Well, as much ‘fun’ as that whole UEFA Nations League thing was, I for one am glad to see the Premier League back in town this weekend. I mean, who wants to watch a load of nobodies that don’t even play for their clubs get beaten by Spain and narrowly edge past Switzerland, right?
No, I want to watch actual top talent on the field of play and boy do we have a Premier League matchday do whet your whistle.
Eh? Only Tottenham vs Liverpool looks interesting? Jesus. Bring back Malta vs Luxembourg. It’s time for some Terrible Tips!
Tottenham Hotspur vs Liverpool
Firstly, this match is the only one that gets me excited this weekend. Secondly, nice one Gary Neville for making the press conference potentially more interesting than the match itself. GNev suggested that Liverpool should take the Champions League ‘lightly’ this season to improve their chances of winning the Premier League. Jurgey-lad was far from impressed with the comments. It is rare in this column that I venture near anything of actual fact, but this is too good not to go into.
King Kloppo replied when told of what Neville had said;
“How should that work? What do we do? We don’t play Champions League or what? Gary should come over and tell me exactly how that would work. How do you prepare a game and not focus on it? You bring your kids in the Champions League? That would be funny.
I don’t know what he means with that, to be honest. We have to play football. A lot of people watch our games when we play Champions League and that’s our job that we do the best we can do in all these games. That’s what we try. I don’t know exactly what it means but to focus on one competition can only be if maybe you are already out of the competition nearly.
If it’s late in the season that you see you have a chance to do that or do this and all that stuff. Last year, for example, we had no chance to focus on one competition because we had to qualify for the Champions League and I don’t think that even Gary Neville would have said, ‘Quarter-finals of the Champions League, let City win.’ It doesn’t work like this.
I don’t want to be too critical because I don’t know exactly how he said it but sitting in an office and talking about football is completely different to doing the job, to be honest. But it’s an opinion. What did he say about Manchester United in that case? The club he’s more interested in. Nothing?”
Far be it for me to say, but I think Klopp got a little riled by that suggestion. Still, it could be worse. He could have ‘the World’s Best Defender’ available again but Dejan Lovren is still out with a troublesome hip. Adam Lallana is also still missing for the trip to Wembley.
As for Tottenham, it’s not been a great fortnight for them either. They lost to league leaders (I know, right?) Watford before the international break, announced that they won’t be able to move their new house on time because of a problem with the sprinklers – the problem being the walls they need to go in are not even built yet – Harry Kane is woefully out of form, Hugo Lloris has been done for drink driving and Dele Alli felt his calf go after 20 minutes for England and chose to play through meaning he misses this one. Still, at least Son is back and doesn’t have to do Military Service.
All that said, I think this might be an entertaining draw despite the fact it kicks off at 1230 on a Saturday.
Tottenham Hotspur 2 – 2 Liverpool
AFC Bournemouth vs Leicester City
Already, both teams are looking like safe mid-table candidates whose best chance of a bit of fun might be a cup run. Does that mean Eddie Howe has been letting the players rest on their proverbial laurels? Not a bit of it. Bournemouth spent the international break with the SAS doing, as Howe put it, “things that stretch the players and give them new life skills”. So, Bournemouth will be knackered then.
Leicester City will hope that Jamie Vardy is fully fresh after not being involved with England (or Leicester for that matter as he has been banned) and finds the back of the net. Claude Puel certainly thinks so, anyway – calling Vards ‘hungry’. We shall see, eh?
AFC Bournemouth 1 – 2 Leicester City
Chelsea vs Cardiff City
Ah, so that is why JT turned down a move to Moscow? Because Maurizio Sarri is ‘open’ to the idea of letting him be a coach at Chelsea? Terry has been staying fit by training with Chelsea and is also working on his UEFA A license with the club and, let’s be honest, Sarri was probably just being nice about a club legend.
Sarri also admitted he was struggling to fit “Loftus” and young Ethan Ampadu into his first team squad – but not to worry, Maurizio. Neil Warnock is very keen to take the young Welsh international on loan because ‘he likes him’. I am not sure Warnock is the man Chelsea envisage developing one of their kids, but I actually think he’s perfect for that side of things.
The game itself? Chelsea, easily.
