No matter which way you look at this time of the year, top class football is available on tap. It’s ruddy relentless.
Yep, once this week’s Champions League games are done and dusted the Premier League bowls back into town, and our expert analyst Adrian Clarke is on hand to preview the three best looking fixtures.
Read on for some tasty predictions and great football odds.
Chelsea v Arsenal (17 September, 13:30)
Chelsea fans feared they’d sorely miss the aerial threat of fallen idol Costa, but his replacement, Alvaro Morata, has registered three goals and two assists…all produced with his head.
When the Blues stick crosses into the box, their new Spaniard is turning out to be quite brilliant at a) making the right runs and b) dispatching them with ease.
While Arsenal nailed their tactics against Chelsea in the FA Cup Final, and more recently in the Community Shield, there’s a feeling they will need to conjure up a performance that’s even better to make it three in a row against their West London rivals.
The Gunners looked better last time out when beating Bournemouth, but this is a step up in class.
Stamford Bridge is not a happy hunting ground – they’ve been beaten there five times in a row – and after that horror show on matchday one, the champions have sprung straight back into form; putting six past Qarabag FK on Tuesday night.
Conte’s men now look like a team that’s readying itself for a proper title defence.
Will Arsene Wenger unleash Lacazette-Sanchez-Ozil all at once for the first time?
Possibly, and that’s an exciting prospect, but I don’t feel that’s where this game will be won or lost.
To contain and control Chelsea, the North Londoners must be super-disciplined for 90 plus minutes. And it’s been a while since they managed that in an away game against one of their main rivals.
Tottenham Hotspur v Swansea City (16 September, 17:30)
Don’t look at the history books. Whatever you do, don’t check out the head-to-head.
That would be my message to Swansea City ahead of their visit to Wembley this weekend, for the omens don’t appear hugely encouraging.
Spurs have racked up 17 straight league wins at home to them. In fact, you have to go all the way back to the halcyon days of 1930 for the last time the Welshmen picked up a point in this fixture.
Recent memories aren’t exactly positive either.
On their final ever visit to White Hart Lane – albeit under the terrible management of Bob Bradley – they failed to register a single shot on target in a 5-0 mauling.
Can they buck the trend this time?
Well, it’s at Wembley not White Hart Lane for a start, and having secured three successive clean sheets on the road, it’s doable. Paul Clement has his boys well-drilled.
But handling a Spurs side that wiped the floor with Everton last weekend won’t be easy.
Harry Kane is back in business, former Swan Ben Davies is in outstanding individual form, and don’t bet against Fernando Llorente coming off the bench to score against his former side, either.
Forget the Wembley jinx, and ignore that this clash takes place a few days after Pochettino’s men are involved in Europe.
Tottenham are an excellent side and they’ll show it with another victory. Number 18 in a row.
Harry Kane to score & Spurs to win 3-0 (19/2)
Manchester United v Everton (17 September, 16:00)
Poor old Phil Neville. This used to be his ‘derby’, but this weekend it will obviously become the Romelu Lukaku and Wayne Rooney show.
Do I think United’s new front man will score? You bet I do.
While I’ve never been a huge fan of the bulky Belgian – and I still have reservations he will become truly world class – there’s no denying the ex-Toffee has begun life at Old Trafford wonderfully well.
Some players can’t handle the badge or the expectations of representing a giant like Manchester United, but the 24-year-old doesn’t seem burdened at all. That shows character.
If he isolates Ashley Williams or Phil Jagielka on Sunday in a 1v1, the Everton defenders know it will be curtains. I can even see Lukaku bagging a brace.
As for Wazza, I fear this might be a chastening experience.
Everton are very much a work in progress, and although it won’t be total one-way traffic, I doubt he’ll enjoy too many clear sights of goal.
Lukaku to score in a Manchester United win (11/10)
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