The Premier League returns after an eventful set of games in Europe as Liverpool, Manchester City and Chelsea recorded convincing wins in the UEFA Champions League. Tottenham Hotspur were held to a drab 0-0 against Eintracht Frankfurt in Germany, with Antonio Conte and co failing to return to winning ways after losing the north London derby to Arsenal.The Gunners are in UEFA Europa League action later today and will look to continue their stunning start to the 2022-23 season with a win against Bodo/Glint, while Manchester United will aim to put their demoralizing 6-3 defeat to arch-rivals Manchester City behind them with a win against Omonia Nicosia.
Erling Haaland is the man of the moment and once again got his name on the scoresheet, as his two-goal haul against FC Copenhagen in Manchester City’s resounding 5-0 win took him up to 19 goals for the season. The towering Norwegian looks unstoppable at the moment and will look to add to his tally when the Cityzens take on an under-fire Southampton side at the Etihad Stadium.He’s not picking up the ball near the half-way line, beating four players and dinking the goalkeeper, so what I will say is that the likes of Kevin de Bruyne and Bernardo Silva ensure he gets the service he deserves. That said, his movement is scary and I don’t know who’s going to stop him.Arsenal vs Liverpool is undoubtedly the standout fixture of the Premier League weekend, as two greats of English football prepare to lock horns at the Emirates Stadium. Jurgen Klopp’s side have had the upper hand in this fixture in recent years, but judging by current form, would anyone bet against the Gunners?
Form is usually thrown out of the window in such games, but can Mikel Arteta and co cement their position at the top of the Premier League standings? Only time will tell.
Newcastle United vs Brentford
Brentford are on a run of two games without a goal, while Newcastle United completely and utterly dismantled Fulham last weekend. After Fulham went down to ten men, the Magpies made their man advantage count, fair play to them. They moved the ball around well and scored good goals, so Eddie Howe would’ve been really pleased as we often see teams who fail to capitalize on a sending off.The Arsenal result has knocked Brentford sideways, so I don’t see them getting a positive result here. I fancy Newcastle to build on their good start to the season with a 2-1 win at home. If they get a top ten finish and an impressive cup run, it’ll be a fantastic full season as manager for Howe, who hasn’t done much wrong since joining the club under the new owners. Newcastle have a lot of work to do, but if they keep their players fit and revitalize their squad with a couple of fresh faces in January, they could be a force to be reckoned with.
Bournemouth have done alright, but they need to start winning games to stand a realistic chance of staying in the Premier League. Gary O’Neil has made them hard to beat, so their next step would be to start winning the Lions’ share of their home games.Leicester City are in a bit of a false position in terms of the Premier League standings because they’ve scored goals aplenty, but injuries haven’t been kind to them this season. They are coming on the back of their first win of the season in the Premier League and James Maddison is in stunning form, so I think they’ll get all three points once again.I would take Maddison as a surprise package for the 2022 FIFA World Cup, but sadly, I don’t see it happening. Gareth Southgate has had enough chances to pick him but the fact remains that Maddison is yet to make his England debut. With just two weeks to go for the squad announcement, I don’t see him getting on the plane to Qatar.
Nevertheless, he’s been one of the best players in the Premier League this season and has put up sensational numbers so far. If he carries on performing like this, I don’t think Newcastle United will be the only team trying to snap him up – a bunch of other teams will join the race to secure his signature.Prediction: Bournemouth 1-3 Leicester City
Manchester City vs Southampton
How many do you want? It could be anything. I’m going 4-0 and this is where we are with Manchester City at the moment. Not many times in Premier League history do you go into a game thinking one team has zero chance of winning, but that seems to have happened quite often with Pep Guardiola’s teams in recent years.For Southampton to stand a realistic chance of getting anything out of the game, they need to score two goals at the Etihad Stadium, which in itself is quite the challenge. However, they are going to have to deal with Erling Haaland, who looks like a one-man wrecking ball at the moment. I wouldn’t be surprised if he gets another hat-trick, but as I said before, it depends on who plays in midfield.If the likes of Bernardo Silva and Kevin De Bruyne continue to start regularly behind the Norwegian, I think he’ll score more than 40 across all competitions and break all sorts of records.
