EPL Preview: Chelsea to Win, Question Marks for Mourinho, Man City, Arsenal

 

The last time I had anything to do with football review was in March 2015. being a while, you can say that again. Let’s get to business.

Saturday, 15 Oct., 2016

Chelsea V Leicester City, 12.30PM

This lunchtime match is set to produce mouth-watering sparks, a must-watch and if it plays out like their EFL cup match of last month then it is worth missing lunch for. Shame this one cannot go for 120 minutes. Leicester are learning that premiership hates fairytale, although Chelsea ain’t bourgeoning people I expect this to be another big match that will show Leicester that their miracle ended in May. Costa to score.

Final Score 3:1 #CheLei

Arsenal V Swansea, 3.00PM

The last two times this Welsh club came to the Emirates they left with a whopping six-points sauce. Arsenal usually finds it difficult handling the deep-seating fluid game of Swansea. Now they have a new coach in Bob Bradley and they should get something out of this. Arsenal are in descending form, beat Chelsea 3-0 (hot), beat Basel 2-0 (warm), beat Burnley 1-0 (lukewarm). A cold (draw) will complete this circle. And remember Fabiansky usually becomes invisible against his former employers. I see a score draw, I hope I’m wrong.

Final Score 2-2 #ArsSwa

ozil-hard-voices

Bournemouth V Hull, 3.00Pm

No one in the Milky Way cares about this match, except you nairabetters. Ok, ok, the match will be played for ninety minutes that I am sure. Uhm, er, I think the home side will win. Don’t bet on it.

Final score 2-1 #BouHul

Man City V Everton, 3.00PM

Now the league has begun for Guardiola; premiership, he has seen, is no expressway to be sped through. There are bumps and potholes. A reality check from Spurs last week might see a change of approach from the blue side of Manchester still lacking the magic wand of De Bruyne. Everton’s brilliant start under Koeman will face its stiffest test yet. It will be entertaining but Aguero’s genius might prove the slight difference. A cracker, this one.

Final Score 3-2 #MciEve

Stock V Sunderland, 3.00PM

The top of the table battle, if you turn the table upside side, sees perennial relegation battlers Sunderland visit the Britannia.  Coached by David Moyes (Ferguson’s kinsman and chosen one), who has being dismissed as a small club coach and who is proving that even that is a generous praise, Sunderland would be happy with a draw. But Stock who took an undeserved point in Old Trafford a fortnight ago should be too motivated for shared spoils.

Final Score 2-1 #StoSun

moyes-hard-voices

West Brom V Tottenham, 3.00PM

West Brom are nineth in the table with nine points after seven games, not bad for them but they are going to answer the call when Pochettino’s brigade stands at the door and knocks. Dele Alli, Sun and co will have a lot of questions for Tony Pulis’ boys when the door is opened. I doubt if the West Midlands club can proffer all the answers for them. They will lose this and it doesn’t make them bad, not that a win will make Spurs finish above Arsenal in May.

Final Score 1-3 #WbaTot

Crystal Palace V West Ham, 5.30PM

West Ham are having a nightmare. Their worst start in the league in thirty years is set for an extension in this London derby. The brilliance of Payet and Mitchail Antonio’s big head will still fall short. Slaven Bilik’s poor form won’t continue forever but will it end in Selhurst Park on saturday? The safest bet is for a Palace win but I have a hunch West Ham will get something from this one.

Final Score 3-3, #CryWha

 Sunday, 16, Oct., 2016

Middlesborough V Watford, 1.30PM

A one-all draw in West Ham last week is a fair result and seeing how Watford almost lost at home last match this battle seems to favour the Boro. Although Watford haven’t found their form since they earn a season highlight victory over Man Utd, I think one of Deeney, Ighalo and Isaac Success (they say he is injured, lies) should trouble Aitor Karanka’s backline.

Final Score 1-1 #MidWat

Southampton V Burnley, 4.00PM

I don’t see Burnley getting anything from this one, period (not in Donald trump’s voice.

Final Score 3-0 #SouBun

Monday, 17 Oct., 2016

Liverpool V Man Utd, 7.45PM

It feels like Christmas for Man Utd foes as pundits rule them out of top four finish. Mourinho’s haters should be giddy with joy. So much have been said about Klop’s chemistry with his player, the hugs, the hand holding and all. They have beaten all the big teams this season, that is if you count Leicester and Chelsea as big teams, and their 4-3 victory at the emirates is a preseason match according to the epistle Wenger wrote to the Inefficians. Mourinho and Pogba are yet to convince but Mourinho is a tactician and should out-fox Klop in this one. It doesn’t look llike it but with Mourinho most surprises are possible. Fancy Rooney with another false assist.

