First of all, I'd like to thank Alex Evans for his continual effort in helping me out with the EPL stuff and now would like to welcome Keegan Pulik aboard to help out as well. Keegan's article this week is absolutely brilliant and probably beats what I'd be able to come up with. Alex and Keegan will share the EPL Previews fortnightly. I'll be doing tips of my own and will keep a tally of all three of us and see who is the best tipster in the EPL. Enjoy!
Newysports.Com's EPL Match of the Week:
Before reading this, please note I am a Liverpool fan.
Manchester United started the season with the usual hype and excitement amongst the fans, and with marquee signings of Depay, Schweinsteiger and Schneiderlin they had every right to be excited. After two opening round wins United were looking to have improved on their 4th place finish of last season. After being held to a 0-0 draw against Newcastle and a loss last time out to Swansea despite leading. Whilst Van Gaal will be concerned about the loss, I don’t think the fans should be overly concerned.
If I was a United fan I would be concerned about squad depth, after the sale of Javier Hernandez to Bayer Leverkusen and Robin Van Persie to Fenebache during the transfer window, (as well as the loan deal of Falcao expiring), United have a lack of depth up front, heavily relying on the fitness of England captain Wayne Rooney. Despite signing Anthony Martial from Monaco, for what I personally see a ridiculous amount, he is still very young and is unproven as a main man upfront.
Also defensively a lack of depth would also be a concern to myself if I was a United fan, after being linked to Ramos for a good amount of the European summer what they have to show is slightly disappointing compared to what could have been. One possible highlight of this week for United fans is the possible inclusions of David De Gea back into the goals, after the transfer deal to Madrid fell through there is a good chance Van Gaal may include him this week which may just give them the advantage against Liverpool.
Liverpool have had the same form of United, after an opening day win at Stoke thanks to a Coutinho bomb, and a Benteke goal in his home debut giving Liverpool the advantage over Bournemouth things were looking good for the lads from Anfield. A draw against Arsenal thanks to heroics from Petr Cech was also a very positive result with the defence looking as if they had finally gotten over the woes that they have faced over the last few years.
Well that was until West Ham showed up, once again our defence looked as if they had met 5 minutes before kick off. Defensive errors once again showing to be Liverpool’s greatest weakness, with Lovren quite literally giving West Ham an opportunity to cut the ball back and shoot, which they took with open arms. Also Gomez showed his inexperience, which is less concerning in my opinion because of his overall performances throughout the season. But the biggest concern for Liverpool going up against United is the suspension of Phillipe Coutinho.
The Brazilian magician has been the spark that has given Liverpool fans a reason to smile for majority of 2015 with outstanding performances all year. One positive for us reds fans is that Christian Benteke did overcome an injury scare whilst in Belgian training camp and playing 46 minutes against Cyprus over the weekend, with Liverpool team mate Divock Origi taking his place on the field. If Rodgers is to change things this week, I can see Mamadou Sakho replacing Dejan Lovren in defence, I think most will agree that after conceding 3 to an average West Ham side something will likely change.
Also Jordan Ibe may start in place of suspended Coutinho although I do expect to see an early introduction of Danny Ings whether it is up front or on the wing. If Liverpool are to get anything defence will be vital and making sure they don’t allow Rooney and Juan Mata to work their magic and show their class.
Whilst I want Liverpool to win, I think there will be goals but not a definite winner.
Keegan's Tip: 2-2 Draw
Alex's Tip: 2-1 Liverpool
Ty's Tip: 2-1 Manchester United
Everton started the first two games with a lot of positive signs of what was to come this season, Round 1 with Ross Barkley scoring a screamer and in round 2 putting three past a pretty ordinary Southampton. Although the last two weeks they have been brought down off their perch being handed a 2-0 defeat by Manchester City and being held to a 0-0 draw last time out by Spurs.
Personally, I think the key for Everton going up against Chelsea is starting well, the longer into the game Chelsea have to settle in the harder it will be for Everton.
Chelsea have had a nightmare start to the season gaining only 4 points. With only one win and one draw from their opening four games, positives have been hard to find. The defending champions have struggled with their only win coming in round 3 against West Bromwich Albion, in which new boy Pedro starred on debut, but last time out Chelsea were back to the losing ways despite dominating possession and shooting stats.
For Chelsea it is vital that they control the game, by playing the ball around Chelsea’s big names will create many chances against the Tim Howard goal.
