Murray, Mourinho and Mahrez…
The Good, The Bad & The Ugly
Panic not TFG’ers, we are just a matter of days away from being able to release ourselves from the rusty shackles that are the international break, and galloping at full speed into the glorious green fields of Premier League football once again. Game week 8 was awash with memorable moments, from Riyad Mahrez’s shocking penalty to Alexis Sanchez’ last-gasp winner, so there can be no doubt that the 9th instalment of this whirlwind 2018/19 season will be just as dramatic.
Not only should the last round of fixtures live long in the memory of Manchester United fans after their dramatic fightback, but it can also be fondly remembered by Nick Talbot and Anthony Frazer – who, because of their decision to pick Wolves to triumph over Crystal Palace away from home, have earned themselves TFG’s #PickOfTheWeek! Congratulations, lads!
Also, while there are three sides that are tied at the top of the Premier League, there are now just TWO players still yet to make an incorrect pick at the top of our league table. After a dramatic turn of events, the TFG rankings are as follows:
5th – Cowboys From Hell (Martyn Fisher)
4th – JOEBAKERSDOZENX1 (Philip Taylor)
3rd – Sad Ken (Stephen Cowell)
2nd – Jimmy Floyd’s Piggy Bank (Maddy Cowell)
1st – Brilliant City (Steve Anderson)
So, looking ahead to this weekend’s events, and there is one fixture in particular that catches the eye: Chelsea vs Manchester United. Based on league form, is the home side that should emerge victorious, given their six-place lead on the visitors – but it isn’t just the table that Blues fans can draw confidence from. Since their memorable 5-4 League Cup win over United in 2012, Chelsea have only lost to the Red Devils once in 15 matches. It will take a special Mourinho masterclass if United are to leave Stamford Bridge with anything other than nightmares of Eden Hazard, it seems.
Also on Saturday, is an intriguing London derby between West Ham, whose last three home matches have seen them beat Man United 3-1, Macclesfield 8-0 and draw 0-0 with Chelsea, and Tottenham, who have won four of their last five away matches and currently sit just two points off the top. The match promises to be a tightly-contested affair, so you may want to look elsewhere for this week’s pick.
A more secure choice could well be Manchester City, who are always good value when at home, though Burnley (the away side) did cause City some problems last time they visited the Etihad. Liverpool also appear to be a safe bet, as they are most weeks, but considering they face Huddersfield – one of three sides still yet to win a game – Klopp’s men look all but certain to come away with all three points here. Also worth a mention are Bournemouth, who are only four points off topping the table, ahead of their face-off against a Southampton side that haven’t won since the 1st of September and haven’t scored in their last three matches. Will it be yet another good weekend for Eddie Howe?
Cardiff are one of the other outfits yet to be successful in a league match this season, but a home match against fellow strugglers Fulham provides a genuine opportunity to change that. The Cottagers have conceded 12 goals in their last 4 Premier League games, so perhaps even Neil Warnock’s timid goalscoring options could fancy their chances in this one, though it certainly won’t come easy. Newcastle are the third and final team yet to take three points from a fixture this season, amidst their ongoing ownership protests, though a promising home tie with Brighton will certainly be seen as a must-win by the Toon Army. The home side will be buoyed by a good recent record against Brighton though, heaving earned two wins and a draw from their last four games.
Two of this season’s surprise packages go head-to-head at Molineux this weekend, as Wolves greet Watford for their 3pm kick-off on Saturday. It is the Midlands outfit that look strongest going into this one, considering Watford are without a win in four matches after their epic start to the season, and Wolves are coming off the back of a very respectable win at Selhurt Park. Everton would appear to be the favourites for their home game against Crystal Palace too, but just bear in mind the Toffees have been far from consistent at Goodison Park this season, and Crystal Palace have won three out of their last four way games in all competitions – so there is scope for a potential upset.
The weekend’s antics will come to an end on Monday night, when Arsenal take on Leicester City at the Emirates Stadium. The Gunners have only lost once to Leicester since the turn of the century, though that defeat came in the last meeting between these two sides: a comfortable 3-1 defeat at the King Power Stadium in May. Arsenal are the in-from team in the league at the moment however, so I back Unai Emery’s men to get the job done in front of their own fans.
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