week to The Emirates:
Arsenal v Aston Villa
Both teams had disappointing home results the last matchweek, they are looking for top 8 finishes this season but their early season form does not support their goals. The reinvestment with the Grealish funds to the squad was lauded at the start but Dean Smith has struggled create a new strategy for his team. The simple reason being he is not a good coach or manager, he has blagged his way to his boyhood club and now getting found out. Arteta still seems like a man without a plan, luckily for him more talisman wear red (Aubameyang, Saka, Smith Rowe and Lacazette) than claret (Watkins & McGinn) and that’s why I am picking Arsenal to win by the odd goal.
Chelsea v Norwich City
No Lukaku or Werner for the Saturday lunch time game but still no hope for Norwich. This early kick off slot can spring up strange results but Norwich winning at Stamford Bridge will not be one of them! It’s hard to see Norwich even scoring, whoever gets the striking slot for Chelsea will still be a international fully supported by other internationals, over the course of 90mins one of the superstars will score. Chelsea win to nil for me with this one.
Crystal Palace v Newcastle Utd
Palace were dubbed the team of the 80s and Newcastle was everyone’s second team in the 90s, times have well & truly changed. Fans with any moral fibre now support whoever The Geordies are playing, Palace will still be smarting over the Arsenal result while Newcastle couldn’t get past a out of sorts Spurs while playing in the new owners Homecoming game. Allan Saint Maxamin is the only player who will survive the influx of new talent and will give the dodgy Palace backline problems on Sat but it’s not a one man game. Conor Gallagher should be the star of the show again energising the midfield defensively, while probing forward, surely he will get a squad slot for Qatar World Cup next year. Palace win is one of the easier ones to pick this weekend.
Everton v Watford
No love lost between these 2, Everton have cherry picked from the Vicarage Road sweet shop a few times over the years, much like Liverpool with Southampton. Sarr will have a chance to hit Everton on the break but how clinical can he be? The form of the Everton attacking talent has been surprising, their run will continue on Saturday though and push their side to victory matching any goals scored by Watford, odd goal victory for the home side.
Leeds Utd v Wolverhampton Wanderers
Two of the recent seasons media darlings are very much struggling. Hard to believe but Wolves have double the points Leeds do, not that i think Bielsa’s men should have more but surprised Lage’s troops have that many! Not a massive fan of either these clubs or teams and still expect one of them to be heavily involved in the relaxation fight come May time. Elland Road will be thumping like the West Ham game and unlike last week the men in gold will not sneak a win, Leeds win and no away goal.
Southampton v Burnley
During lockdown last season this game would have been watched by 2 people when shown by Sky at 8pm on a Sat night despite the fact no one could go out. Fans make football and the joy of being back in the stadium will mean this is a full house at St Mary’s. Both teams are bang average, someone like Cornet or Redmond needs to bring it to life. Score draw seems the most likely outcome.
Brighton and Hove Albion v Manchester City
Saturday is rounded off by a very intriguing battle at the AMEX, head says City and heart says Seagulls. If Pep picks the right line up to combat the strong Brighton backline then no doubt City win by a few goals. We all know though he can overthink things and that’s when a 80% possession day occurs but a 1 nil defeat after a Maupay penalty. If he plays I like the idea of Kyle Walker scoring his 2nd goal of the week, his type of lung busting burst from the back while the ball progresses through the lines could be the way to break the BHA defence. City win and over 3.5 goals.
Brentford v Leicester City
Leicester are one of the few PL teams to have played at the Community Stadium before, last season they won there in the FA Cup. This time it will be very different of course as fans will be there and a stronger Bees lineup will be selected. Both teams had great performances last matchweek but only one took the 3 points off their elite opponent. The raucous, loud atmosphere generated by Brentford fans will be something Jamie Vardy will thrive on, he will be licking his lips at the thought of shushing the home fans. Ivan Toney has caught the eye with his play but not goal volume yet, this Sunday could be his day. High scoring game, Brentford win and a Toney penalty.
West Ham v Tottenham Hotspur
The last time West Ham played after a Europa League game they lost at home to Brentford and I can see this happening again. Bowen and Benrahma are enjoyable to watch and will cause Spurs issues coming off the flanks running at the defence but Son & Kane are about to enter their winter overdrive. Tackles are going to be flying in and the key will be which team can keep 11 men on the pitch the longest. If the scores are all square with 10mins to go the home fans will start becoming nervous due to the Bees result, this will filter to the team and players like Kane who can hit the ball crisply will come into their own. Odd goal Spurs win.
Manchester United v Liverpool
One great manager in Klopp & club legend Ole Gunnar Solskajaer on the sidelines, 2 of the most dominant PL defenders and a world class assemble cast of attacking players, what a way to lead us into the Strictly Results show. That being said these games have been tense nil nils over the years, surely this cannot happen when Sarah, Ronaldo, Mane, Fernandes, Firminho, Rashford & Jota playing? The full backs could be the match winners for either team as delivery from TAA and Shaw are on a par with any reknowed forward player. Criticism of Solskajaers tactical knowledge is widespread and bang on correct but also the finger should be pointed at his backroom team who also seem lacking in know how. Surely one of his coaches could assist or take on the role to organise the structure and press? Klopp will out think The Red Devil’s but the hosts have so many more individuals who could win the game. The well known saying is the first goal is important, it is but Utd have shown who scores the last is even more so lately. I take Man Utd to win and both teams to score.
Have a great PL weekend, the odds for the above on Sky Bet is 117,829.64/1!