Tottenham Hotspur v Wolves
Tottenham host Wolves in the Premier League early kick off this Saturday lunchtime. Spurs come into this fixture buoyed after a dramatic last gasp equaliser away to Chelsea on Sunday of last week. A precise finish from Højbjerg and a header from Kane ensured a point was secured in what was a frantic affair. What impressed me most about Tottenham was their ability to soak up pressure and be decisive in critical situations within the game. The depth of talent in the squad is now hugely benefitting them, we saw Richarlison and Perisic enter the fray in the latter stages with the latter providing the assist for the equaliser. Their opponents, Wolves, struggled against newly promoted Fulham, managing only a bore draw 0-0 and had a mere 7 shots in the entire match. I think it says it all when goalkeeper Jose Sa was awarded MoM in that particular fixture.
Onto this week – Spurs will be looking to continue their strong start to the season and keep up their solid home form. They’ve won 7 of their last 8 games at the Tottenham Hotspur stadium and I’m expecting another win here. Kane, Son and Kulusevski are likely to lead the line once more and up against an inexperienced new look Wolves defence including youngsters Collins and Kilman, they’ll certainly be ready to take advantage. The attacking trio have already been in and amongst the goals, not just scoring but assisting too, so they’ll be hungry once more in this favourable home matchup.
Bruno Lage has now adopted a 4-4-2 system after the departing Conor Coady moved on to Everton this transfer window. With the new formation in place and set to stay, I’m not convinced at all things will work out in the long run with the current personnel at their disposal. There is now a real sense that there is a lack of leadership within the team which can only add pressure following a poor start. I feel it’s going to take time to adapt and as we all know there is no time in the Premier League for this. On top of this, Raul Jiminez remains sidelined and with no out and out striker available, new signing Goncalo Guedes could be given the nod to start. The lack of goals is the major issue for Wolves all in all and last season proved this, scoring just 38 all season, an average of exactly 1 goal per game. Losing 4 of the last 5 away from Molineux also displays their poor form and Tottenham are bound to capitalise on this with the quality they possess.
Fulham v Brentford
Fulham have had an encouraging introduction to their season having picked up points in both of their opening two fixtures. They were unfortunate not to take all 3 off Wolves last weekend, after Alexsandar Mitrović had his penalty saved late on by José Sá, with the game ending 0-0. In contrary, Brentford hammered Manchester United in an emphatic 4-0 victory; all four goals came in the first half courtesy of Da Silva, Jensen, Mee and Mbuemo. The Bees were again extremely decisive in front of goal, having also scored twice in their first fixture against Leicester.
The Cottagers will be hoping to continue their positive start here, and will be relying on their main striker Mitrovic doing the business in front of goal. Despite missing the penalty last week as mentioned, the Serbian has had 7 shots in the first 2 matches, of course scoring that all important brace against title challengers Liverpool. Six of his last seven goals have come at the Cottage where he has been most prolific in recent times. So, in terms of goals, and goal scoring opportunities, he has certainly been on the money since week one. I’m anticipating he will have major opportunities to score once again this weekend.
Brentford have been in goal scoring form themselves, netting in 7 of their last 8 matches away in the Premier League. This impressive run is very likely to continue, with players such as Toney, Mbuemo and Da Silva all contributing so far this season. They’ve hit 4 goals between them and no doubt will be in the hunt for more here, in a fixture that they’ll be targeting not just score, but take all three points from. On the other hand, they have conceded a staggering 17 times in a row away from home. This worrying statistic is one of the main reasons I’m expecting both teams to score. The home side will no doubt have done their homework on Brentford, and will expect to score at least one goal, knowing how poor the Bees have been on the road.
This is a tricky fixture to predict in terms of the match result, hence my pick and strong fancy of BTTS!
Leicester v Southampton
Both teams arrive into this fixture having only picked up a point each in the opening two game weeks. Southampton battled back to earn a draw having found themselves 2-0 behind, early in the second half to Leeds last weekend. The Saint showed great resilience, as well as the ability to score goals when in a difficult situation chasing the game. On the other hand, Leicester were on the end of a 4-2 thumping against Arsenal. This did at least indicate to us that they can score multiple goals with some of the individual quality that they possess. It was a difficult fixture for the Foxes and to come away with a two goal haul at the Emirates still deserves some plaudits.
What we have noticed, is the high number of goals scored in both of these side’s matches so far. A combined total of 19 goals over the 4 games, averaging at 4.75 per game and over 2.5 goals landing in all of these too. If we then delve further into the statistics we can really look to bolster the selection for this one. The H2H meetings last season ended 4-1 and 2-2. In 7 out of Leicester’s last 8 matches in the Premier League there has been over 2.5 goals and in 13 of 18 at the King Power Stadium. Southampton have managed just 5 clean sheets in their previous 39 games, and have conceded 2+ goals in 21 of their last 25. In addition to this, 12 of their last 15 away games have seen over 2.5 goals return a winner as well.
With all the above in the mind, I find it hard to envisage anything other than goals, goals, goals! Both defensive lines have looked suspect in recent times, leading me to believe they can be exposed throughout the 90. Stand out players for either side are play maker James Maddison and the ever reliable James Ward-Prowse. Maddison already has a goal and an assist to his name, with Ward-Prowse scoring one goal so far. With this star quality on show, I can easily see them unlocking the door at either end of the pitch, whether it is a goal or an assist that they can provide.
In what I can only see as a game that will be open from start to finish, I’m fully expecting this to be an end-to-end match, featuring numerous goals. So I’m backing Over 2.5 goals as my selection in this one!
Bournemouth v Arsenal
Bournemouth had a somewhat surprising start to the season winning 2-0 at home to Aston Villa, Scott Parker was on cloud nine going into GW2 but quickly brought back down to earth with a 4-0 humbling by the Premier League champions Manchester City. As for Arsenal, there are early shouts of the Gunners challenging Manchester City for the title this year and the two performances we’ve seen, you can see why. Finding the net 6 times in the first 2 games and after putting 4 past Leicester last week, I struggle to see Bournemouth getting anything from this game.
From an Arsenal perspective, the most impressive thing to come out of last week’s victory was the impact Gabriel Jesus had on the game after being involved in all four of the goals (2G & 2A), he is quickly becoming a very impressive signing by Mikel Arteta.
Bournemouth were impressive in GW1 with a quick start through Jefferson Lerma from a corner and were always a threat from crosses and set pieces – which is how they found their second through the head of Kieffer Moore, Bournemouth looked comfortable defensively with a positive display from goalkeeper Mark Travers, against a quick and skilful Villa attack. In GW2 this was quite the opposite – although playing a much tougher and talented team in Manchester City, the champions controlled the game as expected having 67% of the ball and limiting Bournemouth to a single shot on goal. Arsenal will look to emulate this and start the game quickly as they did against Leicester – having 7 shots on target in the first half, finding the net twice.
I’m sure Scott Parker and his Bournemouth side will have learnt a lot from last weeks thrashing but I can only see the Gunners walking away with the points on Saturday evening. Bournemouth will look to be to be more compact in midfield and not allow Martin Odegaard to dictate the game as much as Kevin De Bruyne did last week. The threat of Arsenal’s front three – Martinelli, Jesus and Saka will all want to be amongst the goals again this weekend and with Arsenal unbeaten in their last 5 meetings against Bournemouth, it will be a huge surprise if they don’t find the net this weekend.
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