This weekend will be match round number 5 of this seasons Premier League, with the league starting to take shape. Man City are the only team with an immaculate 100% record following last weekend’s Derby win, and 3 points for both Arsenal, and Liverpool has the league nicely poised at such an early stage. There are 5 live matches on this weekend starting on Friday night for Sky’s 2nd Friday Night Football show of the season, and a great Super Sunday with 3 live matches.
Chelsea Vs Liverpool on Sky Sports 1 (Friday Night – 8.00pm klick off)
Friday night will mark the 2nd Friday Night Football of the season and whilst we will have to endure the car crash of the Sky Sports Friday night football show, with more presenters than the BBC Olympic team and very little cohesion, it is definitely worth tuning in for the live match.
Chelsea vs Liverpool is always a fixture that captures the imagination, none more so than the infamous Steven Gerrard slip, letting Demba Ba through, the basis of which gave birth to the football chant.
Antonio Conte had started life at Chelsea very well picking up 3 straight victories in a row, and looking very considered in his approach. But last weekend’s surprising draw against Swansea, has ended Chelsea’s 100% record for the season, and Conte will want to get back to winning ways; no better way to do it than against Liverpool at home.
Liverpool will go into the game off the back of a fantastic win against, Premier League Champions Leicester last Saturday and Jurgen Klopp will be looking to this game to add further momentum for their campaign. Liverpool have been their fabulously inconsistent self so far this season, picking up great wins against the likes of Arsenal and Leicester yet falling short against Burnley. They have scored 9 goals so far this season, only Man City have scored more, but they have also conceded 7 with only 4 teams having conceded more. On Form Liverpool can play some exceptional football with Coutinho the conductor in the Liverpool midfield, and they will have to be on song to pick up 3 points from Stamford Bridge. They will also have to be very sound at the back, which for this group of players seems easier said than done.
In recent years (last season aside) Chelsea have had a great home record something which seems to have carried on this season. They have scored 5 goals at home so far this season in the league and conceded only once which is the best home defensive record in the league. Liverpool will have their work cut out.
Liverpool have 4 players out injured but Lovren may pass a late fitness test following an eye injury, while Emre Can will likely to miss out.
For Chelsea, defensive pair John Terry and Kurt Zuma will both miss out, meaning a David Luiz start will surely be in the cards, something Coutinho, Lallana and Firmino could look to exploit.
Games between these clubs are always an action filled affair with plenty of talking points and I’m sure this one will be no different.
Everton Vs Middlesbrough on BT Sport 1 (Saturday – 5.30pm kick off)
Saturday has only 1 live game this weekend, with Everton taking on Middlesbrough. Ronald Koeman has stamped his authority on this Everton side from the outset this season, and other than the draw on the opening game of the season, they have won every subsequent game, and sit 3rd in the league after 4 games. Last week, Everton met old manager David Moyes at Sunderland and ran out 3-0 winners with an excellent team effort that culminated with a finish from Romelu Lukaku. The 3rd of Lukaku’s goals last week, showed exactly how Koeman wants his teams to play, with crisp intricate passing before a clinical finish. Whilst Everton didn’t add a great deal to their squad during the transfer window, Koeman really does seem to be getting the best out the squad of players he does have.
Middlesbrough have started the season not too badly as a promoted side, only having to wait only until the 2nd game to get their first win of the season. They have started the season with 1 win, 2 draws and 1 defeat which sees them placed 9th in the Premier league.
So Far Everton have scored 7 goals in the league almost double that of Middlesbrough who have clocked up 4 goals so far. The key advantage Everton has in this game, is the quality of creativity throughout the team. Everton have an average shot accuracy of 56% this season amassing a total of 66 shots over the 4 games. When compared to Middlesbrough, whose shot accuracy is only 39% and have only 39 shots in total, coupled with the fact Everton have the best defensive record so far this season it shows what a huge task this is for the north west side.
Everton do have 6 injuries to contend with however the ex Manchester United duo of Darren Gibson, and Tom Cleverly might make late returns with both players picking up minor knocks. James McCarthy is also on the side-lines with a groin strain and is not due to be back until the end of the month.
Middlesbrough in the other hand only have 3 injuries with Fabio De Silva probably the most high profile absentee, yet no return date from his knee injury.
With the way Everton have started the season I can see nothing other than a comfortable home win, but Middlesbrough are not the type of side who will just roll over. In the end I expect Everton’s class to show through.
Watford Vs Man Utd on BT Sport 1 (Sunday – 12.00pm kick off)
Watford take on Man Utd in Sunday’s lunchtime kick off coming off the back of a fantastic victory over West Ham last week. Watford showed great character to come back from 2 goals down against West Ham to end the game 4-2 victors. The team spirt showed in the fight back against West Ham as well as the quality of Ighalo and Troy Deeney, which was a warning to any team that on their day Watford can be a really hard side to play against.
It was a victory that was needed following 2 defeats on the bounce and Watford will want to take this forward into the weekend, where a tough task lays ahead with the visit of Manchester United.
The question for Watford will be, is this the perfect time to face Man United as doubt may be in their minds after losing at home to rivals Manchester City in last week’s Derby. United also have a tough Europa League game on Thursday night away at Feyenoord. Or this might be the absolute worst time, as Jose Mourinho’s team will look to bounce back.
