The Premier League returns with another jam-packed fixture slate this weekend and below, we’ve assembled a collection of our favourite predictions and picks from Saturday’s menu.
Tottenham Hotspur vs Wolves
Over 1.5 Tottenham Goals – 1/2 (1.5)
Following a ferocious London derby against Chelsea where controversial officiating and white-knuckle handshakes stole the headlines, Tottenham will be determined to put the squeeze on another opponent when Wolves visit for Saturday’s lunchtime fixture.
Wanderers needed Man of the Match, Jose Sá, to rescue a point against Fulham at Molineux in their last contest and having been troubled by both Leeds and the newly-promoted Cottagers at the onset of the season, it already looks as though Wanderers have regressed defensively.
With Romain Saiss gone to Besiktas and stalwart Conor Coady now at Everton, Wolves have moved from a back three to a more traditional four this term, with Max Kilman (25) and summer signing Nathan Collins (21) paired as an inexperienced duo at centre-half.
Naturally, it will take time for chemistry to develop between the two and Bruno Lage will have anticipated a short-term wobble or two ahead of what he hopes will be longer-term benefits at the back.
Wanderers’ fixture against Tottenham could make for a bumpy ride for the Midlanders, whose awkward central defensive partnership will be given a thorough examination of their mettle by Antonio Conte’s intense outfit.
Spurs weren’t quite at their best at Stamford Bridge on Sunday, though they did leave with a point and two more goals to add to the four they plundered against Southampton on matchday one.
A degree of tactical conservatism was expected from Conte against a strong Chelsea unit and Son Heung-min and Dejan Kulusevski – who were both peripheral figures against the Blues – should move back in from the fringes in a more winnable game against Wolves.
The attackers ran riot against Southampton from their positions either side of Harry Kane and matchday one, and all three members of Conte’s triumvirate should enjoy putting the pinch on Kilman and Collins on Saturday.
The bookmakers’ prices for a Tottenham win suggest they feel Wanderers and their new-fangled backline will wilt in London, though there is much better value in backing Spurs to net over 1.5 times for the third Premier League fixture on the spin.
Fulham vs Brentford
Both Teams to Score – 8/11 (1.73)
Unencumbered by their tag of relegation favourites, Fulham have made positive strides in the early exchanges of the new Premier League campaign, claiming draws in each of their first two tests against Liverpool and Wolves respectively.
The Cottagers created plenty in their first assignment on home soil against title-chasing Liverpool, with two-goal Aleksandar Mitrovic and Neeskens Kebano, who strummed the woodwork, a pair of particularly irritating thorns in the Reds’ side.
The Serbian striker missed a potentially match-wining spot-kick at Wolves last weekend, though the early evidence suggests Fulham have the tools to manufacture chances this season. Their attacking manoeuvres, which are constructed using plenty of width and overlapping runs from both fullbacks, should stretch the Brentford backline on Saturday and Marco Silva’s troops look ready to notch for the 12th time in 13 competitive matches at the Cottage.
However, keeping the Bees out at the opposite end could prove a far stickier task. Only six clubs have a worse xGA (expected goals against) than Fulham’s 3.32 – a figure that puts them below everyone’s favourite crisis club Manchester United (3.12), who were of course, torn to shreds by Brentford on Saturday evening.
That era-defining 4-0 battering of the Red Devils was one of the greatest results in Brentford’s history and Thomas Frank’s charges should have a new well of confidence to draw from ahead of their short trip across the capital this weekend.
With Ivan Toney as his effective best, no team has outscored Brentford (6) so far while Josh Dasilva, who is now free from his injury nightmare, is adding a fresh dimension from the flank. The Bees are buzzing and they should be able to maintain their 100% strike rate against a Fulham rearguard with a generous streak.
An entertaining tussle is in store in this West London and a stake on both teams to score should be considered.
Bournemouth vs Arsenal
Over 1.5 Bournemouth Cards – 8/15 (1.53)
Try as they might, Bournemouth couldn’t slow down Pep Guardiola’s sky-blue steamroller last weekend, and even though the Cherries made 18 tackles and picked up three bookings against the champions, their attempts to disrupt the Cityzens failed and a 4-0 drubbing followed.
Scott Parker’s gameplan for Saturday’s date with Arsenal is likely to be similar, where hard-running, meaty challenges and in-your-face aggression will be the orders of the day.
