Tottenham v Chelsea, White Hart Lane, Sun 29, 12:00
It’s a cracking London derby in prospect that will really test Chelsea’s metal and whether they really do mean business in their bid to surge back up the table.
People have been saying Chelsea have turned the sinking ship around having mustered successive victories against Norwich and Maccabi Tel Aviv. Yet neither of those clubs, with the utmost respect, should stand a chance against Chelsea’s superstars. Tel Aviv in particular are seen as the whipping boys of the Champions League. Tottenham will pose a much greater threat to the Champions but they should still be optimistic about their chances. Willian’s rise since the start of the season has been excellent. He is the only Chelsea player who has improved on his form of last season, becoming a set-piece genius at the Bridge. Eden Hazard playing in the ‘number ten’ position could also be pivotal in revitalising his scintillating form of last season.
Spurs meanwhile should feel equally, if not more confident, than their opponents. Boasting a goal-scoring Harry Kane and in-form Chrisitan Eriksen, Tottenham are capable of beating any team. Add the fact that in Hugo Lloris, they have a world class goalkeeper that can pull off even the most unbelievable of stops, when his trusty defence is breached. As I wrote before the season began, if anyone was to break into the top four, it would be Spurs because although they added minimally in the summer, they already had a squad that adhered to the manager’s way of thinking.
It’s a tough one to call that’s for sure! The hosts are unbeaten since the opening day defeat at Old Trafford and Chelsea are showing positive glimmers. Man for man, Chelsea should be far too strong for Tottenham but Mauricio Pochettino’s men have the momentum and the home advantage. This could be a game of few goals but Chelsea can’t just suddenly turn it on and win every game, especially against this calibre of opponent. Narrow home victory here is foreseeable.
Aston Villa v Watford, Villa Park, Sat 28, 15:00
This is a massive game for Remi Garde and Villa. The new manager enjoyed a decent start with a draw at home to Manchester City but those memories were dashed following their 4-0 pasting at the hands of Everton. Watford have adapted relatively well to life in the top flight but feelings will be raw following their late defeat to Manchester United. Score-draw in this bottom of the table scrap.
Bournemouth v Everton, Dean Court, Sat 28, 15:00
Eddie Howe has had a tough time of it lately. The season began so promisingly for the Cherries but injuries to Callum Wilson, Max Gradel, Tommy Elphick and others have derailed their campaign but they still try and play to their passing principles. They should have beaten Swansea last week and they’ll be hoping for better fortune going forward however, Everton are a solid team. Draw.
Crystal Palace v Newcastle, Selhurst Park, Sat 28, 15:00
Alan Pardew has done an excellent job since his arrival in London. He’s built a squad composed of muscle, flair and technical ability. What he wouldn’t have expected though was a defeat against relegation threatened Sunderland. Newcastle were dreadful against Leicester last week and even if they do up their game, I can’t see Palace falling to a second straight loss. Home win surely here.
Manchester City v Southampton, Etihad Stadium, Sat 28, 15:00
They’re still many people’s favourites for the title but Manchester City have still occasionally flattered to deceive at times. The way they began the season it looked like they could smash the 100 point mark but Spurs, West Ham and Liverpool have found chinks in their armour. Southampton are a tough challenge but they should overcome them with Sergio Aguero available up top.
Sunderland v Stoke, Stadium of Light, Sat 28, 15:00
It was a fabulous result for Sunderland to edge out Crystal Palace way from home in a display of tremendous character. Sunderland’s one downfall is their lack of goals but if they do find the net, the way Sam Allardyce sets them up means teams will struggle to break them down. Stoke are in solid form with Jack Butland encapsulating that form at the moment. Another draw at the bottom.
What an incredible journey Leicester are having at the moment. Claudio Ranieri has taken the end of season form from Nigel Pearson’s reign and expanded upon that. Jamie Vardy is smashing in the goals left, right and centre while Riyad Mahrez and company provide excellent back up. Their amazing run will come to an end…but I fancy they can keep the form against a fragile United team.
West Ham v West Brom, Boleyn Ground, Sun 29, 14:05
The fairytale opening to the season for the Hammers has now died down a bit. Wins over Arsenal, Manchester City, Chelsea and Liverpool had their fans in dreamland but reality has kicked in following the 4-1 thrashing at Tottenham last weekend. As a rule, they struggle against the smaller teams and West Brom will travel there and make themselves counted, so a point a piece for me.
Liverpool v Swansea, Anfield, Sun 29, 16:15
The Reds were sensational against City at the Etihad. They played with intensity, energy and flair against the Sky Blues, much like their performance at Stamford Bridge last month. Yet it’s against the lesser teams where Liverpool might faulter with a draw and a loss to Southampton and Palace respectively. Swansea though are sliding down the table and should suffer a loss here too no doubt.
Norwich v Arsenal, Carrow Rd, Sun 29, 16:15
Arsenal have been claiming to be serious title contenders this season but it has taken only a few injuries to decimate their squad. A 2-1 slump away to West Brom bore the consequences of Arsene Wenger’s lack of options last week. Norwich are putting up a good fight to say in the division but should be edged out by the Gunners.
Team of the week
GK: Hugo Lloris (Tottenham)
RB: Nathaniel Clyne (Liverpool)
CB: Nicholas Otamendi (Manchester City)
CB: Chris Smalling (Manchester United)
LB: Patrick Van Aanholt (Sunderland)
CDM: Eric Dier (Tottenham)
RM: Manuel Lanzini (West Ham)
CAM: Eden Hazard (Chelsea)
LM: Roberto Firmino (Liverpool)
ST: Jamie Vardy (Leicester)
ST: Romelu Lukaku (Everton)