He isn’t going to the World Cup, so he’ll be well rested and raring to go for the business end of the season. The only thing that could work against him is if Guardiola decides to bench him with one eye on the UEFA Champions League, which in my opinion is Manchester City’s priority for the 2022-23 season. If the Cityzens are playing Real Madrid away in Europe and have a home game against Bournemouth three days earlier, there is no chance in hell Haaland will play that game. When push comes to shove, Guardiola is going to prioritize his fitness as opposed to letting him play in search of personal glory.Haaland still isn’t the best player in the world, in my opinion. He’s probably the best center forward around, but Kevin De Bruyne is the best in the business at the moment. Haaland reminds me of Ruud van Nistelrooy – he’s got no interest in getting involved in the build-up play, all he wants to do is put the ball in the back of the bet. His movement, on the other hand, is out of this world and among the very best I’ve ever seen.
Crystal Palace v Chelsea FC – Premier League
I watched Chelsea against a weakened AC Milan team in the UEFA Champions League and they weren’t as fluid as Graham Potter would want them to be. That said, they still got the job done and recorded a comprehensive 3-0 win to get their first win of the season in Europe. Reece James was outstanding and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang got his name on the scoresheet for the second game running, indicating that Chelsea are slowly starting to find their feet under their new manager. Aubameyang didn’t do much against Crystal Palace or AC Milan apart from his goals, but this is what the Blues have needed for a while now – a bonafide goalscorer.Kai Havertz and Mason Mount are two fantastic footballers, but they won’t score as many goals as the ex-Arsenal man over the course of a league season. There’s an art to goalscoring and the Gabonese striker seems to have mastered it over the years.
Wolves have sacked Bruno Lage and if I’m being honest, I can’t believe they let someone like Conor Coady leave. He was the heart and soul of the team and marshaled their backline expertly since they gained promotion to the Premier League, so it just feels like a strange one.Prediction: Chelsea 2-0 Wolves
Eintracht Frankfurt v Tottenham Hotspur: Group D – UEFA Champions League
Tottenham looked rattled against Arsenal and just as they tried to claw their way back into the game, it was half-time and that allowed the Gunners to take complete control. I don’t know what Emerson Royal was doing, he’s not good enough and his side were embarrassed by their local rivals owing to his red card.I think Brighton will win this game, I liked what I saw against Liverpool. They dominated the Reds at Anfield and came away with a well-deserved point thanks to a Leandro Trossard hat-trick. Roberto de Zerbi has set quite the first impression and I’m excited to see what Brighton can do under his tutelage.Dejan Kulusevski has been a big miss for Tottenham, they are a much better team when he plays. Richarlison has had a decent start to life at his new club, but with all due respect to him, Spurs look much better with Kulusevski on the pitch and Richarlison coming on to run at tired legs.
Tottenham fans have voiced their frustrations in recent weeks and this is what happens when you don’t win a few games as it’s a results business at the end of the day. That said, Antonio Conte has made Spurs a much better team and he’s a world-class manager who has won plenty of trophies across Europe. If you’re playing three at the back, your wingbacks need to be phenomenal, as is the case with Chelsea.With Tottenham, though, Emerson Royal is not good enough and tends to struggle badly when he’s off it. I like Ivan Perisic, but he isn’t getting any younger, so Conte has a thing or two to think about. Their midfielders also play it too safe at times, so it could well be said results have papered over the cracks at the start of the season for Tottenham.Prediction: Brighton 2-0 Tottenham
Fulham FC v Brighton & Hove Albion – Premier League
The result of this game will depend on Aleksandar Mitrovic’s fitness. I saw him earlier this week and he said he hopes to be fit, but we’ll have to wait and see. West Ham are such a threat when it comes to set-pieces, so Mitrovic could play a huge role for Fulham at both ends of the pitch.
