This past week has been one of those rare weeks when all the stars properly align for soccer fans. Between the Premier League, Champions League, Europa League and Bundesliga, there’s live afternoon soccer every single day of the week. Still, it’s always nice to get back to another great weekend of Premier League action, where the action always delivers.
Before we get to this upcoming week let’s do a quick recap of what happened last week and what we know.
– This isn’t a joke anymore, Chelsea are seriously bad
– Leicester City is a lot of fun, if you’re not watching them you should be
– There’s a lot of inconsistent teams in the league
– Liverpool is overrated
– There are no easy games (duh)
– Manchester United may as well pay Monaco the £22 million they’ll owe them if Anthony Martial wins the Ballon d’Or since it’s inevitable he’ll win it one day (ok maybe that ones a stretch).
Let’s get on to this week’s picks.
Chelsea vs. Arsenal (7:45 ET Saturday)
Are Chelsea coming into this match with new confidence after defeating Maccabi Tel Aviv 4-0 in a midweek Champions League match? Does it matter that Maccabi is arguably the worst team in the Champions League? Not really. Is that confidence going to help Chelsea? Not really.
A friend of mine is an Everton season ticket holder and after last week’s match with Chelsea he sent me this text: “today [Diego] Costa looked overweight, very unfit, and so slow.” I can’t argue with any of those points. That’s a problem seeing as Chelsea’s backup striker is an even older, slower, and more unfit Radamel Falcao.
Now allow me to take you for a quick trip down memory lane at Stamford Bridge, back to the 2007/08 season. The blues were coming off their first second place finish under Jose Mourinho and after starting the season off with three wins, two draws and a loss, Mourinho stepped down as manager on September 20, three days before a crucial clash with champions Manchester United. Why am I telling you this? You’ll see in a second.
There are two reasons why Arsenal are underdogs in this match, the first is because Arsene Wenger’s head to head record vs. Mourinho is terrible and the second is because everyone thinks Chelsea is so talented that one day they’ll simply wake up and snap back into things. I genuinely don’t think the latter is true, Chelsea’s problems go way deeper than that. That’s why head to head records be damned, Arsenal will go into Stamford Bridge and get a 2-1 win.
Swansea City vs. Everton (10 AM ET Saturday)
If you look at Swansea’s results this season they’re a bit of an enigma. They got a draw at Stamford Bridge and beat Manchester United at home. But they also drew away to Sunderland and lost last week for Watford.
If you’ve actually watched them, there’s a simple explanation. Swansea play better when they believe they’re the weaker side and they play a very structured game. Shocking right? When they come into a game thinking they’re the better side and just open things up they’re not as good.
Everton will provide a key test for the Swans this week. They too have produced some good results, beating Chelsea 3-1 last week, and some clunkers (a 2-2 draw with Watford, a 0-0 draw with Tottenham). The good news for neutrals is that Everton are good enough to really bring this game to Swansea, but they’re also good enough to bring out the best from Swansea resulting in this game ending in a 2-2 draw.
Manchester City vs. West Ham United (12:30 ET Saturday)
If you forget about Manchester City’s typical Champions League hiccup this week City comes into this game riding about as high as you possibly can. They’ve won all five of their games so far without conceding a goal, which includes a looking less impressive by the week 3-0 win over Chelsea. With City being boosted by the return to fitness of Sergio Aguero, Raheem Sterling, and David Silva there’s no reason to think they won’t keep rolling.
West Ham also come into this game looking very good. They’ve rebounded from hiccups against Leicester City and Bournemouth and have proven they can score goals week in week out. While the Hammers will ultimately come up short this week, Manchester City being without defender Vincent Kompany provides West Ham with a great chance to end City’s run of clean sheets. West Ham will do just that, grabbing a goal in Manchester City’s 3-1 win.
Tottenham vs. Crystal Palace (8:30 AM Sunday)
I wasn’t even going to go full in depth on this game until I saw that Crystal Palace are some serious underdogs here. Umm why? Am I missing something? Spurs have been incredibly underwhelming so far this season while Palace have downright been a revelation.
Palace’s last two matches were a win at Stamford Bridge followed by last week a tremendous performance against Manchester City where they took the game to the Sky Blues and were unlucky to concede the winner at the death and come away with nothing. I don’t get what I’m missing here but this is an easy *upset pick of the week* as Crystal Palace win 2-0.
Southampton vs. Manchester United (11:00 ET Sunday)
Things aren’t all bad for Manchester United, despite their Champions League loss to PSV Eindhoven, youngster Memphis Depay and Anthony Martial put out very impressive displays suggesting that both players have very bright futures. Unfortunately for United that was Champions League Memphis and Sunday they’ll be seeing the return of Premier League Memphis, a player who hasn’t been nearly as good as his European counterpart.
However, the only name that really matters on United’s team sheet is that of Michael Carrick. United have still yet to win a match that Carrick hasn’t started. I know that, you know that, the question is has Louis van Gaal realized that yet? Ultimately this week I don’t think it matters as United will put in another underwhelming away performance en route to a 1-1 draw.
Rest of the league.
Not a lot of tasty matchups throughout the rest of the slate this weekend, but that doesn’t mean they’ll be bad. Quite the opposite actually. As we mentioned before almost everyone’s form this season has been inconsistent, meaning what looks like an easy game for some teams has often turned into topsy turvy, and fun, affairs.
Give me Bournemouth to knock off Sunderland 2-1. Leicester City are coming off a thrilling come back and you would think they’re due for a slip up this week, but I don’t see it happening as they’ll beat Stoke 2-1. Watford this season have been a model of inconsistency, and after beating Swansea last week they’ll fall to Newcastle 1-0.
If no one watches the Midlands Derby between Aston Villa and West Brom does it even really happen? Call that one a 1-1 draw. I think Liverpool have been greatly overrated this season and have really benefited from some poor offsides decisions early in the campaign. Still Norwich away from home haven’t proven to be able to do anything yet, Liverpool win 2-0.
Let’s all enjoy another great weekend of action!