Eric Toth & TJ Lovenduski
Bournemouth v. Spurs
Bournemouth are in fine form under Eddie Howe, with the latest of their matches ending 6-1 in their favor. Spurs are no Hull City, but without Alderweireld, Bournemouth could hurt them. Tottenham are coming off of a draw against Bayer Leverkusen in the Champions’ League, in which Hugo Lloris’ heroics saved them a point. It is likely that Heung-Min Son will get the start again with a midweek cup clash against Liverpool on the horizon, a game in which I expect to see Spurs’ youngsters get a chance. Son has been dangerous in the Premier League and was named the PL Player of the Month for September, becoming the first Asian player to do so. Spurs surely go into this game as favorites, but don’t rule out a Bournemouth upset.
Matchup to Watch: Alderweireld’s Replacement v. Bournemouth’s Attack
The loss to injury of Toby Alderweireld is as big a blow to Spurs’ defense as the loss of Kane is to their attack. Alderweireld has been immense since joining the North London side, he commands the back line, scores timely goals and makes few mistakes. Tottenham will surely miss his presence when facing Bournemouth’s attack. It seems likely that Eric Dier will drop back into defense to deputize for the missing Belgian. Dier can certainly do a job at CB, but the young Englishman has mistakes in him. He’ll have to be on top of his game if he is to keep Bournemouth out after their 6-1 routing against Hull last week.
Eric: Bournemouth 1-3 Spurs
After two consecutive draws for Spurs, they’ll be looking to get back to winning. Despite missing two key players, the Lilywhites should see off the Cherries convincingly.
TJ: Bournemouth 0-2 Spurs
I think Spurs will get back on the right track, winning easily against Bournemouth.
Burnley v. Everton
Everton held on to a 1-1 draw against Manchester City last weekend through two huge penalty saves from Maarten Stekelenberg. The Dutch ‘keeper stood on his head to keep the Citizens out and preserve a draw for Everton. He won’t face players of the quality of City’s team, but he may be called upon to come up big if Everton defend as they did against City. Burnley recently lost 3-1 to Southampton and will also need to be more solid defensively if they want to get anything from this match.
Matchup to Watch: Ronald Koeman v. Sean Dyche
No offense to Burnley, but they don’t have the most talented squad. Sean Dyche will have to organize his side to defend against the attack of Everton. This means it’s going to be a battle of the opposing managers. Dyche is capable of setting up his team to defend well and counter, as displayed in their match v. Arsenal. Koeman will have to find a way to breakdown this Burnley team to give his side a chance at all three points.
Eric: Burnley 0-1 Everton
This one will very much be Burnley sitting back while Everton try to break them down. I think Everton will eventually find a way through and win this one.
TJ: Burnley 0-2 Everton
Burnley struggled defensively last week and I think Everton has too many weapons. Burnley will break down.
Hull City v. Stoke City
Hull suffered an embarrassing defeat at the hands of Bournemouth last weekend at the Vitality Stadium by a final score of 6-1. The Tigers were picked apart by a decent Bournemouth attack. If Hull expect to get anything out of this game, they’re going to have to be much more resolute defensively against an even more talented (on paper, at least) Stoke team. Stoke finally won their first match of the season after an abysmal start. Joe Allen led the Potters to a 2-0 victory over fellow relegation candidate, Sunderland, with 2 goals. Stoke may have found an XI that works for them, but it will be put to the test against a scrappy Hull team this weekend.
Matchup to Watch: Joe Allen v. Hull’s Midfield Trio
Joe Allen has matched his career-high goal record for a single season in just 8 weeks, with 4 goals. Allen has proved to be a good addition to Mark Hughes’ team of misfits and outcasts. Joe Allen, dubbed the ‘Welsh Pirlo’ by some, adds something this Stoke side was missing, a deep-lying creative midfielder who can control the tempo of a game. Hull’s midfield three will have to pressure and hurry Allen consistenly or he has the ability to pick them apart. This responsibility will fall on Mason, Clucas and Livermore’s shoulders.
