Southampton v Chelsea
Chelsea travel down to the south coast to face Southampton for this first batch of midweek fixtures this season. They’ll be looking to build up momentum after a battling win against Leicester at the weekend, having played out the majority of the game with 10 men. Conor Gallagher was sent off after only 28 minutes by referee Paul Tierney in that one, and will now serve a one match ban. Kalidou Koulibaly is set to return from suspension himself and will strengthen the Chelsea backline considerably.
So, the last time Southampton were victorious in this particular fixture at St Marys was back in 2013, nearly a decade ago now. Chelsea will be keen to extend this record and will no doubt expect to take all 3 points here. The Saints have lost 6 of their last 8 games at home in the Premier League and have struggled to put any kind of run together in the recent months. Raheem Sterling is now off the mark, netting a brace at the weekend. I believe the confidence will now be oozing and I expect the goals to flow moving forward, especially with the World Cup on the horizon. Another player to note so far has been Marc Cucurella, his attacking output down the left hand side has been invaluable and has picked up a couple of assists in the process.
A couple of standout performers for the hosts at weekend were Armel Bella-Kotchap and the usual James Ward-Prowse. Both were given the 2nd and 3rd highest ratings by Opta for individual performances. However, up against top class players all over the field for Chelsea, I can see the Saints being overpowered. One key area will be down either flank, with the visitors set to play wing backs once more, this will be an area they’ll be hoping to get in behind from.
I feel with Southampton you just always know what you will get from them, nothing special! If Chelsea can perform anywhere near their best then I see nothing but an away win.
Arsenal v Aston Villa
Once again, Arteta’s Arsenal picked up maximum points against Fulham on Saturday evening ensuring they are, once again, top of the table going into this fixture. We are really starting to see what this Arsenal side are made of this season after conceding the first goal for the first time this season but still having that killer instinct to come back and win the game 2-1. Gabriel made up for his earlier error that led to Mitrovic’s opener by netting Arsenal’s second in the 85th minute to ensure all the points remained at the Emirates. Arsenal dominated the game throughout as they have in all their games so far this season, having 72% possession and 22 attempts on goal really shows the dominance this Arsenal side are showing in the early stages of this season.
One thing that will please Mikel Arteta is the range of goal scorers – meaning that the pressure isn’t always on Arsenal’s No. 9 Gabriel Jesus to provide the goals. 6 different scorers have found the net already this season (2 of which are Saliba and Gabriel). Although Aaron Ramsdale will have been left frustrated not to record his 3rd clean sheet of the season.
As for Aston Villa, more pressure has built on manager Steven Gerrard after another lacklustre performance at home against a West Ham side who hadn’t scored this season before Sunday afternoon and although Pablo Fornals goal took a wicked deflection completely fooling Martinez in goal, what will worry Villa fans the most is the inability to create chances at the other end. Boos rang out at full time after losing their 3rd game already this season leaving the West Midland’s side sat in 15th on 3 points.
This form doesn’t bode well going into Wednesday evening against a side that is yet to taste defeat in the Premier League. Arsenal are averaging 2.75 goals per game which is an average that is more than likely to continue beyond Wednesday with Aston Villa yet to keep a clean sheet this season. Villa fans will fondly remember the 2020/2021 season where they managed to do the double over Arsenal that year but in more recent times it has been the London side that has claimed all 3 points – which is something I can only see continuing on Wednesday night.
Bournemouth v Wolves
There’s been some huge breaking news in relation to the hierarchy at Bournemouth and that is that we’ve seen manager Scott Parker part company with the club as of Tuesday morning. Gary O’Neil will take charge of this game with further updates set to come in due course. Interestingly, Parker was a 14/1 shot to take Gold in the Sack Race! I don’t feel this announcement will have too much of a bearing on the Wolves match as it comes only a day beforehand. Preparations will be fully underway already and this may eek some improvement out of the Cherries, depending on the reaction of the players.
Regardless of the above, under 2.5 goals is a real stand out selection of mine in this Bournemouth v Wolves game. At first glance, I ear marked this one as a low scoring game. Having delved further into the data, it certainly confirmed my thinking. To begin, the Cherries have only managed a bare 21 shots in their opening 4 matches and have failed to score in their last 3. These worryingly low numbers are why I see Bournemouth struggling for goals. Not just on Wednesday night but for the coming months. Liverpool tore them to pieces at the weekend and they’ll be looking to respond, especially from a defensive standpoint.
