2016/17 Premier League Preview – Match Day 2

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Well. What an exciting weekend we all had with the Premier League being back. Yes people complain about the re-branding(or unbranding) of the premier league, the new logo, the new match ball even the new MOTM award, which admittedly looks like an aftershave box, we’re all happy it’s back. As the Premier League season’s curtains were drawn back, it reiterates the fact that the entertaining league in the world is back, and boy did it come back with a bang. From comical own goals to dazzling debut strikes, the opening weekend had it all.

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Well as you can tell, I didn’t have the best time predicting the scores for last week getting all my score lines wrong however get a few results correct and Diego Costa saved me complete embarrassment by securing the 2-1 win I predicted.. Here’s hoping I do better this time around.

Manchester United vs Southampton

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Manchester United began their title charge against the spirited Bournemouth and came out victorious with a 3-1 win at Dean Court. Manchester United opened the scoring via Juan Mata after a defensive mistake near half time, an unlikely first scorer for the Jose Mourinho’s Man United era. The second half saw Man United grow and take control in the game and ascended to a 3 goal lead after Wayne Rooney headed the ball home before being followed by a debut goal by Swede Zlatan Ibrahimovic. The deficit was cut after a goal from Adam Smith but was in vain as Man United collected the 3 points.

As for Southampton they clawed back to draw 1-1 with Watford at home after being a goal down from a goal from former Spurs man Capoue in the opening 10 minutes and it was end to end for the rest of the first half but in the 2nd half Southampton started to pile on the pressure and eventually they equalised by a debut strike from Nathan Redmond as the ball fell to him following a corner just before half time. Southampton had a hatful of chances as did Watford but after Shane Long was sent through he was bundled down in the 76th minute by Ben Watson, which earned the former Wigan man his marching orders. The game ended 1-1 but Southampton were left to rue their chances, seemingly looking to miss the fire power of Pelle and Mane.

As for Friday’s game, I think Mourinho’s men will be looking to push forward and build the momentum created by the Community Shield win and against Bournemouth in addition to the introduction of Paul Pogba to happen, I think Man United will take this one.

Score prediction – 2-0

Stoke City vs Manchester City

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Stoke City secured a 9th place finish for the 3rd successive season last year and have moved on from the rugby style stigma from years before, they still fell below many people’s expectations as they have recruited well acquiring the likes of Bojan, Afellay and Shaqiri from Europe’s elite, the latter scoring their equalising goal against Middlesborough. Negredo had opened the scoring with a debut header for the Premier League new boys. The match was end to end but Boro conceded a free kick and were left to rue that mistake as fresh from scoring a wonder goal in France in the Euros, Swiss sensation Xherdan Shaqiri slotted in a powerful free kick to level the scores.

Pep Guardiola’s first game in charge of the Cityzens ended in a victory, albeit a very unconvincing and a lucky ridden one. The same started well as City were awarded a penalty after Dutch fullback Parick Van Aanholt hacked down Raheem Sterling in the opening 5 minutes, and who else but the main man Sergio Aguero to open the account for the Pep era? This quickly saw the sky blues climb well into the ascendancy and relay countless pressure onto Moyes’ boys, and City were made to pay for not capitalizing on their chances as Jermain Defoe leveled the scoring with just over 15 minutes to go and David Moyes looks like he had secured his first point as Sunderland boss until the 87th minute, when new recruit from former club Man United Paddy McNair came on as a sub and comically put the ball past his own keeper and won Man City the game, as much as Delph tries to claim the goal.

In terms of the game, I think Man City will have learnt more of Pep’s tactics and philosophy within the last week and I expect them to have too much in the locker for Stoke City.

