Premier League predictions: matchday 3
The Cherries are yet to pick up a point in this season’s Premier League and with the visit of one of the title favourites, they are likely to have to wait a little longer to get some numbers on the board. After the start in the league cup midweek, Jermain Defoe is expected to lead the line and along with Joshua King will provide the goal threat, but knowing that chances will be at a premium. Guardiola will be missing Kyle Walker after his red card against Everton last time out but could introduce new boy, Benjamin Mendy. Whether another of the expensive summer recruits, Bernardo Silva, gets the nod ahead of Raheem Sterling is to be seen but these choices won’t affect a hard fought, but comfortable victory for the visitors.
Crystal Palace vs Swansea City (Away win)
After a shock opening defeat at home to promoted Huddersfield, the fans will be expecting to see their heroes much improved as they welcome Swansea. Their performance was much improved at Anfield, where they repelled one of the most dangerous attacks for most of the match and could have nicked an equaliser, but will need to increase their chance-finishing ratio. Eyes will be on Christian Benteke and the returning Wilfried Zaha to do the damage as they strive to turn around a run of not scoring (six time in last seven league games).
The Swans have a good record against Palace over the last few seasons and Paul Clement will want to build on the 1-4 victory against M.K. Dons in the cup. They were over-powered and outplayed by Manchester United last weekend but Tammy Abraham needs to show Chelsea what they’re missing and Leroy Fer has a chance to step up as the main man in the Gylfi Sigurdson-shaped hole in their midfield. Expect Roque Mesa to take more control too as he gets another game under his belt.
Huddersfield vs Southampton (Draw)
The home side have had an unbelievable start to the season with six points out of six. No new injury worries will likely see an unchanged line-up with record signing Steve Mounie up top ably supported by Ince, La Parra and Kachunga, while Aaron Mooy will aim to add to his goal scoring feats of last week. The Saints have not fully clicked into gear yet and will continue to be without their want-away defensive rock, Virgil van Dijk. Although almost throwing it away, they sneaked a late win last week against West Ham and Mauricio Pellegrino’s side is a step up in level from the opening two games for the Terriers, but their momentum should see them remain unbeaten.
Newcastle United vs West Ham United (Away win)
Manager Rafa Benitez has been talked up as a potential replacement for Slaven Bilic in today’s opposite dugout and this game may prove to be a catalyst for both how both managers’ futures are determined. Mbemba should keep his place in the home defence and Hayden in midfield with Dummett (injured) and Shelvey (suspended) out.
The Magpies know they’ll get chances against a leaky Hammers side despite investments in Fonte, Zabaleta and Joe Hart. Joselu, Atsu and Pérez will hope to hear their names chanted as part of the roar of the home fans. Javier Hernández is already off the mark and will look at the Toon defence as the perfect opportunity to show how astute a signing he was for the London side. He’ll be missing the creative talent of another new signing, Marko Arnautovic, as well as the very talented Manuel Lanzini, but with wide supporting roles from Ayew and Antonio he should have enough chances to take at least one, sending some rather disappointed Newcastle fans home already worried about their season.
Watford vs Brighton & Hove Albion (Home win)
Marco Silva will have been delighted to start with four points from two games but has an injury list (plus a suspended José Holebas) to deal with as they go in to a game many expect them to win based on early showings. Sharing the goals around the side will be something Silva will be keen to continue and with an expected front-line of Amrabat, Gray and Richarlison, the Brighton defence can be promised plenty of movement and dynamism.
The Seagulls are looking for their first points and may have seen this as a potential opportunity early on. New winger Jose Izquierdo may get a chance to impress, although probably from the bench, while Chris Hughton also has a number of players out injured. If Dunk and Duffy can keep an organised backline against the Hornets, a single goal may be enough to earn something for their trip home…but don’t expect it.
Manchester United vs Leicester (Home win)
United fans will wander to Old Trafford heads held high this evening following an impressive start to the Premier League, one that has some talking about them as serious title contenders. They boast the physically biggest side in the league and have enough talent and pace to suggest the balance, and versatility, can put any side to the sword. In saying that, José Mourinho will know that their opening two wins, both by four goals without reply, were against two of the weakest sides in the league and also that the bulk of the goals were added late in the game.
