Premier League fanatics have another full fixture slate to look forward to this weekend from the world’s most exciting domestic division and all 20 teams are in action across jam-packed schedules on Saturday and Sunday. Below, we’ve picked out some premium Premier League picks from the weekend’s menu to sink your teeth into.
Southampton vs Manchester United
Both Teams to Score – 8/15 (1.53)
Manchester United breathed life into their season with a swashbuckling 2-1 win over Liverpool at Old Trafford on Monday and their upswing in performance levels was sparked by an injection of energy into their XI.
Erik ten Hag swung the axe after United’s 4-0 loss to Brentford and Harry Maguire, Fred, Luke Shaw and Cristiano Ronaldo were replaced by Raphael Varane, Scott McTominay, Tyrell Malacia and Anthony Elanga against the Reds.
With more mobility in their ranks, United’s players collectively ran 113.8km against Liverpool compared to just 95.6km versus the Bees, while their sprint figures jumped from 65 to a massive 155.
That willingness to “commit to making runs” as ten Hag put it allowed United to create numerous chances to score against Liverpool and the same mindset should cause problems for a Southampton side still searching for a first clean sheet of the season.
Energy should be the watchword for both teams at St. Mary’s Stadium, however. There has been a changing of the guard at the Saints over the summer and with several, fresh faces onboarded, Southampton (24.4 avg. age) have fielded the second-youngest team in the league this term behind Arsenal (23.9).
With youthful exuberance added to the mix, Gegenpressing devotee Ralph Hasenhüttl has the personnel to press and United’s players are notoriously panicky when pressured in possession.
Amid talk of new dawns and corners being turned, United are likely to encounter a wobble or two against a Saints side they’ve beaten just twice in their last six attempts. Indeed, Southampton have long been sticky opponents for the Manchester giants and both teams have notched in eight of the last nine skirmishes between the sides.
Both clubs have conceded in 100% of their Premier League fixtures so far in 2021/22 and a shutout for either backline seems unlikely in Saturday’s lunchtime kick-off. Expect pressing, counter-pressing and uncertainty in defensive areas at St. Mary’s Stadium.
Brentford vs Everton
Brentford to Win – 1/1 (2.0)
Everton have done little in the opening exchanges of the new Premier League season to shake their tag as potential relegation candidates and with a mounting injury list and their confidence at a low ebb, more disappointment could be in the works at Brentford on Saturday.
Listed among the current favourites for the chop, Frank Lampard is struggling to get a tune out of his players, as evidenced by Everton’s haul of just one point from their opening three fixtures and summer reinforcements are proving hard to nail down.
At the time of writing, the likeliest piece of business involving Everton is Anthony Gordon’s impending exit to Chelsea and with his head turned, the youngster could miss out at Brentford alongside injured teammates Yerry Mina, Ben Godfrey, Dominic Calvert-Lewin, Andros Townsend, Tom Davies and Abdoulaye Doucoure.
That lengthy list of absentees gives Everton a depleted look ahead of Saturday’s game against a Brentford side that have looked the part this term, particularly in their 4-0 drubbing of Manchester United and their thrilling comeback draw at Leicester (2-2).
The Bees completed the league double over just three teams last season, though Everton were among that conquered trio and Brentford are primed to push for a hattrick of successive wins over the Toffees in the capital on Saturday.
Interestingly, only three teams have lost more aerial duels per game on average than Everton (17) this term and aside from James Tarkowski and Conor Coady, the Toffees team is worryingly diminutive.
Set-piece specialists Brentford have a number of powerful aerial weapons in their armoury and their deal ball routines could offer them a route to success on Saturday.
Only early pace-setters Arsenal (9) and Man City (9) have scored more goals than Thomas Frank’s expertly-drilled unit so far this season and with Ivan Toney – who notched twice in three appearances against Everton in league and cup in 2021/22 – fizzing up front, the Bees should have the firepower to outgun the Merseysiders.
Liverpool vs Bournemouth
Liverpool to Win to Nil – 8/11 (1.73)
Last weekend, the inexplicable happened when Liverpool were deservedly beaten by crisis club Manchester United at Old Trafford, plunging the Reds into an early-season mess of their own.
Jurgen Klopp had warned his players to expect a reaction from United following their harrowing loss at Brentford the week before, though his advice seemed to fall on deaf ears as Liverpool sleep-walked through the first 30 minutes.
