Written by Damien Kayat for @Hollywoodbets.
A far more encouraging week for the English teams in Europe always helps to assert the Premier League’s so-called dominance over the other leagues. There are a host of scintillating derbies this
weekend, none more viscerally appealing than the season’s first Manchester turf war.
Pellegrini’s side are nursing some major injury concerns, which may be all the ammunition that United need to regain some traction in what is promising to be an open title race. While, in the North East there is a Tyne-Wear derby of truly epic proportions.
Big Sam has the opportunity to gain some valuable points and additionally earn the adulation of a home support starved of success and consistency. Elsewhere, Tim Sherwood desperately needs three points against struggling Swansea City. This really is a weekend with potentially dramatic ramifications at both ends of the table.
West Ham 27/10
This London derby epitomizes the somewhat schizophrenic nature of this year’s league, with West Ham occupying a Champions League spot while Chelsea languish in mid-table obscurity- for now. Chelsea gave a dogged account of themselves against Kiev in a game that I frankly thought they would lose. Hazard and Matic were far improved while Costa’s quest for full fitness can only have taken a step closer. West Ham’s Payet was once again inspirational, while Enner Valencia is fast approaching full fitness. West Ham are a side perfectly set up for their away travels, with Moses and Sakho looking to launch quick counterattacks. At home, they seem pressurized to take the game to opponents, which could play into Chelsea’s hands.
Verdict: Chelsea to win- West Ham’s home form has been patchy while Chelsea look to be getting their defensive rigidity back. A 1-0 away win is on the cards.
Stoke City 11/10
The last weekend was a cruel reminder of the challenges that face the promoted sides this season. Watford were actually quite competitive against Arsenal - until a point. As soon as that first goal went in the floodgates began to open. The lack of depth in the squad revealed itself and Sanchez-Flores will be eager for his side to return to their more dogged ways. Mark Hughes’ side have won three games in a row, despite probably not performing at optimum levels. Bojan and Arnautovic have been excellent while Wollscheid has proved an excellent stop-gap while Ryan Shawcross returns to full fitness.
Prediction: Stoke to win- I expect Stoke to pick up a handsome victory that finally announces their possible European credentials.
Norwich City 19/20
West Brom 57/20
Alex Neil will have been gutted by the way his side naively capitulated against Newcastle last weekend. They tried to go toe to toe with the Magpies and some of Newcastle’s mercurial talents actually came to the fore. West Brom got a typically ugly victory against Sunderland, but I sense that not all is right at the Albion. The entire Berahino saga has left a sour taste in the mouth, especially as he is likely to depart the side in the coming transfer window. Aside from him, I struggle to see where West Brom are going to generate chances. Rondon has been largely hit and miss while dogged midfielders like Fletcher and Morrison are hardly going to dismantle sides with their trickery.
Prediction: Total Goals under 2.5- Tony Pulis will go into away mode while Neil will be forced to shut up shop following their abominable performance last week. So I expect a tight, grubby affair.
Leicester City 12/10
Crystal Palace 21/10
How many times can Leicester go to the mythical well this season? Jamie Vardy’s prodigious run of scoring in six consecutive games has been instrumental in making this a surprise top of the table clash. Palace will be without Dwight Gayle following a somewhat tempestuous sending off against West Ham. Sako and Zaha will look to get in behind Schlupp and De Laet, while Delaney looks to contain Vardy.
Prediction: Double Chance- Palace to win or draw- While I personally would prefer the Foxes to win, I feel like that crazy juju of theirs is bound to wear off soon.
Aston Villa 19/10
Swansea City 15/10
This is quite a weird one. Everyone knows that Tim Sherwood’s head is on the proverbial chopping block, but Gary Monk? The English papers have had a field day with rumours of him not pitching up to a training session, until pictures came out revealing he was there. While some hilarious conspiracy theorists claimed that it could have been Monk’s doppelganger: Homeland’s Damian Lewis standing in for the manager. In any event, Swansea have not won in five, with Jonjo Shelvey’s involvement with the English squad seemingly proving detrimental to the club. Likewise, Gomis has been ineffective while Sigurdsson- their most creative player- was strangely left out the starting line-up against Stoke. Strange things are afoot. Sherwood’s side have not won since the opening day and probably have to win to ensure Sherwood’s employment.
Prediction: Both Sides to Score- Yes- Both sides look a tad leaky at the back and this option allows me to sit nicely on the fence. I expect Gestede will cause some problems in the air for Swansea.
Click here for full preview
Newcastle United 18/10
The most unbelievable statistic in the history of sport. That’s what I call it. Di Canio, Poyet and Advocaat all lost their first games in charge of the Black Cats. Only to beat Newcastle, their fierce cross-town rivals, in their second. I mean, what are the odds of that. Doomsday theorists would have a field day with this. Now big Sam has only gone and done the first bit, losing to West Brom in his first game in charge. Newcastle’s 6-2 demolition of Norwich has somewhat dampened Sunderland expectations, but this is derby day and form becomes similar to a plot in a Jean-Claude Van Damme film: irrelevant. Newcastle have more quality on paper and will look to counterattack through Sissokho and Wijnaldum.
Prediction: Double Chance: Sunderland to win or draw- This has less to do with the vibe I get from that crazy statistic than it has with Allardyce’s reign at the club. I expect him to get the best out of Defoe and Borini, whilst probably sticking with O’Shea and Kaboul at the back.
Manchester United 15/10
Manchester City 31/20
Click here for full preview
Tottenham Hotspurs 12/10
Bournemouth may have a tough few months ahead of them, that’s for sure. Gradel, Wilson and Mings remain long-term casualties, while Boruc continues to be missed- just see Federici’s performance at the weekend. Glenn Murray looks a decent signing, but Bournemouth’s effectiveness was really based on the counterattacking speed of Wilson and Gradel. Spurs have been quietly effective this season, despite Harry Kane’s relatively low goal return. Dembele, looked fitter last week while Alderweireld and Verthognen look to be forming a formidable central defensive combination.
Prediction: Spurs to win, with Monsieur Kane on the score sheet.
Jurgen Klopp’s first game in charge was………alright. Granted, he had limited options in attack, but as the game grew on Spurs looked far more likely to nick a win than the Reds. Some have hailed the increased vigour of the performance: I say this is Klopp-mania running haywire. Klopp will no doubt have a positive impact on the club, but they just looked like the same old Liverpool to me. Southampton squandered a two-goal lead against Leicester which could have seen them extend their winning streak to three. In many ways, it is arguable that Southampton’s side bear more of a resemblance to Dortmund than Liverpool, with goal-scoring midfielders and a high pressing game, coupled with the way that the side gets routinely destroyed in the transfer market. I expect a very tight game that may be more revealing than the slightly murky Spurs fixture.
Prediction: A score draw- I’m sensing a 1-1 or 2-2 here, with Liverpool forced to be more aggressive at home while Southampton exploit spaces left behind.
Bet on these matches now at Hollywoodbets.net! Haven’t got an account? Open one here now.