Fab and Fridah’s Picks – MW2August 20, 2016
Manchester United v Southampton
Last Five Meetings: W2 D1 L2
Fabian Says: Jose Mourinho’s home debuts are always solid, getting the job done with minimal fuss. So as he takes charge of his first Premier League tie as the Old Trafford boss, expect more of the same as he continues to lay a marker for the season. And for me, 2-0 is always the winning score I consider as solid.
Fridah Says: Manchester United had a dream start. However, they come up against a side that is organized better in defense and this may be an even bigger challenge.
Stoke City v Manchester City
Last Five Meetings: W2 D0 L3
Fabian Says: The proverbial stern test for any new PL manager with a high reputation is here, and Pep Guardiola is the protagonist as he takes his City side to the dreaded Bet365 Stadium. Will their midweek Champions League exertions take its toll on them? Sergio Agüero may be having problems converting from the spot, but his instincts in front of goal are still sharp and second to none. Expect him on the scoresheet in a hard fought win for the visitors.
Fridah Says: It is not a cold, Tuesday night for Pep which may reduce the level of tough. Stoke are still trying to find shape and Manchester City weren’t exactly the best against Sunderland. They did show what they can do in their Champions League fixture though. This will be a tough one for both teams and they could both share the spoils.
Burnley v Liverpool
Last Five Meetings: W1 D0 L4
Fabian Says: As a purely attacking unit, Liverpool are probably the best in the league, though as a defence, only Arsenal is worse than them. They face a second away trip on the trot and how that plays out will be interesting. Burnley got a rude awakening on their return to the top flight with a home loss to Swansea and will have to give an almighty scrap to get something out of this one.
Fridah Says: Liverpool will come up against a better defense than they did at the Emirates. However, they are still favorites to win this match.
Swansea City v Hull City
Last Five Meetings: W2 D1 L2
Fabian Says: The Tigers pulled off the result of MW1 by diligently dispatching off the champions and you feel that the confidence they may have drawn from that result is immense. Swansea look solid under Francesco Guidolin as he continues to mould the team in his image. Another solid display and win is on the cards for the Swans.
Fridah Says: What a start that was by the Tigers. I doubt anyone saw it coming. I don’t think that they will be able to repeat the same heroics against Swansea though.
Tottenham Hotspur v Crystal Palace
Last Five Meetings: W2 D1 L2
Fabian Says: Another London derby this weekend, but this one should be more straight forward – a win for Spurs. Palace don’t look there yet. Palace are still trying to find their feet, having lost both Mile Jedinak and Yannick Bolasie. Christian Benteke’s signing from Liverpool is imminent, but for this clash they’ll have to do without him.
Fridah Says: Spurs had a really poor start and they were outclassed by Everton. The Eagles haven’t sorted out their team yet and I think that this could offer Spurs the chance to get three points. It won’t be too easy though.
Watford v Chelsea
Last Five Meetings: W0 D2 L3
Fabian Says: A battle of the Italian managers with a bit of history and rivalry as Walter Mazzarri plays host to Antonio Conte at Vicarage Road. The Hornets started the season with a creditable draw at St Mary’s while Chelsea showed plenty of fight and character to clinch a win against West Hammers. I fully expect this game to be cagey, with none wanting to cede an inch. Can’t see a winner.
Fridah Says: Chelsea were lucky against West Ham. Watford will also be a big challenge. Mazzarri is still trying to establish himself in the team and I think the frailties they have could be exposed by a hungry Chelsea team.
West Bromwich Albion v Everton
Last Five Meetings: W1 D2 L2
Fabian Says: This an encounter that a Tony Pulis side loves – against a side that is committed to playing silky stuff. For all their industry against Spurs, the Toffees couldn’t seal the deal and will find it a lot harder at the Hawthorns.
Fridah Says: Everton wasted numerous chances against Spurs in a game that they should have easily picked up the three points. They will probably introduce Ashley Williams and Bolasie and this should make them stronger. The Pulis team started well and they highlighted the strength of their defense. This should be an interesting match that will probably end in a draw.
Leicester City v Arsenal
Last Five Meetings: W0 D1 L4
Fabian Says: Arsenal rather imploded in an exceptionally Arsenal-esque fashion in their opener against Liverpool and even ominous for the Gunners, the trend is set to continue against the champions who are licking their wounds from a shocking loss at Hull. Arsene Wenger has been begging for a spanking akin to the infamous 8-2 annihilation at United in 2011, and Leicester will hand it to him, albeit not to the epic proportions of years back. Add to the transfer sagas involving Jamie Vardy, Riyad Mahrez and the two teams, then you know a thorough beating is in the offing.
Fridah Says: Both teams started poorly. For Leicester it was a big shock but for Arsenal it was rather expected. Arsenal should have Laurent Koscielny back but the pacey forwards in the Leicester team could be trouble for the gunners. However, based on the team Wenger puts out, this is a game Arsenal can and should win.
Sunderland v Middlesbrough
Last Five Meetings: W2 D2 L1
Fabian Says: The league may have been deprived of my favourite derby, the Tyne-Wear derby following Newcastle United’s relegation to the Championship, but with another North-East club, Middlesbrough being promoted, we have the Tees-Wear derby instead; and we’re thankful. Sunderland were unlucky to lose away at Man City but are already looking more formidable under David Moyes. Boro may want to snuff life out of them with a masterful rearguard display, but you get a feel that ultimately, whoever between the teams’ goal-getters, Jermain Defoe and Alvaro Negredo has a better outing will carry the day, and indeed the derby bragging rights.
Fridah Says: The Wear-Tees derby is an important game for Moyes and a win is imperative for him. The Black Cats were unfortunate not to get at least a point from the Manchester City game but there are lots of positives they can draw from. Middlesbrough were decent and they look like a good team. However, I expect Sunderland to just edge it.
West Ham United v Bournemouth
Last Three Meetings: W2 D0 L1
Fabian Says: The Hammers play their maiden league match at their new ground, the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park and will want to put acclimatization issues to the periphery. With Andre Ayew’s long term injury and Sofiane Feghouli’s fitness issues, it places even more impetus on last season’s golden boy Dimitri Payet to hit the ground running and work his magic. Bournemouth’s defence was suspect against Man United last Sunday and really, without an improvement they could be in for a torrid day.
Fridah Says: West Ham have started the season poorly and this was made worse by the injury to new signing Ayew. The Cherries still can’t defend. This is the first game at the Olympic Stadium in the league for the Hammers and they will want to start well. I think they will too and Bournemouth will be condemned to two losses at the start.
So, a recap of the opening weekend:
|Hull City v Leicester City||0-2||1-4||2-1|
|Southampton v Watford||1-1||1-1||1-1|
|Middlesbrough v Stoke City||1-0||1-1||1-1|
|Everton v Tottenham Hotspur||2-2||2-2||1-1|
|Crystal Palace v West Bromwich Albion||2-1||0-0||0-1|
|Burnley v Swansea City||1-1||2-1||0-1|
|Manchester City v Sunderland||4-1||2-1||2-1|
|Bournemouth v Manchester United||1-2||1-2||1-3|
|Arsenal v Liverpool||3-3||1-1||3-4|
|Chelsea v West Ham United||2-2||2-2||2-1|
And Fridah’s shoots to a 7-point lead, but it’s still early days.