By Neil Leverett
- The Britwatch Football Team give their preview and predictions for the seventh weekend of the season
- Follow their progress throughout the season and see which writer takes the Premier League prediction cup
- Correct result gets one point, correct scoreline takes three points
After another tight week in the stakes last week, both Niall and Neil got one score correct. With just a point ahead still, can Niall cling on to his lead ahead of another round of fixtures?
West Ham United vs. Brighton & Hove Albion (Friday, 20:00)
Niall: Friday night football returns as West Ham host Brighton at the London stadium to kick off match-week nine.
Despite a poor start, the Hammers have looked more solid in the last few match-weeks, and last time out they earned a solid point away at Burnley. Brighton have made a good start to Premier League life but their best results have been at home.
West Ham have already spoiled Huddersfield’s fairy tale start here, and I expect them to beat Brighton at home. The Seagulls looks like a decent side at the moment, but West Ham have that extra quality that should see them through.
Prediction: West Ham 2-1 Brighton
Neil: This weekend’s games kick off with a Friday night encounter between West Ham and Brighton. The Hammers have taken four points from their last two games, having held Burnley last weekend to 1-1 draw at Turf Moor. Slaven Bilic’s men last won prior to the international break, and with an almost fully-fit squad to choose from, the West Ham boss will look for his side to record just their third win of the campaign.
The Seagulls roll into East London having taken a point at home to struggling Everton, in a game Chris Hughton’s men could have conceivably won or lost. Brighton have taken just a point from four games on the road this campaign but a trip to the London Stadium will not hold the same fears it may have done a few weeks ago, with Friday evening’s opponents level on points. However, I cannot see the visitors taking anything back to the south coast on this occasion.
Prediction: West Ham 2-1 Brighton
Chelsea vs. Watford (Saturday, 12:30)
Niall: Chelsea head into match-week nine having not won their past three matches in all competitions. The Blues were shocked by Crystal Palace last week and were fortunate to draw with Roma in the Champions League.
Watford have been one of the surprise packages of the season as shown by their fourth place standing at the moment. Marco Silva has made his side very difficult to beat, and they proved they can adapt to situations in their 2-1 turnaround against Arsenal.
Chelsea welcome Alvaro Morata back to Premier League action, and that may be the difference. They have been without the Spaniard for the majority of their last two Premier League outings, and his presence was missed up top. I expect him to link up with Eden Hazard well and get Chelsea back into the win column, though it will not be easy.
Prediction: Chelsea 2-0 Watford
Neil: After back-to-back Premier League losses and after a thorough examination at the hands of Roma in Europe midweek, Antonio Conte approaches a home clash with Watford with trepidation. The Blues loss to Crystal Palace last weekend will have come as a shock versus a team that had failed to record either a goal or a top-flight point in their previous seven league games of the season. In what will be a huge fillip to the host’s striker Morata has recovered faster than expected and should lead the line, with the fit-again Hazard central to the West London side this term.
Watford continue as the surprise package of the season thus far. Having been outplayed during the first half versus Arsenal last Saturday, Silva inspired his men to a second half reversal against the Gunners, with Tom Cleverley scoring a stoppage time winner. With the Hornets sitting in fourth spot, the visitors travel to Stamford Bridge unbeaten away from home this term. With Chelsea’s current issues both on and off the field also, I am backing the visitors to keep their record on the road intact, in an open affair.
Prediction: Chelsea 2-2 Watford
Huddersfield Town vs Manchester United (Saturday, 15.00)
Niall: Games like this is why Huddersfield fans were so excited to be in the Premier League. They welcome the superstars of Manchester United to West Yorkshire in hope of scoring a big upset.
United however will likely be the spoilers here. Under Jose Mourinho they are solid, compact and have enough firepower to score goals too. The Red Devils have hardly been impressive in their last two outings, but they will be keen to close the gap to Manchester City at the top of the table.
I foresee a similar match to the Terriers outing against Spurs. Tottenham had too much quality and scored an easy win, and I expect Man United to do the same.
Prediction: Huddersfield Town 0-4 Man United
Neil: The Terriers are experiencing first-hand the realities of Premier League football after their sterling start to the season. Not only points but goals have dried up for David Wagner’s side, failing to score in their last three outings, taking just a single point. Nevertheless, the West Yorkshire outfit still sit in 12th place but with no less than five teams breathing down their necks on eight points.
After a free-scoring start to the campaign, Manchester United have somewhat lost their way in front of goal of late. Having rolled up to Anfield last weekend with little or no intent of jeopardising their unbeaten league run, Mourinho’s side have lost an attacking verve in recent games, including limping to an underwhelming 1-0 win in Lisbon versus Benfica on Wednesday night. The absence of Paul Pogba is beginning to catch up with them, but with the hosts currently suffering a bad patch of form, United should still have enough to win out comfortably.
Prediction: Huddersfield Town 0-3 Manchester United
Manchester City vs Burnley (Saturday, 15.00)
Niall: Manchester City have looked awesome recently, and you feel sorry for any team that has to face them next. Burnley are the upcoming visitors to the Etihad, and they will be expected to be on the end of a hammering against the Premier League’s top scorers.