Score prediction – 1-3

Tottenham vs Crystal Palace

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Tottenham Hotspur began their season with heavy hearts and shattered dreams and their capitulation in the last month of the season where they took 2 points from 4 games, epitomised in their game against Chelsea were they needed to win to keep up the title challenge but squandered a 2 goal lead to hand Leicester the title. This year Pochettino spoke about how he felt, saying he wanted to kill all his players and even himself. They started this season however with a 1-1 draw away to Everton after finding themselves a goal down after Barkley’s indirect free kick lopped over everyone and wrong footed Lloris in the 5th minute. Spurs were under the cosh in the first half but were resolute in their defending and went into the break 1-0 down. A tactical change of bringing on new signing Vincent Janssen worked a treat as he made the run that allowed Erik Lamela to head the ball right into the corner of the Everton goal and though they were chances for both Spurs and Everton to nick the same, it ended as 1-1.

As for Crystal Palace, they are in an extreme rut right now and have been for quite a while, 9 months to be exact. Crystal Palace won only 2 Premier League games in 2016 last season, and started the 2016/17 season with a loss at home against Tony Pulis’ West Brom as they were defeated 0-1. The game was bereft of any sort of quality or chances as a home but the first noticeable chances fell to Palace, as Zaha was put through but his touch let him down as the keeper collected the ball easily. The game was quite drab and needed something or someone to provide a spark and that was done in the 74th minute when James McClean whipped a pacey ball into the front post from a freekick and Salomon Rondon headed the ball behind him into the opposite corner. The game ended 1-0 and just highlighted Palace’s desperate need for a quality centre forward.

I think Tottenham will personally find this the perfect game to bounce back and mount their title challenge and Crystal Palace have little to stop them, especially with just having lost star winger Yannick Bolasie to Everton and having a £25m bid rejected for Liverpool’s Christian Benteke.

Score prediction – 3-0

Watford vs Chelsea

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Watford began their second season back in the Premier League and the start of the Walter Mazzarri with a draw away to Southampton and signs looked good for the Italian as he saw his side open the scoring through Watford’s dynamic midfielder Eienne Capoue after a rebound fell his way which he rocketed paster Forster. Watford did apply pressure to the Saints as well as keep it very compact at the back and went into the break with a slender but deserved lead. A moment of lapsed concentration from a corner allowed Southampton to level the score but things were getting nervy for the hornets, and things weren’t made easier by the sending off of substitute Ben Watson 11 minutes after coming on but were able to hold out for the draw.

Chelsea’s campaign started with a win over London rivals West Ham as they won 2-1 courtesy of goals from Eden Hazard and Diego Costa, despite a late showing from the Hammers. New signing N’Golo Kante was immense in the middle of the park and the blues were unable to make anything of their dominance and possession as it was 0-0 at half time. Pretty much as soon as the 2nd half kicked off Chelsea were rewarded for their dominance as they were awarded a penalty which Eden Hazard duely smashed home to score the first goal of the Antonio Conte era. West Ham soon grew into the game and Wales international James Collins slotted home a silky finish to level it with 13 minutes to go. Diego Costa had other plans though as he put away a chance created by new striker Michy Batshuayi in the 89th minute to win the game and cue the passion mad show from Antonio Conte.

I think Chelsea will push on from the West Ham game and win this game, but not without a stubborn test in Watford.

Score Prediction – 0-2

West Brom vs Everton

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West Brom started the season with a win away to Crystal Palace and that will do the club and the West Brom fans a token of confidence as they’ve endured a hard summer when it comes to transfer, only bringing QPR wide man Matty Phillps for £5.5m. The game itself was bereft of any sort of quality or chances as a whole but Palace started the more promising as Zaha was played though but his touch took him way too close to the keeper to have a shot. As tradition, Pulis’ team were defending deep as withstood the pressure brought on by Pardew’s men but the momentum quickly changed when  James McClean whipped a pacey ball into the front post from a free kick and Salomon Rondon headed the ball behind him into the opposite corner.

Ronald Koeman’s Everton were held to a 1-1 draw at home to Tottenham due to a failure of being able to take their chances and poor decision-making in general in the final third. Although played well without star man Romelu Lukaku through injury and having lost John Stones to Manchester City. Ross Barkley opened the scoring for the Toffees and kept piling on the pressure to Spurs in the first half, but Spurs did not buckle and Lamela leveled the scores in the 2nd half. Everton have done well in the transfer window however, bringing in the likes of Ashley Williams and Yannick Bolasie from Swansea and Crystal Palace respectively.

