Just the 4 games this weekend for you to check out on the box. The weekend starts with the in-form team in the league having the opportunity to go to the Premier League summit, and the weekend closes with the return of the Special One, to his spiritual home.
Saturday-Bournemouth vs Tottenham 11:30am on Sky Sports 1 (KO 12:30pm)
Tottenham have a chance to go top of the Premiership at the start of the weekend’s action, as they visit Bournemouth at Dean Court. Almost a year to the day Tottenham thrashed Bournemouth in this fixture 5-1. A year on Bournemouth are coming into this game off the back of a 6-1 win over Hull City, sitting in the league at 11th and unbeaten in their last 3. Meanwhile Tottenham, still the only unbeaten team in the league, face their third consecutive away game.
The meeting of the two clubs should be one of the matches of the weekend, as both sides play an entertaining brand of football. The emphasis is on Tottenham to show that they can recover from a couple of disappointing performances, especially if they are aiming to be involved in the title race for the second season running.
Bournemouth have had a mixed start to the season and there were doubts about their ability to push on after an excellent first campaign as a Premier League club. However, they put Hull to the sword last weekend, which was encouraging as their home form wasn’t great during their first year in the top flight. The signing of Jack Wilshere on loan has provided the squad with a boost and other players have stepped up their game as a result. Junior Stanislas was the star against Hull and the Cherries will look to use their pace to great effect once again this weekend. It won’t be easy to get a positive result, but they will look to attack Tottenham, providing a different sort of test to West Brom last weekend.
Jack Wilshire played well for the Cherries last weekend, and the on loan Bournemouth midfielder will be keen to play well in this match as Tottenham as he has publically made his feelings clear on Spurs in the past. He is still finding his feet at Bournemouth and is still building his match fitness. It is going to be a difficult match for the home side and Wilshere is one of their few top quality players. They need a good performance from him if they are to get a positive result. He has the intelligence to create chances for his team and will see this as a great opportunity to impress both Arsene Wenger and Gareth Southgate.
The home side have a number of injury concerns with Harry Arter the latest casualty. Brad Smith, Max Gradel, Lewis Cook and Marc Pugh are also all set to miss out this weekend.
Spurs were disappointing in their Champions League match against Leverkusen and they will be eager to put on a much better display on the South Coast. If they want to compete for the title, it is important that they win matches like these ones, but Pochettino will know the threat that is posed by Bournemouth. It won’t be a straight-forward win for the North London club.
Danny Rose could be fit in time to start against Bournemouth as he recovers from a foot injury. Toby Alderweireld is expected to be missing, with Kevin Wimmer set to start in centre defence. Harry Kane won’t be back until next month, which means that Vincent Janssen will most likely start again.
Saturday-Liverpool vs West Brom 5pm on BT Sport (KO 5:30pm)
Last season, this game was memorable for Jurgen Klopp taking his Liverpool side to celebrate in front of the Kop off of the back of a 2-2 draw, which they had secured in the 96th minute. It is a different beast that Tony Pulis West Brom face at Anfield this weekend. Liverpool have fully embraced the high pressing, goal scoring philosophy of Klopp, and have become one of the most entertaining teams in the league.
Liverpool were very much stifled by Manchester United on “Red Monday” United went there looking not to lose, and they very much took the sting out of Liverpool’s attack. Something that will provide food for thought for Pulis. It’s also worth noting that four of the last five meetings between the sides have been draws, the exception being Liverpool’s 2-1 home win over the Baggies in 2014.
Liverpool are now unbeaten in their last 6 games and this game represents the start of a run of fixtures for Klopp, against teams that he dropped points to early in his tenure, as after this they face Crystal Palace and Watford. However Klopp isn’t taking West Brom lightly, despite it looking like a winnable fixture for the Reds, in his pre-match press conference Klopp said:
“Nobody will go through and have at the end 120 points or something because there are a lot of difficult hurdles to jump over and West Brom is for sure one of them. They fight for every point.”