Man United’s defeat to City last weekend was crippling, especially the first half display where City looked at least 2 levels above Man United. Had it not been for some shocking goal keeping from Claudio Bravo, United might not have got back in the game, with far too many big name players not showing up. In particular Wayne Rooney, and world record signing Paul Pogba underperformed. Mourinho was also criticised by some with regards to his tactics during the derby, starting Jesse Lingard who had been out since the Community Shield, and Henrikh Mkhitaryan who had picked up a knock on international duty. These inclusions didn’t pay off with both players getting hauled off at half time, being replaced with the ever so energetic Marcus Rashford and Ander Herrera.
For Man United this is already an important game, as they will want to put last week down to a bad day at the office. One cause for concern however could be the wasted chances in front of goal this season. Watford and Man United have both scored 7 goals in the league but Man United have had 66 shots compared to just 38 from Watford, showing that Watford have been more clinical in front of goal so far this season.
I think we will see Marcus Rashford start the game as his appearances recently have been too good for Mourinho to ignore. We could also see some surprise starters depending on how the fringe players play against Feyenoord.
This will be an uncomfortable match for Man United and could have probably hoped for slightly easier assignment coming off the back of a defeat and European commitments. Man United will be without Phil Jones, who has yet to get a look in this season, but they could also be missing Luke Shaw and Henrikh Mkhitaryan.
For Watford, they only have 1 injury with Stefano Okaka picking up a hamstring injury. I expect this match to be the game of the day on Sunday with Jose looking to get back on the winning path, but Watford will be on a high from last weekend’s gutsy comeback and will want to try and build up some consecutive wins to kick start their season.
Crystal Palace Vs Stoke on Sky Sports 1 (Sunday – 2.15pm kick off)
Sunday’s second game will take place at Selhurst Park, as London side Crystal Palace take on a Stoke City side in dire need of a win following a sequence of 3 straight defeats.
At the back end of last season Palace became a little complacent and momentarily were dragged into a relegation battle they had no business being involved in. They’ve started this season with 2 defeats, sparking some pundits to earmark Palace as a potential team for relegation this season. They have since started to turn things around, with a draw and a win which has seen them shoot up to league to 11th. Palace have a good record against Stoke, winning 4 of their previous 6 Premier League meetings. Palace also had club record signing Christian Benteke on the scoresheet for the first time last week, which could hopefully bring him into some much needed form.
The signs are ominous for Stoke who are the only team in the league yet to lead in a game. They have had a dreadful start to the season, lacking goals and the ‘Stoke like’ defensive shape we are used to. Stoke have conceded 10 goals already in their opening 4 Premier League games of the season. It took nine matches last season, for Stoke to rack up 10 conceded goals, a sign of how bad the Potters have been this season. Up front, things have also been just as alarming for Stoke, having only scored 2 goals this season, with a shot accuracy of just 23%. In fact it is Stokes lowest points tally to a Premier League season ever after 4 games. Therefore it is hard to see anything other than a home win for Palace.
For Stoke, part of their troubles is their long injury list, currently with 7 players out injured, the highest in the league. There will be late fitness tests for Glen Johnson, and Diouf as Mark Hughes looks to get his first win of the season.
Crystal Palace themselves have a few injuries to contend with having 6 players out injured. Yohan Cabaye has a chance of returning which will be great news for Alan Pardew. Loic Remy remains out, and isn’t expected to be back until early November.
Spurs Vs Sunderland on Sky Sports 1(Sunday 4.30pm)
The final televised match this weekend is between Spurs and Sunderland, one that on paper seems a mismatch and a formality for Tottenham.
Tottenham enter this match following a 4-0 drumming of Stoke, and have a healthy league position of 5th. Having lost midweek in their first Champions League game at Wembley against Monaco Spurs are showing some inconsistencies in the way they have started the season, with a win, draw, win, draw, start to the Premier League. Harry Kane got his first goal of the season against Stoke, and in typical Harry Kane fashion Spurs fans will hope this kicks off a scoring streak for the young England striker.
So far they have scored 7 goals and conceded only 2, a stat I don’t expect to change this weekend. Spurs are unbeaten in 12 league games against Sunderland, last losing to them 6 years ago in April 2010.
David Moyes has had a tough start to his time at Sunderland losing 3 of their 4 league games leaving them joint bottom with Stoke. David Moyes will need to start turning this around quickly as the time he was given at Man United could look like a luxury if things don’t start improving. One ray of light however is having Jermaine Defoe on the pitch who always gives a chance to grab a point or 3. But Sunderland are notoriously slow starters having not won any of their last 23 Premier League matches contested in either August or September a pretty startling statistic.
Sunderland also have the lowest average possession of all Premier League teams with only 34.8% possession. The task Moyes’s Sunderland face is a steep one. Sunderland have 2 games coming up against Crystal Palace and West Brom, which you feel they will need to pick up points against but I can’t see anything other than a defeat against Spurs.
To add to Sunderland’s woe’s, they currently have 6 injuries with Pienaar and Seb Larsson most notable, however they could have midfielder Lee Cattermole back in time for the trip to Tottenham.
For Spurs, things look a lot rosier on the injury front with only Danny Rose not available.
Of all games this weekend, other than Man City vs Bournemouth, I see this as a very straight forward home win for Tottenham who should bring their points tally to 11, right on the heels of Man Utd or Chelsea should they slip up this weekend.
By Michael Thatcher
Our televised tip of the week thanks to our friends at Nextbetwins.co.uk is certainly worth a flutter with odds at 15-1 with Bet365.
- Romelu Lukaku to score anytime against Middlesbrough
- Zlatan Ibrahimovic to score anytime against Watford
- Chelsea Vs Liverpool – Over 2.5 goals
- Crystal Palace to Beat Stoke
- Tottenham Vs Sunderlan – Over 1.5 alternate goals
Odds price as 15/1 from Bet365