This game is going to be a tight game, Everton’s attack was very fluent the first couple of week but has been tamed the last two rounds, whilst Chelsea’s usually solid ‘park the bus ’ style of defending has been broken down this season having conceded 9 in the first 4 games. Whoever settles quicker into the game will win this.
Keegan's Tip: 1-1 Draw
Alex's Tip: 2-1 Chelsea
Ty's Tip: 3-0 Chelsea
Whilst it is still very early in the season, this is still not a likely top of the table clash that many would have foreseen. Palace, have hit the ground running this season with their only slip up coming against Arsenal in the second round. Last time out Palace knocked off defending champions Chelsea in what was a solid performance. Whilst Chelsea dominated the possession and shooting stats a 81st goal to Joel Ward was enough to seal the victory.
Manchester City, well I cannot say I am overly surprised that they are top of the table. City have been on fire this season having already beaten Chelsea and Everton, along with Watford and West Brom, City have been dominating games all season. This week will more than likely see the debut of Kevin De Bruyne who signed from Wolfsburg, who will just add to the class and strike power City have in the attacking third.
Last time out City beat Watford 2-0 which saw new boy Raheem Sterling score his first goal for his new club with a calmly finished volley as well as a goal to Fernandinho. But it is not only the attacking play that has shone for City, they have yet to concede a goal showing that they are an all round powerhouse to be feared this season.
Whilst Palace have been good so far this season I cannot see them causing too many problems for City who have been on fire. I think City will do this comfortably in the end although I would love to be proven wrong.
Keegan's Tip: 3-1 City
Alex's Tip: 3-1 City
Ty's Tip: 3-0 City
Premier league new boys Watford come up against an inform Swansea this week. Watford after gaining promotion haven’t had the best or the worst start to the season with three draws and a loss to their name. An opening day draw with Everton showed that Watford were not just here to make up numbers this season. Whilst they lost last time out 2-0 last time out to Manchester City, there were definitely a few positives that they will take out of that game.
This game will probably give the Watford fans a look at newly loaned in Colombian striker Victor Ibarbo. If Ibarbo is to play, utilising his pace and getting the ball both to his feet and beyond the back line will prove to be vital, also shutting down inform Swansea striker Bafetimbi Gomis and not letting him get involved into the game, if he does Watford may have problems in defence.
Swansea City have been in good form coming into this match, with 8 points from their opening 4 matches. Last time out they beat Manchester United in a come from behind victory with goals to Gomis and new boy Andre Ayew. Swansea have looked very impressive so far playing a positive style of play and looking to outplay opposition. It has been a joy to watch Swansea in attack so far and I see this attacking brand being too good for Watford this week.
Keegan's Tip: 2-1 Swansea
Alex's Tip: 1-1 Draw
Ty's Tip: 3-1 Swansea
Arsenal have been impressive this season after their opening day defeat at home to West Ham. A round 2 win at Crystal Palace in which they went up but were brought back to 1-1 before scoring a winner, I bring this result to attention because Arsenal of the last few seasons in this game would have ended with a draw or would have lost that match, but instead went on to win which was an impressive performance. That result was followed by a 0-0 draw at home against Liverpool where Petr Cech was outstanding.
Last time out they finished with a 1-0 win at Newcastle in what was solid performance against 10 men. Despite not signing anyone on deadline day, I think the next few weeks will be the decider to whether Arsenal will reach to the potential that most saw at the start of the season as them challenging for the title.
Stoke City, are currently sitting in the relegation zone with 2 points from there opening 4 games. Whilst the first round loss to Liverpool they were by no means out played, a Coutinho screamer was enough to seal the win for the reds. And round 2 and 3 were two half decent performances getting a draw from Spurs and Norwich. The most concerning performance of the season from Stoke comes last time out against West Brom where they had 2 men sent off and played with 9 for about 60 minutes. Both decent players in Charlie Adam and Ibrahim Afellay who I see as being key elements to any success that Stoke may have this season in reaching club goals.
Without Adam and Afellay this week will be a tall order to knock off an arsenal side that has looked in good knick after that opening day defeat to West Ham. This week Diouf, Shaqiri, Van Ginkel and pretty much the entire defence will have to be on the top of their game if Stoke are going to get anything out of this week. Unfortunately for any Stoke supporters that read this I can’t see them getting too much out of this week.
