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The Analyst's Notepad - Premier Predictor Gameweek 2

I think we can all agree that my performance last week erred slightly more towards the Southampton/Chelsea end of the scale than the United/Burnley end but hey, I am on a contract and like Gareth Bale I am going to see it out unless they pay me off in full. And, I don’t even like golf.

Here’s all the information you need to top your private leagues and bag yourself a free beer this weekend with the Premier Predictor.

Arsenal vs Burnley

Oh, Arsenal. You know Arsenal, right? The team that absolutely hates it up ‘em. The club that was born to crumble on wet and windy Tuesday nights at Stoke? Well, with the Potters lurking in the nether regions of the league below, Burnley have assumed the mantle of the gits most likely to show Arsenal what for.

Surely these are the honest grafters who’ll make life uncomfortable for those cowardly foreign lads currently stealing a living in North London, aren’t they?

Erm, actually no. Arsenal have beaten Burnley ten (10) times in a row in all comps - a run that goes back to when Burnley tried to play actual football under Owen ‘Barclays Premier League’ Coyle (remember him?) back in March 2010.

Chuck in the fact that Arsenal are at fortress Emirates and you’d damn foolish to even consider anything other than a Gunners victory.

You need more ‘evidence’? Strap yourselves in - Burnley have only taken a single point in London from the last 21 available and have conceded an average of 2.3 goals per capital outing in the PL – spread across 27 games, that's what data scientists would describe as ‘very bad’.

Yo-Pierre particularly enjoys an afternoon out with a glass of Claret. He’s netted a brace on each of the three occasions Sean Dyche has been in the other dugout.

There has to be some hope for Dyche, surely? Well, it’s slim pickings but Arsenal have actually lost their opening home match of the Premier League season in five of the last eight campaigns. Though, admittedly, they haven’t been playing Burnley.

It feels a bit too obvious to suggest that Arsenal will romp home 3-1 on Saturday with Aubameyang getting two but hell, that’s what I am going with.


Can't question his goalscoring record, but his barnet on the other hand...

Southampton vs Liverpool

Can Southampton be as bad as they were at Turf Moor? Well, possibly - one of the weirdest tactical theories behind the Saints’ self-combustion is that their gameplan is rigidly focused on ‘pressing triggers’. To the uninitiated, it means that they try and get the opposition to move the ball somewhere in particular and then chase it down like a pack of rabid bison.

The thing is - they were playing Burnley and passing isn’t something Sean Dyche is a big fan of when you loaf one downfield into the channel. In effect, Southampton' were waiting for ‘pressing triggers’ that never actually triggered.

What does that mean for this clash? Well, Liverpool will probably try and play a bit of football which means that could play a little more into Southampton’s hands. However, Ralph’s boys have lost the last four against King Kloppo, scoring just once.

They’ve also only won once at home in their first home Premier League match of the season in the last 20 seasons. 20!

Throw in a lovely little stat about the Alpine Klopp not beating the Actual Klopp in their first two encounters and it’s not a massive leap of faith to assume all three points will be heading back up to Anfield this weekend.

Liverpool will continue their excellent start to the season 4-1.


Unbelievable teckers from Salah to slot this one away.

Man City vs Spurs

As much as my heart beats for Sheffield United v Palace, it's fair to say this is the TV tie of the weekend.

Yes, yes - it’s time for another game of Pep’s Rotation Roulette but, honestly, it doesn’t really matter what eleven names he picks out of his Magic Hat, City have a very good chance of winning this match because, you know, they win most of the Premier League matches they play.

City have won the last four matches they’ve played against Spurs - and they’ve never won five-in-a-row before. So, when it happens, watch out for the emotional montage from the social media team plus Pep bringing his entire backroom staff out to get recognition (again).

For all the chat of good things in North London, Spurs have actually lost their last six PL matches on the road. They haven’t lost seven on the spin since George Graham was gaffer back in the 2000/01 season - a fact that has now reminded me how George Graham ruined David Ginola. Cheers George!

I am sure we can all agree that wantaway Dane Christian Eriksen changed the game when he got on the pitch against the Villa last weekend. Spurs managed 31 shots last weekend, 18 of which came with Eriksen on the pitch for just 26 minutes. Will they get 31 touches in the City half, let alone 31 shots at the Etihad?

Watch out for Raheem Sterling again this weekend - one of the few things I got correct last week was successfully adding up how many yards his goals would be scored from against West Ham. He has been directly involved in six goals against Spurs in the last six matches and it feels like he is involved in pretty much anything that happens in the final third for City nowadays.

