It’s Week 5 of the Premier League, which is primed for an upset or two.
The only big teams that meet this weekend are Chelsea and Liverpool. The rest of the title contenders play teams expected to be in or around the relegation battle.
The expectation is that these games will turn into attack versus defense.
However, attackers beware. Fortune may favor the bold, but so far this season a litany of attempts don’t equal goals. So perhaps fortune is favoring the desperate.
Game of the Week: Chelsea vs Liverpool
Chelsea was unlucky against Swansea on Sunday last week. A number of refereeing blunders resulted in a cruel 2-2 draw. Chelsea should have won, but Swansea was hungrier in front of goal.
Liverpool, on the other hand, looked like a team possessed against Leicester City. They were dominant in midfield and colossal up front.
With Chelsea at home, they will go out to dictate play, but this will suit Liverpool’s high pressing game. Liverpool will be a constant thorn in Chelsea’s side, but it won’t be enough.
The difference in this game will be Diego Costa, Chelsea’s Bruce Banner. The bully that once angry becomes an unstoppable wrecking ball.
Prediction: Chelsea 2 – 1 Liverpool
Man of the Match prediction: Diego Costa
Hull City vs Arsenal
Hull got a 95th-minute equalizer against Burnley in Week 4 and once again showed passion, determination and hunger.
Arsenal continues to get results but looks to have lost most of what made them a neutral’s favorite in previous seasons.
Arsenal may have won 2-1 last weekend against Southampton, but it took an injury-time penalty to claim 3 points in a game which looked certain to be a draw.
Hull will sit, fight and scare Arsenal with tough tackling and energy but it won’t be enough. Expect a moment of individual skill to unlock a resilient defence to win the game.
Prediction: Hull City 0 – 1 Arsenal
Man of the Match prediction: Alexis Sánchez
Leicester City vs Burnley
Leicester City did amazingly well in the Champions League game against Club Brugge midweek, winning 3-0 in a confident performance. The question is, can they recover in time for the game against Burnley?
This is no ordinary Burnley team. They have prowess for scoring goals from very few chances created.
Leicester isn’t used to the midweek Champions League travel and lack the squad depth to rotate many players while remaining competitive.
Regardless of the midweek fixture, the home side will dominate but will struggle for energy at the start and fade towards the end. This will leave Burnley limited time to pick up a point, but that is what they’re good at. The sucker punch.
Prediction: Leicester City 1 – 1 Burnley
Man of the Match prediction: Riyad Mahrez
Manchester City vs Bournemouth
Everyone has written off Bournemouth before a ball has been kicked at the Etihad, and it is understandable.
It’s hard to imagine Bournemouth getting a clean sheet against Manchester City, but they have nothing to prove and everything to gain.
What people seem to forget is that, except for an opening day loss at Manchester United, Bournemouth have looked compact and well organised in defence.
There is no doubt this will be one sided. Manchester City will dominate, and the game will be defined by what happens in the first 30 minutes. If City score, it will end up a heavy defeat (4-0).
If they don’t, Bournemouth will force an upset.
Prediction: Manchester City 0 – 0 Bournemouth
Man of the Match prediction: Simon Francis
West Bromwich Albion vs West Ham United
Both teams need to bounce back after losing games fans would expect them to win last week.
Neither team is playing well. West Brom look unable to create going forwards and West Ham just look drained.
The difference will be who has a match winner, and sadly for West Brom fans, they have none.
Expect a rejuvenated West Ham this weekend. Also, expect to see further proof that West Brom will be in for a relegation battle this season.
Prediction: West Brom 0 – 2 West Ham
Man of the Match prediction: Michail Antonio
Everton vs Middlesbrough
Everton is too good right now and Middlesbrough won’t be able to compete for the full 90 minutes. They literally bulldozed a Sunderland team until incoherent.
Everton has pace, creativity, discipline and power. They lack nothing and look like a team that will challenge for a Champions League place.
If Middlesbrough couldn’t get a result against Crystal Palace, they have no chance at Goodison Park.
Prediction: Everton 3 – 0 Middlesbrough
Man of the Match prediction: Romelu Lukaku
Watford vs Manchester United
Watford will be confident of getting a positive result after beating West Ham last week. This confidence is all the more likely as Manchester United have lost their last two games.
All the pressure will be on Jose Mourinho and his expensive band of players to show they are title contenders and not just highly paid phonies.
Watford has a lot of strength up front, and this will no doubt be focused on Daley Blind — the shorter and weaker centre back for Man United.
Watford’s overconfidence will be their downfall. They’ll take the game to a flat Man United but will get picked off with counter-attacks.
Prediction: Watford 1 – 3 Manchester United
Man of the Match prediction: Wayne Rooney
Crystal Palace vs Stoke City
It’s a shame for Stoke that Wilfried Zaha and Christian Benteke woke up last week against Middlesbrough. This was the game I thought would kick start their season.
Stoke City will be tighter, stronger and better on the ball that they were against Tottenham. They are also away, so expect them to play deeper with less supporting runs from midfield.
In a tight game, it will be Crystal Palace who will make the most out of split possession and numerous 50-50 tackles. It won’t be enough, however, to change an inevitable bore draw.
Prediction: Crystal Palace 0 – 0 Stoke City
Man of the Match prediction: Ryan Shawcross
Southampton vs Swansea City
Coming out of last week’s games, Swansea City would have taken the most confidence, claiming a fortunate draw against Chelsea.
Southampton finally got a win on Thursday night against Sparta Prague in the Europa League. This 3-0 win may have built some confidence but playing again Sunday won’t exactly be helpful.
Southampton lacks the squad depth to rotate players, and their manager would be unwise to replace anyone because momentum is vital.
Expect an open game with Southampton ruling possession and Swansea counter-attacking. The deciding factor? Swansea, which no longer has Ashley Williams.
Prediction: Southampton 2 – 1 Swansea City
Man of the Match prediction: Dusan Tadic
Tottenham vs Sunderland
Despite Tottenham’s loss to Monaco in their midweek Champions League game, they have been impressive in the Premier League.
Sunderland, on the other hand, has looked limp Their only point this season came against an equally limp Southampton.
Based on past performances it’s impossible to see how Sunderland can get anything from this game unless David Moyes plays ten in defense. So expect that formation on Sunday.
Expect a game that hinges on whether Tottenham can break down Sunderland. It won’t be pretty, as there will be no space near the Sunderland goal.
Prediction: Tottenham 0 – 0 Sunderland
Man of the Match prediction: Lamine Koné