EVERTON VS AFC BOURNEMOUTH
Everton, to their standards, have had a completely dismal start to the season. Currently sitting in the relegation zone having only scored two goals and conceded the most goals in the league after five games (10), this isn’t exactly the start the Everton fans would have been expecting having splashed out over £100M themselves. The Toffee’s have seemingly lacked balance and cohesion this season due to the sheer number of players that were acquired. With the sale of Romelu Lukaku, Everton have to find a way to find another solution for goals, and fast.
Bournemouth have not done much better themselves. They currently sit one place behind Everton having only scored 3 goals and conceded 9 goals. When Bournemouth broke into the Premier League, their intent on playing good football and keeping the ball along the turf was admirable and to be applauded. Now however, it seems like the league has caught up with their style of play and have devised the appropriate game plan to nullify their strengths.
Although this will only be the 6th game of the season for both, it can be argued that this is a must win game for both. Everton are trying to break into the famed top 6 and the majority of their summer signings were on the attacking side of the ball so the Toffee’s will surely be looking to put on a performance at Goodison after the debacle they produced at Manchester United where they were beaten 4-0. On the other hand, Bournemouth will be aiming to maintain their status as a Premier League team and that, on current form, is looking threatened.
SCORE PREDICTION: Everton 3-1 AFC Bournemouth – Gylfi Sigurdsson to score first
SOUTHAMPTON VS MANCHESTER UNITED
Manchester United are looking like title challengers again. After a blockbuster transfer window where over £150M was spent, United are displaying the kind of attacking intent and defensive fortitude that propelled them to many titles under Sir Alex Ferguson. Eric Bailly and Phil Jones look to have established a formidable partnership in the middle of defence and Romelu Lukaku is looking like the striker that United fans would have hoped for.
Southampton on the other hand, are quite the opposite. Although they finished in a very good 8th place last season, only 5 teams scored fewer goals than their 41 and those 3 of those 5 teams were relegated and the other 2 finished 16th and 17th. The purchase of Manolo Gabbiadini was meant to rectify this problem but his hot streak in front of goal has cooled drastically since his inception into the squad.
United will be without the new found centre piece of their midfield Paul Pogba after picking up a hamstring injury in United’s 3-0 win over Basel in the Champions League. However, after dismantling Everton 4-0 in the previous Premier League fixture, United will be looking to continue to gain momentum by securing the victory at St.Mary’s. Whereas Southampton will be looking to eradicate their attacking woes and cause the upset by again taking points away from a title challenger.
Finally, this game for Southampton could hinge on whether Virgil Van Dijk is reinstated into the starting line up. By far their best defender, Van Dijk was subject to intense transfer speculation during the transfer window but ultimately, his services were retained by Southampton and he is now expected to come back into the team and to make a significant impact.
SCORE PREDICTION: Southampton 0-2 Manchester United – Lukaku to score first
MANCHESTER CITY VS CRYSTAL PALACE
Through the first 5 games of the season, the form from both Manchester teams has led many people to believe that the title is coming back to Manchester, the colour ribbons that will be attached to that trophy remains to be determined. Manchester City have created the most formidable attacking unit in the league. The perennial goal scorer Aguero is flanked by the impressive Gabriel Jesus and the dynamic Raheem Sterling with arguably the two best playmakers in the league behind them in Kevin De Bruyne and David Silva. To put it simply, it’s unfair.
Crystal Palace could only dream of such attacking potency. Sitting at rock bottom of the table with no goals scored and 8 conceded in their first five games, this isn’t exactly the opposition you would want to be facing when trying to kick start your season. After embarrassingly sacking Frank de Boer after just four games, Roy Hodgson was brought in to try and get Palace back to the identity they once played which has utterly dissipated.
After their 6-0 obliteration of Watford and scoring 16 goals in their first 5 games, Man Cit will be looking to maintain this standard of performance and should be expecting to put Palace away with consummate ease. While Crystal Palace will be looking to use this game as a platform to discover what kind of team they want to be, and to display to Roy Hodgson what members of his current squad can be relied upon to provide the sufficient effort going forward.
SCORE PREDICTION: Manchester City 4-0 Crystal Palace – Gabriel Jesus to score first
LEICESTER VS LIVERPOOL
A rematch from the Carabao Cup takes place at the King Power Stadium over the weekend. Liverpool will be looking to avenge their bitter defeat o the Foxes and get their season back on track after not having registered a win since the 4-0 demolition of Arsenal.
Sadio Mane will still be unavailable to Liverpool due to his 3 match ban he received for his red card against Manchester City. However, on a brighter note for Liverpool, Phillipe Coutinho should be in contention to start against Leicester after successfully coming through 45 minutes in midweek.
Both teams are expected to make changes from the teams that were present during midweek. A rematch between the pair provides the perfect match up for the Liverpool defence to put on a performance after manager Jurgen Klopp lambasted their defensive display. In his post-match press conference, Klopp stated he is “sick” of the way Liverpool are conceding “easy goals”. A win against Leicester would do well to dispel some of the rumours that surround the Liverpool defence.
This game should be very exciting for the neutral fans with both teams’ strengths coming on the attacking side of the ball. Liverpool have arguable the best attacking force in the league when everyone is on song and with Craig Shakespeare taking over the reins at Leicester, Jamie Vardy has rediscovered his scoring touch in front of goal.
SCORE PREDICTION: Leicester 2-2 Liverpool – Jamie Vardy to score first
STOKE VS CHELSEA
Chelsea travel to the bet365 stadium for their next fixture where Stoke are notoriously difficult to beat. Over the last few years, the Potters have gained a reputation for being resolute at home and providing stiff competition for any team that comes around. Chelsea, after reeling for a few fixtures, are looking like the champions that walked away with title. However, Stoke have become accustomed to being the party spoilers and taking points away from potential title chasers and they will be looking to continue on in this fashion by securing the victory over Chelsea.
After a so called ‘crisis’ at the club, Chelsea are currently sitting at 3rd on the table with 10 points, only 3 behind the Manchester clubs. Stoke, have made a steady start to the season considering the fixtures they have had to face with Manchester United and Arsenal already making the trip to the stadium. During those two matches, they upheld their reputation of taking points off title challengers by securing the win against Arsenal and coming from behind to secure a draw against Manchester United.
With recent reports revealing that Atletico have agreed a deal with Chlesea for the purchase of Diego Costa, that cloud of doubt has been removed from Stamford Bridge and the striker position has been given solely to Alvaro Morata. With 3 goals and 2 assists in his first 5 Premier League games, Chelsea are going to need him to step up and perform, especially against a team that is especially physical.
Also, with Eden Hazard was welcomed back into the fold against Arsenal making an appearance from the bench. Antonio Conte will surely be monitoring his fitness to ensure he gets optimal performance in the long run, but he will be in contention to start this game.
SCORE PREDICTION: Stoke 1-2 Chelsea – Morata to score first