City have netted 29 goals in their first eight games, including seven in their thrashing of Stoke last week. Kevin de Bruyne looks like he can pick any pass in the world, and with Gabriel Jesus up top, you have firepower too. It will be interesting to see if Sergio Aguero also makes his return to the starting 11.
Burnley have travelled well though, and have taken points off Chelsea, Liverpool and Spurs already this season. They will set up to defend and hit City on the counter, making them possibly a much more difficult task than Stoke. However, it is hard to see anything but a win for the league leaders.
Prediction: Man City 3-1 Burnley
Neil: The Citizen express train shows no sign of abating just yet, with Manchester City having failed to win just one game in all competitions this season so far. Having scored 16 league goals unanswered however, Pep Guardiola’s defence was finally breached twice by Stoke City, in last Saturday’s De Bruyne-inspired thrashing of the Potters. The hosts currently seem untouchable and with the returning Aguero on standby, City have a plethora of attacking options at their disposal.
Burnley travel across Lancashire aiming to test the Guardiola philosophy to its core. The Clarets are yet to lose on the travels, having already taken a point from Wembley and Anfield as well as wins at Everton and Chelsea. Sean Dyche’s men are truly to test the host’s stock this weekend – at least on paper. With the form City are currently in however, overcoming Serie leaders Napoli to boot, even he hardiest of Burnley fans cannot expect to take anything away from the Etihad. All good things must come to an end they say, and this weekend is no exception.
Prediction: Man City 3-1 Burnley
Newcastle United vs. Crystal Palace (Saturday, 15.00)
Niall: Up for sale Newcastle welcome a buoyed Crystal Palace side to the North East fresh off their first win and goals of the season against Chelsea.
Roy Hodgson’s side will have had a boost of confidence after their shock win against the Blues, but it is too early to excuse all of their problems. How will they respond against a newly promoted side? Was the Chelsea match a one off? Those questions will be answered on Saturday.
Newcastle have looked fairly solid under Rafa Benitez, and they earned a respectable 2-2 draw against Southampton last weekend. It feels like this match will depend on how confident Palace are after their first win of the season, and as that is hard to call I am picking a draw.
Prediction: Newcastle 1-1 Crystal Palace
Neil: The Magpies look a far more balanced side after a worrying start to life back in the Premier League. Having broken the padlock on the bolted door that is the Southampton defence – twice – at St. Marys’ last Sunday, Benitez has got his side purring like a kitten in attack. With a home encounter this time around, a win could return Newcastle back to the six come Sunday night.
The Crystal Palace barren spell was always likely to end at some point, and did so at Selhurst Park handsomely and wholly unexpectedly versus Chelsea last time out. Hodgson’s side look a transformed unit with a two-week break under their belts to iron out the Eagles’ problems across the park. That change was down in no small part to the returning Wilfried Zaha, partnering Andros Townsend in a front two. The duo add a unique element of threat to the Palace set-up and will cause problems for the most diligent of defences. The hosts have been tough to break down recently but I can see the visitors earning a point here.
Prediction Newcastle 1-1 Crystal Palace
Stoke City vs. AFC Bournemouth (Saturday, 15.00)
Niall: Both of these sides are in need of a win, hence why this match between Stoke and Bournemouth is one of the more interesting matches of the weekend.
Both are looming at the bottom end of the table with only one win in their last five games. Stoke need a response after being humiliated by Manchester City last week whilst Bournemouth were edged by Spurs.
Both sides are low on confidence so I think it is a hard match to predict. Who knows what version of each team will show up, so I am going for a closely contested draw.
Prediction: Stoke 0-0 Bournemouth
Neil: Mark Hughes’ men sit in the jaws of the trapdoor to the Championship in 17th position even at this early stage of the 2017/18 season. Despite their loss away to league leaders Manchester City, the Potters will be encouraged with the two goals they did register at the Etihad. Staying in the top flight this season – as for many of the sides in the bottom half this term – looks to be a tricky task, and Stoke’s home form will once again be a key factor in them staying up.
The Cherries make the journey to Staffordshire suffering away-day blues. Eddie Howe’s men have lost all four on the road so far and have scored just once away from the Vitality Stadium this term. Goals both for and against are proving to be a thorny issue for the visitors, and despite Stoke being far from prolific themselves, another typically cagey home win could be on the cards at the Bet 365 Stadium.
Prediction Stoke 1-0 Bournemouth
Swansea City vs. Leicester City (Saturday, 15:00)
Niall: Swansea welcome manager-less Leicester to the Liberty Stadium on Saturday, looking to make it two wins in their last two matches.
The Swans were impressive against Huddersfield with Tammy Abraham getting on the scoresheet. Leicester will pose a bigger threat to their defence, but having lost their manager this week, it will be interesting to see how the Foxes respond.
Because of the lack of a manager in the dugout, it is hard to see Leicester winning this match. They are in limbo at the moment whilst Swansea will be higher in confidence after their win against Huddersfield.
