The Premier League returns after a week in which England qualified for the World Cup, Northern Ireland made the play-offs, but Scotland and Wales suffered heartache in their final games.
Chelsea, Manchester City and Tottenham all have very winnable games on Saturday, but one game stands head and shoulders above the rest as Liverpool take on arch rivals Manchester United at Anfield.
Liverpool v Man United (Sat): Second-placed Manchester United face their first proper test of the season as they take their unbeaten record to Liverpool, one of only five clubs not to lose at home this season.
These sides drew home and away in the 2016-7 campaign, but even though United had won the four previous encounters the bookmakers have Jurgen Klopp’s men as slight favourites to win this one.
Marouane Fellaini has joined Paul Pogba on the treatment table, but Liverpool have injury concerns of their own as Sadio Mane has been ruled out for six weeks with a hamstring injury. Jurgen Klopp will be praying Brazil duo Philippe Coutinho and Roberto Firmino come through their World Cup qualifier with Chile unscathed.
The Merseysiders are top of the shots per game table both overall and at home. Incredibly they have an average of 25 shots per game at Anfield, but we don’t expect them to hit those heights on Saturday.
Liverpool and United have scored in all three of their respective home and away matches this season and although we don’t expect a goal fest (the last three games have produced just three goals), we would not put you off a 1-1 draw.
— Chelsea FC (@ChelseaFC) October 9, 2017
Crystal Palace v Chelsea (Sat): Seven games in and Palace have yet to pick up a point or score a goal as they prepare to host champions Chelsea, who are one of three teams with a perfect away record this season. The Blues have won this fixture in the last three seasons and the previous two games without conceding. We expect that run to continue.
— Manchester City (@ManCity) October 9, 2017
Manchester City v Stoke (Sat): Premier League leaders City would have had a perfect 21 points from seven games if they hadn’t drawn their first home match of the season against Everton, but that result is a distant memory as Pep Guadiola’s men sweep aside all before them. City have won their last four games without conceding, scoring 17 goals in the process and they face a Stoke side that are doing pretty well considering their tough start to the campaign. The Potters drew 0-0 at the Etihad last season, but Pep’s troops are looking irresistible at the moment.
Tottenham v Bournemouth (Sat): The temptation is to lazily stick this down as a home win, but Spurs have yet to win at Wembley in the Premier League this season, drawing two of their three games. Only a perfect four wins on the road has ensured Spurs are sitting pretty in third place.
— Tottenham Hotspur (@SpursOfficial) October 9, 2017
Tottenham have won this fixture 4-0 and 3-0 in the last two seasons but that was when they were at White Hart Lane. However, the Cherries have lost all three away games this season and we think that poor run may continue.
Watford v Arsenal (Sat): The Hornets have yet to win at home this season, but then again the Gunners have not won on the road either. However, two of Arsenal’s visits were at Chelsea and Liverpool so they can be forgiven for not winning away from the Emirates. In 26 meetings between the sides in all competitions there has been just one draw and the Gunners also have a good record at Vicarage Road, winning all four games in the Premiership/Premier League era.
The rest of the games
🔟 years apart, but 3⃣ memorable games against @htafcdotcom…
— Swansea City AFC (@SwansOfficial) October 10, 2017
Swansea v Huddersfield (Sat): Swansea are in the bottom three, having lost all three of their home games and scoring the second fewest number of goals behind Crystal Palace. However, in the absence of striker Steve Mounie, the Terriers have scored just one goal in their last five games. A goalless draw looks on the cards.
Burnley v West Ham (Sat): A quick look at the fixtures at the start of the season and most people would have had Burnley propping up the table, but an incredible run away from home against the Premier League’s big hitters means they are in sixth spot. Goals have been at a premium at Turf Moor this season, with just two goals in front of their home fans, while the Hammers have yet to win away from home. The Hammers are going for a fifth successive Premier League win against Burnley, but we think they’ll struggle in a low-scoring match.
— BHAFC ⚽️ (@OfficialBHAFC) October 5, 2017
Brighton v Everton (Sun): Brighton’s home record is keeping their head above water and they could not be facing Everton at a better time. The Toffees have had a tough start to the season, playing top-six clubs away from home in their first three matches from which they have taken just one point. Ronald Koeman’s men look toothless in attack as they showed against Burnley and only Swansea have a worse record in shots per game away from home.
Southampton v Newcastle (Sun): Despite Southampton scoring just five goals this season, they are sixth in the shots per game table which provides an insight into where their problems lie. The Saints have lost their last two home games and they face a Newcastle side whose three away games have all finished 1-0 one way or another. Southampton have won this fixture by at least two goals in the last four meetings since 2012, but we think this one may be a lot closer.
Leicester v West Brom (Mon): Leicester have won just one of their seven games and are only outside the relegation zone on goal difference. However, they are having no problems scoring, it’s just the defence that needs sorting out, so they will be encouraged by their goalless draw at Bournemouth last time out. The Baggies won their first two games of the season, but haven’t picked up three points since, but they have a very good record at Leicester where they have won twice and drawn once in their last three visits.
We hope our preview helps settle a few issues for you this week folks, so head to the blue bar and make those prediktions!