Keegan's Tip: 3-1 Arsenal
Alex's Tip: 2-0 Arsenal
Ty's Tip: 3-1 Arsenal
This match proves to be an exciting one, Norwich one of the newly promoted sides to the EPL have had an alright start to the season currently sitting in 14th with four points. With a win in round 2 away at Sunderland in what was a dominate 3-1 win followed by a 1-1 draw at home against Stoke.
Last time out in the premier league they were on the wrong end of a 3-0 thumping against Southampton. From that performance they will go into this week with their heads down as well as a suspension to Steven Whittaker who received 2 yellow cards within 3 minutes (28th & 31st) to be sent off early on in the match. That will likely see the inclusion of Andre Wisdom (on loan from Liverpool) starting in the right back role.
I would love to see Norwich press hard from the get go and really take the game to Bournemouth, if they do this and put Bournemouth on the back foot early I think that they will push on a score a few goals and get the win that will lift them to 7 points from 5 games which I think they will be quietly happy about.
Bournemouth in their Premier League debut season are showing both their inexperience as a club but also that they are here to give it a good go and they aren’t going down without a fight. Currently sitting 11th with four points (only above Norwich on goal difference) had a shaky start against Villa but really showed up against Liverpool and were extremely unlucky not to walk away with a point at the very least. A week later saw the rise of Callum Wilson, starting his own season account with a very nice hat trick which led to Bournemouth’s maiden Premier League win in a 7 goal thriller at West Ham.
The win was followed by a 1-1 draw with Leicester which, based on their current form is nothing to be ashamed of, where once again saw a Callum Wilson strike hitting the back of the net for the cherries. Bournemouth will head into this week’s match with a hell of a lot of confidence in the football that they are playing and I don’t blame them.
At the beginning I said this would be exciting, and if both teams use their attacking resources to good affect I see this game being very free flowing and very attacking. Both will be gunning for their second win for the season which will be a massive boost going on into the season.
Keegan's Tip: 2-1 Bournemouth
Alex's Tip: 2-1 Bournemouth
Ty's Tip: 2-1 Bournemouth
West Brom have also had an alright start to the season considering the teams they have found themselves coming up against in the first 4 weeks. Opening day trip to the Etihad was never going to be easy, and neither was a 3rd round trip to Stamford Bridge.
Losing both games, despite pushing Chelsea to the limit at times, it wasn’t until round 4 at Stoke where they saw their first win for the season. And whilst they won, and saw Rondon scoring his first EPL goal, and an assist from Rickie Lambert, I really don’t want to delve to far into that match, purely because they were playing against a 9 man Stoke for a good majority of the match.
This week will be a good test for the Baggies coming up against a Southampton side that impressed last time out. Whilst at this stage of the season no loss is going to get you relegated, but a win here could really give them a confidence boost that they really need going further into the season.
Southampton had a bit of an ordinary opening couple of rounds, being held to draws with Newcastle and Watford as well as falling 3-0 at the hands of Everton. Now without the distraction of Europa League, the Saints can focus on what has potential to be a decent season.
Last time out they beat a Norwich City side that were a man down for 60 odd minutes, but despite that, Southampton looked to push on and take advantage of the situation, which they did. With Pelle scoring on the stroke of half time, the second half the picked up where they left off with Dusan Tadic scoring 2 goals in 3 minutes (65th and 68th) to seal the three nil win.
Southampton looked good in this game and I think they may be too good this time out as well, although I don’t think it will be by as much.
Keegan's Tip: 1-0 Southampton
Alex's Tip: 1-1 Draw
Ty's Tip: 2-1 Southampton
Sunderland will be hoping that they can kick start their season this weekend when they play host to Tottenham Hotspur. Having only 2 points to their name from the first 4 weeks it sees the black cats sitting at the bottom of the league. Last time out brought their 2nd point of the season in a 2-2 against Aston Villa, where they were absolutely blown off the pitch in terms of possession holding only 38% throughout the match.
Whilst they came away with the draw despite being behind 2-1 at half time, I cannot say that they were impressive, having only 5 shots (3 on target and 2 off target) throughout the match. Confidence is vital in the Premier League, and especially for strikers and shooting stats being so low, with only 29 shots in total from their 4 games I can’t see them challenging spurs too much unless they have done a lot of work during the international break with their attacking players.
Spurs, currently sitting 16th, are yet to post their first victory of the season and will be out to get it this weekend. Since their opening game defeat at Old Trafford, Spurs have posted three straight draws against Stoke, Leicester and Everton.
