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EPL GW-3 Pre-Deadline Chat

The Premier League is set to offer another roller coaster ride this weekend!

Mo Salah of Liverpool celebrates a goal with Virgil van Dijk - Liverpool - Premier League
What do you think of Virgil van Dijk’s form since returning from injury?
Photo by Catherine Ivill/Getty Images

The Premier League never seems to disappoint, changing the dynamics of the season every single week. Five teams are on track for a perfect record, and the other five clubs still stuck with just one point.

GW-1 was fascinating with the high points provided, but GW-2 was almost the opposite, which is why in GW-3 the majority would prefer to be just good enough.

The kick off begins with Man City taking on Arsenal [our two confirmed lineups before the Fantrax deadline! ] , which may have been a classic clash once upon a time, but it’s just a survival game for Mikel Arteta and the Gunners who still seek to secure their first win of the season, not likely this week.

Another fascinating fixture is just around the corner, Chelsea visiting Anfield — One can grab their popcorn ready for the clash of the Blues in-form Romelu Lukaku (£11.5m) against the wall of Liverpool’s Virgil van Dijk (£6.5m) in a 90 minute heavyweight bout. Let’s check out what the rest of the English top-flight games are set to offer us:

Reminder: the FPL deadline is 11:00 BST on Saturday 28 August.


Saturday, 28 August

Man City v Arsenal

It can’t really get any worse than for Mikel Arteta to face Pep Guardiola’s City. Coming off a 5-0 win in their last outing, the Gunners’ are seeking their first goal or even, the first point of the Premier League season (not including their 3-0 cup win over West Brom) after two defeats in two matches already to face the reigning champions who really look like their ‘old best-self’ of bringing back the phrase of ‘how many goals to score this week?’.

City may have lost Harry Kane in this summer’s transfer window as the England captain confirms his stay at Spurs, but the Premier League champs did prove they can do with a false nine last season, and even have versatility when it comes to scoring goals as there were five different players to put one in the net against Norwich last weekend.

Honestly, Arsenal has only a slight chance for a draw if Pep somehow has a bad day at the office. The good news for Arsenal fans is that Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (£9.9m) is likely to start but may end up short against the champions of England.

Key facts:

* Man City unbeaten in their last 11 league games against Arsenal (W9 D2) since a 2-1 away defeat in December 2015.

* Arsenal have lost their last six games against reigning Premier League champions, conceding three goals in each of the last five.

* City’s Raheem Sterling has been involved in seven goals in his last six Premier League appearances against Arsenal (five goals, two assists), netting in each of his last four games including the only goal in both meetings last term.

Prediction: 3 — 0

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Aston Villa v Brentford

Brentford may not have scored against a weak Crystal Palace team last week, but their away display looked pretty decent to carry their momentum on high. However, Aston Villa looks like a team set to finish in the top half or top 10 of the table and the arrival of Danny Ings is a game-changer.

The English striker looks likely to break Brentford’s defense who have kept two clean sheets in a row so it will be interesting to see who breaks the deadlock for another.

Key facts:

* Villa only have never lost a top-flight game against Brentford (W5 D1), with this the first meeting between the sides since February 1947 which Villa won by 2-0.

* Brentford have yet to concede a Premier League goal this season. Only two newly promoted sides have kept clean sheets in their opening three games: Charlton Athletic in 1998-99 and Huddersfield Town in 2017-18.

* Villa manager Dean Smith took charge of Brentford for 143 games between 2015 and 2018 –- he lost his only previous meeting with the Bees after leaving them, going down 1-0 at Griffin Park in February 2019 in the second-tier Championship.

Prediction: 2 – 1

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Brighton v Everton

Many claim that Everton has to win matches like these to push for European football and many regard Brighton’s two successive wins as easy ones, but it’s not the case this time. The sides have met eight times, with no visiting team securing three points but this is where the streak will likely end.

Graham Potter does play a bit of risky-attacking style of football which has worked well as they are unbeaten in their last six home matches but Everton’s forward-line may have enough quality to just edge this fixture to grab three points for the win.

Key facts:

* Brighton are looking to secure three consecutive Premier League victories for just the second time, having done so in October 2018.

