The return to Premier League action after an international break often puts paid to the form book, with the rest doing the world of good for teams out of form and it being disruptive to those in form. Sadly for that reason, the Merseyside Derby would probably have been a more enticing fixture had there not been a fortnight break, thousands of air miles accumulated – and of course the lack of fans.
@Sheff Utd – Home Win 21/20
@Palace – Under 1.5 First Half Goals 1/3
@Leicester – Home Win 17/20
Sheffield United at home to Fulham… Played 8 Lost 8. Something has to give. It’s most likely to be Sheffield United, who look to be returning some form despite their trouble returning any points. Fulham are due to struggle throughout this season but were involved in plenty of activity on transfer deadline day including the exciting Loftus-Cheek to help create chances for top goalscorer Mitrovic. Once Fulham click, perhaps they will start moving forwards but right now this seems too simple a task for the Blades.
Palace and Brighton is a misleading geographical derby, affectionately termed the A23 Derby in reference to a road that connects London and Brighton. The history actually is born around a feud amongst staff, but Brighton have little geographical interest out in the sticks, and Wimbledon are no longer local rivals to Palace so we’ll have to allow it. Despite the ‘rivalry’, neither team are so confident in their Premier League status to take the bull by the horns, and this match has stalemate written all over it – in the first half. No doubt the Premier League mayhem will occur in the latter stages, as no-one can get a handle on defending right now.
Finally… I am again backing against Aston Villa. Their victory over Liverpool owed much to the acres of space behind the defence, the same methods West Ham used to punish Leicester and therefore you would back Villa to repeat some success – however Brendan Rodgers will have invested time in eradicating those errors, and it should be remembered that Leicester had 100% record until the Hammers surprised them and I expect they will overturn that disappointment with a comprehensive performance in the Midlands Derby.
Stand-out Match: Man City vs Arsenal
Master vs Apprentice. It’s an age old legend told across many varying formats, it will not be the last time you hear it in football – it will not be the last time you hear it about Pep vs Arteta. But this fixture offers so much more than just the meeting of Managers.
City have started poorly, Arsenal have started well. There’s an evident transition at both clubs, but in opposing directions. City come into this game having spent over £400m on defenders in four years yet keeping clean sheets is ultimately their biggest problem. Arsenal’s consistency and reliability is their biggest concern, and a long run of 26 games away to the Big 6 with only one clean sheet and no wins – since a 2015 win at the Etihad.
The attacking ability on show is enough to draw you in, but the fickleness of both defences promises to entertain even further. Be hopeful of another appearance from David Luiz, who at the end of last season away to City managed to contribute a huge error leading to a goal, a penalty and a red card – all in 25 mins off the bench.
Stand-out Performance: Gareth Bale
This is why Gareth Bale was worth £85m when he was last in the Premier League. This is what all neutrals and Spurs fans are looking forward to. All eyes should be on White Hart Lane for Bale’s return – possibly from the start – to see exactly what level the 31 year old Bale is at. In his last two fixtures against the Hammers he scored 3 and won 6 points.
Acca Basher: Newcastle vs Man Utd
This week’s Premier League fixtures are incredibly tough to call, especially following the international break and the inconsistency of form. Chelsea vs Southampton was the most noticeable fixture where there was a dominant ‘favourite’ but how much confidence does anyone have in Chelsea winning that?
I, amongst many others, have been very critical of Man Utd this season and rightly so. They’ve been awful. Newcastle, on the other hand, have surprised a few people this season and have managed to accumulate 7 points from their opening 4 matches.
I really have no idea what is going to happen in this match, who is theoretically favourites, and what form is for either of these sides – but ultimately Man Utd are fully of attacking talent and have a very good record against Newcastle, so all in all I feel that is the way this game will go… possibly.