The Premier League is in full swing, no excuse will be tenable by anyone, managerial changes, injuries or referee decisions won’t be listened to, you have a point to prove? Do it on the pitch where it matters. We’re back at the predictions table, to tell you what we think of the weekend fixtures, interesting fixtures here and there and still no respite for Unai Emery’s Arsenal, they rightfully lost to Manchester City last time out, they have Chelsea to visit this weekend, another testy moment for the newcomer. The new boys struggled last weekend, Wolves shone brightly but had to fight for a point and what a way to do it from Ruben Neves, what a strike from distance to level in the first half; Fulham weren’t so lucky, Crystal Palace gave them a horrible return to the premier league, and Cardiff… Oh well they weren’t expected to survive to be honest. Let’s do it again, Premier League predictions is here, remember to gamble responsibly too. Here we go!
Saturday 18th August
Cardiff vs Newcastle
Cardiff didn’t find life in the Premier League interesting on the opening day, Bournemouth were just too strong for them, despite their goalkeeper saving a penalty from Callum Wilson, the young forward still beat him from close range late on in the game, for Cardiff it was a better forgotten afternoon for them. Newcastle labored in vain at home to Tottenham Hotspur on day one, they leveled after the clock recorded a goal for Jan Vertonghen, rightfully too but just by a few millimeters, Dele Alli bundled home not long after, all within the first eighteen minutes. Three points at stake here must be coveted by both Neil Warnock and Rafa Benitez, it’s too early to be doomed, you have to fight with everything within you to stay relevant. Does home advantage count here? Well Cardiff made their home ground a fortress in the Championship, something the Magpies must be wary of.
Player to watch: Solomon Rondon
Verdict: Newcastle to win or draw
Everton vs Southampton
Richarlison was the bright light last weekend when Everton took on Wolves, he scored twice and even bagged a yellow card, what a day it was for the Toffees, even with the one man deficit, they still ran away with a point against a talented side, although lack of top flight experience affected the home side on the day. Southampton labored to safety last season, scrambling for their lives on the final day as Swansea lurked but managed to survive, they don’t want that this time obviously and Mark Hughes is even pushing for something better, Europe maybe, but survival and stability comes first, against Burnley, everyone’s bogey team, they managed a point, not the best result but the Saints of last season would have lost, reminiscent of last season, Southampton don’t score goals, you don’t win games if you don’t score goals, when will the Saints start firing? Shane Long and Charlie Austin upfront and still no goals, how long more before they get relegated to the Championship for lack of goals? Everton are at advantage here, Gylfi Siggurdson in the number 10 role already has competitions, Andre Gomes will want a role in the hole, there’s Lucas Digne eyeing the role of Leigton Baines and no margin for errors, Everton fans must be loving this.
Player to watch: Richarlison
Verdict: Everton to win or draw
Leicester City vs Wolves
King Power Stadium
The next of our simultaneous Saturday fixtures is at the King Power Stadium, home to the former champions, Leicester City, the Foxes went to Old Trafford last weekend and worked hard but were unlucky in the end, 2:1 loss but they stay hopeful, Claude Puel must have learned from the poor start and the inexperience of Jordan Amartey who gave away a too early penalty that Paul Pogba tucked away from the spot to hand Jose Mourinho’s side a very early lead. Leicester have what it takes to stay high up despite the loss of Riyad Mahrez to Manchester City, they have potent players to call on and they have to take their chances. Wolves showed everyone what they were doing in the just concluded window, loads of top notch players joined and they made good use of them against ten man Everton. Keep an eye on Ruben Neves, the Portuguese can do magic from dead ball situations as he amazingly did against Everton, Moutinho and Jimenez are a handful for any defense any day, Nuno Esperito Santo must be relishing the options at his disposal, the big boys must be wary of this Wolves team.
Player to watch: Jamie Vardy/Ruben Neves
Verdict: Both teams to score
Tottenham vs Fulham
Tottenham’s new stadium isn’t ready so they would be making use of Wembley for now. Fulham lost on day one, they had a fine shout for a penalty that wasn’t given, on another day it could have been a great outlet for them to fight back, no excuses, they lost and they have to fight for their safety now. Tottenham were a bit fortunate at at St James’s Park, twice Newcastle struck the woodwork, but they defended well and ran off with the win, powered by Dele Alli’s winning goal, enough but it was obviously a gear one display from the North London side who had too many men in the semi final of the world cup. This a London affair, a derby by all standards, Fulham used to be neck to neck with Spurs but not anymore, now it’s David against Goliath, whatever happens, they will both give their best, but Ryan Sessegnon and Andre Schurle have points to prove, how do they do that against Kyle Walker-Peters and Ben Davies should Trippier still be absent? Harry Kane has a miserable reputation in the month of August, will he break the duck or does the curse continue?
Player to watch: Christian Eriksen
Verdict: Tottenham to win
Westham vs Bournemouth
The Olympic Stadium, London
The last of our simultaneous fixtures is between Westham and Bournemouth in Westham’s new stadium. Westham were well destroyed by Liverpool on the opening day, nothing to feel bad about, so many teams will feel same way from Liverpool this season, they are way too deadly so it’s fine. Bournemouth got out of jail, Cardiff weren’t so strong, had the new boys scored after Callum Wilson missed from the spot, it would have been another same of the old stories but same Wilson found space in the box and fired home to seal the win. Westham weren’t totally bad against Liverpool, they fought, Felipe Anderson was lively all day long but the whole team just succumbed to a better side, now they have their chance to shine against a fast paced Bournemouth side, things must sure be different. Man for man, it should tilt towards the London club, manager for manager, it’s experience vs youthfulness, in the end it would be down to who wants it more.