Chelsea 3 – 0 Cardiff City
Huddersfield Town vs Crystal Palace
Relegation battle? I think you have to assume so. The good and bad news for Palace surrounds Christian Benteke and Wilf Zaha. The good news is that Benteke is injured and the bad news is that Zaha is still injured. Huddersfield must have ear-marked this as a must win so it will be interesting to see how they set up. Palace must have also ear-marked this as a must win and without Benteke missing chance after chance will probably get what they came for.
Huddersfield Town 0 – 1 Crystal Palace
Manchester City vs Fulham
Release clause? What release clause? Peppy G denied all knowledge of Kevin de Bruyne allegedly having a release clause of only €250m in his press conference. According to Pep, it does not exist and he is not looking to sell the ‘very good’ Belgian anyway. So that’s that cleared up. Not that City even need the money. In a report that came out earlier in the week, we learned that their owner, Sheikh Mansour, has put in £1.3bn since buying the club a decade ago. That’s something like 130 Robinhos.
Fulham look like they are just starting to get the hang of life in the top flight and in Mitrovic they have a man in the hottest streak of his life. It won’t be enough, however.
Manchester City 3 – 0 Fulham
Newcastle United vs Arsenal
Will this be the weekend where Rafa gets a little more attacking from the first whistle? Here’s a tip, Rafa. Press Cech when they pass the ball back to him. He’s really not very good with his feet.
Unai Emery has challenged Mesut Ozil to be more ‘dominant’ at Arsenal saying that ‘he can improve, he can be better’. At a guess, Mesut preferred it when Arsene was there and barely made comment on what he could improve as a footballer. Careful now, Unai, otherwise Mesut might play a certain card and walk out the door.
Newcastle United 1 – 1 Arsenal
Watford vs Manchester United
Who thought this might be a clash between Europe League hopefuls?
Out of respect, we shall talk about the team higher in the table first – Watford. They have a fully fit squad to choose from but have been hit by the shock retirement of their mascot, news which has cheered up Uncle Roy and Big Sham no end. Troy Deeney responded sensibly to the comments made by Gareth Southgate during the week where Southgate politely suggested that Troy wasn’t on his list of potential England strikers. Deeney has more goals, assists, chances created and shots on target than any other uncapped England striker since August 2015 but took this door being closed with good grace – saying that if Southgate wasn’t looking for ‘mobility and goals’ then that’s OK.
Jose was in top Jose form during his press conference. Clearly aggrieved by the claims that he is stalling the career of Marcus Rashford, Jose brought some stats to the party about the England forward. And, annoyingly, Jose has a point. Marcus has played a lot of games under Jose and has certainly seen more grass than Dominic Solanke, Ruben Loftus-Cheek and Dominic Calvert-Lewin. Jose also refuted the claim made by Southgate that Luke Shaw needed the mandatory time off for concussion, saying the England left-back might be available for Saturday night’s kick off.
Watford 2 – 1 Manchester United
Wolves vs Burnley
It says something about how far the West Midlands/Portuguese hybrid football club has come when they are favourites going into the clash with last season’s surprise package.
Sean Dyche‘s Burnley have been horrid this season and the finger is pointing not at Joe Hart, surprisingly, but at the dommed Europa League campaign.
Europe is something Wolves would feel quite at home in considering their squad lifted Euro 2016 wearing red, so I am fully expecting three points to the home team.
Wolves 3 – 1 Burnley
Everton vs West Ham United
The Premier League are thought to be investigating Everton currently. Not for insanity, it has to be pointed out – bringing back Rooney, buying Walcott, employing Big Sham, paying £40m for Richarlison etc etc – but for allegedly bringing in Marco Silva in a not-strictly-above-board kind of way. Not that it matters in football, they’ll be fine even if they did do it badly.
And, in fairness, Richarlison could well go on to be a bargain considering he scored a brace on his Brazil debut during the break.
West Ham United have bigger problems than their opponents – namely the fact that their team keeps getting leaked online before it is officially announced. I mean, really. Does anyone think it makes that much difference? You could tell me any West Ham XI minutes before kick off and I’d still back the local amateur side to give them a good game. Pellegrini was understandably non-plussed by the drama saying he really wasn’t that bothered – I am not surprised as this is a man who knows it will cost West Ham £15m to sack him by the end of November and he can return to Chile an even happier man.
Everton 3 – 0 West Ham United
Southampton vs Brighton
Quick lads, hide this one on a Monday! I don’t really care about this one and you’ve read enough if you are still with me. Make your own score up…