The anticipation for the return of the Premier League is sky-rocketing as we approach Saturday and wave goodbye to yet another international break.
The managerial merry-go-round is in full swing and Newcastle’s Eddie Howe is one of three new managers taking charge of their first games this weekend. Liverpool legend Steven Gerrard returns to England with Aston Villa, whose previous boss Dean Smith makes a quick reappearance in the dugout to take the reins at Norwich.
In somewhat of a rarity for the top flight, there are no less than six 3pm kick-offs in a throwback to years gone by. The action gets underway at lunchtime on Saturday, and our friends over at PickGuru have predicted the outcome of all 10 fixtures.
Leicester vs Chelsea (Saturday, 12:30)
Aside from their hiccup when losing to Manchester City, Chelsea have been nearly flawless this season and sit atop of the Premier League. Their away record is almost impeccable, having won four of their five fixtures on the road and only conceding a solitary goal to Liverpool in those contests.
Leicester’s form has been inconsistent all season and is reflected by the league table, with four wins, three draws and four defeats. They have already recorded losses-to-nil against Arsenal and Manchester City at the King Power, and Chelsea may repeat that dose again.
PickGuru predicts… 0-2
Aston Villa vs Brighton (Saturday, 15:00)
Steven Gerrard’s first game in charge of Aston Villa could have been a kinder one. Brighton have not lost away from home this season in five matches (won two, drawn three) and won’t make things easy for a home side in need of inspiration.
Indeed, Villa have lost five in a row and their dismal form resulted in the sacking of Dean Smith. They’ve shipped an alarming 13 goals during that run and the Seagulls might just fancy spoiling Gerrard’s return to the Premier League.
PickGuru predicts… 1-2
Burnley vs Crystal Palace (Saturday, 15:00)
Burnley find themselves in the relegation zone but buoyed by their previous two efforts; a maiden 2021/22 victory against Brentford and an unlikely draw at Chelsea. Those results will have given the Clarets a timely confidence boost as they look to kick-start their season.
Unfortunately for Sean Dyche’s troops, they meet in-form Crystal Palace who have won their last two fixtures (a pair of 2-0 victories against Manchester City and Wolves) and remain unbeaten in their last six. The trouble for the Eagles has been draws. They’ve shared the points on six occasions in their 11 league games (55%) and it’s entirely feasible to think the same might happen again on Saturday.
PickGuru predicts… 1-1
Newcastle vs Brentford (Saturday, 15:00)
The revolution at Newcastle continues and Eddie Howe will take the hot-seat in his first managerial position since leaving Bournemouth. The Magpies are winless this season and only Norwich are below them in the standings, so you could forgive Howe for fearing the worst. But after a promising start to life in the Premier League, Saturday’s opponents Brentford have hit a worrying run of form.
The Bees have lost four on the bounce, and while there’s no shame in defeats to Chelsea and Leicester, it’s the most recent losses against Norwich and Burnley which will have Geordie fans licking their lips. Howe is fancied to start his tenure with a win.
PickGuru predicts… 2-1
Norwich vs Southampton (Saturday, 15:00)
Dean Smith is the third new manager to take charge of his first game this weekend, as bottom-of-the-table Norwich look to build on their first win of the campaign when they beat Brentford last time out.
It would probably be unwise to think the Canaries have turned a corner though; they still have the unwanted label of having both the worst attacking and defensive record in the division.
Southampton have been in solid form lately (unbeaten in four, winning three) and have a good record against sides in the lower part of the table. They can take three points back to the south coast.
PickGuru predicts… 1-2
Watford vs Manchester United (Saturday, 15:00)
Predicting Manchester United results hasn’t been an easy task of late, and much will depend on how their underperforming stars apply themselves against lowly Watford. The international break probably came at a good time for the Red Devils, who can now look to build a foundation for the remainder of the season.
Watford’s daunting fixture list shows no sign of letting up (it’s Leicester, Chelsea and Manchester City after this one), and their record against sides in the top half is alarmingly bad: played five, lost five, scoring no goals and conceding 11.
They might make it difficult for themselves, but surely United’s quality will tell.
PickGuru predicts… 1-3
Wolves vs West Ham (Saturday, 15:00)
Wolves were on a great run until they were stopped in their tracks by Crystal Palace previously. Prior to that, they’d won five of their last six – but the fixture list has been very kind to Bruno Lage’s side, who have yet to play anyone in the top five.
Cue the arrival of West Ham, who are flying high in third and defying all expectations. David Moyes has got the Hammers purring, and with an away record to match Liverpool, Chelsea and Manchester City (all four of them have picked up 13 points on their travels), they won’t fear anything that Molineux has in store for them.
PickGuru predicts… 0-2
Liverpool vs Arsenal (Saturday, 17:30)
The game of the weekend sees Liverpool host Arsenal in a contest that traditionally supplies goals. The Reds were humbled at West Ham a fortnight ago, and it might be difficult to immediately spring back from such a defeat. Throw in some fitness doubts over Andy Robertson, Sadio Mané, Jordan Henderson and with Roberto Firmino ruled out, this might not be the routine victory many will expect.
Arsenal have quietly gone about their business after a very slow start to this season, and are unbeaten in their last eight matches. They are far from the finished article, but perhaps this fixture comes at a good time for the Gunners and they might just squeak a point.
PickGuru predicts… 2-2
Manchester City vs Everton (Sunday, 14:00)
After a blip against Crystal Palace, the Manchester City winning machine returned to its normal ways with a comfortable victory at Old Trafford before the break. Pep Guardiola will have ambitions of putting together a winning streak in the approach towards Christmas, and City could be primed to step up their form to the highest level.
Everton will arrive at the Etihad winless in five. After a great start, injuries and a loss of form have rocked the Rafa Benitez boat and a trip to the champions is not what the blue half of Merseyside would have wanted. This could be very one-sided.
PickGuru predicts… 4-0
Tottenham vs Leeds (Sunday, 16:30)
Antonio Conte’s reign at Spurs started with a drab 0-0 at Everton but it’s likely that the master Italian was using the game as a feeler for things to come. It’s expected that we’ll see improvement on Sunday and Leeds may represent a good opponent for the Lilywhites.
Marcelo Bielsa’s side finally showed improved form of late and are unbeaten in three. However, their defensive problems remain, having conceded in 10 of 11 league games to date. Spurs have the ability to pick them off on the counter, and Conte will be eyeing his first three points.
PickGuru predicts… 3-1