Harry’s Picks: Week 139 min read
Blades to fall under the hammer
The Premier League continues to produce surprise results and last weekend was no exception. Sheffield United have made a tremendous start to life in the top flight and a narrow 1-0 home win over Arsenal on Monday moved them into the top half. They will feel after three wins a foundation has been laid that gives them genuine hopes of survival. Admittedly they rode their luck against the Gunners and once more the Bramall Lane faithful helped them over the line. To avoid a quick return back to the Championship they will need to improve their goal output and ability to pick up points on the road and after the euphoria of Monday I feel a long trip to the capital to play West Ham will bring them back down to earth. The Hammers are level with the Blades on twelve points but since beating Manchester United 2-0 on home soil have only added a solitary point from their last three matches. They began a mini spell of three very winnable fixtures that could easily transport them into a top-five berth. Sebastien Haller has hit the ground running following his summer move from Eintracht Frankfurt and with four goals the Frenchman has become a fans favourite already. He gives the team real class up front and with a side packed with flamboyant teammates, there is no reason West Ham can’t be a force to be reckoned with this season. I fully expect that when West Ham Host Spurs in a months’ time they will be amongst the top six.
Chelsea won’t be feeling blue
Chelsea have been enjoying themselves of late and other than a disastrous 4-0 mauling at Old Trafford on opening day have been impressive since. A narrow 1-0 win over Newcastle last weekend moved them into the top four and if Frank Lampard is able to finish the season in that position he will be hailed a hero. A trip to Lancashire is next on the agenda but after scoring an amazing twelve goals in their last three Premier League away games Turf Moor should hold no fears. In fairness, the Clarets have been competitive this term and with three home victories from four will be hoping to maintain that strong record. Chris Wood and Ashley Barnes have been the form men up front, but it’s difficult to envisage them having the edge against the men from Stamford Bridge. Chelsea will rely on their flair to exploit any weakness and should ensure another happy away day for their travelling fans to celebrate.
Gunners to fire back
Arsenal have been infuriatingly inconsistent this season but with only two losses find themselves fifth and still heavily involved at the top end. They had enough chances to avoid defeat at Sheffield United, but ultimately drew a blank for the first time in all competitions this term. Sunday’s visit from Crystal Palace gives them the ideal opportunity to address this although the Eagles are just a point behind in sixth. They were hammered 4-0 at Spurs and lost 2-0 at home to Manchester City on their last outing and that inability to compete against the bigger clubs is proving their achilleas heel. Arsenal will be keen to convert their supremacy into goals at the Emirates and should put the memory of South Yorkshire firmly behind them.
Liverpool to see red
Liverpool left it late to salvage a point from last Sundays short hop over to Manchester United and once again it highlighted no teams can be underestimated at this level this season. Two points dropped however allowed champions Manchester City to close the gap at the summit to six points and with Tottenham now their next opponents at Anfield the Reds will have to be resolute and focused to keep the Citizens at arm’s length. A 5-0 win over Red Star Belgrade in the Champions League on Tuesday has certainly given Spurs a huge boost after results in the PL have been very disappointing of late. Harry Kane was in good form as he bagged a brace as did strike partner Heung Min Son. However, a trip to Merseyside is a big step up in class and Tottenham have too many question marks hanging over them to derail the Liverpool express.
The Baggies to be a thorn in Charlton’s side
West Brom battled back from an early 2-0 deficit to secure a point following a 2-2 draw at home to Barnsley on Tuesday. Results elsewhere meant they still retained a two point cushion at the top of the Championship which, not surprisingly, has the top nine clubs separated by just four points and is as competitive as ever. The Baggies now host another promoted team in Charlton who have won six times already and sit in tenth position. It’s been a dream start for manager Lee Bowyer and the team have defied the critics and loss of key players in the summer to produce many eye-catching results. They were unlucky to lose to an injury-time winner at Derby on Wednesday so won’t fear a trip to the Hawthorns. The hosts are scoring for fun and with twenty-four goals are the sections joint leading scorers. Charlie Austin has been a welcome recruit to the ranks but exciting winger Matheus Pereira has had the fans purring with some tremendous wing play. The young Brazilian was on the score sheet against Barnsley and has been providing plenty of inviting crosses into opposition boxes this year. West Brom know they can’t afford a slow start again and should learn from Tuesdays blip to get back to winning ways.
The Tractor Boys to get out of reverse
The loss of key personnel including star forward James Norwood cost Ipswich dear last Sunday when the Tractor Boys lost their unbeaten record succumbing 2-0 at Accrington. They were then beaten 2-0 at home against Rotherham in midweek and suddenly manager Paul Lambert is facing his first real test of the campaign. They have been knocked off top spot by free-scoring Peterborough but will be relishing a short trip to Essex to face Southend United. The Shrimpers have appointed Sol Campbell as their new manager but watching from the stands he saw his new team capitulate 7-1 at home to rampant Doncaster on Tuesday. Two red cards did little to help the situation but they only find themselves above Bolton on goal difference and but for that clubs ten point deduction they would be bottom of League One. With forty goals conceded it’s going to take a mammoth effort from Campbell to emulate Steve McQueen in the Great Escape and guide his team away from the drop zone. Town will be backed by another large following and they should get over their mini-slump with a comfortable day out at the seaside and reconfirm their position as title favourites.
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