Saturday’s Premier League action gets under way at Stamford Bridge where inform Chelsea will be looking to maintain their momentum in their home London derby against Crystal Palace.
.Under the positive guidance of Frank Lampard, Chelsea are again looking like a force to be reckoned with, and he has certainly found a way to get the best out of his exciting young squad. Their opening day 4-0 defeat at Old Trafford might prove to be the best thing that happened to them, as since then they have won seven of their subsequent ten league games, drawing two and losing just once more, and that was against league leaders Liverpool. Last weekend, Tammy Abraham continued to reward his boss’s faith with his ninth league goal to help his side to a 2-1 win at Watford, while the Blues will still be buzzing after Tuesday’s comeback from 4-1 down to force a thrilling 4-4 draw against Ajax.
After picking up 14 points from their opening eight games, including wins at Manchester United and West Ham, a cruel fixture schedule has seen them pick up just one battling point at Arsenal in between successive home defeats at the hands of Manchester City and Leicester. With the visit of Liverpool straight after the international break, Palace will be happy to go into December still in the top half of the table. That said, their draw at Arsenal illustrated that they look more comfortable on their travels, having won nine, drawn two and lost just four of their last fifteen league games away from Selhurst Park.
Game Tip: CHELSEA WIN AND BTTS (MoTips) 2.80
Arguably pick of Saturday’s 3pm kickoffs is the visit of this season’s surprise package, Sheffield United to the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.
Tottenham’s ambitions of a title challenge have already all but evaporated in a disappointing opening to their season that sees them languishing in the bottom half of the table after eleven games, with the chances of even a top four finish looking increasingly remote. Home wins over Aston Villa, Crystal Palace and Southampton represent meagre success, while two of their defeats, against Newcastle and Brighton, have been particularly worrying for Mauricio Pochettino. An improved performance at Goodison Park last week was marred by the horrific injury to Everton’s Andrea Gomes, and further spoiled by Everton’s last-gasp equaliser, although thankfully Heung-Min Son’s resultant red card was rescinded and he celebrated with two goals in Spur’s 4-0 win at Red Star Belgrade on Wednesday.
Not even in his most optimistic scenario would Sheffield United boss Chris Wilder have imagined that his team would go into November in the Premier League’s top six, let alone boasting the best defensive record in the division. But that is how things have turned out as four wins, four draws and five clean sheets sees them sitting pretty on sixteen points, with only Leicester City matching their meagre eight goals conceded. Only Leicester (2-1) and Chelsea (2-2) have breached their defence more than once, while only Liverpool share their unbeaten record on the road, where their 2-0 win at Everton came between draws at Bournemouth, Chelsea, Watford and West Ham.
Game Tip: SHEFFIELD UNITED +0.25AH (Natural Asian Lines) 3.05
Saturday’s biggest Premier League fixture comes in the early evening kickoff at the King Power Stadium, where third-placed Leicester City look to maintain their impressive start at home to fifth-placed Arsenal.
Under the guidance of Brendan Rodgers, Leicester are enjoying their best ever start to a top-flight season, and that includes their dramatic title-winning campaign four years ago. Their only two defeats were both settled by a decisive penalty at Manchester United (0-1) and Liverpool (1-2), the latter coming deep into stoppage time. Other than those setbacks, seven wins and two draws have earned 23 points, leaving the Foxes level with Chelsea and just two points behind Manchester City. A resurgent Jamie Vardy tops the division’s scoring charts with ten goals, seven of them in their last four wins, including a hat-trick in the 9-0 romp at Southampton, plus the decisive second goal in Sunday’s 2-0 win at Crystal Palace.
Arsenal have enjoyed a steady start to the season, despite having won just two of their last nine league outings, with five draws in that time stalling their challenge for a top-four spot. Their 2-2 draws with Watford and Crystal Palace were particularly frustrating for Unai Emery, who saw his team squander 2-0 leads, while last weekend they again allowed Wolves to cancel out their half-time advantage to draw 1-1. Wednesday then brought a case of deja vu, as a late Mustafi header looked like preserving their 100% Europa League record before they again leaked a late goal to allow Vitoria de Guimaraes to snatch a 1-1 draw.