Fulham have had a bit of a wake-up call in recent weeks, they went down to ten men against Newcastle and got absolutely blown away last weekend. I fancy West Ham to win this one as they look to climb the Premier League table after an underwhelming start to the season.Prediction: West Ham United 2-0 Fulham
Newcastle United v Crystal Palace – Premier League
I watched Crystal Palace against Chelsea and didn’t feel like there was a lot between the two teams. If you were a fan who had just come in from another country to watch the game, you’d have thought the two teams were equals, which is the biggest compliment I can pay to Patrick Vieira and his side.Leeds United are stuck in a bit of a limbo, so I fancy Palace to get all three points.Prediction: Crystal Palace 2-0 Leeds United
Manchester United v Arsenal FC – Premier League
This is a harder game for Arsenal than the Tottenham one and I say this because the fans and the players were naturally hyped for the derby. If Arsenal win against Liverpool and manage to stay close to Manchester City in the coming months, they could well be contenders for the Premier League title this season. They need to keep their players fit, but Mikel Arteta will believe the Gunners have reasons to believe they can go all the way.Liverpool played against Rangers in the UEFA Champions League on Tuesday and won quite comfortably, while Arsenal are in UEFA Europa League action later today. The Reds will have a bit more rest heading into the much-anticipated Premier League clash, but on current form, Arsenal are probably favorites as things stand.Liverpool played four forwards against Rangers and dominated the game as they secured a 2-0 win at Anfield. Against Arsenal, though, I think they’ll get ripped to shreds if they play Jordan Henderson and Thiago Alcantara against the likes of Granit Xhaka, Thomas Partey and Martin Odegaard as the Gunners trio have been in sublime form this season.
Roberto Firmino could come back into the team for this one, while Fabinho could slot into midfield to give them some more protection away from home. I just fancy Arsenal, but I’m not as confident as I was against Tottenham. There was no way Arsenal were going to lose that game, I’m not as sure with this one as it represents a different test for the table toppers.This is a massive game for the Gunners and could be one of the biggest tests of Arteta’s managerial career so far.Prediction: Arsenal 2-1 Liverpool.
Manchester City v Manchester United – Premier League
Everton have done really well in recent weeks and I’ve been impressed with what Frank Lampard has done at the club so far. He’s getting the absolute best out of the players at his disposal, which is what the fans want to see.I don’t see Manchester United winning this game, as Everton are notoriously hard to break down and tend to frustrate teams like they did so against Liverpool. Cristiano Ronaldo is expected to play in the UEFA Europa League later today, but will he play against Everton?My feeling is that if he starts against Omonia Nicosia in Cyprus, there’s no way Erik ten Hag names him in the starting XI for a Premier League game on Sunday evening. There’s been a lot of talk about Ronaldo’s situation in recent weeks but I’m not really sure what the future holds for him. Ten Hag said he didn’t want to disrespect what he’s achieved in his career so far by bringing him on when Manchester United had virtually lost the game against Manchester City, but I think it’s disrespectful in the first place to not be playing someone of Ronaldo’s stature regularly!
AFC Bournemouth v Aston Villa – Premier League
This is a must-win game for Forest – they are all over the place at the moment. If they lose this game and the club decide to do something silly by getting rid of Steve Cooper – who in my opinion is a fantastic manager – he won’t be out of work for more than a day because clubs like Bournemouth will be waiting to snap him up.Aston Villa vs Leeds United was such a boring game, especially after watching Manchester City. It’s like watching any other movie after watching one of the Godfather films and that just goes to show how much the Cityzens have raised the standards in the Premier League in recent years.Aston Villa fans want to see goals and an entertaining brand of football, but it hasn’t happened consistently under Steven Gerrard so far. He’s made them tighter at the back, but Villa haven’t lived up to expectations under the former Liverpool captain.
Both teams will be disappointed if they don’t win this one, but I’m just going to fancy Aston Villa at the moment.Prediction: Nottingham Forest 1-2 Aston Villa.