Time to get back to footballing business!!
International football is now over!! That can only mean the return of Premier League Football this weekend with opportunity for new signings to impress.
The latest round kicks off with one whopper of a clash at the Etihad as Manchester City host Liverpool. Other highlights include Everton vs Tottenham, Arsenal vs Bournemouth and Stoke vs Manchester United.
Manchester City vs Liverpool
Both sides come into this on seven points but Liverpool crucified Arsenal 4-0 in their last game of August.
Manchester City will however be a sterner test as both clubs look to fight for the title. If Jurgen Klopp names an unchanged side, expect City’s defence to show the same fragilities as seen in their last home match against Everton.
Either way, this should be a great match with plenty of attacking intent from Sergio Aguero and Sadio Mane in particular.
With this being a lunchtime game and jet lag from travel likely, expect a decent draw.
Prediction: Manchester City 1-1 Liverpool
Jake predicts: 1-1 Liverpool
Result: Manchester City 5-0 Liverpool
Arsenal vs Bournemouth
Arsene Wenger needs to see an immediate response from his Gunners after a horror show at Liverpool, just before the international period.
Aleix Sanchez is now available which should provide more attack after Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain moved to Liverpool on deadline day.
Bournemouth on other hand might be winless but have actually been strong in possession so far this season.
If they can start on the front foot and push Arsenal back, expect another tough afternoon for the North Londoners, whose defence has just been woeful to put it in a kind way.
Its easy to predict Arsenal but with Sanchez back and the team is disarray, I expect the Cherries to nick something here.
James predicts: Arsenal 1-1 Bournemouth
Jake predicts: Arsenal 3-0 Bournemouth
Result: Arsenal 3-0 Bournemouth
Brighton & Hove Albion vs West Bromwich Albion
Brighton will be buoyant after picking up a point at Watford last time out.
Here is a totally different prospect because West Brom are a strong team going forward and at set pieces.
The key for Brighton will be keeping Jay Rodriguez and new signing, Oliver Burke quiet. If can do that, another draw and point is likely but must be beware of the Baggies at set pieces.
Luckily, the Baggies have a dreadful record against newly promoted teams, winning just a fifth of their Premier Leagues games against teams who have been promoted (3 wins in 15 games).
West Brom slumped in April but seem to be back to their best and I expect them to make it four wins in 15 games against promoted clubs by full time.
James predicts: Brighton 0-2 WBA
Jake predicts: Brighton 0-3 WBA
Result: Brighton 3-1 WBA
Everton vs Tottenham
Everton come into this game in turmoil following Wayne Rooney’s latest antics. Tottenham however have a stronger squad, now that the transfer window is shut.
In what has been a challenging start, Everton will be happy to sit just below Spurs on goal difference. They however need to push on and win big matches if want to challenge for the top four.
Spurs are struggling at Wembley so need to make this away game count. If not, North London will be lucky to have a decent team fighting for European football this season.
Attention has to be on attack because Rooney likes scoring against Spurs but Harry Kane and Dele Alli has been on fire in 2017.
Kane will also be expecting to open his account for this season now that August is done and dusted, so can see him pushing deep into the Toffees’ defence here.
Either way, this is a evenly matched battle so a draw is likely.
James predicts: Everton 1-1 Tottenham
Jake predicts: Everton 0-2 Tottenham
Result: Everton 0-3 Tottenham
Leicester vs Chelsea
Leicester might only have one win so far but have played well. Chelsea look over their opening day humiliation, having won back to back games since.
For Craig Shakespeare, he needs his Foxes to defend solidly because that has been where they have lost matches so far. Do that and get up the field more, they should stand a chance of winning this against a Chelsea side, that has European football on Tuesday to think about.
Chelsea have struggled away in past two seasons during September meaning that they are vulnerable. They have however won six of their last seven away matches, so need to hope that form outweighs the September bogey and brings a decent performance.
In the end, I think Leicester will just prevail purely because they don’t have to think about squad rotation so can attack more and get that extra goal.
James predicts Leicester 2-1 Chelsea
Jake predicts: Leicester 1-2 Chelsea
Result: Leicester 1-2 Chelsea
Southampton vs Watford
The last meeting between these teams in March at Vicarage Road saw the Saints run out 4-2 winners.
Southampton have however not improved their squad much but Watford certainly seem more attacking this time around.
The Saints have however avoided defeat in their last seven meetings but since Ronald Koeman left, their goal tally has slumped.
Watford however are unbeaten in their opening three games but Marco Silva hasn’t won back to back away games, since his time at Olympiakos.
Ultimately, this might look like a draw but the Hornets will have the attacking edge to win.
Prediction: Southampton 1-2 Watford
Jake predicts: Southampton 2-1 Watford
Result: Southampton 0-2 Watford
Stoke City vs Manchester United
Stoke come into this fancying their chances, after beating Arsenal in their last home match.
Manchester United might be top of this season’s class but haven’t won at Stoke since Sir Alex Ferguson retired.
On paper, you have to back Man U but Stoke are no dirt on anyone’s shoes. Under Mark Hughes, they are a solid outfit and Jose Mourinho has often found clubs managed by Hughes to be his bogey opposition.
That is because Hughes is only amongst a rare few to have won more than two home games against one of Mourinho’s clubs.
With strong signings in Jese and Kevin Wimmer towards deadline day, this is a team that won’t lose their Potters easily.
United are however back to their best and if keep their 100% record, they could be on for this season’s title.
For the match itself, expect Stoke to take the game to United who has Champions League action in midweek. If the ‘Special One’ decides to rest players, I think the Potters will win but a draw seems likely.
James predicts: Stoke 1-1 Manchester United
Jake: Stoke 0-1 Manchester United
Result: Stoke 2-2 Manchester United
This season, me and fellow Sport Grill writer, Jake Self are having a predictions war.
The rules are as follow;
- Correct score – three points
- Correct result but not perfect score – one point
- Wrong prediction – zero points
Here are how things stand after week 3: