With Round 5 of the Premier League in the history books, it’s time to revisit my predictions. The aim was to do better than last time. Since I had scored only seven points then, the bar was pretty low. As is the case with predictions, a few surprises dented my total and I certainly wasn’t helped by both Manchester teams winning by emphatic margins. Let’s take a look at the predictions, with my post-game thoughts and final tally updated below the table.
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Bournemouth vs Brighton
Despite their wretched start to the season, I genuinely believe Bournemouth won’t get relegated. Last weekend nobody thought that Brighton were going to get their first win and they duly put in their best performance to get the three points. I get the same sense from Bournemouth this time around.
There is also South Coast pride at stake here. Eddie Howe’s Cherries wouldn’t like to lose the first derby of the season to the league’s newcomers. This match might turn out to be surprisingly good.
The weekend started so well for me! By the way, all three goals in this game were excellent. They combined invention and precision beautifully.
Crystal Palace vs Southampton
Palace’s first game since the sacking of Frank de Boer sees them host Southampton. In truth, both teams are struggling for inspiration. Virgil van Djik is in the running to make his first start of the season after his protracted summer transfer saga. That should provide the Saints with some inspiration and leadership. Whether that will solve their issues in attack is another matter altogether.
I think Palace will manage to put in a good performance whether or not Roy Hodgson is in the dugout in time for this game. The Eagles were unlucky to get nothing from their game at Burnley last time around and I expect the players to have greater intensity at home. A point to prove, but significantly, a point to get off the mark.
So close. Christian Benteke had some guilt-edged chances. That aside, one can’t deny that the Saints deserved the victory. Roy Hodgson has a significant challenge ahead of him.
Liverpool vs Burnley
Liverpool really didn’t enjoy their encounters against Burnley last season and I don’t expect any different this time around. Sadio Mane’s absence is a blow, but this in an ideal opportunity for Jurgen Klopp to demonstrate that there is, in fact, greater depth to his squad this season. It also gives Liverpool a platform to answer another big question that was thrown at them last season. Can they break down teams with two banks of four?Embed from Getty Images
Sean Dyche’s Burnely have enjoyed travelling to the big guns this season, having already claimed four points from the visits to Chelsea and Spurs. Expect them to make life difficult for the hosts for long periods. However, I still expect Liverpool to make the gap in quality count.
Oh Solanke, no Solanke! At least I know, that with Liverpool I can always get a part of my prediction right. When you’re guaranteed to concede to the opposition without them even trying, it’s only natural to drop points every now and then. While the Reds try to understand how to jump for headers, Burnley can bask in the glory of visiting Chelsea, Spurs and Liverpool without tasting defeat.
Huddersfield vs Leicester
The Terriers suffered their first defeat of the season at West Ham last time around, albeit it took a huge amount of luck for their defence to be finally breached. Their response in this game will reveal a lot. Win, and Huddersfield can be realistically considered for a stable campaign. Lose, and it will seem like their fine start was just a promotion bounce before regressing to a relegation battle.
Leicester themselves have many questions to answer. The fixture list hasn’t been the kindest, but tactical errors and a shortage of inspiration have resulted in the Foxes looking lost in their games against Chelsea and United. The 2016 champions have only got their points against promoted teams so far. They’ll expect to get another three here, but are likely to get only one.
Another three points in the bag for yours truly. Not much happened in this match, which is kind of what I expected.
Newcastle vs Stoke
Two teams that are slowly getting into a rhythm for the season despite incessant doom-mongering by prognosticators in the buildup to the new league campaign. Rafael Benitez continues to display his organizational prowess as one of the best defensive managers in the game. Expect Newcastle to hold firm despite the flair and trickery of Stoke’s attack.
While the St James Park faithful may expect three points from this fixture, I believe the Potters are a defensively solid unit in their own right. Hence, the prediction of a stalemate.
A lot happened in this match. Which is, of course, not what I expected. That man Merino can play though. Oh, and that man Lascelles is becoming a really good captain!
Another great result, fantastic performance from the boys again 👏🏽 buzzing to give you fans the 3 points, have a good weekend 👍🏽
— Jamaal Lascelles (@Lascelles16) September 16, 2017
Watford vs Manchester City
This is an unexpectedly tasty match thanks to the excellent start that Watford have made under Marco Silva. The Portuguese manager has relished these battles against big teams. During his short stint in Hull’s ultimately futile attempt to escape relegation, Silva made his teams hard to beat. He has instilled that same spirit and discipline in the Hornets, as has been witnessed in their unbeaten start to the campaign.Embed from Getty Images
City will certainly have to scrap for the points in this one. Nonetheless, the sheer variety and guile in their attack means they should eventually find a solution. I must admit, this prediction is not without its fair share of doubt. It should be a feisty affair at Vicarage Road.