I think this game will be end to end but ultimately end in a score draw between the teams.

Score Prediction – 1-1

Swansea City vs Hull City

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Swansea City began their season with an underwhelming performance but a good win against newly promoted Burnley, who could potentially be Swansea’s relegation battlers come near the end of the season. Swansea has lost 2 of their best players to rivals teams in Andre Awew and club captain Ashley Williams and this deals a huge blow to their first team and potentially their Premier League club status and they did struggle last season, although started and ended strongly. They beat Burnley 1-0 in the last 10 minutes after new signing Fernando Llorente had a header rebounded and pounced upon by fellow new signing Leroy Fer, who signed permanently for the club after a successful loan spell last year.

Hull City performed probably the 2nd best miracle in 2016 after Leicester winning the league by beating the champions Leicester City in the opening game of the Premier League season. Hull City were and probably still are stone dead favourites to be relegated due to losing Steve Bruce, the new owners being ushered in, their inactivity in the transfer market as well as the fact they only had 13 fit professional players to start the Premier League. This didn’t translate in the match though as even though they had a centre back partnership of captain Curtis Davis and former Tottenham central midfielder Jake Livermore, the spirits were high and they took the lead on the death of half time, though a spectacular double overhead kick from both Abel Hernandez and Adama Diomande, although it was the latter who the goal was created to. The 2nd half started horribly for Hull, as they conceded a penalty which PFA player of the year Riyad Mahrez slotted home. Leicester soon began to dominate the ball but just before the hour mark, Robert Snodgrass resorted Hull City’s lead, giving the club one of their most famous wins in their history.

As for the game however, I think Swansea just simply have more quality than Hull and will easily win.

Score prediction – 2-0

Burnley vs Liverpool

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When it comes to Burnley, the team that played against Swansea was in essence a carbon copy of the team we saw 2 years ago in the Premier League, instead of the main man being Englishman Danny Ings who’s moved on to Liverpool, it is now  Englishman Andre Gray who’s 23 goals in the championship last year propelled Burnley back to the top flight. Now the team being the same isn’t particularly a good thing, as these are majority of the players who got relegated and against Swansea it showed. Lack of creative flair and finishing touch alluded them, strange considering their play last year. Their lack of being able to create and score chances cost them, as they lost to Swansea 1-0 in the dying embers and seriously need to dip into the market if they want to avoid becoming a yo-yo club.

Liverpool endured a mixed day at the office when it came to their opening day, as although they did beat their potential top 4 and title challengers Arsenal away from home by scoring 4 goals, did also concede 3, despite being 4-1 up at a point of them. Liverpool were actually trailed due to a Theo Walcott placed finish but Coutinho scored an amazing free kick on the stroke of half time to level the scores and this is when the floodgates opened for Klopp’s men, as further goals from Lallana, Coutinho with a 2nd and Mane with a delightful debut strike and they were cruising at 4-1. They did concede 2 goals and left it very nervy for themselves near the end but did claim the important 3 points.

I think this will be a comfortable win for Liverpool, but their defence is still weak, especially with Moreno and Kalvan being inexperienced in England, and that coupled with the pace and penetration of Andre Gray, could lead to a loss of a clean sheet for Klopp.

Score Prediction – 1-3

Leicester City vs Arsenal

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The fixture sees last year’s top two go against each other although you wouldn’t be able to tell that if you were to judge them on their performances last week. Leicester City buckled against Manchester United in the Community Shield despite being in the game for large parts of the game and people expecting Leicester to come racing out the blocks against Hull City, including myself. However they found themselves 1-0 to Hull and it was a strange spectacle, as they were not playing the expansive counter attacking football that won the league, they were just happy just to keep possession and had no penetration about their play. They got a goal back in the form of a converted spot kick from Riyad Mahrez but lost the game 2-1 as Snodgrass placed home a winner for the away side. It seems the loss of N’Golo Kante has hugely impacted Leicester and casts serious doubts for the game against Arsenal as their season.

