Following the ever so droll International break, this weekend see’s the timely return of the Premier League. And what a weekend it is! This weekend see’s 5 televised matches culminating in the main event on Monday night football where the inform Liverpool take on Mourinho’s Man United.
Chelsea v Leicester City – Saturday 15th October 12.30pm Sky Sports 1
This weekend’s early kick off will be an exhilarating encounter between 2 teams linked by recent history. The champions Leicester now managed by the former Chelsea manager, the man Roman Abramovich said would never win the Premier League and Chelsea who snatched last season’s midfield enforcer away from Leicester in the summer transfer window, this will be a tasty match indeed.
Chelsea currently sit in 7th place in the league after an indifferent run of recent form losing 2 and drawing 1 of the last 6. Unusually for a team managed by Conte, Chelsea have conceded 9 goals so far this season, only Liverpool have conceded more out of all the top 10 teams.
Leicester have been seriously impacted from losing Kante in the summer and look much more vulnerable. They have conceded 11 goals so far this season and only scored 8 having a minus 3 goal difference accumulating only 8 points from a possible 21 this term. I think even at this early stage, it’s quite safe to say Leicester will not be retaining their title. Compared to this point last season, Leicester have 4 fewer points and have scored 7 fewer goals.
Jamie Vardy has averaged a goal every 281 minutes in the Premier League this season (two goals in seven games), a significant drop from 2015/16’s 131 mins per goal average (24 goals in 36 games)
Leicester have also only registered one win in their 10 Premier League visits to Stamford Bridge (D3 L6), with that win coming in September 2000 via a 2-0 score line. Unfortunately for the Foxes, I don’t see this changing on the weekend especially with pantomime villain Diego Costa in such fine form scoring 6 in the first 7 league matches this season. Conte confirmed that John Terry is also available for selection which compounds even further the task at hand for Leicester.
Crystal Palace v West Ham – Saturday 15th October 5.30pm – BT Sport 1
Saturdays late afternoon kick off sees a very intriguing London Derby between a Palace side who have been in a rich vein of form recently shooting them up to 8th in the League. For West Ham however, the season couldn’t be more of a contrast with Bilic in desperate need of the 3 points. West Ham are precariously placed in 18th position in the league with only 1 win and 1 draw gained this season. 5 defeats along with negative press over the new stadium, crowd in fighting and sloppy performances have all lead to a start West Ham fans would not have expected following the impressive season they had last time out.
For Palace, the big summer signing Christian Benteke has started to find his feet at the South London club, scoring 3 league goals in his 5 appearances. After losing the first 2 games of the season, Crystal Palace are yet to lose a league game in which Benteke has played with 3 wins and 2 draws. In fact since Christian Benteke’s Premier League debut in September 2012, only Olivier Giroud (also 19) has scored as many headed goals in the competition as the Belgian striker, a tactic I’m sure will be employed against West Ham, in particular by the in form Jason Puncheon. Jason Puncheon has created more goal scoring chances than any other Premier League player in the opening seven games this season with 24.
Similarly to last season Crystal Palace have started well, one less point this season compared to last year. The problem for Palace was their mid-season slump that saw only 5 points taken between match 18 to 31, not registering a win in that period of 13 games.
For West Ham the difference this season to last is stark. They only have 4 points so far this season compared to 13 at the same stage last season. This season has only seen 8 goals bagged in the league conceding an eye watering 17. At this point last season they had scored 7 more goals and concede 8 fewer. This is West Ham’s longest winless streak since December last year and lowest points total at this stage since the 1988-89 season.
West Ham currently have 9 players out injured which really doesn’t help their cause with Ayew and Sakho key absentees.
Every match that passes we keep thinking West Ham will have to start hitting form and the international break probably came at the right time for them. However with Puncheon and Benteke in such fine form, I can’t see anything other than a Palace win.
Middlesbrough v Watford – Sunday 16th October – 1.30pm Sky Sports 1
Sunday’s early kick off sees a Middlesbrough side, much like West Ham, in desperate need of a win. With only 1 win from the last 6 games, Middlesbrough find themselves in 16th position with 6 points.
This is the kind of game that Middlesbrough needs to win with Watford 5 places above them in the league but only 2 points difference. A win can shoot Middlesbrough potentially up to 11 place depending on other results. You feel if Middlesbrough are to survive in the league this season, they need to pick up valuable points from these type of games.
For Watford, they have been a curious side this season, a team where you don’t know what you’re going to get. Watford have shown their potential and quality with a fantastic performance against Man United running out 3-1 winners. However the following game they lost 2-0 to Burnley and then had a 2-2 draw against Bournemouth. Their erratic form can be seen by their run of 2 wins, 2 draws and 3 defeats so far this season.
But Watford always have a chance to win games with players like Troy Deeney in their ranks. Troy Deeney has found the back of the net in each of the Hornets’ last 4 meetings with Middlesbrough and will be good odds to net again this weekend. For Deeney it could be a huge weekend for him personally, currently on 99 goals in all completions, this could be the game to seal his centenary for Watford.
Watford have found the back of the net in 15 of their last 16 league clashes with Middlesbrough so all signs point to a goal laden match. Etienne Capoue has Watford’s most league goals so far this season with 4 from the 12 they have scored. He has also completed the most amount of passes for Watford and has the highest shot accuracy, he’s a player worth watching out for.
Watford currently have 8 players injured but will potentially see 4 players return with Behrami, Success, Britos and Sinclair all thought to make a return.
