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Premier League Preview (Sept 27th - 29th)
Last weekend brought some really surprising results. I am not sure anyone would have predicted Leicester City would beat Manchester United 5-3 at the beginning of the game, and it was even less predictable with half an hour to go in the actual game!
Tottenham, Everton and Liverpool fans would at least be glad of that result which took the attention off their teams defeats home to West Brom, Crystal Palace and away to West Ham respectively. More tears could be in line for one of the Merseyside teams this weekend as the two sides meet in the early kick off this weekend, and it is at this game we start.
SATURDAY (All Kick Off times 3pm BST/10am ET unless stated):
Liverpool v Everton (12:45 BST/7:45 ET):
Both sets of fans will not be happy with their sides performances this season, especially when compared to the progress of the last campaign. Both sides, which finished in the top five last season, now find themselves 11th and 14th.
Liverpool, we knew, would miss Suarez, but they also missed Sturridge in last weekends defeat. Steven Gerrard, while can still do a job for Liverpool, cannot be relied upon to carry them anymore. If Sturridge is fit for Saturday then maybe Liverpool can start to get back to showing some threat up front, but the signs for that are not good.
It is true that the victorious side in the early kick off on Saturday will certainly be given a lift by getting one over on their rivals, but for the other side questions may remain. Personally I think that, although both Managers will be wanting the win, they will have to settle for a draw and move on.
Chelsea v Aston Villa:
Last week Chelsea lost their 100% start to the season against Manchester City, and Aston Villa were beaten convincingly by Arsenal. Chelsea legend Frank Lampard scored the equalizer which halted the Mourinho juggernaut but I fully expect that to resume full service on Saturday.
That is a bit harsh on Aston Villa who had their own off field problems in the week leading up to the Arsenal game but I still think a comfortable win for the hosts will see the Villains head out of London with no points.
And of course Frank Lampard doesn’t wear claret, just blue.
Crystal Palace v Leicester:
The upheaval at Palace right before the start of the season seems to have had somewhat of a galvanizing affect on the Eagles at this early stage of the season. All the five points on the board have come in the last three games and any side visiting Neil Warnocks side will not have an easy ride.
Leicester, newly promoted, beat up on a struggling Manchester United side last weekend and that will live long in Foxes memories but this is a different game. Palace will be tighter at the back than United were and I would bet that if Palace find themselves 3-1 up with twenty minutes to go then Warnock will have no issues with locking the defense up and seeing the game out.
Hull v Man City:
Manchester City impressed midweek after the 7-0 destruction of Sheffield Wednesday in the League Cup. Two goals from Frank Lampard followed his equalizer against his old club to secure a point on Sunday.
Last season Pellegrini struggled away from home and to clubs, like Hull, who you would expect City to dispatch. This season their lone defeat has come against exactly against one of these clubs, only this time it was at home. A win will be vital for the visitors if they are to keep tabs on Chelsea.
For the hosts a win would see them leapfrog the defending Champions in the table and that may cause Steve Bruces stock to rise. Off field problems have been kept behind closed doors a little bit more this season but there is still uncertainty over what the future of the club will be stemming from what it is to be known as.
Man Utd v West Ham:
Pressure is starting to mount a little more on Louis Van Gaal as the United hot seat got a little hotter last week. Manchester United let a 3-1 lead slip to a 5-3 defeat with only half an hour remaining. That was a shock result which sent United fans again to their phones to call the various football talk shows.
This week will be just as tough for L.V.G as the Hammers, under Sam Allardyce are actually playing like a side we haven’t seen for a while, with belief. They beat Liverpool and they beat Hull City and if they were to win at Old Trafford then Big Sam will be the toast of the town.
That said, under Moyes as it was under Ferguson, United always seem to get a result when they needed it, and boy do they need it right now.
Imagine a draw or even a defeat at Old Trafford and the places that could drop them and maybe you will really start to see the fans turn. The money spent and the results accumulated so far does not sit well with the faithful and a win, or a string of them, is what is needed.
Southampton v QPR:
Southampton, second only to Chelsea in the League, should have enough to dispatch a rather uninspiring Queens Park Rangers. QPR are really starting to concern me and their Premiership survival is very important to the club.
The side spent a lot of money a few seasons ago before dropping out of the Premier League and it was important financially that they returned as soon as they possibly could. Another relegation, along with points deducted or fines imposed again would see us have another Portsmouth on our hands.
But, we need to take a breath and take one game as it comes. Small steps are what are needed for Rangers and a point here would be a good result. Their home games and teams in and around them are where they need to record the wins. Take a point here and move on.
Sunderland v Swansea:
Gus Poyet needs to find some of that spark he had in his team towards the end of last season. The pulling of his side out of the relegation zone, when anything but the drop looked impossible, is the type of display needed now.
For Swansea, their season is actually pretty good right now. Nine points from the first five games is pretty good and will give them the confidence going into this game. A draw will see them into the top four, at least until the conclusion of the later game at the Emirates, and a win could see them go as high as second.
Arsenal v Tottenham (5:30 BST/12:30 ET):
Rounding off the day, which started with the Merseyside derby, is a North London derby. Wenger has been here before but it will be a new experience for Tottenham boss, Pochettino.
I think that, plus the home field advantage will give the Gunners the edge in this one. Although, having said that, sometimes Arsenals own worst enemy is Arsenal.
A home win is the most likely here and that is what I will go for in the end, but I am sure that the result will not be the only talking point in this particular game.
West Brom v Burnley (4pm BST/11am ET):
Who knows with this one? I certainly don’t. Both sides were expected to struggle this season with Burnley having just been promoted and West Brom not making many moves from last season.
Alan Irvine, the West Brom boss, was starting to feel the pressure after being winless early on, but now two wins in the space of a week has lifted a bit of that pressure. Now if they were to face a side like Chelsea or Arsenal in this game then I would have no worries, they wouldn’t be expected to win it and the past week would not be tarnished. However in Burnley, they face a side they should be beating.
Burnley are without a win so far this season and the fact is that they will be fighting against relegation this season, and most likely losing out. Imagine if West Brom were to tie this game, or even lose it.
It will be interesting to see how the pressure of this lone game on Sunday is handled by both bosses. For Irvine the pressure is probably greater due to the fact they are at home and the previously mentioned run from this past week.
Stoke v Newcastle (8pm BST/3pm ET):
Both sides are finding things a little tough this season. Stoke have lost twice at home and led a struggling QPR twice before finishing with a single point. Mark Hughes will look to bring back the home form his side enjoyed last season and what better time to start than here, with the bottom side in the League.
For Newcastle I think my opinions on their backroom business has been made well known but now it is purely results on the pitch that matter. No wins this season, the second worst goal difference after QPR and thanks to Chelsea, joint second worse goals conceded (Chelsea put six past Everton putting them on 13 conceded).
The defense is clearly the issue as they actual score an average of a goal a game, while not great, could certainly give them some much needed points if the weren’t like a sieve at the back.
I think a defeat against the Potters could see the Newcastle hot seat become vacant Tuesday morning and I think that is exactly what will happen.
With that in mind the end of this round of matches should see Chelsea retain top spot for another week with Arsenal, Southampton and Manchester City in the top four positions. At the bottom, it is as you were, the problems increase for Newcastle, who are still bottom and points away from safety. Newly promoted sides, Burnley and QPR round out the bottom three with all hopeful that it is still early in the season to improve their situations.
So there you have my predictions for the weekend. Let me know what you think through Twitter and/or Facebook. More articles will be posted soon talking about all things to do with the English Premiership and the Beautiful Game in general.