Prediction: Swansea 2-1 Leicester
Neil: The Swans have fired themselves into relative comfort after a rocky start to Paul Clement’s first full season in charge in South Wales. A home win versus Huddersfield saw the hosts pick up their second win of the season and with a second successive home meeting against a manager-less Leicester City, Abraham will look to further add to his tally on Saturday.
Craig Shakespeare’s sacking on Tuesday felt like a shock, but with a history of eyebrow-raising personnel decisions at Leicester, coupled with the Foxes sitting in the bottom three, it is perhaps not so. Having been held by West Brom on Monday night, Riyad Mahrez spared the hosts’ blushes at the King Power and if caretaker Michael Appleton is to take anything away from the Liberty Stadium, he will need the Algerian at his best. There is much on the line here and for this reason, I am going for a cagey goalless draw.
Prediction: Swansea 0-0 Leicester
Southampton vs West Brom (Saturday, 17:30)
Niall: This match hardly screams excitement, but it will be one of the closely contested games of the weekend.
Both Southampton and West Brom are solid defensively, but struggle a little going forward, especially the Saints. The Baggies have their threat from set pieces and that may prove the difference in this match.
Prediction: Southampton 0-1 West Brom
Neil: Saturday evening on the South coast sees the Saints entertain West Brom at St. Marys’. Southampton finally cast off their goal-scoring shackles last weekend is a topsy-turvy 2-2 draw with Newcastle. Manolo Gabbiadini scored his first goals since mid-August, with the Italian striker now looking to kick on for the visit of the Baggies. At the back, Fraser Forster continues to suffer a troubled spell in goal and it will be interesting to see if Mauricio Pellegrino sticks with his man.
Tony Pulis’ men came within minutes of taking all three points at the King Power on Monday night, in the Foxes’ final game under Shakespeare. Nacer Chadli marked his return the starting line up with a Ronaldo-esque free-kick, as the Belgian eyes another starting berth this weekend. Both sides are capable of shutting out their opponents, and as Jay Rodriguez returns to his former club, I fancy the former Saint to be amongst the goals in a score draw.
Prediction: Southampton 1-1 West Brom
Everton vs. Arsenal (Sunday, 13:30)
Niall: Everton’s poor run continued in mid-week as they were beaten by Lyon at home in the Europa League. Pressure is mounting on Ronald Koeman, and the Toffees need a result when they face Arsenal on Sunday.
The Gunners are not in good stead themselves. Arsene Wenger’s side lost 2-1 against Watford last weekend and were rather fortunate to beat Red Star Belgrade on Thursday. However, they are in better form than Everton at the moment and that may prove key.
The Toffees look so out of sorts, and they were lucky to not be beaten by Brighton last time out. Arsenal may have lost to Watford, but that is one result compared to many. I believe we will see a better Everton this weekend, but with their confidence so low I think Arsenal will edge them out.
Prediction: Everton 1-2 Arsenal
Neil: Sunday sees the first of a double-header at Goodison Park as Everton host Arsenal. The plight of Koeman is now desperate one with the Toffees just two points from the bottom three. Wayne Rooney’s 90th minute penalty may just have saved his boss’ job temporarily and despite showing fight in their loss to Lyon on Thursday night, the hosts need results to turn around and fast.
Not only is Koeman under the critical eye, the Gunners late loss to Watford last weekend has further increased the ire of the Arsenal fans. Alexis Sanchez could ride the rescue this weekend having been left out last time out, but questions remain over the Chilean’s mental state after his country failed to qualify for the World Cup. Both sides have their issues, but the visitors should have too much to handle. Wenger could very well write the obituary on his opposite number’s tenure on Merseyside.
Prediction: Everton 1-2 Arsenal
Tottenham Hotspur vs. Liverpool (Sunday, 16:00)
Tottenham lifted their Wembley curse last weekend against Bournemouth, but their problems at the home of English football were still there. For some reason they do not look like themselves there, but will the win last weekend help them shake off that hoodoo?
Liverpool have been in the goals for the most part this season, but their last outing against Manchester United was anything but entertaining. This match promises a lot more though with both sides needing a win to keep up with the Manchester clubs.
It is difficult to see where this match goes because you never know which Liverpool will show up, and Spurs at Wembley have always been a bit iffy to say the least. However, I think it will be an entertaining match and I foresee a draw between the two sides.
Prediction: Tottenham 2-2 Liverpool
Neil: The game of the weekend is last up, in what could be a wild 90 minutes at Wembley as the Reds travel to face Spurs. Tottenham finally recorded their first league win in the temporary home last Saturday, but Mauricio Pochettino’s men were visibly rusty, in particular the free-scoring Harry Kane – at home at least.
Like Spurs, Liverpool recorded an impressive result in Europe in midweek, as Jurgen Klopp’s charges finally began to convert their chances, putting seven past Maribor. The visitors flair and pace will be tough to handle. In all of Liverpool’s league encounters right now (except for the obvious exception) it will be case of attack over defence but the ‘X factor’ of the Reds’ front three could just tip the balance in the favour of the away side. I am gonna put my neck on the block once more and go with Liverpool.
Prediction: Tottenham 2-3 Liverpool
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