Welcome back to our predictions table and for the record, Dipo won again last weekend, and once again we call on pundits to offer their predictions to next weekend’s games and they just might feature in this column. It’s certainly too early to tell but one won’t be too out of place to posit that Liverpool is on their way to the title after just five matches. The rest of the bunch just don’t look the part, Manchester City sensationally went to Norwich and crashed to a defeat, upholding the record that English Coca Cola Championship winners have at home against Premier league Champions when playing at home; last season, Wolves held the champions at the Molineux and just last weekend, Norwich City shocked the Citizens and handed Liverpool a five point advantage at the summit.
Not for lack of good football, not for the absence of their usual quick touches, maybe an eye on the game in Ukraine in midweek (which they bossed actually) led to the lethargic start to life at Carrow Road but the hosts took full advantage and the Champions never recovered. In the absence of Aymeric Laporte, John Stones also pulled up injured early in the week to leave Nicolas Otamendi as the only recognized center back, leaving Pep Guardiola the last option of starting Fernandinho at the heart of the defense. Up next for City in their pursuit of redemption, they host Watford, a team high on confidence after their brave second half showing against Arsenal and will look to explore the fragility at the back for City. On paper it’s a very straightforward affair for the champions as Watford haven’t beaten them in forever and of the last five encounters, City won all and two of them were 6:0 score lines… Quique Flores Sanchez will have to be careful as his flamboyant mood will likely be tested at the Etihad stadium.
Manchester United beat Leicester last weekend, it was a great relief for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer but he will have to rotate heavily to balance things between the cup games and the league struggle. Injuries are piling up but the team stayed composed to contain the Foxes and hand Ole Gunnar Solskjaer only his second win in five attempts, he can look at the table and believe, just two points behind Manchester City and with a game at a time model, he can focus on each game as it comes. With West Ham up next away from home in the league just after a home fixture in Europa against Astana, Manchester United have it all to do to stay competitive on both fronts. West Ham labored to a goalless draw against Aston Villa on Monday and were lucky to earn a point following Author Masuaku’s early bath after two bookable offenses, they definitely can believe against a Manchester United side that would be slightly fatigued, it would be some fixture to savor. United has won three of the last five with West Ham’s only victory coming in the 3:1 almost a year ago, away at the London stadium, it will be interesting.
Arsenal will host Villa at about the same time most folks will be watching what is happening at Stamford Bridge but they deserve a mention, they did go to Frankfurt and picked three points and scored three without conceding, great feat but can they do that consistently? Aston Villa will sure take the fight to Arsenal, they will exploit the problems at the back and hope Arsenal continues the calamitous playing from the back nonsense that ruined their day against Watford. Incidentally, Aston Villa will not want to look at the stats, they haven’t scored a single goal against Arsenal in the last five meetings in all competitions, they will look to right that and they do have a chance.
Chelsea from the start of the season have been largely unpredictable, from the horrendous start at Manchester, to the very brave showing against Liverpool in the Super Cup and then a bit of everything from sheer brilliance to utter disappointments, you can hardly tell which Blue side will turn up and even with the return of Antonio Rudiger (who we can’t tell if he’s fit or not) and the advent of academy sensation, Fikayo Tomori, the fragility at the back remains a thing of huge headache; everyone will look at the fact that they shipped five past Wolves explains they can score, but can they defend? Not many teams see the back of Nuno Espirit Santo’s side in that manner but Chelsea followed that up with a home loss against Valencia in Europe and with Liverpool next, the big match of the weekend, you don’t know what to expect from the Blues.
Speaking of Liverpool, they did pick their first loss of the season in Naples, one of those days maybe, but their European title defense didn’t start well. Last weekend they extended their lead at the top of the summit to five points, huge to say the least but they know too well that it’s too early to think they’re home and dry. On Sunday, they will go toe to toe with Chelsea, they did best the Blues via penalties at the Super Cup but Chelsea were the better side on the day and a slip is all they need to lose their early advantage, Klopp won’t want that. In the last five meetings, it’s been close but Chelsea edged it with two wins, they drew twice and Liverpool triumphed 2:0 late last season on a say Mo Sallah’s sensational screamer silenced the visiting crowd. Chelsea have Mason Mount out after he limped off against Valencia in midweek but Callum Hudson-Odoi is back and fresh from signing a new five year contract… Bring it on.
Spurs failed to win in midweek but they shipped four past Palace last weekend, great showing and if they do that more often everyone will be afraid of them and more interestingly, they scored 4 and Harry Kane wasn’t on the score sheet, strange isn’t it?
Up next for Spurs is a trip to the Fox’s den, Leicester are still blowing hot and cold and that means Spurs can take the battle to them but on their days, you can’t dare Leicester rudely. In midfield where the strength of the Foxes lies, they have James Maddison and Youri Tielemans but with Ayoze Perez not doing wonders as expected, all scoring responsibilities rest on Jamie Vardy.
Leicester went to Manchester United and returned empty handed, they can look at the score line and the manner of the goal conceded (a penalty) and think they were hard done by circumstances and take the anger out on Pochetino’s side but that could also be a recipe for failure, they must tread carefully on
Saturday at the lunchtime kickoff.
Elsewhere on Saturday, Southampton hosts Bournemouth to kick start the weekend on Friday, the Cherries dusted Everton cleanly the last time and will look to continue the run. The saints went away and won last weekend, awesome stuff for a side that’s quite known to struggle, interesting start to life this weekend.
Speaking of Everton, they have Sheffield to test for size, they must win or there will be noise and whistles around the manager.
Premier league predictions are next and as always, you have to gamble responsibly.
|Fixture||Ramsey’s verdict||Ramsey’s player to watch||Dipo’s verdict||Dipo’s player to watch|
|Southampton vs Bournemouth||Bournemouth to score||Callum Wilson||Both teams to score||Boufal|
|Leicester vs Spurs||Spurs to win or draw||Harry Kane||Spurs to win||Christian Eriksen|
|Burnley vs Norwich||Burnley to win or draw||Erik Peters||Draw||Ashley Barnes|
|Everton vs Sheffield||Everton to win||Alex Iwobi||Everton to win||Ricarilson|
|Man City vs Watford||City to win||Raheem Sterling||City to kill||David Silva|
|Newcastle vs Brighton||Newcastle to win or draw||Joelington||Newcastle to win||Atsu|
|Palace vs Wolves||Under 3.5 goals||Leo Dendoncker||Wolves to win||Raul Jiminez|
|West Ham vs United||Over 2.5 cards||Daniel James||Man Utd to win or draw||Marcus Rashford|
|Arsenal vs Villa||Arsenal to win||Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang||Arsenal to win to draw||Dani Ceballos|
|Chelsea vs Liverpool||Liverpool to win||Sadio Mane||Liverpool to win or draw||Sadio Mane|
Strictly the writers’ opinions