This is a game on a knife edge which really could go either way. Depending on which of the Jeckyll or Hyde Watford teams turn up really determines the outcome of this game. If the Watford that beat United turn up, I can only see 3 big away points for Watford, however given the defeats to Burnley and the draw to Bournemouth, I also wouldn’t be surprised to see a draw at Riverside.
Southampton v Burnley – Sunday 16th October – 4.00pm Sky Sports 1
The 2nd of Sunday’s live games is a mid-table clash between teams separated by just 2 points. Burnley will be motivated by the knowledge that a win away at Southampton will leapfrog their opponents.
Southampton of late have hit a little bit of form following a slow start and no win in the first 4 games. However 7 points from the last possible 9 have seen Southampton move up to 10th place. Keeping a clean sheet in the last 3 games. This great defensive run extended to 6 consecutive clean sheets in all competitions. They’ve only enjoyed a longer run once in their history back in 1922.
Compared to last season Southampton are slightly behind where there were at this stage with 2 points fewer. Southampton have also scored 3 goals fewer. On the positive side, they have conceded 3 fewer goals then at this stage last season.
Southampton have scored in each of their last 13 Premier League games at St. Mary’s, the best current run in the league.
For Burnley, they have had a very inconsistent start losing every other game this season struggling for goals with only 5 scored so far the joint lowest with Stoke. Their key man is Steven Defour who Southampton will need to keep quiet if they want to win this game. Defour has been directly involved in a Premier League-high 80% of Burnley’s goals this season, scoring 1 and assisting 3 of the Clarets’ 5 goals. Burnley must use and keep the ball better if they are to get something out of the game. They currently have a Premier League low of 36.8% average possession figure this season.
Southampton will give a late fitness test to Shane Long who might be back to bolster the squad. There is also a chance that Jay Rodriguez could return. Bertrand remains out with a hamstring injury.
With Southampton’s impressive defence and Burnley’s incompetence in front of goal, I can’t see Burnley picking up 3 points. At the very best, a point could be up for grabs, but I think Southampton will be too strong for the Clarets.
Liverpool v Man Utd – Monday 17th October – 8.00pm Sky Sports 1
After a packed weekend of football, the Premier League is the gift that keeps on giving with arguably the biggest game of the season on Monday Night Football, Liverpool Vs Man United.
Liverpool will go into this game as favourites following 4 straight victories in the league. Liverpool have been in sensational form, playing with a free flowing attacking swag leading them up to 4th in the league just 2 points off leaders City. Liverpool have the joint top goals scored this season with Man City, but also have created the most chances, they are looking exceptional with Roberto Firmino, Adam Lallana, Philippe Coutinho and Sadio Mane all wreaking havoc against Premier League defences. Liverpool have made a habit this season of coming short, then going long, constantly moving positions, it’s so hard for teams to defend against.
Liverpool have started the season far more impressively then they did last season under Brendan Rodgers which bodes well for their top 4 aspirations. After 7 games last season, Liverpool had 11 points, 5 fewer than this season. But it is the way they have been attacking that is most impressive. At the same point last season Liverpool had scored 7 goals, averaging 1 goal per game. Currently this season they have 18 goals which averages a very impressive 2.6 goals per game. Since Jurgen Klopp was appointed as Liverpool manager in October 2015, they have scored more goals than any other Premier League team (73) and also had the highest average possession figure of 58.8%.
Chris Smalling and Eric Bailly will need to be on their game. But United will also need their midfielders to help stem the bombardment of Liverpool attacks. It’s a huge game for Paul Pogba, a game in which he needs to step up. His first big test this season came against Man City, a game in which he was nowhere to be seen. He will need to better for United this Monday and more disciplined. If he chooses to go walk-about in this game the United defence could get overrun.
For Man United, going into a league game as underdogs doesn’t happen very often but is understandable why. However one thing Man United can take confidence from is the fact that Liverpool have conceded in every league game this season with their aggressive style and have conceded the most goals of the entire top 10.
Man United will need to exploit this. Whilst they would have been disappointed with the last result against Stoke, they did play some good football and really should have been 4 or 5 up. This game could be perfect for the counter attack for United who will have to be compact when Liverpool are attacking, not leaving too much room for runners to get into. They will need to turn defence into attack very quickly and with Martial, Rashford, Lingaard and Herrera, they have the players to do it. One thing is for sure they will have to be much more clinical then they were against Stoke. Which does pose the question, should Rashford start for United in such a highly charged game? Rashford has scored 12 goals since his debut for Man Utd on 25th February 2016 in all competitions. This is 4 more than any other player for Manchester United in this period. It’s also 2 more competitive goals than any player for Liverpool since his debut
Liverpool have lost each of their last four Premier League clashes with Manchester United, their worst league losing streak against the Red Devils since March 2008 but for this game it means absolutely nothing. It really is a game that could go both ways, but one thing is for sure, there will be drama, quality and goals on display at Anfield on Monday night.
By Michael Thatcher
Thanks to the lads at NextBetWins.com, we have a peach of tip for this weeks televised ACCA.
- Diego Costa to score at any time vs Leicester – 10/11
- Crystal Palace to win vs West Ham and both teams to score – 3/1
- Middlesbrough vs Watford – Both teams to score – 19/20
- Southampton to beat Burnley – 2/5
- Liverpool Vs Man United Over 2.5 goals – 3/4
If you choose to select this as a 5 fold ACCA, you could return odds of around 33/1