Premier League Matchday Seven: United and Arsenal To Share Spoils?11 min read
Liverpool will go eight points clear at the top of the Premier League if they win at Bramall Lane in the early kick-off on Saturday, although Sheffield United will be keen to add the scalp of the Red half of Merseyside to the Blue half after their famous win at Goodison Park last weekend.
Sheffield United v Liverpool
The Blades are unbeaten in 12 away league games, but they have lost their last couple at Bramall Lane in the Premier League of late and I can’t see past a 16th successive league win for Jurgen Klopp’s side. The Reds showed once again at Stamford Bridge on Sunday that they can grind out a result when necessary. The stuff of champions?
We all talk about the quality of Liverpool’s attacking football and rightly so, but their two goals from free kicks on Sunday at the Bridge were their 33rd and 34th set-piece league goals since the beginning of last season – seven more than any other team. That is a powerful combination.
Tip: Liverpool to win to nil
Aston Villa v Burnley
Villa defended far too deep in the second half against the 10-men of Arsenal on Sunday and you wonder if Dean Smith’s side will have a better opportunity this season of gaining a win on the road at one of the big six clubs.
Burnley were good value for their comfortable home win against Norwich at Turf Moor and striker Chris Wood will have been delighted to get back on the scoresheet for the Clarets having gone nine games without a league goal.
I’m finding it hard to split the sides and think it will end in a low-scoring draw.
Tip: Game to finish 1-1
Bournemouth v West Ham United
Both sides had excellent wins at the weekend and Bournemouth have now gained back-to-back 3-1 league wins against Everton and latterly Southampton in Friday’s south coast derby at St Mary’s – their first win in 16 competitive games at the home of the Saints.
West Ham were too good for a disappointing Manchester United side at the London Stadium on Sunday and, if there is to be a winner at the Vitality Stadium, I think it is likely to be Manuel Pellegrini’s side, although I hope they play with more conviction and pace than they did at Villa Park in their last game on the road.
Tip: West Ham United draw no bet
Chelsea v Brighton
Chelsea will feel they could have got something from the visit of the league leaders at the Bridge on Sunday, and I feel that, hitherto, elusive first home league win of the campaign will come at the weekend. That said, I was impressed with the quality of Brighton’s football at St James’ Park on Saturday evening although the reality is that, for all their possession, they rarely troubled the United goal.
I expect the Blues to win but once again I expect Graham Potter’s side to play their part in an entertaining game.
Tip: Chelsea to win and both teams to score
Crystal Palace v Norwich City
Palace were under the cosh for much of the first half against Wolves on Sunday, but it was a different game in the second 45 minutes. Roy Hodgson could barely contain his anger at how his Eagles’ side missed a host of chances to wrap up the game at Selhurst Park before conceding a bizarre late equaliser to the 10 men of Wolves.
Norwich were brought back down to earth at Turf Moor at the weekend following their win over City a fortnight ago, and I think Palace will make no mistake this time and grind out a result.
Tip: Palace to win
Tottenham Hotspur v Southampton
Spurs are without a win in their last nine away league games and the evidence suggests they will need to make the new Tottenham Hotspur Stadium a fortress if they want to cement their place in the top four this term. Defeat at Colchester in the League Cup midweek will not have helped the mood around the club this week.
Mauricio Pochettino’s side did score four times in the opening 45 minutes against Crystal Palace in their last home game and I think they will keep all three points against the Saints who were flattered by the margin of victory against bitter rivals Portsmouth at Fratton Park earlier in the week.
Tip: Spurs to win and both teams to score
Wolverhampton Wanderers v Watford
You would have got long odds at the start of the season that six games into the Premier League season this fixture at Molineux would be contested by the bottom two in the table. The sides are the only two teams in the division without a league win to their name so far this term, but I expect to see the hosts keep all three points having shown their resilience to take a point at Selhurst Park with 10-men on Sunday.
Watford shipped eight at the Etihad last weekend but did take a home point against Arsenal in their penultimate game. It promises to be a tight, nervous encounter at Molineux with chances at a premium. But I expect to see the hosts edge it.
Tip: Wolves to win
Everton v Manchester City
It seems an awful long time ago that Ronald Koeman’s Everton beat Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City 4-0 in the PL at Goodison, but it was only January 2017 when the Blues goalscorers were Romelu Lukaku, Kevin Mirallas, Tom Davies and Ademola Lookman. Only Davies remains at the club and his Goodison career has stalled at best.
Pep Guardiola’s City meanwhile have gone on to back-to-back league titles and the domestic treble last season. Everton lost 2-0 at home to newly promoted Sheffield United at the weekend while City put eight past Watford. The gulf in class between the teams is huge. City cannot be opposed.
Tip: City halftime/fulltime
Leicester City v Newcastle United
Leicester came from behind to beat Spurs at the King Power on Saturday and I expect the Foxes to follow up against a Newcastle side who had their opportunities, but were largely second best, at home to Brighton at the weekend.
The Foxes may have to be patient against a well-organised and resilient Magpies’ side, but I believe the hosts will take maximum points.
Tip: Leicester to win and under 2.5 goals
Manchester United v Arsenal
After their loss at West Ham on Sunday, Manchester United have now lost seven of their last 15 games in the Premier League – as many as they had in their previous 40 games in the competition. Arsenal continue to frustrate and excite in equal measure, but they came from behind twice to beat Aston Villa on Sunday and they were a man light for the whole of the second period.
United kept a clean sheet against Leicester City in their last home league game, but I would be surprised if the Gunners did not find the back of David de Gea’s net in what promises to be a fascinating game between two clubs desperate to return to the automatic Champions League places this term.
Unai Emery will have been delighted by the return from long term injury of Rob Holding and Hector Bellerin in the midweek 5-0 League Cup success over Nottingham Forest. Add the impressive belated debut of summer signing Kieran Tierney and two goals from Brazilian teenage striker Gabriel Martinelli, and the suggestion is that the Gunners’ boss is going to have one or two difficult, but welcome, selection decisions to make in the weeks and months to come.
Tip: Game to finish in a scoring draw
Michael’s weekend wager: Leicester City, Spurs and Crystal Palace