Hands up if that was possibly the dullest international break ever? There were only four ties in Europe that actually meant anything, a couple in the Southern Hemisphere and probably one or two elsewhere. But no, no matter how hard you try, you are not allowed to get excited by England drawing 0-0 twice with Germany and Brazil. As for the rest of the Home Nations (and Ireland), well they’ve had better breaks as well.
Bring back the circus I say, and they certainly have.
Arsenal vs Tottenham Hotspur
Arsene Wenger loves an international break. It’s about the only time he gets any peace and quiet now. He’s had a full two weeks to plot, scheme and come up with a tactical masterplan for the early kick off tomorrow. So much work will have gone into this, Arsene has barely stepped out of his office. So, fast forward and picture his face as it becomes clear at about the 20 minute mark that the Arsenal squad have not listened to a single word he has said and the fans start to politely enquire as to why Wenger hasn’t started all three of Sanchez, Lacazette and Ozil. Personally, I can come up with several reasons as he should not start Ozil but the lack of big match starts for Lacazette is baffling. Anyway, Harry Kane will be fit, will score and will win. Done.
Arsenal 0 – 3 Tottenham Hotspur
AFC Bournemouth vs Huddersfield Town
Without sounding too daft, this is a game both teams really need to win. No doubt if you popped into the office of both Eddie Howe and David Wagner you would see this fixture firmly circles on the calendar in the colour that indicates “possible three points”. Huddersfield have done precisely naff all away from home since beating Crystal Palace on the opening day, and history has now shown us that game wasn’t that big a shock, Bournemouth could be anything on the day – from excellent to absolutely dreadful and are completely capable of losing games like this. I wonder if Jermain Defoe’s time is coming to an end? He’s no Peter Crouch this season, that’s for sure.
AFC Bournemouth 1 – 1 Huddersfield Town
Burnley vs Swansea City
Sean Dyche for England! Sean Dyche for England! Sean Dyche for any Premier League job going! The Ginger Mourinho is the finest manager in the league. There, I’ve said it. What a job he is doing at Turf Moor. Why on earth West Ham didn’t pay whatever it needed to take him south, I do not know. Paul Clement is surviving at Swansea City, just and they need to do more around getting the ball to Tammy Abraham who has done very well with the incredibly limited supply he has been fed on this season. It’s going to be a tough road trip for the Swans though, and I can see them going home very disappointed (and not just because they are returning to Swansea).
Burnley 2 – 0 Swansea City
Crystal Palace vs Everton
A win for Everton surely gets Unsworth the job until the end of the season, no? I am assuming he has already talked to the prison guv’nor about cutting down on his shifts so he can do the job of being a Premier League manager. Everton looked dead and buried in their last game and came back superbly, but has the international break killed that momentum? Probably not, they are playing Crystal Palace – even if Palace do have the greatest English footballer ever to represent his country. Sorry, I mean Ruben Loftus-Cheek. Shall we all calm down about him now? I’ll be impressed if he can carry an average Palace team to safety. That gets him in my World Cup squad. Just get the ball to Zaha RLC, he’ll do the rest. This will be a nervous draw.
Crystal Palace 1 – 1 Everton
Leicester City vs Manchester City
I hope you enjoyed you honeymoon period Monseiur Puel, because it is about to end my friend. Leicester have looked alright under Claude so far, but can you really see Manchester City slipping up here? Gabby Jesus might have been kept quiet at Wembley, Sergio Aguero might have fainted when he realised Argentina had thrown away a two goal lead over Nigeria but City will run riot at the King Power Stadium – also, get used to knowing the stadium by that name I reckon. £327m is a lot of cash not to tell a Thai government about.
Leicester City 1 – 4 Manchester City
Liverpool vs Southampton
Ah, the annual invite for their B team to come and play at their big, shiny stadium. I like how Liverpool look after the little teams. Who will Jurgen Klopp have his eye on for a January move, I wonder? Virgil of course, but nobody else at Southampton looks anywhere near good enough to be playing higher level football come the transfer window. Sadio Mane, Mohamed Salah, Roberto Firminio, Philippe Coutinho and even Daniel Sturridge will be licking their lips at the prospect of running riot against the Saints. Therefore, a shock is on the cards.
Liverpool 0 – 1 Southampton
West Bromwich Albion vs Chelsea
Two managers soon to be leaving their clubs? Tony Pulis is under pressure right now as WBA are in a dire run of form and, to be honest, it’s only worth putting up with Pulisball when it is winning games. Antonio Conte might find the call of duty to the Azzurri too great to resist following the rebuild that needs to happen there. Either that or he will fancy a bit of the AC Milan dollar before the season is out. Both teams need a win for different reasons, and I can see Chelsea heaping more hell upon the WBA faithful. It will end a very bad two weeks for Jonny Evans, that’s for sure.
West Bromwich Albion 0 – 3 Chelsea
Manchester United vs Newcastle United
If you believe today’s papers, United aren’t in the slightest bit worred about Jose leaving this summer. Mourinho has been peak Mourinho, openly flirting with another club (PSG) in the hope of (a) getting a bumper new contract from his current bosses and/or (b) a nice big transfer warchest for January. If I were United, I’d be more bothered about losing Fellaini on a free in the summer. Where on earth will you find such a relaible plan B? United need Paul Pogba back, and who would have thought we would have been saying that this time last year? Newcastle United will dream of a win, plan for a draw and leave with a loss.
Manchester United 2 – 0 Newcastle United
Watford vs West Ham
The manager who everybody seems to want vs the manager that nobody wants (apart from the West Ham United board). David Moyes makes his West Ham debut against a side that could do them a favour, just like they did Everton a favour. An away game first up for Moyes is a bonus, because if by some good fortune they get some kind of result then the reception at the Athletics Stadium won’t be as bad as it would have been. However on the flip side, if West Ham lose….
Watford 2 – 1 West Ham United