* Everton are winless in their last four games at Brighton in all competitions (D2 L2) since a 2-1 victory in April 1983.

* Since joining in 2018, Richarlison has been involved in 42 Premier League goals for Everton, more than any other player (34 goals, eight assists).

Prediction: 1 – 1

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Newcastle v Southampton

This fixture is a tough one to predict at this moment, with both having problems defensively but have relatively looked decent enough so far in the campaign. Newcastle looks better than last year, at least on paper and Southampton was good enough to grab a point against Man United and pushed Everton till the end before falling short.

Steve Bruce’s side has conceded six already, and the Saints have faced four goal in their own net, which is why the forwards will cherish this game to the maximum and a expect couple of goals to be scored in this one. Fun fact: In their previous five meeting, there has been zero draws between them.

Key facts:

* Newcastle have lost only one of their last 16 home Premier League matches against Southampton (W12 D3), winning the last four against Saints at St James’ Park.

* Since Ralph Hasenhuttl took charge in December 2018, Southampton have dropped 62 points from winning positions in the Premier League, at least 12 more than any other side in that time.

* Southampton’s Theo Walcott has been involved in more Premier League goals (11) against Newcastle than he has against any other side in the competition (five goals, six assists).

Prediction: 2 – 2

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Norwich v Leicester

Promoted side Norwich has faced the big guns of Liverpool and Manchester City in their first and second fixture of the campaign and now have to face a Leicester side that are looking to bounce back after a humiliating defeat to West Ham.

The Foxes’ have more than enough quality around their squad to grab three points to a side that may look like to be in the same form like they were when they got promoted for the first time in the English top-flight and need to address their lack of goals problem in order to gain some kind of momentum in the league but this fixture is a brilliant chance for the wounded Leicester team to aim for the win.

Key facts:

* Norwich have lost their last 12 Premier League matches, scoring once and conceding 32 goals across these defeats. In top-flight history, only Sunderland (20 between 2003 and 2005) and Man United (14 in 1930) have had longer losing runs.

* Leicester have won five of their last six away league games against promoted sides, with the only exception in that run being a 1-0 loss at Norwich in February 2020.

* Leicester’s Jamie Vardy has not scored in his last 11 Premier League away games since his goal against Tottenham in December - his longest such run since his first 12 away appearances between September 2014 and March 2015.

Prediction: 0 — 1

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West Ham v Crystal Palace

What a job David Moyes has been doing with the Hammers’ and it’s the manner of which his side are producing to win matches. There is really tons to like about the performance of West Ham and thanks to club goal-scorer Michail Antonio (£7.7m) who has been nothing but amazing for them when it came to defeating Leicester last week.

The card-board celebration really said it all but Patrick Vieira’s cultural shift in underway at Crystal Palace and they seem a bit solid at the back which is why the Hammers’ have a tough task ahead to break the deadlock but still backing them for the win in this one.

Key facts:

* West Ham are looking to win each of their opening three matches of a Premier League campaign for the first time.

* Palace are without a win in their last 10 Premier League London derby games (D5 L5), scoring seven goals and conceding 19 in these matches.

* Michail Antonio became West Ham’s all-time Premier League top scorer last weekend, netting his 48th and 49th goals. The last player to score 50 top-flight goals for the team was Tony Cottee, who reached the milestone in 1985-86.

Prediction: 2 – 0

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Liverpool v Chelsea

The match of the weekend features Virgil van Dijk and Romelu Lukaku facing each other; what a delightful match this should be. The former Inter Milan striker enjoyed his second debut in the Blue shirt by scoring against Arsenal but faces the Dutch stopper who looks back in form after his injury. Nevertheless, both teams will square off to continue their winning streak but history suggests that one always walks out with three points in this fixture.

However, the return of fans at Anfield slightly edges the Reds who have relied on their crowd support plenty of times in terrifying oppositions teams which is why Liverpool may have advantage in this side of the category. One can expect a top-level game with a few goals here and there for sure.

Key facts:

* After losing just one of his first 13 managerial meetings with Chelsea’s Thomas Tuchel in all competitions (W9 D3), Liverpool boss Juergen Klopp has lost the last two against his German compatriot.