Game Tip: LEICESTER CITY WIN (TheWrightFootballBets) 2.18
One of two Sunday lunchtime kickoffs sees Manchester United try to kickstart their stuttering campaign at the expense of an improving Brighton side at Old Trafford.
Saturday’s 1-0 defeat at Bournemouth locked in Manchester United’s worst ever start to a Premier League with just thirteen points from their opening eleven games, Further defeats at the hands of Crystal Palace, West Ham and Newcastle will be worrying for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, as will the fact that they relinquished a 1-0 half-time advantage in all of their four 1-1 draws. Just two clean sheets in eleven games has exposed United’s toothlessness in front of goal – they kicked off the season with a 4-0 win against Chelsea and won 3-1 against struggling Norwich two weeks ago, but their other nine league outings have produced just a meagre six goals. However, they were much improved at both ends of the pitch on Thursday when they proved far too good for Partizan Belgrade, securing their spot in the knock-out stage thanks to their comfortable 3-0 win.
Brighton are a team in transition under the new leadership of Graham Potter, but that transitions seems largely positive. Successive home wins over Tottenham (3-0), Everton (3-2) and Norwich (2-0) have complemented their opening day away success at Watford, while two of their four defeats have comeat high-flying Chelsea and Manchester City. They looked in good shape when taking an early lead at improving Aston Villa on their last away day, only for a first-half red card to cost them as Villa exploited their one-man advantage to send the Seagulls to a 2-1 defeat.
Game Tip: OVER 2.5 GOALS (SportsBot Football) 2.08
The biggest game of the season so far sees Sunday evening’s eagerly awaited clash between league leaders Liverpool and champions Manchester City at Anfield. Both teams emerged unbeaten from their midweek Champions League exertions, with Liverpool managing an unconvincing 2-1 win at home to Genk, while Manchester City’s 1-1 draw at Atalanta ended with Kyle Walker in goal following the precautionary withdrawal of Ederson and the second-half dismissal of Claudio Bravo.
Last weekend saw the Premier League pace-setters both take similar paths, with both teams having to overturn half-time deficits with late comebacks. Liverpool left it latest, before their constant pressure finally produced a deserved equaliser three minutes from time, before Sadio Mane clinched an unlikely 2-1 win with a neat header four minutes into injury time. That victory kept Liverpool’s unbeaten start intact with ten wins and a draw, and extended their unbeaten league run to 28 games (won 23, drawn 5) since their last defeat, ironically at Manchester City, in early January.
Meanwhile, Manchester City were also chasing the game when a spirited Southampton side took an unexpected early lead in Saturday’s clash at the Etihad. Sergio Aguero’s clean finish eventually cancelled out the lead with twenty minutes remaining, but it was not until the 86th minute that Kyle Walker slid in the winner for a dramatic winner. At that stage, Liverpool were still behind at Villa Park, leaving City just an Anfield win away from claiming top spot, but now face the prospect of defeat at Anfield leaving them nine points adrift of their hosts.
The corresponding fixture last season ended in a disappointing goalless stalemate, but that game produced two of only six clean sheets that these teams have managed in their last 21 encounters, and we could be in store for something more like the previous season’s 4-3 thriller. Remarkably, City have not won at Anfield since 2003, since when sixteen league visits have produced just five drawn points and eleven defeats. Indeed, before last season’s win at the Etihad, City had won just one of their last twelve competitive meetings with Liverpool, and that was 2017’s 5-0 drubbing that was heavily influenced by the early sending off of Sadio Mane.
Game Tip: LIVERPOOL 0.00AH (Phil83) 2.01
Chelsea v Crystal Palace – CHELSEA WIN AND BTTS (MoTips) 2.80
Tottenham Hotspur v Sheffield United – SHEFFIELD UNITED +0.25AH (Natural Asian Lines) 3.05
Leicester City v Arsenal – LEICESTER CITY WIN (TheWrightFootballBets) 2.18
Manchester United v Brighton – OVER 2.5 GOALS (SportsBot Football) 2.08
Liverpool v Manchester City – LIVERPOOL 0.00AH (Phil83) 2.01