Leicester should offer a better test of their credentials and with Vardy, Mahrez and the always-moving Okazaki,they have enough to trouble the home defensive line. However, injuries to key personnel including Wes Morgan, Kelechi Iheanacho and the rumoured-to-be-departing Danny Drinkwater mean that the Foxes won’t quite have enough to get anything from the game, but will make it a more nervous 90 minutes for the home faithful
Chelsea vs Everton (Home win)
Chelsea crushed the Toffees last season with eight goals for and none against across the two league games. That gulf in class is unlikely to show in the early afternoon Sunday match with Ronald Koeman’s Everton a different proposition following some shrewd signings and Antonio Conte’s Blues still finding their feet despite somehow beating a dominant Spurs side in game two. Both sides are likely to set up with a 3-4-2-1 formation that sees a revitalised Wayne Rooney and a pressured-to-deliver Álvaro Morata lead the respective lines. Conte will be without the suspended Gary Cahill but has cover to slide back from last week’s midfield role in the shape of David Luiz. Tiemmoué Bakayoko is a class act and this will be shown as the season progresses, while the Morata supporting roles will probably be handed to Willian and Fabregas.
Koeman’s biggest challenge right now is getting his full squad fit with eight currently on the treatment table including important new signings Davy Klaasen and Sandro Ramirez. This is exacerbated by the absence through suspension of their key midfielder, Morgan Schneiderlin, but the inclusion of Gylfi Sigurdsson – don’t be surprised if he tries a pot shot from distance – adds a new layer to their attacks. Pickford will be the busier of the two sides and Thursday’s Europa League travels along with the missing personnel will see the visitors come up just a little short.
West Bromwich Albion vs Stoke City (Draw)
Two wins from two will mean West Brom welcome an expected mid table rival to the Hawthorns in positive mood looking to keep the all-important momentum going. They’ll miss Jonny Evans from their backline but may find some time for the newly acquired Scottish international, Oliver Burke, who showed in the Bundesliga that he has plenty to offer a side willing to use him in the right capacity. Their six points have seen them edge both games by a goal to nil and Tony Pulis will be delighted to do the ‘keep it tight and nick one’ trick once again.
Stoke, fresh from beating Arsenal in the last league encounter will fancy their chances of getting something out of this game. Mark Hughes has build a solid looking side with Jack Butland (one of the finest goalkeepers in the league), Shawcross commanding at the back and the Fletcher-Allen experience axis in the centre of the park. Add to that the unknown quantity of Jesé to the talented Shaqiri in support of their new six-foot plus striker, Eric Choupo-Moting, and there is potential to push higher up the middle table order this season.
Liverpool vs Arsenal (Draw)
There is rarely a lack of excitement when these two meet with three or more goals scored in seven of the last eight meetings (17 in their last three league encounters). Jürgen Klopp has failed to bring in some of his key targets this summer but one early piece of business, in the form of Mohamed Salah, has ensured that Liverpool maintain a lethal attacking threat, alongside Mané and Firmino, despite the current absence of Philippe Coutinho and Adam Lallana. The full back positions for the home side could have a big say in proceedings with young Trent Alexander-Arnold (if he recovers from a knock) and new signing Andrew Roberston expected to take over from where Clyne (injured) and Milner (repositioned) spent most of last season.
Arsene Wenger may throw star man Alexis Sánchez into this game and we can all see how determined he is to lead a successful Arsenal side as his contract dwindles out. And in spite of the defeat to Stoke last week, in the Chilean, Mesut Özil and new striker Alexandre Lacazette, it is a front three that can punish any defence on their day. At the other ends returns Laurent Koscielny who will need to manage the defensive structure to guard against The Reds’ blistering pace and deceptive movement on the break. There is enough in both teams to win this but that is most likely to cancel each other out. Do not put your money, though, on a nil-nil draw.
Tottenham Hotspur vs Burnley (Home win)
Ahead of welcoming the likes of Real Madrid and Borussia Dortmund to Wembley, Spurs can get more practice on their temporary turf with the visit of Sean Dyche’s Burnley. Mauricio Pochettino will test the Burnley line hard and often with his potent attack of Dele Alli and Christian Eriksen behind Harry Kane and the biggest surprise of the day will be if the backline holds out. A likely back three in front of the usually reliable Hugo Lloris may feature, for some of the game, new signing from Ajax, Davinson Sanchez.
Dyche may keep a settled starting side for this tough encounter but the approach will surely change from that which gained nothing from the West Brom game at home. With Jonathan Walters a doubt, the visitors should revert their 4-4-2 to a 4-5-1, with Sam Vokes awaiting the few chances that come his way knowing he’ll have to make the most of them. The rest of the side will tuck in and hope to make something of what they did so well at times last season by soaking up the pressure and hitting on the break. Unfortunately for them, they’re away from home and playing a team that can definitely push again for the title.