This weekend Premier League action gets under way with an intriguing game at the Amex Stadium, where Spurs will be looking to rekindle an already flagging season against Brighton.
Tottenham will be licking the wounds of the 7-2 mauling they suffered at the hands of a rampant Bayern Munich on Tuesday, when an even first-half contest was undone by an abysmal showing after the break. That was the first time Spurs have ever conceded seven goals on home soil, and adds extra pressure to a team that is already lagging ten points behind Liverpool in the Premier League, and which was dumped out of the League Cup by Colchester United.
Brighton flattered to deceive in their opening day 3-0 win at Watford, a result put into context by Watford’s subsequent struggles, and three draws and three defeats have seen the Seagulls heading inexorably towards their perennial fight for top-flight survival. Their problems lie in a dearth of goals that has seen them score just two further goals, both in 1-1 home draws, and although defeats at Manchester City and Chelsea might have been expected even on a good day, they do not have a defence good enough to offset a toothless attack.
Anything but a Spurs win would be unthinkable for Mauricio Pochettino, and an early goal would go a long way towards settling those nerves. Harry Kane has not been short of goals, while Tanguy Ndombele is becoming increasingly influential in midfield, and if Spurs’ defence can recover from their midweek horror show, then they should come away with all three points.
Game Tip: TOTTENHAM WIN 1.98 (Betaway)
Pick of this weekend’s Premier League fixtures is Saturday’s 3pm kickoff at Anfield, where Liverpool look to extend their 100% league record against third-placed Leicester City.
Last week’s 1-0 win at Sheffield United was Liverpool’s 16th straight league win and their seventh this season to maintain their 5-point cushion over Manchester City. That win was the first of those sixteen victories in which the Reds failed to score two or more goals, and their first 1-0 scoreline since winning at Brighton in January. Jurgen Klopp will be looking to address the defensive frailties that saw his team squander a 3-0 lead against Salzburg on Wednesday, before eventually securing a thrilling 4-3 Champions League win.
Leicester City have surprised many by looking capable of gatecrashing the Big Six, winning three and drawing three of their opening seven games to earn a deserved top three berth. Jamie Vardy (5 goals) appears to have rediscovered his mojo, thanks to the creative combination of Maddison, Perez and Tielemans behind him, and he bagged a brace in last week’s 5-0 drubbing of Newcastle United. However, it is in defence that Leicester have impressed most, where they have overcome the departure of Harry Maguire to concede just five goals in seven games, a record matched only by Liverpool themselves.
These two teams shared a 1-1 draw in the corresponding fixture last season, and Brendan Rodgers is likely to employ the same tactics used by Sheffield United last week, when Liverpool were largely restricted to aimless possession in a packed midfield. Leicester might also benefit from the amount of effort Liverpool expended in their Champions League outing, which should have been won much more comfortably than it was.
Game Tip: LEICESTER CITY +1.25 1.93 (I OAP I Soccer)
Saturday’s early evening televised game pits West Ham United against Crystal Palace at London Stadium, where both teams will be looking to build on promising starts to the campaign.
It looked like another difficult season lay ahead when West Ham lost their opening game 5-0 at home to Manchester City, but three wins and three draws since them have sent them soaring up into the top five. Admittedly, four of those six games have been against teams currently in the bottom five, but the manner of their 2-0 home win over Manchester United coupled with last weekend’s battling 2-2 draw at Bournemouth suggest that Hammers’ fans might be spared a relegation fight this season.
Palace sit just behind West Ham on eleven points, quite an improvement on the zero points they had acquired at the same stage of last season. Their 2-1 win at Manchester United instilled Roy Hodgson’s team with confidence, and despite a humbling 4-0 reversal at Spurs, further wins over relegation candidates Aston Villa and Norwich City indicate a more comfortable season for the Eagles lies ahead.
The return to fitness of Andriy Yarmalenko has given the Hammers an attacking dimension that was lacking during his long-term injury layoff, and his direct approach blends well with Felipe Anderson on the other flank, while Sebastien Haller looks well equipped in the lone striker role. If Palace allow West Ham the kind of space between the lines that Spurs enjoyed three weeks ago, then the Hammer might be in the top three by Saturday night.
Game Tip: WEST HAM UNITED WIN 2.04 (leagueONE)
There’s a Premier League programme on Saturday, with Wolves’ trip to Manchester City the pick of three 2pm kickoffs.
It already seems a long time since Manchester City suffered an unlikely 3-2 reversal at Norwich City last month, since when they have scored nineteen goals in five straight wins across three different competitions. League wins over Watford (8-0) and Everton came either side of a 3-0 League Cup at preston, while they hardly needed to break sweat when easing to a 2-0 Champions League win over Dinamo Zagreb on Tuesday.
Wolves’ first league victory of the season was a long time coming, and Nuno Espirito Santos will know that last week’s 2-0 win over struggling Watford is still not a barometer of long-term success. Their Europa League campaign began in July, and those eight extra games so far appear to be taking their toll. Thursday’s trip to Turkey leaves them with effectively three days less recovery time that their hosts, although Wolves’ confidence will be boosted by the 1-0 win they enjoyed against Besiktas.
Game Tip: MANCHESTER CITY -2.5AH 2.14 (EuropeanFootballTips)
The final game of the Premier League weekend brings us to St James’s Park, where Newcastle United and Manchester United will each be hoping to boost a disappointing start to the campaign at the expense of the other.
Newcastle are actually better off than they were at the same stage last season, but their fans and critics seem to be showing less patience with Steve Bruce than they did with Rafa Benitez. The gloss of their unexpected 1-0 win at Spurs six weeks ago has already dulled in the wake of their defeat at Liverpool (3-1) and last week’s dismal 5-0 capitulation at Leicester City. Two home draws have kept the points tally ticking over, but coming against struggling Watford (1-1) and Brighton (0-0), they have not inspIred much confidence of better things to come.
Manchester United are suffering their worst start to a league campaign in thirty years, winning just two of their opening seven games, and drawing three, making their opening day 4-0 win over Chelsea seem like an eternity ago. Since then, their only success needed a penalty to beat Leicester 1-0, while their three 1-1 draws have all seen them squander a half-time lead. Their Thursday night Europa League trip to Alkmaar will feel like a distraction they could have done without, although another clean sheet in their drab goalless draw will be more than welcome.
After being ripped apart by Leicester last week, Bruce is likely to revert to the more compact 5-4-1 formation that stifled Spurs, and will probably not care too much that such a shape will not reduce his team’s attacking threat. United will no doubt dominate possession but will need to be patient to earn what will, at best, be a low-scoring win.
Game Tip: MANCHESTER UTD WIN 1.91 (X.TaZ)
Tottenham Hotspur v Brighton – TOTTENHAM WIN 1.98 Betaway
Liverpool v Leicester City – LEICESTER CITY +1.25AH 1.93 I OAP I Soccer
West Ham United v Crystal Palace – WEST HAM UNITED WIN 2.04 leagueONE
Manchester City v Wolves – MANCHESTER CITY -2.5AH 2.14 EuropeanFootballTips
Newcastle Utd v Manchester Utd – MANCHESTER UTD WIN 1.91 X.TaZ