Harry’s Picks: Week Five7 min read
Hammers have some momentum
West Ham may have opened their campaign with a 5-0 home reverse against champions Manchester City but the Hammers have bounced back well and last week’s 3-1 win at Watford showed they are certainly capable of at least a top-half finish this season and hopefully no relegation fears.
A 2-0 win at Newport during the week saw them make progress in the League cup where they next travel to Oxford United, and a home clash with promoted Norwich gives them a great opportunity to keep the momentum building in the Premier League.
The Canaries were delighted to open their account with a 3-1 success over Newcastle but concerns remain over their defence which conceded four at Liverpool and three at home to Chelsea last weekend. With a shock 1-0 cup loss at Crawley on Tuesday, even the goals of star forward Teemu Pukki may not be enough and a relegation battle is on the cards. West Ham can heap further misery on the visitors with success in the capital Saturday afternoon.
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A bridge too far for blades?
Fellow Londoners Chelsea are also at home and face another promoted outfit in Sheffield United. Tammy Abraham bagged a brace at Carrow Road and will be eyeing more success against the Blades.
Sheffield United have picked up four points from their opening three matches and a 2-1 win over Blackburn keeps their League Cup hopes on track. A trip to Stamford Bridge represents a step up in class, however, and I feel the Pensioners will have too much quality and start climbing the table with victory here.
Foxes continue to impress
Leicester did us a favour last week when winning at Sheffield United and I have been impressed with the football and early results from the Foxes. They currently occupy a top four position and will be hoping victory over Bournemouth can continue their good form and top six aspirations.
Bournemouth have recruited well this summer but still appear to be lacking a touch of quality and may find themselves in the bottom rather than the top half. They needed a penalty shootout to beat Forest Green on Wednesday.
City have spent the money received for defender Harry Maguire wisely and the club have a good squad with real depth. They beat Newcastle in the League cup during the week and another away trip , this time to Luton in round three, gives them hope of a deep run into the competition. Realistically they need to beat the Cherries as the fixture list has been rather unkind and they face big clubs during the next few weeks. I am confident they will and continue to hold their own at the top end whilst positivity is so strong at the club.
Form sides clash at Elland Road
Leeds rested a number of regulars against Stoke in the cup on Tuesday and won’t be too disappointed to be eliminated. They had earlier won at Stoke 3-0 last Saturday in the Championship and the pre-season title favourites are certainly proving why bookmakers are now running scared.
The undoubted match of the day in this section will be at Elland Road as the Whites host surprise package and second-placed Swansea. City have been superb and coming in under the radar have quietly and efficiently gone about their business. A comprehensive 3-0 mauling of Birmingham took them alongside Leeds so this top of the table clash should see a huge crowd on Saturday.
Swansea were on fire as they put six past helpless Cambridge United in the cup and travel north in high spirits. However, Leeds are very easy on the eye and playing free-flowing football have excited their followers. They will expect to move clear at the summit and I envisage them sitting pretty Saturday tea time this weekend.
Black Cats are purring
The match of the day in League One will be at London Road were resurgent Peterborough host title favourites Sunderland. The Wearsiders will feel this is the season to finally rejoin the championship and with a strong squad and huge support on the terraces, everything is in place to strike.
A fantastic 3-1 win at Premier League Burnley in the cup Wednesday evening was impressive and a trip to Bramall Lane to face Sheffield United next won’t hold any fears now either. Of course all the Black Cats’ opponents treat playing them as their cup final in the league and Saturday will be no exception.
The Posh began their season poorly and after their opening three matches had just a solitary point on the board. However, they have some attacking flair and creativity and back to back victories has seen them move up the table into the top half.
Sunderland moved up to fourth after a Chris Maguire hat trick saw them dispose of Wimbledon 3-1 at the Stadium of Light last weekend. That completed three consecutive league victories and they arrive in Peterborough on the crest of a wave. I still believe Boro have defensive frailties and expect the visitors to exploit those and maintain a promotion charge with another three-point haul.