The Analyst's Notepad - Premier Predictor Gameweek 4

Fretting over your Premier Predictions this week? Keen for the inside tip on how to win those monthly private leagues at the death this weekend? Simply fancy a free beer?

Read on and feed your mind with our statistical guide to the smart calls to make this weekend.

Southampton vs Man United

Did the Analyst tell you not to get too excited by United’s 4-0 opening day thumping of Lampsy’s new look Chelsea? No, it was a genuine question - I cannot remember. Either way, the proof of the pudding has been very much on the side of not getting too carried away by that first result. United found themselves stumped by Wolves once again then shot themselves in the penalty shaped foot at home to Crystal Palace.

Southampton have hardly been this new, exciting team we were told to watch out for now Ralph has had a full pre-season with them. Would they have beaten Brighton last weekend if Florin Andone hadn’t tried to put his foot through Yann Valery’s thigh? We think not - especially as it took a late, late second to make the points safe.

Ready to feel old? The last time Southampton beat United in the league, Sean Paul and Blu Cantrell we’re sat atop the singles chart in August 2003.

And whilst the history books are in their favour it remains to be seen how United are following a pretty crushing defeat to Palace? What will be going through everyone’s minds if they get a penalty? Will Pogba manage to not give the ball away deep into injury-time and cost his side yet another three points?

The Pogba thing is purely lazy punditry and not something the Analyst wishes to get involved in, frankly. Whilst we’re admittedly in tallest dwarf territory, Pogba’s still comfortably United’s best performing midfielder this season, topping all the charts for assists, chances created, passes made and aerials won.

Hope for the Saints lies in United’s frankly minging away form – no wins in five – and a backline that boast a genuinely embarrassing lone clean sheet in 14 Premier League games. 

Luke Shaw has failed to recover from his Wilfried Zaha-induced hamstring twang meaning he misses out on a return to his boyhood club - Ashley Young plays and if that doesn’t give Southampton something to target, I don’t know what will.

Also out is Anthony Martial and, with Alexis Sanchez off to Inter, United are a little short upfront. Mason Greenwood might get the call, but we are more likely to see Jesse Lingard crowbarred into a wider position in the hope his ‘bags of energy’ might translate into something tangible, with Juan Mata to come in at No.10.

Southampton aren’t expected to make too many changes from the Brighton win, but key player Nathan Redmond is a doubt, something Old Man Young may be particularly pleased about.

United to get the bus back on the road at St Mary’s. It will be 1-3 but there is every chance Southampton’s goal will be one to remember. Oh, and Juan Mata from the penalty spot anyone?

Burnley vs Liverpool

Fresh from making Gary Neville feel sick at how good they are, Liverpool head to Turf Moor to do what Liverpool seem to be pretty good at doing in the Premier League nowadays and winning without too much effort.

The scousers have won their last 12 Premier League matches – a run they have not bettered since those days when they used to actually win the title. They’ve also not lost to Burnley in the last five, since a surprise 2-0 defeat back in 2016. Here's how they prevailed at Turf Moor last year.

Don’t get me wrong, Burnley won’t roll over and let Liverpool tickle their bellies. And there is every chance the dastardly game plan the executed against Southampton might get a second outing here – essentially lumping the ball forward so quickly that Liverpool’s baying pack of forwards have absolutely nothing to press. Hey, it worked once…

King Kloppo’s boys have scored two or more in each of the last 12 Premier League victories and have been winning at both half-time and full-time in the last six - this means if Burnley don’t switch on from the first-whistle and go behind then Sean Dyche may as well go and see if there is a music festival for him to partake in.

Burnley will get chances though - Liverpool’s midfield press hasn’t been as effective in protecting the defence so far and behind the defence they have someone who just isn’t Alisson.

I’m going for a 3-0 Liverpool win. Virgil to recover from the nightmare of letting Pepe dribble past him before jogging back to catch him and force him into an error by heading home from a corner. Also Jimmy Milner to locate top bins from distance.

Everton vs Wolves

I’ve not checked, but I presume Sky are going all in on this being some kind of Portuguese Derby?

Marco Silva, a man still waiting to be given the keys to a small town in Hertfordshire versus Nuno Espirito Santo, a man who can do no wrong in Wolverhampton.

Much has been said about how Wolves are strong defensively and difficult to beat but listen to this: Everton have kept a clean sheet in their last six home Premier League matches. SIX! Good ol’ Goodison Park is somewhat of a fortress. Who knew it was Phil Jagielka that holding them back all these years!

What’s even more impressive is that Yerry Mina and Michael Keane are starting to look like a proper central defensive partnership rather than a pair of punters pulled out of the pub and told to put the blue kit on.

The Toffees have won their last five home matches whereas Wolves, a tad distracted by this Europa League thing, have drawn their last three.

Both teams are good at protecting their lead but given Everton’s style of wanting to get on the front foot and control the ball, I can see Wolves’ deep block coupled with direct, quick counters giving Wolves the clearer chances.

This won’t be much of a starter compared to the North London Derby main course - Wolves to nick it 1-0 with Raul Jiminez scoring from a break down the right flank.

Arsenal vs Tottenham

And we save the best for last - or do we?

How patronised did Arsenal feel last weekend with G-Nev applauding them for actually putting some effort in at Anfield? Look past the fact they got hammered by a far better side, well done for trying lads.

And if Arsenal were together yet bad, Tottenham were strangers on a pitch and shocking in their 1-0 loss to Newcastle who, as we’ve said before, never win in London (apart from the last two day trips, of course).

A couple of things stand out here more than the Poch’s obvious dissatisfaction at his player’s willingness to die for the shirt - Arsenal are unbeaten in 18 of the last 19 Premier League matches at the Emirates, whilst Tottenham have failed to win any of their last seven on the road in the PL.

But, this is Arsenal against a top-six side we are talking about and it’s days like these where Yo-Pierre tends to go on the missing list. If Unai Emery wants to avoid another Anfield-like disaster then he wants to bin off the Gambian and put his faith in Lacazette.

Tottenham, if they have any sense, might look to target David Luiz who was last seen exiting Anfield on the half-way line after Mo Salah spun him like a bottle in a Friday night drinking game.

We are likely to see this game mainly played in the Arsenal half but Spurs won’t break them down easily - even with David Luiz likely to start. But, with Nicolas Pepe on the break and Tottenham looking shaky up against pace at the back suggests that there could be goals at both ends. 1-1, Spurs to score from a set-piece.

Chris Darwen
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All Images - PA. Stats via WhoScored.