* Only Manchester United (12) has won more Premier League away games against Liverpool than Chelsea (seven), who won 1-0 at Anfield last season.

* If Diogo Jota scores against Chelsea, he would become the fourth player to net in each of Liverpool’s first three matches of a Premier League campaign, joining Robbie Fowler (1994-95), Daniel Sturridge (2013-14) and Sadio Mane (2017-18).

Prediction: 3 — 2


Sunday, 29 August

Burnley v Leeds

In all honesty, Burnley has not really been a rock at the back as they usually have been and struggled in their performance on the pitch in their opening two games while Leeds fell into the trap of Manchester United and giving their all against Everton for a 2-2 draw.

However, Leeds has a tendancy of aiming for the goal while Sean Dyche’s men lack goal-scoring threat to create massive problems for Marcelo Bielsa’s side but set-pieces will be key for them as always.

Key facts:

* Burnley has scored 15 league goals at Turf Moor since the start of last season (20 games). Excluding promoted and relegated teams, they are the lowest-scoring team in home games since the start of 2020-21.

* Leeds has not drawn a game away from home in the Premier League since February 2004 (1-1 v Manchester United). In 20 away games in the competition under manager Marcelo Bielsa, they has won 10 and lost 10.

* Only one of the last 22 league meetings between the two teams has ended in a draw (1-1 in August 2015), with Leeds winning 15 and Burnley six.

Prediction: 0 – 2

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Tottenham v Watford

The best business in the transfer window for Tottenham fans is the stay of Harry Kane with them. This would do wonders for them as there are few such deadly strikers left, and Spurs have one of them that can surely elevate or maintain their standard in the world of football. The England captain is a must starter, given he has enough minutes to face Watford.

One can also say, with or without Kane, Spurs are doing pretty well than many expected with six points in two matches and Nuno Espirito Santo’s will hope to take advantage of a dull Watford defense that are lacking enough composure at the back since the start of their campaign.

Key facts:

* Tottenham has lost only one of the last 27 home league games against promoted sides (W24 D2) - against boss Nuno Espirito Santo’s former club Wolverhampton Wanderers in December 2018.

* Watford has won two of their last 22 away league games in London (D4 L16), and are without a win in 10 in the capital (D3 L7) since successive victories over West Ham and Palace in 2018-19.

* Watford has lost all their last seven Premier League away games, failing to score on five occasions in that run.

Prediction: 3 – 0

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Wolves v Man United

To be fair, team selection is key here for Ole Gunnar Solsjkaer if he wants to see the same Red Devils who ran past Leeds in their opening fixture or the ones that just performed the opposite by taking a point against Southampton last week.

Wolves do have enough quality to find the space for a counter, but one has to back Manchester United’s ammuniation, especially the dynamic duo of Paul Pogba (£7.7m) and Bruno Fernandes (£12.1m) alongside in-form Mason Greenwood to create enough problems for the hosts backline. Not to forget, Raphael Varane (£5.5m) and Edinson Cavani (£8.5m) may also feature to gain minutes or even make an impact in the game too.

Key facts:

* Wolves have lost all their last five Premier League games, scoring only one goal in the process. They have also lost five of their last seven home league games (W2) - as many as they had in their previous 20 at Molineux (W9 D6).

* United are unbeaten in their last 27 Premier League away games (W17 D10). They could set a record for longest unbeaten away run in English Football League history if they avoid defeat on Sunday.

* Ole Gunnar Solskjaer will become the ninth manager to take charge of 100 top-flight games for United (W52 D28 L19). Only Ernest Mangnall (54) won more of his first 100, while only Matt Busby and Tommy Docherty won their milestone game.

Prediction: 1 – 3

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[All key facts sourced from Reuters, Premier League and WhoScored]

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What are your predictions for these fixtures? What are your thoughts on the Liverpool v Chelsea game? Do you think the return of fans is influencing the games like before? What are your fantasy strategies for the week? Any popular player whom you hope will earn you points or be a flop? Whom are you adding and dropping? Please let us know in the comments below, and if you hear any late fitness news (e.g. Covid-19 positive or injury), please share!

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