Eric: Hull 2-1 Stoke
I’m not yet convinced by Stoke. Yes, they finally won, but it was against the only team below them in the table. Hull has enough threats to hurt them and I can see them taking this one at home.
TJ: Hull 1-2 Stoke
I think Stoke will begin to show improvements. They’ll get their second win against Hull.
Swansea v. Watford
With Bob Bradley taking over, the Swansea players will be looking to impress their new manager. The Swans looked decent against Arsenal, but they were unable to get anything out of the match. The American will need to get his players behind him in order to compete with a Watford team that have been scoring for fun this season. Neither team has defended well thus far, so I’m expecting this to be an exciting match for neutrals with a fair few goals.
Matchup to Watch: Bob Bradley v. Time
Bob Bradley hasn’t had much time with his new club. The American was appointed the manager of Swansea two weeks ago. There were a few positives from the teams’ display against Arsenal in his first game in charge, but many of the same issues persisted, as to be expected in the first few matches under a new coach. Bradley will need time to implement his tactics with his new team, but he needs immediate results. It will be interesting to see how the Swans cope with the change against a Watford team who has been impressive this season, despite conceding often.
Eric: Swansea 2-2 Watford
The combination of the “new manager boost” for Swansea and the lack of defensive stability for Watford leads me to believe this one will be a score draw.
TJ: Swansea 1-1 Watford
I agree with Eric about the draw, but see a bit more of a defensive battle.
Arsenal v. Middlesbrough
Middlesbrough visit Arsenal in hopes of pulling an upset over the Gunners. ‘Boro has been slipping down the table and I don’t think a trip to North London will help their efforts to steady the ship. Alvaro Negredo needs to dig up his shooting boots to give his club a fighting chance. Arsenal are always susceptible to an upset, but if they can continue the form their in currently, they should be able to fight off the resilient newly promoted club.
Matchup to Watch: Arsenal v. Well Drilled ‘Boro defense
Middlesbrough finished second in the Championship last season due to their defending. They conceded only 31 goals in 46 matches. Yes, the Premier League is an entirely different level, but ‘Boro still have the ability to organize their defense and keep teams out. They will have to be very well disciplined to keep out this Arsenal side, who is joint top for most goals for this season.
Eric: Arsenal 2-1 Boro
Arsenal are simply the better side, but they’ve struggled of late to really put their opponents away in the Premier League. I think they’ll win this, but not without a scare.
TJ: Arsenal 2-0 Boro
Arsenal will show more defensive discipline keeping a clean sheet against this Boro side.
Leicester City v. Crystal Palace
Both teams are coming off loses this week. Leicester was dominated by Chelsea and has yet to regain the form that won them the title last season. Palace on the other hand is coming off of 1-0 defeat to West Ham. They currently sit eighth in the table and have been one of the bigger surprises this season, but have struggled as of late. I’d expect a hard fought battle between two sides that want to get back on the right foot.
Matchup to Watch: Jamie Vardy and Islam Slimani v. Cystal Palace CB’s
Although they haven’t been in the best form this season, Leicester still has a strike that can score at any moment. Vardy showed an ability to be clinical last season and Slimani has scored 2 goals in 3 appearances this season. Crystal Palace should have Scott Dann back this week. He’s their captain and a key player at the back. Dann and whoever is playing next to him will likely have their hands full Vardy and Slimani. This is the battle to watch.
Eric: Leicester 1-1 Crystal Palace
Neither team has been overly impressive, but I think Palace have enough to hang on for a draw away at Leicester.
TJ: Leicester 2-1 Crystal Palace
I think Leicester regains some confidence and Vardy nets a goal. In the end I think that their attack is too much for Palace to handle.
West Ham v. Sunderland
West Ham eked out a victory of Crystal Palace last week, and it’s possible that it was just the boost they needed. West Ham always has an ability to attack, but their defense has looked shaky. Things seemed to improve last week, keeping a clean sheet. That did take a hit when Aaron Cresswell received two questionable yellows. Regardless, they’ll be without him against Sunderland. Fortunately, Sunderland sits last in the table and have side that truly seems to lack viable attacking threats.
