Nottingham Forest v Liverpool
After back-to-back 1-0 victories at Anfield for Liverpool, the Reds will hit the road looking to make it three wins on the bounce for the first time this season, as they visit Nottingham Forest who sit rock bottom of the Premier League.
It’s the first Premier League meeting between these two since 1999 and only the 11th meeting since the PL began. Forest have found the net 7 times this season conceding 23 in those 11 games. It’s been a very tough start for Forest back in the topflight, but Steve Cooper needs to start getting results if they are going to continue in the Premier League beyond this season. The manager has been backed heavily in the transfer market and with a new contract, so with only 1 win all season and only 2 points from their last 8 games – there’s a lot of work to be done.
Liverpool are yet to win on the road this season, picking up 2 points from their 4 away trips. In those 4 games The Reds have created enough clear-cut chances to average a 2.18 xG away from home and Forest currently conceding on average 2.09 goals per game – it could be a long afternoon for the home side.
After a slow start, Liverpool look to be picking up previous seasons form and new signing Darwin Nunez will be looking to add to his 3 goals from 3 starts if he is passed fit after being taken off vs West Ham as a precaution. The Uruguayan has stolen the title of fastest player in the PL from Kyle Walker after the Liverpool forward completed a 38 km/h sprint in the win over West Ham on Wednesday.
I expect goals in this one but more so for the away side, 0.64 goals per game for Forest doesn’t look promising coming up against a side who have kept 4 clean sheets this season (with 2 of those in the last 2 games).
Manchester City v Brighton
After a somewhat shock defeat at Anfield last Sunday, Manchester City will look to get back to winning ways after suffering their first loss of the season. Now 4 points off Arsenal, 3 points in this one is crucial to keep the pressure on the gunners.
This could prove to be a tricky fixture for City with Brighton putting in top performances against the top sides so far this season after playing 3 of the top 6 so far picking up 4 points in those games. Brighton seem to have dropped off a little since the start of the season 4W, 1D, 1L were their opening 6 games of the season but since the departure of Graham Potter to Chelsea, they have failed to win a game (2D, 2L).
It was a routine win in this fixture last season for City winning 3-0 on the day. Pep Guardiola will want something similar come Saturday afternoon, with Erling Haaland chomping at the bit to get back on the scoresheet after failing to find the back of the net for only the 2nd Premier League game in last weekend’s defeat.
Manchester City are the highest scorers in the Premier League with 33 goals to their name so Brighton will have to be in top form to cause any kind of upset in this one. The Seagulls, currently sat in 8th have conceded 11 goals in 10 games averaging 1.1 per game. City currently boast the highest xG ratio at home with 2.65 and I expect this to increase after Saturday’s fixtures.
Chelsea v Manchester United
A mouth-watering top 6 clash with only one point separating these two. Chelsea come into this game as the most informed team (based on the last 5 games). Unbeaten and collected 13 from a possible 5 points in those games but this will certainly be Graham Potter’s biggest test since taking over at The Bridge. The Englishman will take great pride in only seeing his side concede one goal in the Premier League since he took over, keeping 3 clean sheets in his last 3 games.
As for Manchester United, a great win midweek vs Tottenham Hotspur was overshadowed by the disruption caused by star man Cristiano Ronaldo. The Portuguese international was seen leaving the stadium before the full-time whistle was blown at Old Trafford, causing Erik Ten Haag an unwanted headache before this fixture.
United have kept two clean sheets on the bounce and collect 10 points in their last 5 games. Manchester United’s defensive capabilities have been under scrutiny all season and you can see why! Scored 15 but also conceding the same number of goals with 8 of them coming in the last 5 games. This is a worry coming up against a Chelsea side who were on a run of 4 straight wins before a somewhat disappointing 0-0 draw away to Brentford in midweek.
Recent meetings have shown us that this fixture doesn’t showcase many goals, in fact there has been under 2.5 goals in the last 5 games that has involved these two teams. 4 of those ending in a draw, with Manchester United the last ones to take all three points in this fixture back in February 2020.
It will be a close encounter this one, with neither team wanting to lose and lose any grip on those top 4 places so I expect the trend to continue with the lack of goals in this one.
Southampton v Arsenal
Southampton host Arsenal at St Marys on Sunday afternoon, as the games just keep on coming in the Premier League. The Saints finally stopped the rot midweek, after no wins in five, they battled to a 1-0 victory away to Bournemouth. Che Adams was on the scoresheet, scoring a well guided header into the corner of the net. However, now up against the league’s most in form team, I feel they’ll have their hands full in this encounter. Arsenal have now won eight games on the bounce in all competitions and they secured a 1-0 win against PSV Eindhoven in their rearranged Europa League game on Thursday night. This was another dominant performance and they could well have won by more goals if proving to be more clinical. The rejuvenated Granit Xhaka was in dazzling form as he notched the winning goal.
There’s no slowing down the Gunners at the moment and they sit 1st in the Premier League. They are currently averaging 2.4 goals per game and are full of confidence, no doubt expecting three more points here. The front four players of Bukayo Saka, Martin Odegaard, Gabriel Jesus and Gabriel Martinelli have been a joy to watch this season. Between the four they have 27 goal contributions in total (16G + 11A) and these impressive numbers could well increase here. Although Saka did pick up a slight knock midweek, he’s expected to feature against the Saints. As mentioned, the eight consecutive wins displays to us just how brilliant they’ve been playing, with this set to become nine, come Sunday 4pm!
A clean sheet has been achieved in four of the last five games too, with Gabriel and Saliba in fine form at the back. There’s every chance this may happen again and if so you have to expect Arsenal to score, in turn this would give us a winning bet.
The home side have been in poor form of late, with four losses, a draw and a win in their previous six games. This has to improve over the coming weeks or I can see the Saints flirting with relegation, as well as the potential dismissal of Hassenhutl. All will be revealed in due course, but the signs are not positive at all right now. Che Adams has been one of the bright sparks this season; he’s managed three goals in total and can be a handful for any defence. The ever present James Ward-Prowse has been quiet in recent weeks but as we all know he can set a game alight, especially with his top class set piece skills.
Having watched a lot of Arsenal over the course of the season, I see no reason why they can’t continue their fine run of results on the south coast. Therefore, I’m taking a win for the away side as my selection.
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