Week 9: Guess whose back, back again

Well it’s been a very long wait, but look whose back at it, attempting to predict what will happen this weekend in the EPL. Since I’ve been missing in writing Manchester United and Everton have fallen like stones and Palace and Burnely have started showing up. Tottenham is spiraling and who knows what is going on in the blue side of Manchester. This is what makes the EPL so much fun, and why I assume I will be really wrong again. Here we go!

Everton v West Ham

Everton, Everton, Everton. Who are you? You started the season so well, yet have looked like nothing but a shell of yourself the past couple of weeks. This is a team flush with talent and a manager who has proven his worth in the league before. Everton went after Silva hard back in November 2017 and eventually got their man in May of 2018. The big question I have surrounding this squad is are they still listening to him. If his words are falling on deaf ears then he needs to go, I mean even if they aren’t falling on deaf ears he is having issues with performances. I think this is make or break for Silva, win and he lives to continue to good fight, loose and he is sacked either later that day or by morning. West Ham have been a bit of a shock, expected them to be ten or below, not challenging for a top 6 position. They had strung together some very good performances before the loss to Palace last time out. This will be an interesting test for them. If they come out strong in the opening 10-15 minutes and get an early goal, Everton may crumble and it could be an easy day at the office for them. West Ham can bring the intensity, and I don’t trust Everton enough to preform, even with this match at home. West Ham 2-1 winners.

Aston Villa v Brighton and Hove Albion

Aston Villa did not want this international break. They had just demolished Norwich 5-1, and kept Teemu Pukki off the score sheet. They have had three very good results following their loss to Arsenal. They beat Brighton 3-1 in the league cup on the 25th of September, which will give them confidence going into this match. They followed that up with a good draw against Burnley and then that drubbing of Norwich. They have a good management system in place. John Terry has the pedigree to help guide this team through the tough periods as an assistant. Tyrone Mings has been a revelation, helping to solidify the back line and Jack Grealish is starting to make the midfield flow. Birghton had the result of the week before the break. The 3-0 win over Spurs was a very high point of the season, and they had a very complete performance. The question is can they maintain that level against West Ham. The international break will have upset their progress but it will be interesting to see if they can be the same team that beat Spurs or if they will be the side that gave up 2 to Chelsea and it could have been worse. It will be quite interesting to see how this game plays out, but I am thinking Aston Villa at home get the job done 2-0.

Tottenham v Watford

Tottenham need a response maybe even more than Everton or Manchester United. The 7-2 loss to Bayern followed by the 3-0 defeat to Brighton have major questions being raised about Pochettino. Months removed from guiding Spurs to a Champions League final berth, people are asking if he can lead this club. Loosing Loris will be big in terms of leadership but the strength of that squad should have produced better results. They have been together for awhile now and maybe things are finally getting stale but this match will be quite telling. Watford has been playing better as of late. They got a point out of their match against Sheffield United. Not sure if the international break was something that will help or hinder the squad. The largest benefit is that is has given returning manager Quique Flores is two weeks to get his team to understand his vision. They looked more solid at the back and have attacking talent to do well in the premiership. If they can get behind their manager there is a possibility they can rebound on the season. I think for Watford fans this match should be about the performance and not the result. I’m thinking Spurs get a win but I’m not confident so 2-1.

Wolverhampton v Southampton

Wolves will come into this match full of confidence after back to back wins, especially with the win away to Manchester City. They have had the talent and everything finally seems to be clicking again. This is a team that challenged for the top 6 last year and if they can find that form again they should be able to contend with anyone in the league. The international break probably helped them though as it took a break from their European matches as well giving them some rest. Southampton have been reeling after a very good result against Manchester United. Back to back losses to Spurs and Chelsea. The Spurs loss looks worse on paper now with how they have been playing since that match. The two weeks will have allowed them to get their heads around the past couple of results. A team that is typically sound at the back will need to find that resilience again against a surging Wolves side. Wolves 2-0

Bournemouth v Norwich City

Bournemouth have been hit or miss this year. Each week it seems that a different squad shows up. They have been playing with more consistency but going into the season they were expected to be challenging for top 8. There last two wins were against Southampton and Everton, both teams going in the wrong direction. The draw against West Ham was a very good result and you can not fully laugh at a 1-0 loss to Arsenal. Maybe I just expect kore out of them but Norwich should be a good measuring stick for their aspirations as if they want to go after top 8 they need all 3 points. Norwich City welcomed they international break with open arms. After the result of the season against Manchester City, they have had two very poor showings. A team that became everyone’s darling is foundering and Teemu Pukki has been held goalless in his last two games in the league. He got a brace for Finland over the break so hopefully he can rediscover his form in the league. The main worry I have is that the league has started fighting him out, and we will see if he can adapt to their adjustments. Going for and entertaining 2-2 draw.

