Another week in the books and just like that we’re back with Premier League picks for the weekend. We get one more great weekend of action this weekend before the evil international break come along to take all the joys out of early-season footy.
We’re now three weeks into the season and though it’s still early there are some trends starting to develop, namely this one:
Home wins proving scarce in Prem. Only Palace managed it yesterday. 14 teams yet to win at home.
— Ian Darke (@IanDarke) August 23, 2015
Ian Darke tweeted that out before the three Sunday, and one Monday, games kicked off last week. Over those four games there were two away wins and two draws. In fact, over the first 30 games of this Premier League season only six of them have ended with the home team winning. Six out of thirty! That’s not just bizzaro world, that’s borderline insanity.
The six teams who have managed home wins: Manchester United, Leicester City, Swansea, Manchester City, Liverpool and Crystal Palace. What’s even weirder, the first Saturday of the season was the only day where more than one game ended with the home team winning.
Newcastle vs. Arsenal (7:45 a.m. ET Saturday)
You know what I find hilarious? Petr Cech makes one great save against Christian Benteke last week to keep Arsenal’s match with Liverpool at 0-0 and all of a sudden articles about Petr Cech returning to his elite status are popping up everywhere. Can we all calm down people? It was ONE save. Let’s see him string a couple of great games together first, or at the very least stop making colossal errors in goal before we start saying he’s back to playing the way he did 5-8 years ago.
As for the match, Newcastle looked great last week in holding United to a 0-0 draw (and truthfully Newcastle should have stolen all three points at the very end) and Arsenal has looked anything but all season, so Newcastle should be able to take the points in this one right? Wrong.
Arsenal have been dreadful at the Emirates this year but away from home they did manage to beat a pretty good Crystal Palace side. Luckily for Arsenal, this game isn’t being played at the Emirates. Plus you would think after four games Alexis Sanchez would finally have gotten back into form. I think he’ll grab his first of the year as Arsenal pull out a 2-0 win.
Manchester City vs. Watford (10:00 ET a.m. Saturday)
I’ll give Watford credit, they’re playing a lot better than I thought they would early in the season. However, this week their running into the only team in the league that can win both home and away and has looked flat out dominant in each of their games.
Right now City are playing pissed off, pissed that people had discounted them and picked them to finish fourth this year. They’re taking out that anger on everyone in their path so far. Will that last all year? They’ll go through their funk eventually, probably when the annual injuries to Sergio Aguero and Yaya Toure come around, but for this week they’ll brush aside Watford 4-0.
Chelsea vs. Crystal Palace (10:00 a.m. ET Saturday)
I was all ready to say Chelsea would right the ship this week when they came home to face Crystal Palace but then I actually sat down and thought about it a bit. Palace are exactly the kind of side that can give Chelsea some problems, especially as they’ll be without John Terry and they still won’t have John Stones.
The addition of Pedro has already paid dividends and will continue to do so, but how much of a game-changer is Pedro really? Sure he’s certainly a good player, but he’s also the kind of player who certainly benefitted from playing alongside Leo Messi and in front of Xavi and Iniesta.
He’s going to help Chelsea out as he gives them another option besides Eden Hazaard, the shaky and oft injured Diego Costa, and the artist that used to be Cesc Fabregas. Does he help out Chelsea’s defense though? No he doesn’t, and Chelsea haven’t been able to defend all year which is why Palace will keep pace with the Blues and grab a 2-2 draw in the mini upset of the week.
Tottenham Hotspur vs. Everton (12:30 p.m. ET Saturday)
Welcome back 12:30 p.m. Saturday Premier League game, we’ve missed you the past two weeks. Everton come in having played Manchester City tough last week, and they sit seventh in the table. Meanwhile, Tottenham are all the way down in 16th and have been so incredibly Spursy so far this season it’s almost comical. I don’t see them righting the ship just yet as they’ll blow this one in some Spursy way to give Everton a 2-1 win.
Swansea City vs. Manchester United (11:00 a.m. ET Sunday)
Had this been written on Tuesday I would have spent the next few paragraphs talking about how Swansea are a very structured team that are the exact kind of team that would give United trouble. But this wasn’t written on Tuesday and a lot has changed since then, mainly Wayne Rooney finding his form.
“Oh but you can’t compare Club Brugge to Swansea or any other Premier League team!” you say. You’re right, except after watching practically every game Wayne Rooney has played for club and country over the past 10 years I’ve learned this much: when he scores, he scores in bunches.
We should have seen this coming after he scored a goal last week against Newcastle that was disallowed, things were starting to click for him and in hindsight, his hat trick against Brugge shouldn’t have been that surprising.
Meanwhile in the 20 minutes that Ander Herrera spent in the No. 10 position, he looked better than anyone else who’s been there for United this year. Expect him to reprise that role this Sunday as Wayne Rooney bags a brace in United’s 2-0 win.
Rest of the League:
I’ve definitely taken this home teams are struggling to win thing to heart, so why stop now. Bournemouth looked really good at West Ham last week so they’ll have plenty of momentum to come home with them, unfortunately they run into that red-hot Leicester City side, and I’m not picking against them until they give me a reason to.
West Ham are another team that’s looked much better away then at home. This week they face a Liverpool side that has been gifted four points already this season from referees courtesy of game-deciding bad offsides calls. If the refs don’t have their say this week, West Ham comes out on top.
At least one home team has to win this week right? Well I’m picking Aston Villa to get the job done over Sunderland and I’ll throw in a bonus of Southampton over Norwich.