This week’s round of fixtures will go a long way to showing which of Chelsea and Tottenham are contenders, and which are pretenders for English Premier League honours this season, writes Gary Lemke.
Spurs make the trip across London having headed into the weekend top of the table and full of confidence, and Jose Mourinho riding into Stamford Bridge where he delivered so much success and joy to the Blues. A few metres away from him on the touchline of the man who was integral to those glory years, as a player, but now manager, Frank Lampard.
Both Chelsea and Spurs have lost only the one match in nine and sit first and third on the table. No club has scored more goals than Chelsea so far (22) and no club has conceded fewer than Spurs (9). It makes for a fascinating contest, but the big winners can be champions Liverpool.
Before Chelsea and Spurs square off on Sunday night, Liverpool have the chance to go top on their own following their Saturday lunchtime trip to Brighton.
Jurgen Klopp has complained bitterly over what he feels is an unreasonable schedule, playing midweek in Champions League and then getting the Saturday lunchtime slot. Take such complaints with a pinch of salt. We’re only 10 games in to this season and these are fit, handsomely paid professionals.
If Klopp is so concerned about players’ workloads and having to play two matches three days apart, what would he say about Tour de France cyclists who have two rest days in three weeks of cycling up and down mountain ranges on a daily basis.
As usual, here’s an update of the scoring trends. So many of you seem to have followed these and are being rewarded in your weekly performances, where I’m sure you’re seeing a lot of green arrows. The six most common scorelines this season have been:
1-0: 19 times
2-0: 10 times
2-1: 9 times
1-1: 9 times
3-0: 9 times
3-1: 6 times
Now, onto this week’s round.
Crystal Palace 1 Newcastle 1: The programme kicks off with a tricky Friday night encounter between two clubs in the bottom half. There’s likely to be a shortage of quality in this match and I’ve gone for the draw. Palace are again without Wilfried Zaha and both teams lost last week. In 12 Friday night league games, Palace haven’t won any of them, while Newcastle have had the least shots on target in the entire League this season.
Brighton 1 Liverpool 2: The hosts won for the first time this season, beating high-flying Aston Villa last week, but have been better than their previous results show – including losing against Man United when a penalty was awarded against them after the final whistle! The Saturday lunchtime kickoffs are often upsets, but still, Liverpool should just squeak this one.
Man City 2 Burnley 0: City haven’t scored more than one goal in their last six league games and seven games ago they did score two, but conceded five against Leicester. Pep’s men were awful in losing to Spurs last week and perhaps their only saving grace is that they’re at home against a Burnley side improving, but still limited.
Everton 1 Leeds 1: After three straight defeats Everton got back on the winning trail last week and will fancy their chances against a Leeds side who haven’t won in their last three. But they were the better side against Arsenal last week, while Everton themselves were relieved to have won 3-2 at Fulham. I’m going for the upset draw here.
West Brom 0 Sheffield United 1: 19th plays 20th and this is the ultimate example of a “six-pointer”. Both sides will be desperate for that first win. The hosts actually haven’t scored in five of their last six matches, whiled the visitors have scored just four goals in nine games. A draw will be a popular prediction in this one, but I’m going for an upset, scrappy, away win.
Southampton 1 Man United 2: Southampton continue to impress and were unlucky to not take all the points against Wolves last week. They’d previously won three in a row and remain confident against a United team who needed a late retaken penalty last week to beat West Brom. Still, a win’s a win and United seem to be getting the luck that’s often the difference in tight matches.
Chelsea 1 Tottenham 1: I’m tempted to take Chelsea here. Both sides are full of goals but Jose’s tactics will be clear: get an early goal and then counter attack. This is quite honestly a game where one can see all three results. My score prediction though isn’t based on science, but rather that both sides have won three and four games in a row, respectively, so a draw is due for both!
Arsenal 1 Wolves 0: The Wolves team of last season would have beaten the Gunners of this season but the visitors aren’t firing as well as last year and the loss of Diogo Jota to Liverpool has had a massive effect. Arsenal were poor last week at Leeds, coming off the back of a 3-0 drubbing at home to Villa. In fact, the Gunners have only scored once in their last five games – the penalty being awarded their goal of the month!
Leicester 3 Fulham 0: The banker of the weekend. Leicester unravelled against Liverpool last week but you can expect them to be stung by that performance and bounce back here against a Fulham side showing some fight to stay in the division, but who won’t be expecting too much from their away trip here.
West Ham 1 Aston Villa 1: Hard to know what to expect from these two sides. The Hammers have won their last two, narrow 1-0s against struggling Sheffield United and Fulham. Villa have lost three of their last four but two games ago beat Arsenal 3-0. They have also beaten Leicester and Liverpool (7-2). One point separates them on the table.