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We may only be entering the first weekend of November but already some early season Premier League title contenders are seeing their challenges fall apart. Some of this is down to injuries and an astonishing lack of depth (Tottenham) while for others it’s down to having a bad manager who has no idea how to use his players and get the best out of them (Manchester United). Both teams face very big games this week for completely different reasons. What happens in those games could go a long way in determining what kind of a season each team will have.
(All times eastern)
Manchester City vs. Middlesbrough (11:00 AM Saturday – NBCSN)
The one week where we get the difference in clocks that would have given us an extra hour to sleep and there’s no early game. Oh well, I guess we just get to sleep extra late this week and when we wake up at 11 we’ll be greeted with a thriller.
If you haven’t noticed over their last two games, Manchester City seem to be back to their dominant ways. Beating West Brom is one thing, but the performance they put on in their midweek win over Barcelona was something else. Middlesbrough have seemed to right the ship recently. They took the momentum from their draw at the Emirates into a win against Bournemouth but this is a completely different task and they are pretty much walking into an ambush. Manchester City win 4-0
Chelsea vs. Everton (1:30 PM Saturday – NBC)
For one reason or another whenever Chelsea and Everton get together they always seem to play highly entertaining matches. With both Chelsea and Everton coming into form, there’s no reason to expect otherwise. Everton have gotten back to winning ways after beating West Ham but will now travel to Stamford Bridge where Chelsea are once again starting to look like the Chelsea of old. The Blues have taken off since Antonio Conte switched Chelsea to his preferred 3-4-3 formation. Since the move, Chelsea have not just started winning, but have started dominating matches. Everton striker Romelu Lukaku always brings his A game when taking on his former team, but Chelsea’s recent form is just too good. Chelsea win 3-1
Arsenal vs. Tottenham (7:00 AM Sunday – NBCSN)
The North London Derby is always one of the biggest and best matches of the year. The only problem with this edition is Tottenham enters the match decimated by injuries and bad form. Mauricio Pochettino’s squad has gone winless in their last six games, in large part because they’ve been struggling for goals without striker Harry Kane. During their six-game winless spell, Spurs have scored just three goals, two of which have come on penalties. There was hope that Kane would be able to return for this game, but him completely missing their champions league match on Wednesday is not a good sign. However, the most recent reports say Kane is good to go. A healthy Kane is a game changer. 2-2 draw
Swansea City vs. Manchester United (9:15 AM Sunday – CNBC)
Bob Bradley is still looking for his first win in the Premier League and this weekend serves him his best chance to get it against Jose Mourinho’s Manchester United. United come into this game as bad as ever. They’ve gone scoreless in the first half in seven of their last eight matches. It’s like Louis van Gaal never left. Tactically, United come in as a complete mess. Mourinho has made players like Zlatan Ibrahimovic undroppable, despite the Swede offering almost nothing to the team. This relegates United’s best strikers to positions on the wing, where they aren’t very helpful since they aren’t wingers. Add in that it’s been a while since United actually beat Swansea. Oh boy. Swansea City win 2-1
Leicester City vs. West Bromwich Albion (11:30 AM Sunday – NBCSN)
Who in their right mind keeps thinking it’s a good idea to keep giving West Brom the good TV slots? It’s the same game every time and no one wants to see any more of it. Meanwhile, Leicester have to learn how to take their great Champions League form and carry it over to the Premier League. Becoming the first ever team to keep a clean sheet in their first four Champions League matches lets us know the talent is still very much there, but for some reason it just hasn’t carried over yet. It could start this weekend. Leicester win 2-0
Rest of the games
Can Crystal Palace get back on form or will they be just the latest team that falters when they face Burnley at Turf Moor. Recent form for both teams dictates Burnley will get the win, which should tell you right away to pick Crystal Palace, but I’m sticking with a 1-0 win for the home side.
West Ham are starting to their swagger back and not a moment too soon. The one problem is this week they face Stoke City, who behind goalkeeper Lee Grant have already gotten their swagger back. This one could very well be a 2-2 draw in a match that’s far more entertaining then you’d expect.
What’s the easiest way for Bournemouth to make last week’s loss to Middlesbrough look like just a hiccup? By playing Sunderland at home! 2-0 win for the Cherries.
Sir Alex Ferguson has called Liverpool title contenders putting all Manchester United fans in a very awkward spot. On one hand we can’t disagree with Sir Alex but on the other we don’t like to acknowledge that Liverpool have certainly been one of the best teams in the league this year. They won’t be stopped this week as they get a 3-1 win over Watford.
Hull City may be playing at home this week but that advantage can only take them so far. Southampton are by far the better side and that will come out with a 2-0 win for the Saints.