Pssst – hey guys you can come out now. The evil international break is over. We survived it and we’re ready to get back into some great Premier League action.
The Premier League is finally back and more importantly the transfer window is finally closed meaning every squad is now set and we have a better clue to more accurately predict what will happen each weekend. After four games we’re also able to notice some developing trends such as home teams struggling to win, Chelsea dealing with the exact issues I predicted they would have to deal with, and Manchester City being really good. Like, really really good.
Of course when a team starts off as hot as Manchester City it’s very popular for pundits all over the place to act like they’ve never seen the Premier League before and declare the title race all but over even though we haven’t even played a game in September yet. Trust me the title race is not over. Does this mean I don’t think City will win the title? No I still do, but I don’t think it’ll be as easy as everything thinks it’ll be.
Let’s just move on and pick some games.
Everton vs. Chelsea (7:45 AM ET Saturday)
Big news concerning this match is that Chelsea goalkeeper Thibault Courtois will miss an extended period of time due to a knee injury that will require surgery. Lucky for Chelsea, backup Asmir Begovic is no slouch.
Unluckily for Chelsea is everything else. Such as they still can’t defend, they still have no depth, and Cesc Fabregas just looks dreadful despite spending three of the past four seasons as a fourth choice central midfielder in a three man central midfield for both club and country. Adding to that depth issue is most of Chelsea’s stars all played for their national teams this past week, and while Everton had to deal with that as well, they didn’t have to deal with it as much. Chelsea still have one thing going for them–home teams really can’t win games this year–but Everton will do enough to hang around for a 2-2 draw and a mini upset of the week.
Arsenal vs. Stoke City (10:00 AM ET Saturday)
Both teams came into this season with high expectations and both teams have failed to live up to them so far. For Arsenal, part of that was Alexis Sanchez not being fully fit right away, but he’s been fit recently and they’ve still looked pretty meh. Not to mention Arsenal still has yet to score a goal at home so therefore I can’t in good faith pick them to win this week until they show me they can. Unfortunately I can’t trust Stoke to go in there and grab all three points yet either. Since I don’t have a full blown upset of the week this week I’m going with two small upsets as Stoke hold Arsenal to a 1-1 draw.
Manchester United vs. Liverpool (12:30 PM ET Saturday)
This is the big one, and the big story prior to this one is United goalkeeper David de Gea finally signing a new contract with United. The new deal immediately puts de Gea in contention to start tomorrow’s match–a dagger blow to Liverpool.
Remember that thing I said at the top about trends developing? Well last season one of those trends was that United just couldn’t win without Michael Carrick. Since the start of last season United have won 75 percent of matches that Carrick starts compared to just 32 percent when he doesn’t.
Over the summer they worked very hard to address this by bringing in Morgan Schneiderlin and Bastian Schweinsteiger to try and make United much less reliant upon Carrick. Louis van Gaal is adamant on making the ‘Schmidfield’ a thing but there’s just one problem: United still can’t win without Carrick. So far this season United have won every game that Carrick has started, and have yet to win when he doesn’t.
Carrick withdrew from the England squad last week and is now in a race to be fit in time for Saturday’s match. But even then it’s still a question whether van Gaal picks him.
On the flip side, Liverpool have been the furthest thing from impressive this season and they’ll be without their best player Coutinho who is suspended after picking up a red card. It’s a home match and it’s against Liverpool, United will find a way to score, but probably not much more then that in a 1-0 win.
West Ham vs. Newcastle (3:00 PM ET Monday)
My opinions of Newcastle are primarily based on them earning a very frisky draw at Old Trafford a few weeks ago so I figured they were a frisky little team. Then I took a quick peak at the table and nope. They’re sitting pretty in 19th with just two points. This week they run into an already very solid West Ham side that just had one of the best transfer deadline days around adding some great pieces and getting even stronger.
It might take those new pieces some time to gel with the rest of the team, but even then they’re way too strong for Newcastle. West Ham to roll 3-0.
Around the league:
If you’ve been reading all season you’ll know that I love Crystal Palace. Love the squad they’ve assembled and love the way they go about attacking each game. But this week they take on that really really good Manchester City side at the Ethiad and that’ll be too much for them. They’ll surprise people and keep it close but City will pull out a 2-1 win. One of the other theme’s this year is that everyone in the league seems to have talent–except Norwich City, who welcomes in a Bournemouth side that’s finally starting to put everything together and will grab a 3-1 win.
After getting a draw at Stamford Bridge and knocking off United for the third straight time, Swansea are showing everyone they’re a force to be reckoned with. This week that force travels to newly promoted side Watford and picks up a 2-0 win. West Brom right now are in shambles especially with the unknown status of star man Saido Berahino. Until they figure that out it’s hard to trust them to make too much noise. This week they face a Southampton side who are starting to put things together. Southampton to win 2-1. Tottenham travel to Sunderland this week where they look to finally stop getting in their own way and guess what, this is the week that they do it as they pick up a 2-0 win.
Very interesting Sunday 11:00 match that features two teams off to much better starts than anyone saw coming as Leicester host Villa. Leicester have been the surprise of the league so far and have been playing brilliant football. They stumbled a bit last week in a draw to Bournemouth but they’ll rebound this week with a 2-1 win. Eh, let’s make it 3-1 because Brad Guzan is kind of terrible.
Enjoy the games everyone.