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Another international break has come and gone and we are ready to get back to Premier League action. At this point of the season we can divide the season into two different sections: the period before the first international break, and the period between the first and second international breaks.
The first part of the season is very hard to predict as teams are settling in to the new season and the transfer window is still open, meaning players are still moving around. The period saw home teams struggling to win games and top clubs dropping points to clubs they should never be dropping points against.
The second period saw some normalcy begin to take shape, but was also hard to predict as clubs had just returned from an international break and had to integrate new deadline day signings into the team. Sometimes it can take a few matches for the teams to gel together.
That brings us to this new third section. Will the trends continue that were developing in the second section and allow the table to start looking the way we all expected it to? Or will this section be completely different and develop its own trends? Only time will tell but let’s make some predictions for the weekend ahead. (All times eastern)
Tottenham vs. Liverpool (7:45 AM Saturday)
The first match of the day is probably the most anticipated as it’s the debut of Liverpool’s new manager Jurgen Klopp. Expectations are sky-high for the new manager but let’s not get too far ahead of ourselves here. With players just returning from an international break, Klopp has had just two days to get acclimated with his full strength squad. Not to mention that while at Borussia Dortmund Klopp had the benefit of young talented players such as: Marco Reus, Mats Hummels, Mario Gotze, and Robert Lewandowski. His team at Liverpool is… not nearly as talented.
If this game were at Anfield, Klopp would get the benefit of the doubt, but it’s not and he’s running up against a Tottenham side that has sneakily been one of the best and most consistent teams in the league this season. Spurs win 2-1.
Everton vs. Manchester United (10:00 AM Saturday)
In my 11 years of watching Manchester United I have never seen them play a game as badly as they did two weeks ago against Arsenal. But that’s not bad, since it means it was clearly an aberration and won’t happen again.
Unfortunately that doesn’t change the fact that they travel to Goodison Park this week, a place where Wayne Rooney, who is already having a miserable season, has played so poorly and gets so much abuse from the fans that Sir Alex Ferguson eventually stopped playing him there. Louis van Gaal’s Manchester United sides also have a penchant for underperforming away from Old Trafford, and a good Everton side will be ready to take advantage in a 2-2 draw.
Manchester City vs. Bournemouth (10:00 AM Saturday)
It is not a good time to be Manchester City as the club just lost their talisman Sergio Aguero and their engine David Silva to injuries while on international duty. The good news is the injuries aren’t as bad as initially feared but the club has struggled to play their best when they’re missing Silva.
Luckily for City they get to get back on track this week against a Bournemouth side that has been decimated by injuries lately and looks nothing like the side that got off to such a hot start. City will take some time to get their feet wet in this one, but they prevail 2-0.
Watford vs. Arsenal (12:30 PM Saturday)
Watford have played very well at home this year but now face an Arsenal side that comes into this match absolutely firing on all cylinders. Watford do have a couple of things going for them, namely that Arsenal’s players haven’t played together for two weeks due to the international break and that Arsenal will likely have one eye on next week’s crucial Champions League clash with Bayern Munich.
Having one eye on Bayern could mean resting Theo Walcott, which makes Arsenal a completely different, and less terrifying, team. If Arsenal do go that route, we’ll call it the *mini upset of the week* as Watford hang on for a 1-1 draw.
Newcastle vs. Norwich City (11:00 AM Sunday)
Sometimes people have things to do on Sunday and can’t sit around their TV all day watching football followed by American football. That’s the case this Sunday and Premier League gods have obliged by giving us the most miss-able game around this week. Newcastle is bad, Norwich isn’t as bad. If you have a family, hang out with them Sunday morning before bumming out on your couch with the NFL all afternoon. Norwich wins 2-0.
Rest of the league
Southampton have seemed to right their ship after a slow start, they take on one of the Premier League’s most exciting teams this season in Leicester City and they’ll play a pretty good one, that ends in a 2-2 draw.
Crystal Palace, who have been great away from home and terrible at home, play host to West Ham this week who have also been great away from home and terrible at home. Conventional wisdom would say form will hold and West Ham will be the victors, but give me Palace with a 3-2 win.
West Brom host lowly Sunderland in a match that everyone will forget about because United, City and Chelsea all play at the same time as this one. Nevertheless, West Brom win 3-1.
I just can’t see Chelsea losing this week. They win 2-1.
After giving us a truly forgettable match on Sunday, the Premier League gods have also given us two solid, but pretty boring teams for Monday night football in the form of Swansea and Stoke. The thing about Monday night football though? More often than not it delivers shockingly entertaining matches. Just like it will this week when Stoke grab the upset and win a 3-2 thriller.
Enjoy the games everyone.