He was also quick to note the struggles that Liverpool have had at set pieces and West Brom will be keen to exploit this
“The good news is it is not easy to outplay us, the bad news is, we don’t defend at 100 percent on set pieces. That’s another kind of truth, so we need to be really concentrated. We can’t avoid the set piece, we have to defend them really well.”
Adam Lallana has become a key player for Liverpool, and when he was introduced into the game on Monday, Liverpools attack seemed to gain more venom. He has become pivotal to Liverpool’s attack this season, and when he is out of the team his absence is obvious. The switch to a deeper midfield role, where he can see the whole pitch in front of him, has resulted in three assists and three goals already this term. So he is expected to return to the Liverpool line-up after recovering from injury.
While Daniel Sturridge may be dropped by Klopp, which could see Firmino return up front. Midfielder Georginio Wijnaldum has returned to training after overcoming a hamstring injury.
West Brom come into the match on the back of three consecutive 1-1 draws, the most recent of which coming against Spurs. As mentioned if West Brom are to get anything out of this game they will need to adopt a similar strategy to Manchester United, and look to take the sting out of Liverpool’s attack.
They also have their own midfield man, summer signing Nacir Chadli, in inspired form. The Belgian has 4 goals and 2 assists to his name in West Brom’s last 4 matches. Chadli has been playing at number 10 for West Brom and his form in the position has earned him a recall to the Belgian squad. He has been able to make runs into the box, and has capitalised on them. Although he may be in for a frustrating afternoon at Anfield. Ben Foster may also be called on to perform the kind of heroics he produced during the 1-1 draw with Spurs.
Aside from Jonny Evans, Tony Pulis has a fully fit side available. Evans is serving a one-match suspension after picking up his fifth yellow of the season against Spurs. Pulis is expected to line up with a similar side that faced Spurs, meaning Saido Berahino would start on the bench.
Sunday- Manchester City vs Southampton 12:30pm on Sky Sports 1 (KO 1:30pm)
The first of Super Sunday’s games sees a Manchester City, who haven’t won in their last 4 games in all competitions, against a Southampton side who despite losing in the Europa League on Thursday, have come into some sparkling form in the league. With the Saints unbeaten in their last 4 league games having 3 out of 4 of those.
Despite being top of the league, on goal difference, you have to go back to September for City’s last win in the league, on top of this Manchester City were humbled by a rampant Barcelona side in the Camp Nou on Wednesday night. City had been playing well, despite being 1-0 down, and at times Barcelona didn’t look like they had moved out of 2nd gear. However this all changed when Claudio Bravo lost his head and was sent off for handball. A confidence sapping drubbing then followed, which must leave the Saints feeling that City are there for the taking.
Many are suggesting that people have figured out City already, with Tottenham showing that getting in the face of City players, will disrupt their rhythm. It should also be pointed out that in City’s last league game, it took the heroics of Martin Stekelenburg to keep the game from being a rout for City.
Guardiola will also be under pressure to recall Sergio Aguero. Aguero who is the best striker in the league, if not arguably the world, has been on the bench for the last 2 games. It has been rumoured that much like Joe Hart, Aguero has fallen foul of the ruthless nature of Guardiola. It would seem bizarre that a player of that quality would not be the first name on the team sheet.
In terms of injuries for City, Pablo Zabaleta is a major concern after coming off injured against Barcelona, while Fabian Delph is also struggling. Vincent Kompany is still battling back from his groin injury and City have not set a date for his comeback.
While City’s star striker remains on the bench, Saints in-form striker has come from the bench to nail down a starting spot. Charlie Austin, bagged a brace against former club Burnley last weekend and too his tally for the season to 7. While City’s defence has been resolute this season, Austin only needs 1 opportunity to score, and he has been getting himself in the right position so far this season.
