Chelsea v Manchester United
Things are ticking along perfectly for Signore Sarri since he took over the reigns at Stamford Bridge this summer. The Blues remain unbeaten and sit joint top of the table after eight games and their star man Eden Hazard looks like he may be about to have one of those truly rememberable individual seasons before he heads off to the Bernabeu next summer.
Many observers are putting much of Chelsea’s form down to Sarri’s famed tactical approach, but those of us in the know are well aware that it’s actually because the Italian coach is allowing his players cake and ketchup again after the horror of being made eat nuts and seeds under Antonio Conte.
Chartered Accountant Ed Woodward showed a complete lack of cojones by not sacking Jose Mourinho before the international break even though it’s obvious to every man and his dog that the used-to-be-special-one has lost the dressing room and has gone full exit mode.
Now, who am I to question a man with the kind of football pedigree that Chartered Accountant Woodward has, but looking at Manchester United’s upcoming fixtures it looks unlikely that they will be winning many games over the coming weeks and they’ll just have to bin Mourinho when their season is unsalvageable anyway.
Chelsea win and Hazard to score anytime 2/1
Bournemouth v Southampton
Little Eddie Howe’s Bournemouth are absolutely flying and the Cherries are really proving those (mostly me) who said that their manager was being massively overhyped as England’s great white hope well and truly wrong. But credit where credit is due, the South Coast outfit are now a well established top flight club and look on course for a top half finish after their superb start to the season.
Southampton are going nowhere fast under Mark Hughes. Sparky lost his Spark a long while back and his win percentage of just 29% – the lowest of his floundering career – since taking over at St.Marys at the backend of last season tells you all you need to know.
Bournemouth and over 2.5 goals 2/1
Cardiff City v Fulham
Neil Warnock’s Cardiff City may be pure shite at Football, but you’ve got to give it to the Welsh outfit they are truly the kings of banter. I nearly fell off my chair the other day when I heard they’d appealed Joe Ralls Red Card against Spurs – they’ve got a neck like a jockey’s bollox as me auld gran would say.
I was thinking I could virtually copy and paste my comments about Fulham from the last round of Predictions, but then I thought why not just do exactly that, so here’s what I said a couple of weeks ago about the Cottagers and not much has changed since:
”There is plenty to be admired about the brand of football that Slavisa Jokanovic’s Fulham play, but the Cottagers still haven’t kept a clean sheet since their return to the top flight and that simply isn’t a good look – even if you have future Ballon d’Or winner Aleksandar Mitrovic in your side.’’ Said yours truly.
This one should actually be interesting with Warnock, who put the route in route one, coming up against Jokanovic, who put the slick in slick passing approach.
Over 2.5 goals and both teams to score 21/20
Manchester City v Burnley
Pep Guardiola deviated from his principles slightly during his sides drab 0-0 draw against Liverpool before the international break, but last years Champions still look like the best team in the Premier League and the fact that the mercurial Kevin De Bruyne is set to return to action this weekend means it’s not entirely implausible that the Citizens will remain top of the tree from now until the end of the season.
Burnley have steadied the ship with two wins and a draw after a poor start to the season, which is great as the thoughts of losing Sean Dyche from the top flight was starting to give me nightmares. I’m not ashamed to say I am hopelessly drawn to Dyche due to his irrepressible raw sexual magnetism and he came up with the quote of the week today when he advised fans ‘not to get drunk on stats,’ when discussing England only having 27% of possession during their victory over Spain – Oh Sean, Master Pulis would be so proud. Regardless of how much I like the Clarets boss, his team are getting spanked this weekend.
Aguero hat-trick 5/1
Newcastle United v Brighton & Hove Albion
Rafa’s Newcastle really could do with a win after falling to pick up maximum points in any of their opening eight games, albeit they have faced five of the top six already this season. Although the Geordies spunked a 2-0 lead against Manchester United last time out, they did show some promising signs in that game and if they are to beat the drop again this season in spite of Mr.Sports Direct’s penny-pinching, then these are the type of games they simply have to be winning.