Wounded pride can be a powerful motivational tool however, and on Saturday, it will be Liverpool’s turn to exorcise some of their frustrations against a Bournemouth outfit that already look ill-equipped to mix it in the Premier League.
The Cherries looked miles off the pace in their 3-0 reverse against Arsenal last weekend, just as they did in their defeat to Manchester City (4-0) seven days before. Bournemouth posted the game-week’s lowest xG in both of those fixtures (0.21 vs Arsenal, 0.12 vs Man City), and with the immobile Kieffer Moore ploughing a lone furrow up front, it’s difficult to see how they can lay a glove on Liverpool at Anfield.
The Reds were caught cold by Fulham earlier this month, however, with the criticism still ringing in their ears from Sunday and the urgent need to secure their first victory of the season, Liverpool are unlikely to suffer the same fate against another of the recently promoted sides.
Bournemouth’s central defensive trio of Chris Mepham, Lloyd Kelly and Marcos Senesi struggled to contain the quick-thinking technical talents in Arsenal and Man City’s frontlines and Liverpool have attackers cut from the same cloth.
All the evidence suggests we should expect one-way traffic on Merseyside, where Liverpool look good to blow off the cobwebs with a comfortable win to nil.
Wolves vs Newcastle
Wolves or Draw – 4/9 (1.44)
Sunday’s skirmish between Wolves and Newcastle could well become a tale of two strikers at Molineux where the return of one goalscorer and the absence of another could have a major impact on proceedings.
Despite racking up an impressive 42 shots so far, Wanderers have collected just one point and scored only one goal in three assignments this season and though their neat approach play has been easy on the eye, a killer touch in the penalty area has been lacking.
The return of talismanic Mexican Raul Jimenez should help in that regard however, and the centre-forward started for the first time this term in midweek, duly finding the net after just eight minutes against Preston.
Jimenez’s return is contrasted by the probable omission of livewire Newcastle hitman Callum Wilson, who faces a spell on the sidelines with yet another injury. The 30-year-old has led the charge from the front for the Magpies since the summer, hitting two crucial goals in three Premier League outings.
With Wilson removed from the spearhead, Chris Wood a less than prolific understudy and the capture of Alexander Isak from Real Sociedad not yet confirmed, Newcastle look a less menacing prospect on Sunday and with the goal-scoring power in their ranks diminished, a victory in the Midlands could be difficult to pursue.
The Magpies have routinely found the going tough at Molineux – a venue they have never managed to win at since Wolves’ return to the big time in 2018 and with Wilson in the stands, Newcastle’s task looks tricky again.
Wanderers’ Portuguese contingent Pedro Neto, Goncalo Guedes and Daniel Podence and Matheus Nunes caused numerous headaches for Tottenham (0-1) last week, though all four players are better at creating chances than finishing them. That quartet can hand conversion duties to Jimenez on Sunday and that could allow them to squeeze something from the game.
Nottingham Forest vs Tottenham Hotspur
Tottenham to Win & Over 1.5 Goals – 8/11 (1.73)
Transfer-happy Nottingham Forest have made a promising start to their first Premier League campaign since 1999, though the underlying numbers from their matches suggest that their positive early surge won’t last long.
Forest have conceded more shots per game on average (20.3) than any other team in the division so far, while on-loan stopper Dean Henderson has been making more saves per game (6) than any other keeper.
In their 1-0 victory over West Ham, the Irons missed a penalty and hit the woodwork twice, while Dean Henderson was called into action seven times in Forest’s 1-1 draw at Everton, indeed, Steve Cooper’s side have lost the xG battle in all three of their Premier League games so far and they rank fourth last in the league for that metric overall.
That kind of luck just cannot be sustained and on Sunday, Forest face arguably their toughest test so far against Harry Kane and Tottenham Hotspur. Spurs have collected seven points from the first nine on offer and Antonio Conte’s outfit wield a ruthless edge in the final third that Forest haven’t encountered since their promotion.
If Forest allow Tottenham to muster another 20 attempts at their expense, not even the rapid reflexes of Dean Henderson will keep the score down. Spurs have notched seven times in 270 minutes of Premier League football so far, while only Man City (6.3) have registered more attempts per game on average (5.7).
Lady Luck has been winking in Forest’s direction since their return to the big time, though her good graces alone won’t be enough to counteract the team’s underlying statistics for long.
In a league of hard lessons, Tottenham could be the team to give Forest their first scolding and an away win coupled with over 1.5 goals is a combination priced too generously to ignore.