Player to watch: Felipe Anderson
Verdict: Westham to win
Chelsea vs Arsenal
Welcome to the Premier League Mauricio Sarri and Unai Emery, contrasting fortunes however for them both on opening day, while it was an awesome experience for the Italian at Huddersfield, his wards blew the terriers away in fine fashion and are looking forward to a mind blowing season; for Emery, it was a day of loads of lessons as the reigning champions taught his team how to close gaps and make smart decisions, something they suffered under the last manager’s tenure, 2:0 reverse and another huge game ahead against a robust side, what a challenge before the Gunners. Chelsea are a bit more organized at the moment, Willian is settled after the Manchester United and Barcelona rumours, Alvaro Morata is not going anywhere and as it stands, they only have Europa League as distractions, for Arsenal, the focus is simple, get back on track, compete and find stability, fans will not be on that high spirit until results resonate with mindsets but Emery knows what to do, keep it simple!. Jorginho is the new hero, but Aubameyang has points to prove, his disallowed goal against Manchester City means nothing, things must start happening for him and the Gunners.
Player to watch: Pierre Emerick-Aubameyang
Verdict: Arsenal to win or draw
Sunday 19th August
Burnley vs Watford
Burnley took off from where they stopped last season, a point on the road will always be covetous, with the fact that they have difficult fixtures in Europe to attend to, Burnley needed extra time to advance to the group stages, great achievement by all standards. Watford started brightly, many thanks to their new hero, Roberto Pereyra, two goals on either side of the break to hand Brighton their first of many defeats this season. Javi Garcia knows what’s at stake, he does good businesses at home and goes away to struggle, if he tries that this season, fans would haunt him down like they did Quique Flores Sanchez and Marco Silva before him, he must be on his toes home or away. Burnley must be really tired from their European adventure, the weak legs must recover on time before the visit of the Hornets, Sean Dyche seems to have a job for life, but he has lots of work to do to live up to the lofty expectations at Turf Moore following a sensational season last term.
Player to watch: Roberto Pereyra
Verdict: Watford to win or draw
Manchester City vs Huddersfield
Huddersfield gave a great account of themselves last season against Manchester City, no one gave them a chance, even in defeat in one of the two legs, they fought hard, they will look up to that performance for inspiration as they visit the Etihad again this weekend. Manchester City had a fine afternoon over Arsenal at the Emirates last weekend, two unreplied goals and that will only be the first of many wins, defensively, the Citizens were solid but there were elements of loose play, something a more clinical side would punish all day long, Arsenal weren’t at their best, they are still struggling to adapt to the new era but even the Terriers won’t offer much resistance to the dominance of the champions. If there’s something David Wagner would be wary of, it is a slow start, but two fixtures against City and Chelsea won’t help you, they won’t expect any result here, give or take, they are only here to make up the numbers. Manchester City were greeted with the news of Kevin De Bryune’s injury in midweek, he’ll be missed but there are too many potent midfielders in the City team to worry about while the dangerous Belgian recovers.
Player to watch: Sergio Aguero
Verdict: Straight win Manchester City
Brighton vs Manchester United
Manchester United are not in great shape, to be honest, any good side will ruffle their wet feathers. Against Leicester, United had moments of brilliance but not all was pretty for the Red Devils, the win came with lots of moments of uncertainties, they struggled to string successful passes together, in the end it was down to grit and scrambles, if Leicester had few more minutes, would United have ran away with the win? Brighton and Hove were the victims of Watford last weekend, not for the lack of efforts, they tried but the Hornets wanted it more and took their chances when it mattered. The Amex will feel the heat, the version of Paul Pogba that would be seen is left to be decided by the lanky World Cup winner, but if he shows the same intensity he did at Old Trafford on opening day, alongside Fred, then Brighton will need lots of energy and discipline to shore up spaces. On the Side of the Seagulls, Pascal Gross has work to do, the team doesn’t have that balance yet, they will endure a difficult afternoon.
Player to watch: Paul Pogba
Verdict: United to win
Monday 20th August
Crystal Palace vs Liverpool
This fixture used to be one hell of a weird one, Palace wins away and Liverpool wins at Selhurst, but a whole lot has changed now, Liverpool are a lot stronger and will beat anyone anywhere. Crystal Palace were the surprise survivors of last season, zero point from a possible 21 and didn’t even score a single goal, they rallied under Roy Hodgson and survived, they beat Fulham last weekend and kept a clean sheet, massive improvement, the team can fly now, but will the sky contain them against the likes of Salah, Mane and Firminho? Liverpool dusted Westham last weekend, top of the league and they want it to stay that way, their former players, Sakho and Benteke would be waiting for them, it would be fun. Jurgen Klopp again must be reminded he has no excuse, he wanted a goalkeeper, he has Alisson, he wanted a proven defensive midfielder, he has Fabinho, he wants a mobile midfielder, he has Naby Keita who would storm the Premier League this season as evident in his debut display. The fear of Liverpool could be the beginning of wisdom.
Player to watch: Naby Keita
Verdict: Liverpool to win
Strictly the writer’s opinion