I’ll be honest I had Brighton down for relegation at the start of the season, but the Seagulls look to be a much better team then they were last campaign and there are definitely three worse teams than the South Coast outfit in the division. I’m happy enough to be proved wrong on this one as in a game full of dicks, Chris Hughton is one of the genuinely good lads.
Newcastle win 6/5
West Ham United v Tottenham Hotspur
He may have given the ball away in his sides recent 1-0 loss to Brighton – which stopped his clubs recent excellent run of form – but Andriy Yarmolenko must have made himself a cult hero with the Hammers Faithful recently when he challenged a Ukrainian TV pundit to a punch up for criticising him. I mean this sets a potentially wonderful precedent. Can you imagine Mark Noble shaping into his post-match interview on Saturday and screaming ‘Oi Neville outside!’
Spurs boss Mauricio Pochettino is growing increasingly tetchy in his press briefings lately, but nobody seems to be talking about it because as he’s become something of a media darling in recent years. That being said it’s been a bit of a weird season so far for Spurs they haven’t really looked great apart from the second-half at Old Trafford, yet they sit on 18 points – which is their best ever start to a Premier League campaign.
This one will be a feisty London Derby and as always there will be no love lost between each set of fans.
Wolverhampton Wanderers v Watford
Jorge Mendes F.C continue to impress and their beautifully bearded Portuguese coach has guided them to an impressive seventh place. Unlike most promoted teams who start well though, it really looks like Wolves are perfectly set up to stay comfortably in the top half all season.
The wheels have come off a bit for Javi Gracia’s Watford side after their excellent start to the season, with the Hornets having lost three and drawn one of their last four Premier League games. Gracia will be looking for a serious response from his men this weekend after their humiliating 4-0 home loss to Bournemouth last time out and I fancy them to come away from Molineux with a point.
Huddersfield Town v Liverpool
For all the pluckiness that David Wagner’s Huddersfield bring to the table they just don’t score enough goals and without the excellent start they get off to last season they are only headed one way and that’s back down to the Championship.
Liverpool saw their momentum slowed slightly before the international break with draws against title rivals Chelsea and Man City, although mounting injury problems and worries about the form of their previously unplayable front three have taken the wind out the sails of certain sections of the Reds Faithful.
However, Klopp’s men will simply have too much quality for an abject Terriers side on Saturday evening.
Liverpool win and over 2.5 goals – evens
Everton v Crystal Palace
Marco Silva’s Everton started the season well, then had a wobble, but have got back on track with two consecutive wins. There are though still a lot of observers who doubt whether the young Portuguese coach is the kind of manager able to find the right balance between attack and defence.
However, the £40 million Silva spent on Richarlison is looking like a solid investment and is thankfully making Paul Merson look like a clown after he claimed the 21-year-old Brazil international had single-handedly ruined the summer transfer market.
Crystal Palace are easily the biggest example of a one-man team in the top flight, having not won a game without their talisman Wilf Zaha in the starting XI since September 2016. Unfortunately for Roy Hodgson his star man arrived back from international duty with the Ivory Coast injured and will face a late fitness test, meaning even if he does play he probably won’t be at his best and that of course seriously reduces the Eagles chance of getting a positive result at Goodison Park.
Richarlison score anytime 7/5
Arsenal v Leicester City
Arsenal are proving their early season doubters wrong and are the form team in the Country with nine successive wins in all competitions. Even with the Gunners lethal striker partnership of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Alexandre Lacazette in peak form, I just can’t ignore how bad their defence is. I’ve been saying for a few weeks now that Emery’s side will be found out sooner or later and I think a certain Mr.Vardy – who has a sensational record against top six clubs – may be the architect of their downfall this Monday night.
Without going in to detail about why I think Claude Puel gets a hard time of it from the media – yet again – let’s just say the French coach will comfortably deliver a mid-table Premier League finish for Leicester this season, which is about as good as any other manager would do with their squad of players, unless your name is Claudio, of course.
Jamie Vardy score and Leicester win 13/2