Oh Arsenal. A 3rd opening day defeat in a row for Arsene Wenger’s team and I quite frankly am getting sick of them. I’ve been writing the exact same thing for Arsenal on this blog for over 3 years and they just don’t help themselves do they. Arsenal succumbed to a 3-4 home defeat to Liverpool and although had a spirited fight back, did find themselves 4-1 down at a point. Arsenal were without a fair few players due to different reasons such as Per Mertasacker and Gabriel out due to injury but the exclusion of Laurent Koscielny, Mesut Ozil and Olvier Giroud from the match day squad is a very strange one indeed. Fair enough these players got to the latter stages of the Euros but so did players like Sagna, Martial, Kante, Payet etc yet all these players started for their clubs par Payet, who came on and influenced the game. As a result they played Rob Holding and Callum Chambers at CB, and were made to pay as they let in 4 goals. This will be a long hard season if they fail to acquire targets such as Mustafi and Laccazette.

As for the game I think it will be a draw as Arsenal are unlikely to get any more bodies in time for the game and the likelihood of their Euros trio playing are slim. Leicester however will be boosted by the fact that German defender Robert Huth will be back from suspension which was carried over from the previous season.

Score prediction – 1-1

 

Sunderland vs Middlesborough

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Sunderland began the David Moyes with a disappointing 2-1 loss to Manchester City but it was not a game where the Black Cats were terrible, they were still in the game when they were 1-0 down and Defoe equalised late on in the game but were treated with terrible misfortune when debutant Paddy McNair had the ball ricochet off him and into his own near with less than 3 minutes to go. The loan deal of Adnan Januzaj could do himself and Sunderland a heap of wonders, as they will get someone who is direct and can somewhat put some pressure of the immense off Defoe that has been placed on him at his time at Sunderland. David Moyes has a mighty task on his hands at Wear side.

Middlesbrough started life back in the top flight with a 1-1 draw against Stoke City and signs looked good for Boro as they took an early lead via a debut headed goal from Spain international Alvaro Negredo, their former Man City striker and loanee from Valencia. The game was end to end and could do nothing about Stoke’s leveling goal, a sublime free kick from Shaqiri brought the game to 1-1 and the game ended that way. The business Boro have done should be enough for this season to keep them up.

I think Sunderland may buckle under the pressure of hosting the newly promoted team and will lose in a tight affair between the two.

Score prediction – 0-1

West Ham vs Bournemouth

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The final game of the 2nd round of Premier League fixtures sees two losers from last week compete it out to get their first points on the board for the new season. West Ham lost 2-1 away to Chelsea as Deigo Costa scored a last gasp winner to snatch away the points for Bilic’s side. West Ham started on the back foot and were dominated in possession in the first half, this continued into the second half as they gave away a penalty which Hazard scored in the 47th minute, but centre back James Collins scored to make it 1-1 before Costs put the Hammers to the sword and won it in the 89th minute. There was also an early injury to debutant Andre Ayew, who had to be withdrawn for former Chelsea player Gokhan Tore.

Bournmouth started their season with a disappointing 1-3 lost at home to Jose Mourinho’s Man United and although did play well, lacked the cutting edge to really pressure and punish Manchester United. Bournemouth played the better in the first half, but a horrible defensive error and unlucky bounce allowed Juan Mata to pounce and make it 0-1 on the cusp of half time. This cued Man Utd to apply more pressure as they scored in quick succession in the 2nd half to make it 3-0 however Smith scored a beauty to pull one back for the home side.

As for the game, I think West Ham will win as for one the quality of their squad is better than Bournemouth’s and Bournemouth’s lack of finishing touch will cost them again against the Hammers.

Score prediction – 2-1

My full Premier League table prediction.

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