Manchester United vs Tottenham Hotspur
If we’re following past form in this fixture, the pick is clear – back the home side.
That’s because the team playing at home in each of the last five EPL meetings between United and Spurs has come out victorious.
But take a look at the contrast in the two sides’ recent form and things start to get a little fuzzy.
United’s fast start has hit the buffers thanks to a 0-0 draw with Liverpool and an inexplicable 2-1 reverse at Huddersfield Town.
While United have been slipping out of the top spot, Spurs have been rising into third and now sit equal in points with Jose Mourinho’s men.
Tottenham have won four straight in the EPL, and talismanic striker Harry Kane has been in red-hot goal scoring form, with five goals in those four outings. But the Spurs’ top scorer is an injury doubt ahead of the game with a hamstring problem. He’ll be given a fitness test on the Old Trafford pitch before kickoff before manager Mauricio Pochettino decides whether to start him.
If Spurs have concerns over Kane, United’s injury list looks even worse. Considering Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Marouane Fellaini and Michael Carrick are ruled out, with Paul Pogba and Marcus Rashford also doubtful and the fact that Spurs are twice the odds of United to win (+250 versus United’s +125 with Bet365), and the away win starts to look like the value bet.
The chances are a single goal will decide it, and with Kane in top form and United looking a little off-color, we’re picking the Londoners to perform a smash and grab at Old Trafford and come away with the points… IF Kane is fit to start.
If he’s not ruled fit enough to play, default back to the draw (most likely a goalless one).
PICK: IF KANE IS FIT – BACK SPURS. IF KANE IS UNFIT – BACK THE DRAW
Bournemouth vs Chelsea
Can the Cherries upset the Blues? Nope.
Chelsea’s upset loss came a fortnight ago when an inspired Crystal Palace put in a stellar performance to beat them at a rocking Selhurst Park. But I just don’t see Eddie Howe’s side repeating that fight this weekend.
Chelsea snapped back to life last weekend when they thrashed Watford 4-2 at the Bridge, and now they make the trip to the South Coast looking to improve their already solid goal difference with another big scoring haul against struggling Bournemouth.
The Cherries have won just twice this season, and they’re tied as the second-lowest scorers in the EPL, with just six goals in their nine games to date.
Chelsea’s traditional strength – their defense – hasn’t been there so far this season (they’ve already conceded 10), so a clean sheet certainly isn’t a formality, but their firepower up front and class in midfield should be more than enough to get them past their hosts on Saturday, and by a fair margin, too.
PICK: BACK OVER 2.5 GOALS
Brighton & Hove Albion vs Southampton (Sunday)
Separated by just two places and one league point in the EPL table, and with both sides coming into the weekend on the back of recent victories, this early Sunday kickoff offers a golden opportunity for for one of these mid-table sides to pick up some much-needed momentum.
It’s just a shame it’s not a game that’s going to get the fans flocking to their TV sets early in the morning in the US.
Twelfth-place Brighton defeated West Ham 3-0 away from home last time out, while Saints picked up a late 1-0 home win over West Brom.
The two sides are closely matched in the table, and both have started the season in inconsistent form. Brighton offer the best value, but the draw is the most likely outcome.
Leicester vs Everton (Sunday)
Sunday’s clash at the King Power stadium features a battle between one team that has just appointed a new manager and one that is still working out how to replace theirs.
Leicester’s appointment of Claude Puel has been met with a mixed reaction, with some prepared to give the Frenchman a fair chance but others seemingly flabbergasted by the appointment.
We’re sure Claude was delighted.
The Foxes will be without Matty James and Robert Huth for the matchup, which sees Leicester play host to an Everton side in abject turmoil after the sacking of their manager, Ronald Koeman, this past week.
The Toffees have lost four of their last six, including last weekend’s 5-2 reverse at home to Arsenal, and have failed to keep a clean sheet in the Premier League all season.
Throw into the mix the new manager factor that often sees teams pick up form following the arrival of a new boss, and the signs don’t look good for the blue half of Merseyside this weekend.
[Main image credit: By enviro warrior from england (Harry Kane) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons]