Everton v Liverpool
Here we have it… the first of the two fixtures every football fan on Merseyside have pencilled in their dairies. One of the biggest derbies in the Premier League, which has mustered up some special memories over the years.
But in more recent times, it’s the red side that have had fonder memories, losing only once in the previous five over their neighbours. Doing the double last season which included an emphatic 4-1 win for Liverpool in this fixture, something The Red’s would be keen to repeat.
Looking ahead to the game on Saturday, Everton are once again struggling to find any kind of form under Frank Lampard with his side sat in 17th just outside the relegation zone – only by goals scored. The uncertainty over the future of Anthony Gordon hasn’t helped Lampard and the rest of the squad with match preparations but the 21-year-old has netted both of Everton’s goals in their recent back-to-back 1-1 draws and Gordon has managed to find himself in the referee’s notebook for the 3rd consecutive game – which could be a concern going into a feisty Merseyside derby (potentially).
As for Liverpool, a shaky start to the season where they collected 2 points from a possible 9 in the opening 3 games, seem to have been forgotten about after their last two results has seen the Reds net 11 goals and claim 6 out of 6 possible points.
Darwin Nunez will be available for selection once again after serving his 3-match ban for his sending off against Crystal Palace but the recent form of Roberto Firmino who has been restored in that False 9 position has seen the Brazilian contribute to 6 Liverpool goals (3 goals, 3 assists), so it may not be as straightforward for the £85m Uruguayan to get straight back into the team. Someone who will be in the team is Mohammed Salah – the Egyptian King has endured a frustrating start to the season. Failing to contribute to any of Liverpool’s 9-0 goals in their recent victory over Bournemouth left many fans in shock, with the winger usually being so prolific in front of goal. Everyone knows what Salah is capable of, no one more so than Everton… Salah has scored 4 times with 1 assist in 7 Premier League games against their rivals – a tally he will be keen to add to come Saturday afternoon.
I believe this fixture has come at a good time for Liverpool as they are just beginning to rediscover that sensational league form that they have shown in recent years and Everton are clearly lacking that killer instinct in front of goal. I fancy Liverpool to take all 3 points back across town to Anfield on Saturday.
Newcastle United v Crystal Palace
A single point separates these two sides going into this one, with both teams left frustrated midweek after failing to secure three points from winning positions against Liverpool and Brentford respectively. I believe the manner in which Newcastle lost the game at Anfield is what will leave a sour taste in the Geordie’s mouths after conceding in the 98th minute of the game – although a small positive to take from the game is new club record signing finding the scoresheet in the 38th minute and giving a good account of himself against a tough Liverpool defence.
This means The Magpies are winless since the opening day of the season, something manager Eddie Howe will want to rectify sooner rather than later. As for Palace, no clean sheets at all this season but they have only failed to score in one of the 5 Premier League games this season (2-0 loss vs Arsenal in GW1). In recent meetings between these two it has been very tight with both sides claiming two wins and a draw in the previous 5 clashes with the highest winning margin being by only two goals in Newcastle’s victory at Selhurst Park back in November 2020.
Wilfred Zaha gave an honest account of his side’s 1-1 draw to Brentford on Tuesday night, saying his side ‘became too defensive’ once they took the lead after 59 minutes. The Ivory Coast international has scored 4 of Crystal Palace’s 7 goals so far this season – they will need their main man to continue this form, if they are to get anything out of this game on Saturday afternoon.
Tottenham Hotspur v Fulham
An all London clash between Tottenham and Fulham awaits us this Saturday afternoon, as the away side make the trip back to North London for the second week in a row! The home form of Spurs in recent months is second to none, having won 8 of their last 9 matches in the Premier League. I’m backing this excellent run to continue. As I’ve done all season, I fancy Harry Kane to put in another big performance. His xG remains at a 0.7 rate per 90 minutes and this clearly outlines his great chances of hitting the back of the net once more. I’ve mentioned multiple times in previews in recent weeks about the depth in the squad in regards to Tottenham. This is bound to play into their hands in this fixture with the ability to change personnel with minimal effects on the output of the team. In comparison to the away side, who seem to have their settled XI with minimal depth.
Fulham have failed to win any of their last 7 away matches in the league. Although, there have been many positive signs in their recent performances. The reliance on Alexsandar Mitrovic in their forward line may be a slight worry, with other players not in goal scoring form for the Cottagers. I believe the Serbian to be a vital player and if he goes off the boil, which is entirely possible, they may face problems moving forward.
Although I feel this will be tighter than most pundits are predicting, I’m confident Spurs will get the job done. The recent formbook cannot be sniffed at for the home side and I’m taking them to win this match in what may be a narrow victory.
Brentford v Leeds United
Two of this season’s early surprises face off on Saturday afternoon with both Brentford and Leeds only tasting defeat once this season in the opening 5 games, many people had these two sides as early relegation battle contenders but both sides have shown glimpses of why they deserve to be in the Premier League. This is only the 3rd fixture in Premier League history between these two sides with Leeds unbeaten in the two previous games last season winning 2-1 in this fixture back in May to help secure their Premier League status for this season and drawing 2-2 in the reverse fixture in December 2021.
With both sides averaging over 1.5 goals per game this season so far, I wouldn’t be surprised if we saw both teams scoring in this game for the 3rd consecutive time. It’s a very tough one to call this one as it could easily go either way. Both teams have had impressive results against a top six side already this season, Brentford with an empathic 4-0 victory over Manchester United in GW2 and Leeds 3-0 victory over Chelsea at Elland Road in GW3 – since then, neither side have managed to build on their impressive performances with Brentford only picking up 2 out of a possible 9 points with Leeds adding just a single point to their tally from a possible 6.
Rodrigo will be a huge miss for Leeds United in this one with striker going off with what looks to be a dislocated shoulder in a very strange coming together with England goalkeeper Jordan Pickford in their 1-1 draw with Everton on Tuesday night. The Spanish striker currently 3rd in the top goal scorer list with 4 goals and 1 assist has been Leeds biggest threat in front of goal this season.
As for Brentford they’ve picked up 4 points in their 2 homes so far this season and managed to keep 5 clean sheets in their previous 7 Premier League games and losing just once in those games – this fixture last season.
It’s very tough to call this one as it could go either way, the inconsistency of leads and Brentford’s ability to create 2.8 chances on average this season makes me sway towards the home side but both sides have scored a combined 18 goals this season so both teams to score in this one is a real stand out for me.
Aston Villa v Manchester City
Manchester City arrive into this fixture in absolutely scintillating form, having now won four of their opening five fixtures. Erling Haaland has hit back to back hat tricks and looks in unstoppable form in this moment of time. He’s on track to score 30+ goals at a canter, which is no easy feat in the Premier League! His team have now notched 19 goals in 5 games, at an average of nearly 4 goals a game. There’s an absolute plethora of talent in this City squad and I feel they currently have the ability to completely tear any team apart with the firepower at their disposal. This is exactly what I’m predicting in this game, a strong away performance.
Hosts, Aston Villa, find themselves in a tricky spot and under fire boss Steven Gerrard is in desperate need of points. There’s every chance he may face the sack if losing heavily here and is currently a 7/2 second favourite to be the next PL boss to go. Anyhow, the Villains currently sit in 19th position in the table and have lost four of their opening five matches. Things are looking extremely bleak and I see the Citizens putting them to the sword in convincing fashion.
Here are a few match stats to give you some sort of perspective on why there’s such a big chance of landing this pick. City have scored at least 2 goals in 14 consecutive matches in the Premier League and have repeated this feat in their last 9 H2H’s with Aston Villa. As well as winning the last 9 games in a row in all competitions versus Villa. These quite staggering match facts are why I see the away side winning without having to get out of first gear.
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