Matchup to Watch: West Ham attackers v. Jordan Pickford
It’s no secret that Sunderland isn’t a particularly good squad. And West Ham has some very dangerous attackers. I expect West Ham to threaten a lot and it will down to keeper Jordan Pickford to keep the ball out of the net. He will definitely have his work cut out for him.
Eric: West Ham 2-1 Sunderland
To be blunt, West Ham are bad. Lucky for them, Sunderland is worse. West Ham will take this one.
TJ: West Ham 2-0 Sunderland
West Ham will go on a winning streak and keep another clean streak. Sunderland just isn’t good enough to compete with even a struggling West Ham side.
Liverpool v. West Bromwich Albion
Liverpool is going to press and West Brom is going to pack in the defense. West Brom will have their work cut out for them to avoid that Liverpool press. They’ll need to work quickly out of the back in an effort to catch Liverpool out. Liverpool on the other hand will need to work hard to break that West Brom back line. They’ll need to be patient and avoid getting frustrated.
Matchup to Watch: Jordan Henderson v. Nacer Chadli
If there’s a player that’s going to hurt Liverpool it’s Nacer Chadli. Chadli has demonstrated his ability as an attacking threat. He has the quality to break through Liverpool’s press. Henderson controls the midfield for Liverpool. It’ll be his responsibility to shield the defense and help contain Chadli.
Eric: Liverpool 1-1 West Brom
If there’s anything Pulis knows how to do, it’s to set his team up defensively. Liverpool will need some incisiveness to cut through the “anti-football” tactics of Pulis’ WBA and I think they’ll be able to nick one at home.
TJ: Liverpool 1-0 West Brom
Liverpool will earn a needed victory to stay up in the table. I expect Mane to score.
Manchester City v. Southampton
Manchester City is coming off a total dismantling by Barcelona in the Champions League. They’ll want to avenge that loss and Southampton stands in the way. Southampton is a strong side, but they’re going to need to hold off the onslaught, and we all know that Pep’s side is going to dominate the ball. It’ll be a test of willpower for the Saints.
Matchup to Watch: City Attack v. Jose Fonte and Virgil van Dijk
As stated, City is going to dominate the ball and their going to be coming at Southampton full force. Fonte and van Dijk are going to be under attack and will need to do their best to keep City from scoring. But even more so, they’ll need to be key players out of the back. They’ll be pressured when they’re on the ball so picking the right passes will be key to relieving some of the pressure.
Eric: City 2-0 Southampton
After a drubbing at the hands of Barcelona, Pep will have his team ready to get back on the right path. They’ll take this one easily.
TJ: City 3-1 Southampton
City is going to score this game. Southampton won’t be able to stop it. But they will be able to net a goal of their own thanks to the play of Dusan Tadic.
Chelsea v. Manchester United
Neither of these sides have performed to expectations this season. They aren’t playing bad, but they aren’t as good as advertised. That being said Chelsea has one of the world’s best players in the Eden Hazard. He definitely has the ability to disappoint United fans across the world. United on the other hand will turn to Ibrahimovic to get them a victory. They’re also still hoping for Pogba to become the player that was the most expensive transfer in history.
Matchup to Watch: Eden Hazard v. Zlatan Ibrahimovic
This game is going to come down to the attacker that can create the most. Hazard vs. Zlatan, two of the world’s best. This has the potential to be one of the most exciting games of the season.
Eric: Chelsea 2-1 United
Neither of these two teams are living up to their expectations, but I think Chelsea can really take this one to United’s defense. I think Hazard will have a big day against United’s RB and lead his team to a victory at the Bridge.
TJ: Chelsea 2-1 United
I have to agree with Eric on this one. United still hasn’t come together completely this season. As a result, I think Chelsea is able to get a hard fought victory.