Key player for Spurs this week will be starlet Harry Kane, whilst he’s form that made him the talk of the league last season has gone missing the first four weeks and he will be looking to hit the net this week to start what will hopefully be another successful season for himself. Whilst it is important that Kane hits form for himself, it is even more important for a Spurs side that became heavily reliant on the young Englishman last campaign. It really was a case of when Kane was in form the entire Spurs side played well.
This game I really don’t see as being amazing but it will be a close game between two sides desperate to kick start the season before it gets to late.
Keegan's Tip: 1-0 Spurs
Alex's Tip: 0-0 Draw
Ty's Tip: 2-0 Spurs
Leicester has had a dream start to the season sitting in 3rd with 8 points from the first 4 weeks. It has been a long time since Leicester have been this high up in the league standings, and if I am honest I hope they continue to perform because having a team like Leicester near the top, not only is good for ‘old times sake’ it also shows that the teams with less financial funding than the bigger clubs are able to hold their own against the big boys of English football.
Leicester has been one of the most exciting teams to watch early on this season due to the fast pace attacking style that new manager Claudio Ranieri has brought to the club. With in form striker Riyad Mahrez already netting 4 goals this season, he has become almost impossible to stop. And unless Villa is able to figure out a way to stop him I think they may struggle.
For Leicester to win this match, I think the message should be ‘go out and do what you have been doing all season’, and that should really be enough to get over the line in this match.
Aston Villa has made a decent start to the season with 4 points. There only win coming in round 1 against Bournemouth, followed by two losses against United and Palace before having a 2-2 last time out against Sunderland. Only having a draw last time out, they may feel as if they deserved a lot more out of it, an the stats would definitely support that argument having 18 shots (11 of which were off target) and 62% ball possession.
For Villa to get the win, keeping the ball and wearing Leicester out of the game early should be a priority, limiting the time Leicester have on the ball will only frustrate a side that looks to play attacking and look for the outlets of Mahrez and Okazaki. I also feel if Adama Traore is to make some sort of appearance, starting or from the bench, I do believe that he could make a big impact lifting the tempo and may provide a spark that could lead to Villa coming out with a win.
Keegan's Tip: 2-1 Leicester
Alex's Tip: 2-2 Draw
Ty's Tip: 2-1 Leicester
The final game for this weekend sees Newcastle travel to the Boleyn Ground to face West Ham United. West Ham has made a mixed start to the season, starting with 2 wins and 2 losses to their name. Both wins coming against top 4 hopefuls Arsenal and Liverpool, in both matches West Ham really did look outstanding.
Their two losses coming against an inform Leicester and a determined Bournemouth side in a 7 goal thriller. Last time out at Anfield, West Ham were rampant running out 3 goal winners over a Liverpool side that until this match had seemed as if top 4 was achievable. Early one West Ham went on the attack and capitalising on terrible defence, were up 2-0 within half hour.
Whilst this match was full of positives for the Hammers, there is one massive down point and that was the straight red card to Mark Noble. Despite being without Noble this week I think that they depth of the midfield will show and won’t cause to many dramas in terms of missing key midfield figures. West Ham, have played good attacking football so far this season and I think that this would be the perfect opportunity to flex their muscles against an out of favour Newcastle side.
Unfortunately for Newcastle, a new season didn’t bring a change in results, starting the year with 2 losses and 2 draws from their opening four matches. Last time out, saw them lose 1-0 to an Arsenal side that dominated, particularly after the sending off of Newcastle new boy Aleksander Mitrovic. Due to that sending off Mitrovic won’t be available this weekend, and whether you agree with the sending off or not, the call was made.
All I will say on the issue is that in real time I was slightly confused on what had happened, but after seeing the slowed down version of and going by the word of the law book, the red card is justified, whether a yellow would’ve been sufficient for the incident can be debated. But away from the red card issue, Newcastle was never even in the game, only having 2 shots and 26% possession really shows the type of game it was.
I really do feel sorry for the Newcastle supporters after the last few seasons, making a couple of decent signings I thought this was a season that they could leave their recent problems behind but if this continues I can’t see any sort of revival coming soon.
Keegan's Tip: 3-0 West Ham
Alex's Tip: 3-3 Draw
Ty's Tip: 2-1 Newcastle
Editor's Note: Some varying tips (especially in the last match!) makes this weekend's set of matches very interesting. Let's see who comes out as the top tipster in Week 5.