Disclaimer! Though the title of this article isn’t a lie, these are definitely not Mark Lawrenson’s or Paul Merson’s predictions as I am not either of those people as far as I know, I may predict the same score as them. As, you know, Man City are more likely to beat Newcastle 3-0 than the other way around. (Ah, I suppose that’s a bit of a spoiler for my prediction of that game, maybe I’ll change my mind by the time I get to that bit.)
Probably not though.
Anyway, here we go.
The Saturday early game:
Leicester City vs Liverpool
Though this looks like a Liverpool win after their great start to the season, they were tested in their last away game at Palace before coming through victorious. Leicester, even without the suspended Jamie Vardy, can really stretch teams and new signing James Maddison has arguably given their attack another dimension. However, an ever more solid defensive base in addition to their blistering forward line means that Liverpool should be too strong for Claude Puel’s side, though a fiery Leicester start could make things interesting.
Brighton vs Fulham
As I think will be the case with a lot Fulham’s games this year, this is a tough one to call. It’s hard to back against Brighton’s home record, they really are Jekyll and Hyde when it comes to home and away form. However, after blasting Burnley away last week to build on their encouraging performance away at Spurs I can see Fulham getting something at The Amex. Aleksander Mitrovic’s bullish approach will cause lots of teams problems this year and I can also see him adding to his productive start to the season. At the other end though Fulham can’t really defend properly so there should be plenty of opportunities for Brighton’s spirited attack. Therefore, I’ll go for an entertaining draw.
Chelsea vs Bournemouth
Chelsea should continue their winning start to the season at Stamford Bridge. Eden Hazard coming back into the team from the start makes a massive difference and he was already linking up well with the likes of Jorginho and Kovacic at Newcastle last week. This is the kind of game in which Alvaro Morata needs a goal in to build his confidence and Bournemouth aren’t a team to keep many clean sheets on the road. Conversely though, Chelsea look shaky at the back themselves at times with the reshuffled back four still adjusting tactically to what Sarri wants from them. You wouldn’t bet against Callum Wilson on continuing his fine early season form on Saturday, but Chelsea should just have too much for Eddie Howe’s team on the day.
Crystal Palace vs Southampton
This is actually a massive game for Mark Hughes already as if he loses then his team will have one point from twelve with fixtures versus Chelsea and Liverpool coming up in the next month or so. Unfortunately, however, I cannot see his side getting anything from their visit to Selhurst Park. This season feels like a fresh start for Palace and despite two defeats in two I think they will pick up their second win of the season at the weekend. Wilf Zaha looks ever dangerous and there seems to be a good energy and spirit about them at the moment. Southampton’s midweek Carabao cup win will give them a boost and their performances as a whole have deserved more than point however I see Palace edging this one.
Everton vs Huddersfield Town
I don’t mean to jump on the developing ‘Huddersfield are down this year’ bandwagon as they’ve had a very tough start but you look at a game like this and really cannot see them getting anything from it. Their excellent start to last season has not been replicated and by failing to beat Cardiff last week they have put themselves under a lot of pressure already. They must start winning their home games as on the road it’s tough to see them getting many points at all. Even without the suspended Richarlison, Everton still have plenty about them and I expect a fairly comfortable win for the home side at Goodison as they continue to try and chase a top eight spot this year.
West Ham vs Wolves:
As I mentioned last week this is a massive game for West Ham and Manuel Pellegrini. Not getting on the board after three games has likely dampened the buzz of a truckload of savvy summer signings and what looked like a new direction for the club. The problem is they are up against a side that took points off the best team in the land last week. It doesn’t matter how they do it West Ham really do just have to win this one to get some points before a very nasty fixture swing in the few weeks. And I’m backing them to do so. It looks like Marko Arnautovic will be fit which will give them a huge boost and I just fancy the East London outfit to get over the line. However, with the impressive confidence that Wolves have brought to their opening games you wouldn’t be surprised if they got something from The London Stadium to take back to the midlands.
The late Saturday kick-off:
Manchester City vs Newcastle United
Remarkably I haven’t changed my mind for this one, I think City will win at a canter and if Newcastle take the same approach as they did versus Chelsea last week it could get ugly. You can’t just sit back and soak up pressure for ninety minutes versus the top sides, there’s too much room for mistakes and drops of intensity. You feel for Rafa Benitez who again wasn’t backed financially in the summer, but he has to accept what he has at the club and use it, which for me is enough to keep Newcastle up and then some. However, whichever tactics he decides to employ on Saturday evening the result will surely be the same, City getting back to winning ways after their hard-earned draw at Wolves last week.
The Sunday early game:
Cardiff vs Arsenal
Pretty simple one really, if Cardiff use a no doubt electric atmosphere and exploit a defensively open Arsenal by taking the lead in the game they could cause a big upset. However, if not then Arsenal will likely dictate the tempo and should come home with all three. One issue for Arsenal boss Unai Emery is whether to start two up front or not as they seem to be more effective when Lacazette is on the pitch and with Mesut Özil possibly being out of favour already it might be time to bite the bullet and reshuffle the pack. Yet you sense that Emery knows what he wants and doesn’t seem keen on two up top at present, however if Arsenal don’t look convincing on Sunday afternoon he may be forced to look at it again. Though his side should be OK versus Neil Warnock’s team if they can ride it out defensively, which might be a big if when it comes to Arsenal at the moment.
The Sunday 4pm game that probably isn’t on tele:
Burnley vs Manchester United
A developing theme continues this week, another game and another manager whose team really have to win said game to take the pressure off him a touch. We all know who that manager is, and it isn’t the hard-looking ginger one who’s doing a miraculous job in Lancashire. Since Monday’s dramatic defeat to Spurs at Old Trafford, Jose Mourinho has continued to defend himself to the media calling last season ‘a great success’. Whether you agree or not, the fact is the past doesn’t matter for United, the present manager and squad must rejuvenate themselves to get their season going. And again, I’m backing the under-pressure boss and his team to get the result they need. Burnley may be a little weary from the end of their Europa League adventure on Thursday night and are shipping far more goals than usual. With withering confidence, it won’t be easy for United but I think they’ll have just enough to squeeze through and get all three points.
The Sunday 4pm game that is on the tele:
Watford vs Tottenham
This could be the game of the weekend if Watford have a real go, which you might expect them to do since this game is kind of a free hit for them due to the brilliant start they’ve had. Troy Deeney and Andre Gray are forming a great partnership and Javi Gracia’s side have no doubt been the surprise package of the season so far. For Spurs, it’s about building on that brilliant win on Monday. If it wasn’t such a competitive league you might back them to go all the way this season. And despite Watford’s tails being up, I’m backing Tottenham to win this one. Harry Kane has a great record versus London clubs and with the extra threat of Lucas Moura in attack they should inflict Watford with their first defeat of the season. Again though an early home goal really would make the game interesting.
And that’s that!
Just so you know if I get all the predictions correct, the Premier League has kindly promised to provide nothing in return.
If I get all of them wrong I look clueless, not many upsides with this prediction business in hindsight, as is life.
I hope you enjoyed it anyway! Leave any comments or suggestions for the blog in the comments/feedback section!