Even though we are only two games deep into the new campaign, Bournemouth top the pile in the Premier League for average fouls committed per game (13.5), while their card count (6) is trumped by just three other sides.
Avid followers of the Championship won’t be surprised by those figures. The Cherries came in sixth (fouls) and third (cards) respectively for the metrics above for the 2021/22 season and they are unlikely to alter their style in the top tier.
Arsenal will have a real kick in their step this weekend following a strong start and two wins from two, though they will need to watch out for the kicks aimed in their direction by Bournemouth at the Vitality Stadium.
Parker’s side have enjoyed just 33.8% possession on average per 90 minutes since their promotion, though they look at ease playing without the ball, particularly through the middle where Ben Pearson and Jefferson Lerma in particular take no prisoners.
The Gunners’ front four of Bukayo Saka, Martin Odegaard, Gabriel Martinelli and Gabriel Jesus are fleet of foot but they are one of the most lightweight quarters in the division and they could be buffeted about by their more physical hosts.
Referee Craig Pawson, who dished out five cards in his only Premier League assignment of the season so far (Everton vs Chelsea), could have a heavy workload to get through on the south coast, where backing Bournemouth to rack up over 1.5 cards is the bet of choice.
Newcastle vs Manchester City
Half Time/Full Time – Man City/Man City – 1/1 (2.0)
Eddie Howe has been deservedly collecting plaudits for the work he has done at Newcastle so far and the Magpies – who have pocketed the fourth most Premier League points (42) this calendar year – continue to look revitalised under the 44-year-old.
Newcastle’s high-energy, running game under the former Bournemouth boss has been the perfect blueprint for producing promising Premier League results against most opponents, though Howe’s masterplan has fallen to pieces in meetings with Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City.
Indeed, Newcastle suffered their heaviest defeat of Howe’s rein when they were smashed 5-0 by Man City at the Etihad Stadium in May, while the Magpies’ 4-0 reverse at home to the champions in December ranks as their biggest defeat at St. James’ Park under Howe by far.
City’s dominance in this fixture has been such, that they have held the lead at both half and full time in five of their last six tussles with Newcastle, toppling them 11 times in the club’s last 14 encounters overall.
We don’t expect that pattern to shift on Sunday and the Citizens’ reworked frontline should enjoy operating in the wide-open spaces that the pitch at St. James’ Park offers.
As expected, Erling Haaland has added a fresh, dynamic element to City’s play in the final third. His ability to stretch teams is putting entire backlines on edge and his presence is affording key creators like Jack Grealish, Phil Foden and Kevin de Bruyne more time to do their thing.
Both West Ham and Bournemouth found City’s new attacking cocktail near impossible to swallow and we suspect Newcastle will find it just as difficult to deal with their perennial tormentors this weekend. With that in mind, backing City in the half time/full time market looks a plum pick at even money.
Manchester United vs Liverpool
Liverpool to Win – 4/7 (1.57)
Manchester United are providing enough fuel to power entire media organisations at present and the cycle of major breaking news involving the Red Devils doesn’t look like slowing down any time soon.
With takeover talk abound, more anti-Glazer protests planned and big-money deals being put in place for Casemiro among others, United are a copy-creating machine, though they could spin a new slew of negative headlines on Monday evening.
Erik ten Hag ran United’s underperformers into the ground the morning after they were humiliated at Brentford last weekend (4-0) and with morale in the camp already at close to rock bottom, those taxing punishment drills would have done little to repair confidence.
Instead, United look likelier to receive another flurry of body blows from a Liverpool side that put nine goals past them in two Premier League meetings last season.
The Reds dropped points at Fulham and against Crystal Palace in their opening assignments, though their combined shot count of 35 and xG of 4.78 from those draws suggests they were worth more than a share of the spoils.
The title hopefuls haven’t quite found their range in the final third, but chances are they probably won’t need to be anywhere near their best to dispose of United at Old Trafford – a venue they’ve cantered to victory at in each of their last two visits.
The decaying Manchester giants managed to beat Liverpool 4-0 in Bangkok in pre-season, but only single-cell observers would predict anything close to a repeat of that result when the traditional antagonists reacquaint themselves in a competitive fixture.
Liverpool have put an eye-watering 13 goals past United in the club’s last three Premier League showdowns and even without the suspended Darwin Nunez, the Merseysiders should have it all their own way again here.