Chelsea v Newcastle

Chelsea has started to really discover their form under Frank Lampard. The youth movement is in full swing and while some of the old guard and still key pieces, there is an air of excitement around the Bridge that these are true Chelsea players who love the club. Newcastle has been a problem club in the past for Chelsea but last year Chelsea did the double over them. They have a lot of players fully rounding into shape and with Calum Hudson-Odoi’s brace for the U-21 England team over the break teams should be worried with the potential the attack has. Newcastle had an amazing result for them with the victory over Manchester United. What worries me though is there last two away matches they lost a combined 8-1. Leicester and Liverpool both have very flowering atascks that Chelsea can mimic which means that Newcastle will need to be stout at the back at the bridge. There one bright spot is that Chelsea have only kept one clean sheet this entire premier league season, so they should be hoping to get after them. Chelsea win 4-1.

Leicester City v Burnley

Brendon Rodgers has had Leicester City playing like a fine tuned machine this season. One could say they should have gotten a point against Liverpool last time our. With a squad that wasn’t fully hit by the international break, he just keeps having time to improve and get the team working down to the last detail. James Madison has recovered from the illness that caused him to withdraw from the England squad, which means that Rodgers will have a full squad to pick from. Jamie Vardy will be questioned about his wife being the mole according to Wayne Rooney’s wife, but he should be able to put the off field drama behind him. Burnley have been hit with a bit of the injury bug going into this match. Gudmundsson is out and Jack Cork and Ashley Barnes are going to be game time decisions. The loss of these three players could make this a task to far for the Clarets. I am very high on Sean Dyche as a manager and think he deserves a shot at a club with a bit more money to back him. I think he can come up with a plan to attempt to contain Leicester but looking at form, Burnley’s last two victories have been over Everton and Norwich City who have both been struggling for form. Leicester 3-0.

Crystal Palace v Manchester City

Crystal Palace have been back in form over the past 3 weeks. 7 points from 9 is a very good return when looking at who they were playing. The defensive side of the game has been bullied by the signing of Gary Cahill but Martin Kelly and Joel Ward have done their fair share in reinforcing the back line. Going forward Wilfred Zaha seems to have finally gotten his act into gear and has been pairing well with Jordan Ayew. Roy Hodgeson always seems to find away to get one over on Guardiola. I’m curious to see what wrinkle he has up his sleeve for this match. Last time Manchester City lost, they came out the next week and throttled Watford 8-0. Pep will be fuming after the loss at home against Wolves and you may see his wraith in full effect. Kevin de Bruyne is fully fit to play again, which gives Pep another piece on the chess board. What still worries me is their pieces together back line that looked bad two weeks ago. While Pep will have had tome to get them together, it still feels like the defense could be a major issue for them. This could be a buzz saw situation though, that I am curious about seeing happen. I think this game has very interesting story lines and could be the game that is either extremely tight or a blow out. Going City 3-1.

Manchester United v Liverpool

Things could get a lot worse for United before they get better. The injuries keep mounting up with David de Gea now on the list. While he could play, losing him would make this game an even bigger mountain for Manchester United to climb. Pogba is still a doubt as well, and I don’t expect him to play. Honestly, I don’t think Pogba wants to be on the red side of Manchester anymore. From what we have seen of United lately they needed the break. Fans will have hope that they will have found some form or at least some tactical awareness during the international break to give the hope against a rampant Liverpool side. Liverpool has shown its title credentials over the past couple of weeks. The victories over Chelsea and Leicester have proven their metal. While Virgil van Dijk was the defender of the year last year and helped propel Liverpool to their heights, he has seemed a bit off this year. At times he is lacking pace, and his positional sense has helped him more this year than previous. Alisson being back in first-team training is a huge boost because there is no comparison between him and Adrian. Salah and Matip are going to game-time decisions, but even without them, I wouldn’t put it past Liverpool to take Manchester United to pieces.

Sheffield United v Arsenal

Sheffield United have had an interesting campaign. Their overlapping center backs has given many team fits and still have not seen anyone fully contain them. They have goals in the side, but not many. They will have to look to the 1-0 loss to Liverpool at home for comfort because if they can play that well against Arsenal, they could have a shot to at the draw at the very least. They have performed better on the road than at home, which is unusual for a newly promoted team. They know who they are, have an understood philosophy which makes them dangerous at time. Arsenal have been weird this season. They have had bright moments and then other where they have looked lost at sea. Kieran Tierney could finally make his debut for the Gunners, which should help strengthen both the attack and defense. They have a very talented attacking group, that on its day can match anyone in the league. When you can bring someone like Lacazette off the bench at times, it’s always impressive. Aubameyang has been on a tear to open the season, and if Tierney can find the delivery like he was doing at Celtic, it is going to get scary to face the Gunners. I expect them to win in a comfortable 2-0.

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