Man City to hit a bit of an early PL bump in the road and only win this one 2-0. Yes, Harry Kane has broken his August curse good and proper but Peppy G isn’t going to allow a repeat of the Champions League disaster from last season - Spurs will be put to bed by goals from Sergio Aguero and Raheem Sterling.


A reminder of just what Yung Sterling is quite capable of.

Sheffield United vs Crystal Palace

Ah, the first ‘we do have to put the small clubs on TV sometimes’ match of the season. 

Sheffield United will no doubt ask their centre-backs to bomb on all day long because, let’s face it, Andros Townsend and Wilfried Zaha aren’t going to track them, are they? And United will be quietly confident they can leave the tea-lady one-on-one at the back with Christian Benteke – the lad isn’t scoring.

These two teams haven’t played each other in the top flight since 1992-93, the year that football was invented. Palace won both of those and, if you ask me, that’s enough of a yard-stick to confidently predict the outcome of this one at Brammall Lane.

More relevant might be the fact that only one team has scored more away goals in 2019 than Crystal Palace -  mystifying fact have checked this three times and I am afraid it is true. Only Man City themselves have scored more goals on the road this calendar year than Roy Hodgson’s charges.

Sheffield United have never won a PL match on a Sunday and yes, we are clutching at straws here to find anything that suggests something other than a Palace win.

So, with that in mind I am backing Chris Wilder’s overlapping central defender tactics to confuse Palace enough that Sheffield United steal a 1-0 win and throw all the data in the bin in the process. 


Actual footage of Wilf when he bags the winner on Super Sunday to prove us wrong. 

Chelsea vs Leicester City

Frank Lampard’s Chelsea under 13s got a bit of a shock at Old Trafford, no? Who’d have thought that not taking your chances in the first 15 minutes would have led to United suddenly looking like a potent counter-attacking force? And, who’d have thought Kurt Zouma would have returned from Everton looking more ham footed than ever before?

One thing is for certain, star pupil and teacher’s pet Mason Mount will start this one as well as Lampard ignores the subtle advice from Jose Mourinho and sticks by his young guns.

All jokes aside, momentarily, Chelsea don’t often lose to Leicester. Last season’s 1-0 defeat was only the second in the last 13 fixtures between the two clubs. Chelsea almost always win their opening home PL match at Stamford Bridge - 14 out of the last 16 have ended up with Roman’s flavour of the month bagging the points.

Even in the darkest hours of Jose, Chelsea didn’t lose their opening two PL matches - so it’s quite hard to see that happening here.

Reasons why Leicester might be able to beat Chelsea? Jamie Vardy, Jamie Vardy and, well, Jamie Vardy. Vardy can exploit the space that Zouma is bound to leave. And if that doesn’t work, he can go and hang around Cesar Azpilicueta for a bit and that is bound to open the door. Only one of the last 81 shots in this fixture have been scored - and guess who netted that. Oh, and since reaching the PL Vardy has scored more goals (12) away from home against the ‘big six’ then any other footballer. The lads elite.

Therefore I am going for Leicester to get something out of this and suggesting with great authority that it will be 1-1. I think we know who will score for the Foxes.

Wolves vs Man United

Now, United fans. We’ve been here before recently, haven’t we? You remember when you came back from Paris and you boys were 100% back to being the biggest club in the world? Yeah, that.

Sure, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer managed to drive the bus through Chelsea’s defence four times last weekend but he won’t find Nuno Espirito Santo anywhere near as naive. Wolves sat so deep against Leicester last weekend that they were nearly in the stand with their travelling faithful.

United only appear to be any good on the counter under Ole, and to be able to counter you need the other team to attack and leave gaps. Nuno isn’t one for doing that in these types of matches.

Wolves are unbeaten against United in the last three for these very reasons. The pressure is on United to win and Wolves can just wait for them to panic.

BUT WAIT!

Wolves haven’t won a PL match on a Monday in the last five attempts AND United have won more Monday matches than anyone else in PL history (43). 

BUT WAIT!

Solskjaer has never beaten Wolves - losing twice last season with United and once with Cardiff City all those years ago.

My verdict? United to feel the pressure to attack and Wolves to land one singular killer blow on the counter - delivered by Raul Jiminez. 1-0 Wolves and United to be back in crisis just eight days after being nailed on Champions League qualifiers this season.

Chris Darwen
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Chris Darwen is a long-suffering Luton Town fan and the editor of Total Football Analysis Magazine - a monthly digital magazine bringing you the very best in tactical analysis and scout reports.

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