Arsenal 3-1 Leicester
We are seeking our 10th consecutive victory. For much of that sequence we have found a way to win without playing well, making me think our luck would run out. That changed at Fulham where we produced our best performance of the season. Now Unai Emery must deal with over-confidence, complacency and some of his players travelling half way round the world. If we underestimate the Foxes, they can hurt us, but I can’t see our manager not having us 100 percent focused.
Everton 3-1 Palace
Anyone else noticed since Zaha complained about being kicked off the pitch/not getting enough protection from referees, his form has gone off a cliff? That rant said a lot about his mentality and would have put off some of the top 6 making a bid. If he wants to compete with the big boys maybe he should start taking some growth hormones. He should look at Messi getting kicked round Wembley, see that performance, then hang his head in shame. The Eagles will benefit from the experiences of last season’s relegation scrap so have enough professionals to get through this period.
Chelsea 3-0 Man United (12.30)
So, the international break has come and gone with Jose still in a job, meaning the rumours were false or the nature of how they beat Newcastle has earned him a reprieve. You still feel he is a loss away from being back in a crisis. I never understand why millionaire businessmen make long term decisions based on the short term, e.g. ‘1 game/a week to prove yourself’, The key question is will the Portuguese boss have spent the last two weeks looking in the mirror, willing to change? Will he use the 90th minute winner to build Sanchez’s confidence? Has he realised his team looked a lot better when forced to attack? It’s not if you lose, it’s how you lose. Can he really afford to go to Stamford Bridge of all places and park the bus?
Cherries 3-1 Saints
As someone who lived in that part of the UK for years, I can tell you how serious a derby this is, maybe not realised to those outside of the south Coast. If you had said the day would come when these two would meet in the top flight with the Saints the underdogs, they wouldn’t have believed you. Bournemouth are the ones who are exciting to watch, free scoring, a squad who have a great spirit led by one of the aspiring young managers. In other words, everything Southampton are not.
Cardiff 2-1 Fulham
Too early for must-win but how long can Cardiff go without a win? The only positive for the Welshmen is that a couple of other sides are still seeking their first victories, so they are not cut adrift. Neil Warnock will identify this as the perfect time to welcome Fulham to Wales. Yes, both are newly promoted and yes, the Cottagers had to qualify through the playoffs, but in the summer Fulham were financially backed to the point where their ambition is more than a relegation scrap.
Man City 3-0 Burnley
The champions had near 50 per cent of possession at Anfield, as negative as Pep Guardiola gets. Learning from last season they felt Liverpool were perhaps the one team they had to adjust their tactics for. It will be normal service restored this weekend although Burnley are workman like enough to keep the score down. On a side note, Guardiola, having spent millions, claims his side are still not ready to win the Champions League. Sorry Pep, if Liverpool can get to the final then so can the blue half of Manchester.
Newcastle 1-2 Brighton
Mike Ashley has attended his team’s last 3 games, 2 more than the previous 15 months to show he is worried about his asset (valuation will go down if relegated). We all know the majority of the Toon don’t like their owner but Rafa Benitez can’t simply hide behind that, something he did in his final months at Liverpool before people saw through it. Step one is to be as ambitious as you were in the first half at Old Trafford. Step 2 is to not concede first as confidence seems to fall apart. Anyone else though see the irony in Chris Hughton (one of the good guys in the game)) coming back to Saint James Park and kicking his ex-employers when they are down?
West Ham 1-1 Spurs
The Hammers parked the bus to draw at home with Chelsea, then were positive and vibrant in beating Man United, just to be complacent at Brighton. That ladies and gentlemen is West Ham in a nutshell. If they are positive they can get a result.
Wolves 4-0 Watford
Everyone was wondering if Man United would change managers in the international break, but I would be looking at Watford’s doors. They ended the last campaign in bad form and are starting to fall into a rut. They do not have owners who will tolerate a 4-0 drubbing at home. The way Wolves are playing, if they strike early, this will be a rout.
Huddersfield 1-1 Liverpool (5.30)
Liverpool’s front three are beginning to be questioned if they can repeat last season’s form. Some are defending Mo Salah, saying it’s unrealistic to match those statistics again. Which is fine, just never again suggest he’s better then Messi or Ronaldo. I get annoyed every year that a player based on a good season is compared to two who have met those levels consistently. No matter how many goals or Champions Leagues they win those two never lose the hunger or desire to better themselves. This is my outside bet of the weekend, simply because this is something Liverpool would do.