Welcome back, TFGers!
After a somewhat dreary end to England’s first international break of the season, you will all be happy to hear that we return to a mouth-watering set of Premier League fixtures this weekend. As always though, before we look ahead to Saturday and Sunday’s events, it is time to award the TFG #PickOfTheWeek! For #GW4, considering they were the only two individuals to bravely foresee Liverpool taking three points away from the King Power Stadium, the award is to be shared between Kathryn Drew and Gemma Lindsay. Congratulations!
Also, now that the TFG league table is starting to take shape, we will now be providing weekly updates as to who are the front runners to take home this season’s grand prize – a football shirt of your choice and a TFG goodie bag! So exciting right? Especially given how well we did at distributing last season’s prizes.
So far, there are eight players who have maintained a 100% record, but the top four, in ascending order, is as follows:
4th – Alexander Smith
3rd – Dewa Widya
2nd – Glen Bowman
1st – Fred Barasi
With the first eight places only separated by goal difference, the league standings look sure to change after this game week, so who will you choose to be your fifth pick of the season?
The first match this weekend is also the biggest, with Spurs taking on Liverpool at Wembley, in the lunchtime kick-off on Saturday. The away side are one of only 3 sides yet to drop a point so far this season, but they do have a poor recent away record against Tottenham. Not only did they lose 4-1 in this corresponding fixture last season, but that defeat elongated their four year-long stretch without a win in this match. Another win for Spurs would provide redemption for them, in front of their own fans, after their disappointing showing last time out against this season’s surprise package, Watford.
The Hornets themselves have another tough fixture to prepare for, but after last week’s rousing 2-1 home win, they will be looking to continue their unbeaten start to the season against an inconsistent Manchester United. Though United have had troubles on this ground in recent years (namely a 3-1 defeat, two seasons ago), that became the only time the Red Devils have failed to beat Watford since 1986. Mourinho will have one eye on their Champions League opener against Young Boys mid-week however, so Javi Gracia’s men will certainly sense an opportunity to cause yet another upset.
Though both of these games are difficult to predict, there are matches involving two of the newly-promoted sides that seem a little easier to call. The first will see Fulham, who went into the international break having just let a 2-0 lead slip away at Brighton, visiting the champions, Manchester City. The Sky Blues have predictably scored the most goals in the league so far, whilst Fulham have the second-worst defensive record, so this match looks to be nothing but one-way traffic. The second will see Cardiff, who scored their first goals since April in their match against Arsenal, take on final side to have registered a maximum 12 points – Chelsea. It has been 38 years since the Welsh side last beat Chelsea at Stamford Bridge, so I wouldn’t expect Neil Warnock to pick up his first three points of the season just yet.
However, there is a win available to the final set of new boys this season, with Wolves welcoming a struggling Burnley, to Molineux. Sean Dyche’s men have taken just 1 point from their first four matches amidst their failed Europa League qualifying campaign, so Wolves will be looking to use the momentum gained from their last-gasp winner away to West Ham, to get a first home win since their return to the Premier League.
Speaking of the Hammers, they will be hoping their fortunes change ahead of a tough-looking visit to Everton. The Toffees will still be without the suspended Richarlison, whose absence goes some way to explaining their lack-lustre 1-1 draw with Huddersfield, before the international break. Could Manuel Pellegrini collect his first points of the season, perhaps?
A team who will be hoping that ‘no’ is the eventual answer to that question is Newcastle, whose lack of summer investment is certainly coming back to haunt them. They are sat in a lowly 18th place ahead of their tie with Arsenal – a team who they have beaten just once in their last 14 attempts. Two teams that are also in desperate need of a result are Huddersfield and Crystal Palace, who go head-to-head on Saturday. The Eagles, who will be boosted by the return of Wilfried Zaha, have won two-in-a-row against Huddersfield – so they would be my choice to come out of this one as victors.
Bournemouth vs Leicester is another intriguing clash, with both sides having made strong starts to the season. They are sat in 6th and 8th respectively, but the Cherries have only managed to beat Leicester once since their dream promotion to the Premier League four seasons ago, so the Foxes could well edge this one, if recent form is anything to go by.
Finally, Southampton take on Brighton in the televised MNF fixture. The two teams contesting this south-coast derby will both be buoyed by good performances in their last match, but these sides have already played each other this season – with Mark Hughes’ side getting the better of Chris Houghton’s in the League Cup at the end of August. Unfortunately for the neutrals however, a 1-1 draw has been the outcome on the two occasions these sides have met in the Premier League, so I can’t see this one being a classic.
As always however, whoever your pick may be this weekend, we here at TFG HQ wish you the very best of luck.
Team TFG and Dan Wiseman