Uhmm..okkkaaayy? Yes, City have an amazing array of talent. Yes, when their forwards and attacking midfielders combine well they can wreak havoc. But 6-0? 6-0 against a Watford side that everyone (including myself) was raving about? Oh well, at least I got a point. And I got to see Aguero purring. And Jesus. And De Bruyne. Ok, I’ll stop now.
West Brom vs West Ham
Two teams that had drastically different outcomes against promoted teams last time around face off at the Hawthorns. Tony Pulis must have been left frustrated by the Baggies dire performance at Brighton, specifically in defence, where they conceded some daft goals against the Seagulls. In the other dugout, Slaven Bilic must be a relieved man after their fortuitous win over Huddersfield at the Olympic Stadium.
The Hammers have a surprisingly good record at the Hawthorns. However, I don’t expect them to build on it in this match. While they finally did get off the mark, West Ham weren’t particularly impressive against the Terriers. One also has to factor in Tony Pulis teams rarely lose their defensive shape in consecutive games. Well, that is, at least until they hit the 40-point mark.
Is Slaven Bilic the new Tony Pulis? Is Tony Pulis the new Slaven Bilic? And other pointless questions like the meaning of life, as this game meandered on. And on. And on. And on.
Tottenham vs Swansea
Spurs broke their supposed “Wembley Hoodoo” in midweek and how! Borussia Dortmund were dispatched with style as Tottenham announced their arrival in the Champions League. Mauricio Pochettino would like to bottle up the confidence and ensure Spurs put in a repeat against Swansea to get their first home win in the Premier League this season.
While there are no easy fixtures in the Premier League, Swansea still look a few games away from being completely settled. With Kane and Son looking irresistible and Serge Aurier adding some much-needed dynamism on the right, I expect Spurs to dispatch the Swans with little discomfort.
On we go with the Wembley curse. I am sick of it, Spurs are sick of it, most fans are sick of it, but the media isn’t! What else did Mike Dean need to see to give Spurs a penalty??
Chelsea vs Arsenal
The match of the weekend. Whether it lives up to expectations is entirely dependant on Arsenal. If the Gunners come to Stamford Bridge with the same mindset and shambolic preparation they displayed in their last away game at Liverpool, then a repeat of that embarrassment is probable. However, I do think the team was stung by the criticism and will thus come into this game intent on providing a response.Embed from Getty Images
There is one big problem however. Antonio Conte’s Chelsea are purring into life and starting to resemble the dominant force they were last season. With Fabregas, Kante and Bakayako all playing in midfield, the champions look a more complete side. While Chelsea have had their difficulties with Arsenal recently, I expect the host to reassert their dominance of this rivalry. Though, I think the margin might be closer than most expect.
Will the real Arsenal please stand up? How can one reconcile the shambles at Anfield and then this focused display at Stamford Bridge with basically the same players? Meanwhile, was David Luiz getting bored of being reliable? What other explanation can there be for that tackle!
Manchester United vs Everton
Those with a discerning eye pointed out the lack of dynamism as a glaring gap in Everton’s summer spending spree. While they have had a nightmare fixture list to contend with, there is no denying Ronald Koeman has compounded problems with poor selections. While their struggles in attack are no surprise, poor ball retention is compromising Everton’s defensive shape as well. Until Yannick Bolasie returns from injury, the Toffees may be better off sticking to a variant of the 4-5-1. It might also help if a certain Wayne Rooney is benched once in a while.
On the opposite side Romelu Lukaku must look at his old club and wonder, “they replaced me with all this dirge?” While there is undoubtedly a sense of exaggeration in describing United’s play, there is no denying the fact that Lukaku is already thriving at Old Trafford. Receiving service from better players, the young Belgian (we shouldn’t forget that he’s still only 24) is elevating his game to a higher level. United may not be as smooth without Paul Pogba’s dynamism in midfield. Nevertheless, with a brilliant marksman in their midst, they should easily get the three points. Lukaku vs Rooney as they come up against their old clubs? It’s not even a contest!
This prediction was set to land me another three points and enable me to cross the double digits threshold. In stead, Everton decided to buckle with three minutes left. Which leaves Ronald Koeman with the following sequence in his last four games — 0-2, 0-3, 0-3, 0-4. Good thing he spent so much money improving the team then.
Two accurate scores and two accurate results means a total of eight points. Hence, I did do better than last time, but the bar remains low. Hope I do much better in round six. Time to step it up!