The last football weekend of September heralds another pause in domestic football before some crucial World Cup qualifiers. While there is plenty to look forward to on the road to Russia, there are still some tasty fixtures in the last round of domestic football before the international break. These obviously include some great matches in the Premier League. Here’s my stab at predicting the games this weekend, including the marquee clash between Chelsea and Manchester City at Stamford Bridge.
Huddersfield vs Spurs
A battle between two teams that press really well. Also a battle between two very impressive managers. It’s also a battle (the word of the day, surely?) between two very good defences. Remarkably, it is the Terriers who have conceded lesser goals, with only three so far compared to the five let in by Spurs. The only problem for David Wagner’s men is that they have scored only five goals, four of which came in the first two fixtures. In the opposite dugout Mauricio Pochettino can call upon Harry Kane. And that will make the difference.
Bournemouth vs Leicester
A battle (stop it Wasim, stop it!) between two teams at the wrong of the table. To be fair, both the Cherries and the Foxes have played better than the results suggest. I think Bournemouth are playing just a tad better and with their attacking players coming in to form, I expect them to get the three points at home.
United vs Palace
Despite Jose Mourinho’s protestations at the lack of preparation time for this match, I expect United to win this comfortably. Palace have yet to score in the league from six games. When I make my picks for round 8, I expect to write the same from seven games.
Stoke vs Southampton
A game between two teams who should do better but also a game between sides that tend to underwhelm quite often. The talent on display makes you want to believe this should be a cracker, but something tells me this game is going to be dreary.
West Brom vs Watford
Tony Pulis loves a home game against those “fancy dan” foreign managers flooding the Premier League. The only problem is that Marco Silva is a fine manager period. Full stop. Whatever punctuation mark you want to use! This game will be quite physical. That doesn’t necessarily mean it will be memorable.
West Ham vs Swansea
Another game between two teams at the bottom who really should do better. Or should they? While Messrs Bilic and Clement can ruminate about fine margins, some of the mistakes evidenced by these two teams have been amateur at best. Who is less likely to implode in this game? I am going with the Swans. Just barely.
Chelsea vs City
Conte vs Guardiola. Hazard vs De Bruyne. Fabregas vs Silva. I could go on and on. This match is simply salivating. The two fixtures last season were at a very high level. I am expecting no different this time around. However, the absences of Aguero and Mendy may prove vital to City’s chances. With Chelsea coming in to the game after one of the best away performances in the recent history of the Champions League, I expect them to take that confidence in to this game and get the three points.
Arsenal vs Brighton
The Gunners are slowly and surely getting into a rhythm. Brighton themselves can be pretty happy with the start they’ve had to their debut season in the Premier League. I don’t expect them to be to happy after this match however. Lacazeeettteeee!
Everton vs Burnley
Yet to fully convince for 90 minutes, Everton are walking a tightrope between expectations and performances. Ronald Koeman is yet to come up with a convincing strategy with all his new players. On the other hand, Sean Dyche is all about clarity and coherence. The Clarets have visited Chelsea, Spurs and Liverpool without defeat. I expect them to add Goodison Park to that list.
Newcastle vs Liverpool
It was better under Benitez. No, it’s better under Klopp. We can’t defend with Klopp. We couldn’t score with Benitez. And the argument goes on between Liverpool fans. We won’t get a definitive answer this weekend, but Benitez comes into this match with Newcastle under no pressure while all eyes are on Klopp’s Liverpool. Can they put in a complete performance against one of the most organized teams in the league? You can bet on them conceding, and most likely scoring as well.