So we are back. In fact, we were back last night where a Friday night kick-off put paid to any chance to Tales Top Tips being a nicely coordinated, all encompassing Saturday morning read for you. So yeah, and we all saw that coming, didn’t we? Arsenal showing a wee bit of mettle and Giroud scoring from the bench? I presume neither side bothered with defending set-pieces!
I should probably be totally honest and tell you never, ever place any money based on anything you read in this new Saturday morning column. A fool his parted from his money easily and all that, an ever bigger fool places money on anything I have to say. With that out of the way, let’s have a look at the weekend Premier League fixtures.
Watford vs Liverpool
Saturday’s lunchtime kick off could have been slightly more interesting, if truth be known. Watford have gone striker shopping in the last few days and will be hoping that Marco Silva is as promising as his performance, if not the eventual relegation, at Hull suggested. Though why any manager wishing to have a long and stable Premier League career would head to Vicarage Road is anyone’s guess. Liverpool are expected to take to the field chanting “we are not a selling club, we are not a selling club” before probably winning this match. Will Coutinho go? Meh, maybe, probably. Will Liverpool spend that money on a decent replacement? Absolutely not. If Mane and Salah get going in this game, Liverpool will get the kind of win that will have the fans claiming “it’s their year” and Watford fans wondering if “it’s their year” for entirely different reasons.
Watford 1 – 3 Liverpool
Crystal Palace vs Huddersfield Town
That warms the summer cockles, that fixture. A match between two sides that still sound very much like Championship clubs and are managed by an ex-Netherlands star and Jurgen Klopp’s mate. How times have changed. Crystal Palace have not been slow to back de Boer in the transfer market – remind me, which one is their manager again? Whether he can get Palace playing “like Ajax” is an entirely different matter. As for Huddersfield, this is already the kind of match they will need to get something from if they want to stay up. They have a set style, a clear plan whereas Palace probably don’t yet so could be, arguably, there for the taking. Get used to these six-pointers Mr. Wagner, they will come thick and fast.
Crystal Palace 1 – 1 Huddersfield Town
Chelsea vs Burnley
Burnley have traded in Andre Gray for Jon Walters, whereas Chelsea have their best striker in Diego Costa dicking about in Brazil while Alvaro Morata struggles to learn the English for “let Thibaut take the next one”. I like Sean Dyche, and not just for his sexy voice, but he will be pulling a rabbit out of a hat if he thinks this Burnley side can stay up. He needs to replace Gray and fast and could do worse than heading back down to Kenilworth Road and gambling on the lad that replaced Andre Gray at Luton Town, Issac Vassell. This is the kind of match you could almost imagine Jose Mourinho willing them to draw under his management, so he could sulk and demand big money signings. You can’t imagine Antonio Conte sulking over a lack of transfer activity, can you?
Chelsea 2 – 0 Burnley
Everton vs Stoke City
Surely this is the easiest one to predict of the lot? Everton, spending money that Liverpool fans can only dream of, versus Stoke City who have the manager, believed to be most likely to get the chop first this season. But Everton have looked decidedly ropey in their preseason/Europa League matches and Ronald Koeman is already fielding questions about whether Wayne Rooney will be in the team. Jesus guys, at least give Rooney five matches to look crap before you demand he is dropped! There is a lot of excitement at Goodison Park, which is nice for them, but with people saying this could be the season that Stoke go down we need a match that goes completely against the obvious and I think this might be it.
Everton 1 -2 Stoke City
Southampton vs Swansea City
No matter how the match ends up, I am sure both Virgil van Dijk and Gylfi Sigurdsson will be glued to Soccer Saturday to keep track of the score. Southampton have a new manager yet again, and the fans are hoping that the matches might be a little more entertaining this season. They may well be, but the results might not be as good but hell, you get what you wish for. So far the Saints have managed to keep more players than normal over the summer window, so they will be feeling confident. As for Swansea, Paul Clement has had a full preseason to get his ideas across which, if you ask Derby County fans, may not be a good thing.
Southampton 1 – 0 Swansea City
West Bromwich Albion vs AFC Bournemouth
Pulisball vs Howetoplaynicelyball. Tony Pulis won’t care that he is at home, as he works out a cunning plan to negate the threat of Jermain Defoe. There has to a be a stinker of a game on the first day, otherwise, how do they decide who goes last on Match of the Day? I accept, the 0-0 I am predicting relies on Bournemouth keeping a clean sheet away from home, but for WBA to score they will need to attack if only to win a set-piece.
West Bromwich Albion 0 – 0 AFC Bournemouth
Brighton & Hove Albion vs Manchester City
Yikes. That fixture computer could have been a little bit nicer to the Premier League debutants. Manchester City tend to start a season like a house on fire, and it won’t be any different down at the Amex. Pep’s biggest challenge will be fitting all the new signings into the side. Actually, he is biggest challenge might be to fight the temptation to play 6 number 10 types. Either way, Brighton have not got a hope in this one as City could put six, maybe seven past them. Hell, City will even keep a clean sheet.
Brighton & Hove Albion 0 – 6 Manchester City
Newcastle United vs Tottenham Hotspur
Both managers come into this game somewhat bemused at the lack of transfer activity at the club. Rafa Benitez, feeling bomb proof, took to talking about it on TV with Alan Shearer. Mauricio Pochettino assured everyone that Tottenham will buy someone soon, only to then read an interview with Danny Rose that probably made the training ground somewhat tense yesterday morning as players shouted “Google” to him every time he got the ball. But, simply, with no real transfers made on each side Tottenham should win this at a canter, providing they forget their last trip to St James’ Park. Spurs to win after Harry Kane scores from the spot – Dele Alli won it of course.
Newcastle United 1 – 2 Tottenham Hotspur
Manchester United vs West Ham United
The final game of the weekend sees two clubs who appear to have very little in the way of transfer strategy other than pulling names out of their respective hats and throwing their version of money at it. £75m appears to have got United a striker with less of a footballing brain and first touch than Andy Cole, whereas £16m for Javier Hernandez suddenly looks half decent in comparison. Joe Hart will be keen to make a good first impression back in the Premier League but we all know Jose Mourinho will grind out a win from this one with Fellaini proving crucial to his master plan once more.
Manchester United 2 – 0 West Ham United