Well, how quaint is this? We have seven games on Saturday and three games on Sunday. That’s it, a two-day weekend like it says on the calendar. Neither an early match on Friday nor any “Bank Holiday” Monday. It’s like going back in time.
We might as well be taking in a day game at Wrigley Field without any lights, calling someone’s land line home phone and getting an answering machine with a corny message... or watching Benny Hill on one of those old-timey Emerson television sets with a built-in record player, beer holder and cigarette tray. They did come with all of that back then, didn’t they? Surely they must have, but then we wouldn’t have broadband connections and slick database-driven fantasy futbol either, so pop a craft beer (or home brew) and let’s enjoy today’s reality.
Liverpool won 4-0, then 2-0, and then 1-0 last week. So by that simple mathematical progession, the Reds will win 0.5 to 0 this time. But that does point to an interesting theme, that of dominant defense and solid if diminishing offense for the usually high-flying side. While Sadio Mane has three goals and Mo Salah two, Roberto Firmino has yet to crack the net (the inside anyway).
The Foxes are without Jamie Vardy for the third and final installment of his three-game suspension (in case you missed it, the second was a midweek Carabao Cup tie against Fleetwood). A missing point-man could mean a fourth successive clean sheet for ‘Pool. However, Leicester’s offense did fine without him last weekend, winning 2-1 at Southampton. Defender Harry Maguire scored the game winner, so maybe there is something to Vardy’s absence after all, at least with respect to the offensive end. For what it’s worth, the Foxes beat Fleetwood 4-0 without Vardy also.
Brighton stays at home following a mid-week Carabao Cup game, but the fans will surely want more from this one, as Albion lost 1-0 to Southampton. A repeat of the shock 3-2 win over Manchester United would be nice!
Brighton has been shut out in two of its three games, while Fulham has allowed at least two scores in each of its fixtures so far, so something’s got to give. Andre Schurrle had 78 shots, 24 on target yielding 11 goals in his 46 EPL games prior to last weekend... when he promptly exploded for 11 shots, 5 SOT and a score in the 4-2 win over against Burnley. So let’s see how much of an aberration that was, shall we?
Third place at home against sixth place would normally have much more excitement. But this early in the season is when those types of games tend to have some surprises — and while Eddie Howe is regarded as one of the finest managers in the league, it’s going to take some doing for his Cherries to nick a result at Stamford Bridge.
Even so, this should be a very watchable game featuring Eden Hazard, Marcos Alonso and Callum Wilson who are all in scorching offensive form. On top of that, summer transfers Sergio Rico and Jefferson Lerma could see their first league action for the Cherries.
Crystal Palace and Southampton are just about where we thought they’d be: 10th and 17th respectively. That said, each side has allowed four goals, and on offense there hasn’t been much separation with three goals for Palace and four for S’ton. Maybe this will be closer than we think it should be?
Everton has been o.k., and Huddersfield has been downright dreadful. Richarlison and Phil Jagielka are suspended, and Michael Keane is injured, but it’s difficult to imagine Everton not winning this one comfortably. Then again, that’s why they play the games. It just doesn’t mean I have to watch... since I have zero fantasy investment in the Toffeess. If I did, I think I’d really enjoy taking it in, Emerson TV or otherwise.
Here’s a bad game I can get behind, though! West Ham’s defense is as porous as Swiss cheese, but the Hammers also have a fun offensive catalyst in Marko Arnautovic. Meanwhile, newcomers Wolves have been exciting as advertised, even managing to get a point against mighty Manchester City. I’ll tune in for this!
Here’s hoping that the referee scouted the Newcastle / Chelsea game and will have a mind (and a whistle) to stop any Magpies’ shenanigans with a flurry of early yellow cards if they employ the same “hack-a-Hazard” midfield misery plot toward City stars. Let’s just say that I wouldn’t want to have David Silva’s (or Ilkay Gundogan’s... or Bernardo Silva’s) ankles.
Of course, the player that Newcastle really needs to stop is their personal tormentor, Sergio Aguero, who has netted two hat tricks against them in the past four years... one of which was a five-goal explosion. Oh, and did I mention that City was held to a draw the last time out at Wolves? Do you think the Sky Blues are going to want to show what they can do against Newcastle at home?
Cardiff has yet to score, but has allowed only two goals, so even if you’re pegging the visiting Gunners to win this one, it may not be the offensive explosion you were hoping for. It’s going to be interesting to see if Unai Emery turns to Mesut Ozil or leaves him on the bench. But more pressing for Arsenal fans is whether Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang can finally get it going.
Cardiff fans, of course, would be happy seeing another tough defensive effort, and would be overjoyed to see a third penalty save from Neil Etheridge. They’d really be delirious of somebody — anybody (even a hapless Gunner) — could score their first goal.
You’ve got to love the drama, as this tilt features two troubled teams desperate for a turnaround. Burnley had a magical 2017-18, finishing 6th ahead of Arsenal and making it into Europa League. But be careful what you wish for; the extra competition has really spread the team thin, and injury to Nick Pope left Sean Dyche turning to arrgh Joe Hart arrgh of all people, with predictable results. The usually tight defense has already allowed seven goals, including FOUR last week to Fulham.
Meanwhile, in last weekend’s post-game press conference, Jose Mourinho was clearly paying homage to the passing of Aretha Franklin by asking for a little “R-E-S-P-E-C-T”, right? What, he didn’t spell it out? Okay, he was just trying to cover his butt after the 3-0 pasting by Tottenham in front of the home fans at Old Trafford... which followed the shock 3-2 loss at Brighton. Mourinho wasn’t sacked in the morning to satisfy the away fans’ chants, but what if he loses at Turf Moor? Maybe we’ll find out!
Four teams have three wins so far: Liverpool, Tottenham, Chelsea and... Watford? Yes, Watford! Ahead of Manchester City! The Hornets have netted seven goals while conceding only two, so it’s not like they’ve been scraping by every game 1-0. (Not that there would be anything wrong with that either, of course.) Are they legit? Well, this is a perfect game to find out, welcoming a tough, battle-tested Tottenham side to Vicarage Road. The early schedule makers probably didn’t think this was going to be the game of the week, but what a pleasant surprise that the weekend capper has turned out that way.
A somewhat interesting subplot to this match is the transfer story. Spurs famously (or rather, infamously) did not bring in a single player over the summer. Meanwhile, Watford used the gobs and gobs of money it got for selling Richarlison to Everton to buy Ben Foster and... nobody else who has made an impact (seeing injury to headliner Gerard Deulofeu and zero starts from Adam Mesina, Ken Sema, Marc Navarro, Ben Wilmot or Domingos Quima.
So, other than Foster, both teams are effectively doing it with last year’s players. Of course, that includes Spurs’ winter transfer Lucas Moura who is getting his first extended run of play thanks to the absence of Son-heung Min at the Asian Games, and he is taking enormous advantage with three goals so far. Similarly, Roberto Pereyra is a dazzling albeit unlikely three-goal man for Watford. Can either get a fourth... and perhaps even fifth?
Which games will have you glued to your tube, and which are unwatchable? Who will you be rooting on with respect to your fantasy teams? Are you seeing any barn-door candidates to snap up before the next salary change? Be sure to join in the comments as the action unfolds!