They welcome a Wolves side to the Vitality stadium that aren’t too clever in front of goal themselves. A battling one all draw earnt the Wanderers a point against Newcastle, as well as a much needed goal! It had been 302 minutes since they had previously hit the back of the net! Under 2.5 goals has returned a winner in the last 3 games Wolves have played in the league.
The away side come into this having not won any of their opening fixtures. Something they’ll have half an eye on here, but more importantly they won’t want to lose. They’ve failed to win in 11 consecutive games on the road which leads me to believe this one may be a turgid affair. I feel one goal either way could nick this, with the distinct possibility of a 0-0 or 1-1 result.
There’s no real stand out prolific scorers for either side which is more ammunition for the unders. Raul Jiminez was Wolves’ top scorer last season with just six goals. The last time Bournemouth were in the Premier League, Callum Wilson hit 8 goals but has since moved on to Newcastle. Wolves averaged exactly one goal per game in the 21/22 season, and nothing much has changed so far under Bruno Lage to suggest this will improve. They’ve only scored 2+ goals in a match on one occasion in their last 11 in the PL, a disappointing return.
This is the strongest fancy of mine in Gameweek 5, here’s hoping for a snooze fest down on the south coast.
Manchester City v Nottingham Forest
This is only the 7th meeting in existence between these two sides with this fixture ending in a 1-1 draw back in December 1995. It’s safe to say a lot has changed for both of these clubs since then. I struggle to see a tougher fixture for the newly promoted outfit this season as they travel to Etihad Stadium on the back of a 2-0 loss to Tottenham on Sunday – a frustrating afternoon for Forest which saw 6 of their players finding their way into the referees notebook. Forest, who had 56% of possession against Spurs also managed to create 17 attempts on goal – but only 1 testing Hugo Lloris. This is something Steve Cooper will be desperate to improve on if they are to stay in the division.
As for the Premier League champions, they made hard work of their 4-2 victory over Crystal Palace on Saturday, finding themselves 2-0 down inside the opening 21 minutes – something that hasn’t happened since 2010. It was a very much improved display in the second half, scoring all 4 of their goals after the 52nd minute mark. Erling Haaland is already living up to his £54m price tag, scoring 3 of the 4 goals for Manchester City putting him at the top of the goal scorers list with 6 goals and 1 assist already.
Nottingham Forest have only managed one clean sheet so far which came in their only victory in a 1-0 win over West Ham. While conceding 5 in the other 3 games this season, it could have been worse if it wasn’t for Dean Henderson’s two penalty saves – the first of which in the 65th minute against West Ham to preserve their 1-0 score line. It’s a worrying sign for Forest with their goalkeeper being voted their man of the match in 3 out of the 4 games so far this season. Although, they will need him at his best to stop Manchester City running riot on Wednesday night.
I believe it is only a matter of time before Manchester City find the back of the net in this one, I can see plenty of goals – but only for the home side.
West Ham v Tottenham
Tottenham Hotspur travel across London on Wednesday coming up against a West Ham side who finally found themselves on the scoresheet for the first time this season in a 1-0 win over Aston Villa, albeit a heavily deflected effort from Pablo Fornals but David Moyes and his players won’t mind that as it lifted The Hammers up to 16th after sitting rock bottom going into Game Week 4. West Ham will be eager to build on this victory and try to put together a run of results to help them get back to the form they showed throughout last season. Conceding 5 in their opening 3 games is a worry for West Ham, especially coming up against a Tottenham side who have found the net 9 times in the opening 4 games with Harry Kane starting to find his regular goal scoring form once again. The England captain scored both of their goals in Sunday’s 2-0 victory over newly promoted Nottingham Forest, taking Kane’s total to 4 goals already this season.
Back-to-back clean sheets for Spurs will please manager Antonio Conte going into this fixture as this is something West Ham have failed to do in the league since this fixture last season in October 2021 – West ham were 1-0 winners on that day.
In recent meetings West Ham have found some joy when coming up against Tottenham taking 7 points from a possible 15 in the previous 5 encounters. Again, only managing to keep 1 clean sheet in those games. It’s usually a tough game for both sides as they have both managed to find the net in 3 of the 5 previous meetings and with West Ham desperate to build on their first win of the season and Tottenham looking to maintain their unbeaten start, this may well be the same story once again at the London Stadium. The only worry I have for West Ham has been their chances created as this is currently at 0 with Tottenham averaging 1.75 per game making me sway to an away win in this one.
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