Jeremy Pied and Cedric Soares are long-term absentees for the visitors while left backs Ryan Bertrand and Matt Targett are also unlikely to make the trip to the North West. Nathan Redmond faces a fitness test due to a knock, but should be fine to start.
Sunday-Chelsea vs Manchester United 3:30pm on Sky Sports 1 (4pm KO)
No doubt the game of the weekend sees the return of the “Special One” to the ground where he was once worshipped. As Jose Mourinho returns to Stamford Bridge with his Manchester United side. This is not the first time that Mourinho has been back to Stamford Bridge in an opposition dugout, as he managed Inter Milan to a 1-0 victory over Chelsea in 2010. But this is the first time, and only the second time overall, that Mourinho has been back to Stamford Bridge to play a domestic league game.
While Mourinho may grab all the headlines in the build up to the game, it is the players on the pitch who will decide this. Since losing to Arsenal, Chelsea have rediscovered some of their form they were exhibiting at the start of the season. Chelsea come into this game on back-to-back comfortable Premier League wins – 2-0 at Hull City before the international break and then the 3-0 demolition Leicester City of last weekend. These results have come since Antonio Conte abended the 3-4-3 formation switched to their new 3-4-2-1 formation and will presumably use this shape against a side that will be unlikely to bomb forward and attack.
Conte has also helped Eden Hazard and Diego Costa, 2 players who were accused of downing tools for Mourinho at Chelsea, rediscover their form. Costa is once again the Premier League’s most-lethal striker with seven goals this season. Costa has been leading the line, and has been the recipient of tactical use of Hazard and Pedro, or Willian as dual central attacking midfielders.
Hazard and Pedro found space superbly against Leicester City last weekend, dominating the half-spaces on whichever side of the pitch the ball was closest, and they will look to do similar against United. With United looking to close off service to Costa, it would not be surprising if United allow N’Golo Kanté time on the ball, and the Frenchman is more than happy to dribble into space before attempting a clever final ball, which could well end up at the feet of Costa.
After missing last week, Willian should be the only change in place of Pedro on the right. John Terry and Cesc Fabregas look like they could miss out again, with Victor Moses and Nemanja Matic flourishing in the Blues’ new system.
This is United’s third game of the week, and despite a slow start against Liverpool, Mourinho will be delighted with his team’s performance against Fenerbahce, with United creating few chances in the early part of the match, they still went on to win the game 4-1. More importantly was the confidence boost that 2 goals will have given Paul Pogba. Pogba who has struggled for form, and wasn’t at his best against Liverpool, will possible give room to move further up the pitch against Chelsea.
Ander Herrera, who was easily man of the match against Liverpool, will come back into the team on Sunday, and following another assured performance from Michael Carrick, an axis of Carrick, Herrera, and Pogba could cause Chelsea problems. Although it is likely that Mourinho will favour Marouane Fellaini, over Carrick.
United used a counter attacking game against Liverpool, but at times the 2 wingers at the top of the 3, Ashley Young, and Marcus Rashford, were at times camped out in their own half. However Rashford has much more chance of using his pace on the break against this weekend’s opponents than he did against Liverpool.
Marcos Alonso has looked a little bit careless and chaotic at times this season as he adjusts to a new league, which could inspire confidence in the United youngster.
United rarely threatened Liverpool’s goal on Monday night because they simply couldn’t get their quicker players on the ball. Rashford may, therefore, be given greater licence to attack Alonso and force Chelsea into a rethink on that side.
Like many times before at Stamford Bridge, it’ll be the tactical nuance of Jose Mourinho that decides a result. Only this time it’ll be the red of Manchester United, as opposed to the blue of Chelsea.
Next Bet Wins TV Accumulator
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Over 2.5 goals in the Bournemouth vs Tottenham game 4/5
Over 2.5 goals in the Liverpool vs West Brom game 3/5
Over 2.5 goals in the Man City vs Southampton game 13/20
Over 4.5 cards in the Chelsea vs Manchester United game 4/6
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