Sheffield United 1-3 Liverpool
Aston Villa 1-1 Burnley
Bournemouth 2-2 West Ham
Chelsea 4-1 Brighton
Crystal Palace 1-1 Norwich
Tottenham 3-1 Southampton
Wolves 2-0 Watford
Everton 1-3 Manchester City
Leicester City 3-0 Newcastle
Manchester United 1-2 Arsenal
Coming off a solid week- where I correctly picked out Leicester and West Ham as solid dogs- I’m hoping to catch several underachieving teams in bounce-back mode this weekend. Spurs and Chelsea have only picked up a disappointing 8 points from 6 matches, and both are already well out of title contention. They must get themselves back on track if they want to relieve some pressure and silence their critics, with both facing favourable fixtures on Saturday. Chelsea are yet to win at home in the EPL this season, and they even dropped 2 points from 2 goals up against Sheffield United. I expect them to finally get the monkey of their back against a struggling Brighton team. Meanwhile, Spurs face Southampton at home, a team they have owned on their own turf in recent seasons, beating them by an aggregate score of 8-3 in the last 2 meetings. This is a near perfect fixture for Spurs to win, and win well.
Wolves are another team a love in a solid bounce-back situation on Saturday, however, they are available at far more favourable odds than the aforementioned Londoners. While Spurs and Chelsea are priced between -180 to -210, Wolves can be picked up at even money to beat a struggling Watford team, who are low on confidence and sit rock-bottom of the EPL. The Europa League has clearly been an issue for Wolves- despite the denial of their manager- but they now come into this fixture without facing the dreaded Thursday-Sunday Europa League dichotomy. Situationally, things don’t get much better than this for Wolves to pick-up their first win of the campaign.
In other matches, Liverpool and Manchester City are both backable Parlay options for a change, with both being around -300, rather than being between -600 to -1400, which is mostly what we’ve seen this season. A big win for City could spark a managerial change at Everton, with the over-rated Marco Silva leading the “next manager to go” market. In-form Leicester should be stronger favourites against Newcastle, while BTTS in the Bournemouth vs West Ham contest, appears to be free money.
Game of the Week: Manchester United vs Arsenal
This weekend’s game of the week focuses on the Monday night game between Manchester United and Arsenal. Here we have two teams stepped in history, who have both won multiple EPL crowns, however, this game has never mattered less, given the current state of the two teams. It’s a sad state of affairs to see both of these teams playing Europa League football, whilst merely battling to secure top 4 football, nowhere near challenging for the title.
Since their emphatic 4-0 opening day Premier League victory against Chelsea, the goals have dried up for United, as Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has watched his players score just six times in seven games. It’s fair to say that Arsenal’s attack has been functioning more smoothly out of the two sides, given that Arsenal have scored at least 2 goals in 6 of their last 7, and in all of their last 5. However, Arsenal’s achilles heel comes in defence, supported by the fact that their sole clean sheet came on their opening day 1-0 win at lowly Newcastle, with only four clubs have shipped more goals than the Gunners overall in the league this term. Therefore, it is unsurprising that each of Arsenal’s last seven fixtures has returned over 2.5 goals.
The combined XI goes for a 3-4-3 formation to keep out the lack of midfield options at these two teams. Matic, Xhaka and McTominay are not players who should be picked for teams of this calibre. Instead, I get to bring in Rob Holding- a defender who I do think is competent- alongside side the United centre back pairing. Arsenal get the edge with the wing-backs, as Bellerin still offers more than Wan-Bissaka, while Tierney was a default pick over the awful Ashley Young. Arsenal also have a significant edge up top, with no Rashford or Martial to choose from.
Fixtures between United and Arsenal rarely fail to produce goals, with over 2.5 goals hitting the net in 4 of the last 5 meetings between the clubs. Despite the fact United look impotent in attack, I think Arsenal’s defence aren’t good enough to not concede- especially away from home. United have won only two of their last 11 Premier League games, and with their confidence looking as low as the quality of their football, I think Arsenal can get out of Old Trafford with a win, despite failing to win there in their last 12 visits. They will never get a better chance.