No such thing as an easy game in the Premier League | EPL Matchweek 5 Preview
The international break is finally over and the Premier League action will be back underway Saturday night. Managers and fans have watched on for the last fortnight with breaths held, hoping no major players picked up injuries. Most seem to have come through unscathed and some have picked up form they’ll be hoping to continue with their clubs.
None of the big six clubs are up against each other in MW5 but in typical Premier League fashion, each of them have very tricky fixtures. The big clubs will have all had a significant number of their players away on international duty for the past fortnight whilst smaller teams will have had the majority of theirs training hard focussed solely on upcoming fixtures. The stage is perfectly set for some upsets.
Liverpool vs Newcastle | Anfield | Saturday 9:30pm
Liverpool are the only team yet to drop points. They’ve had the perfect start to the season and they look every bit as dangerous as European champions should. Not to mention they’re 23 games unbeaten at Anfield and on a 13 game Premier League win streak.
But Newcastle boss Steve Bruce has a knack of taking points off Liverpool having only lost four of his last 17 Premier League meetings with them (W5 D8 L4). Plus he will have had a fortnight with almost a full squad to plan exactly how he wants to spoil Liverpool’s early season party.
Manchester United vs Leicester | Old Trafford | Saturday midnight
3rd place Manchester United are strong favourites against 8th placed Leicester.
Hang on. That doesn’t look right…
Correction. 3rd placed Leicester are strong favourites against 8th placed United who have struggled so far this season with just the one win in MW1. Leicester on the other hand are unbeaten so far with Brendan Rodgers’ side looking confident and typically dangerous going forward.
Recent history is in United’s favour though having won 8 of the last 9 games against the Foxes at Old Trafford. Marcus Rashford also has excellent form against Leicester, scoring against them more than any other Premier League side. He’ll need to be sharp and clinical if United are to turn their disappointing early form around.
Tottenham vs Crystal Palace | Tottenham Hotspur Stadium | Saturday midnight
Like Man United, Tottenham are also without a win since MW1, battling through a tumultuous end to the transfer window. They’ll be feeling confident at home against a Crystal Palace side they’ve beaten eight times in a row in the Premier League.
Palace are riding high though, sitting pretty in 4th spot with the best defensive record in the league. Harry Kane is yet to fire for Spurs this season but four goals in two games for England will have given his confidence a massive boost and there’s every chance he’ll cut loose in front of a roaring home crowd.
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Brighton & Hove Albion vs Burnley | Amex Stadium | Saturday midnight
Our Socceroos duo of Mat Ryan and Aaron Mooy are both coming off great games against Kuwait – Mooy in particular was superb. Graham Potter will surely be tempted to push the Aussie midfielder into his starting 11 for this crucial clash against a Burnley side who they’ll be in direct competition with for a mid-table place this season.
Wolverhampton vs Chelsea | Molineux | Saturday midnight
This is our pick of games for the week. Two teams struggling to meet the expectations so far, desperate for a big win to start building some kind of form. Recent history suggests one of them will come out victors with none of the last 13 top-flight meetings between the two ending in a draw.
Much will depend on which striker fires. Raul Jiminez was the only player to score home and away against Chelsea last season but he’s yet to really get firing this season. Tammy Abraham on the other hand has hit his stride scoring two doubles in his last two games.
Norwich City vs Manchester City | Carrow Road | Sunday 2:30am
As the old saying goes, this one could be a cricket score. The league’s best attack is up against the league’s worst defence. Manchester City’s front line is in the kind of form that would have even the best defensive lines in Europe sweating. Norwich’s defence will be positively drenched leading into this game.
To Norwich’s credit, they haven’t been afraid to play open, attacking football so far this season, even against the likes of Liverpool. The fact that City are without their best centre back in Aymeric Laporte means the Canaries may have some luck getting at the City defence but it will be at their own peril to leave themselves even slightly open at any point during the 90 minutes.
Watford vs Arsenal | Vicarage Road | Monday 1:30am
On paper, Arsenal have the easiest fixture of the big six clubs but the fact it’s an away game, will always sow seeds of doubt when it comes to the Gunners. Watford’s form has been terrible in the first month and it really should be an easy afternoon for Arsenal but this is exactly the kind of fixture they regularly lost last season.
Quique Sánchez Flores is back in charge at Vicarage Road and he’s had two weeks to get his message across as to exactly how Watford are going to turn around their dismal start. Unai Emery will be wary to not let his players underestimate their opponents and lose the early lead they’ve taken over other top four contenders.