Final Score 1-2 #LivMun

henderson-liverpool

TO WEMBLEY OR TO WOBBLE: A PREVIEW OF MAN UTD V. ARSENAL

cracker

The last time Arsenal defeated Manchester United, Osama Bin Laden was killed the next day and Prince William had married two days before. Four years on, with no household international terrorist about, and Prince Harry still a bachelor, whence cometh help for the gunners? Ten years ago, this fixture could have been taken for a miniature El Classico. Oil money has since put an end to that, and Vieira and Roy Keane now play golf in Siberia. And no one chews gum at the touchline.

But this is about the only chance for two misfiring clubs to chew out silverware. Arsenal is consistent in their inconsistency. They defeated QPR at Loftus Road mid-week, but what has that proved? It is normal for them to catch fire, win a couple of matches then slump. They had a decent run in December which was ended in Southampton’s two-zero bashing on New Year’s Day. Then they dusted off the stain, won some matches including an emphatic 2-0 at Etihad, then lost to Spurs a week to Valentine. They rose after that, got some brilliant flashes before Monaco tore them apart. Wenger could have shaken hands with Sisyphus.

A slim victory at St. James Park in mid-week, Manchester United is still a shadow of their old self. They have turned Gaal into a philosopher of sort. The red half of Manchester is not used to fighting for top four spots. But considering that they didn’t make it last season, it could have been worse. A top four finish and an FA triumph will be a decent achievement for Gaal and launch a post-Fergie era properly. They have to overcome Arsenal who denied them their twelfth FA victory in 2005.

But they can be buoyed by the fact that Arsenal hadn’t won in Old Trafford since that fateful September Sunday in 2006 when a Febregas assisted Adebayor goal won maximum points for the gunners. The Red Devils can also cheer on the fact that Arsenal seem to always drop their armour at the presence of big teams. Another arrow in the quiver of the home side is the fact that they have this certain edge over Arsenal—the best of Arsenal mostly stutter at Manchester. For instance, Arsenal was the only Top Six Club that didn’t cash in on Moyes bonanza last season—Arsenal didn’t even score the hapless team. And last November, with Young and Valencia playing full-backs, Man U still ran (let’s not say walk) away with the three points at the Emirates.

Manchester is without Arsenal ex-captain van Persie, van Gaal’s favourite son having left Wales in crutches late last month. But the blow is softened by Rooney’s rediscovering of his goal scoring wand, and Rooney has been punishing Arsenal since he was 17! Arsenal has quite a number of injuries—Wilshere (setback), Flamini (hamstring), Debuchy (shoulder), Arteta (old age) and Diaby (curse) are not available for selection. But Rambo is back; remember he killed Osama in 2011.

goners

The match will be interesting to watch. Arsenal is the highest scoring team in England after the two pounds-spoilt clubs, Chelsea and Man City. Although Giroud has missed some goal scoring chances that would made Yakubu wince, and Welbeck has shown time and again that been a successful attacker has nothing to do with being tall, black, handsome and English. Sanchez seems to have ended his goals mid-term break for now, while Walcott since his return from injury appears like the cartoon recreation of his idol Henry. Looking at the firebrand Cazorla and at the fact that no one has better assist rate than Ozil in 2015, one should be hopeful, not forgetting Ramsey and Chamberlin, potent bonuses.

It will be fun to see how Manchester will line up on the defence to stop the threat above. Valencia, Smalling, Evans and Rojo are a modest set, but November 22nd has shown that no Manchester defence is ever too weak to contain Arsenal. Up mid-field, Herrera, Blind and Young could get the nod to team up with record signing flop Di Maria. Another big boy flop Falcao could be around to prove that his career is not just played out in the pages of newspapers by his Kanye Westward agent.

For Arsenal, Monaco scape-goat Mertesacker would return to partner Koscielny following Gabriel’s injury, and Ospina due to Szczesny’s illness would remain between the sticks. Or Wenger could just throw third-choice Martinez into the fray (didn’t Sanogo start against Munich last year? Never dare Wenger).

Who will win the match? Bookmakers wouldn’t have been in a fix right now, if not for Arsenal’s poor credentials at Manchester. It is ironical that the same people who tip Arsenal to retain their Cup following massive big team casualties in the fourth round, are reluctant to put their money on Wenger’s boys. Indeed a lot has happened since that January day when Chelsea ate dust in Stamford Bridge off the feet of Bradsford.

I don’t see the battle for Wembley ending in 90 minutes. A score draw at the amphitheatre of dream will leave both teams angry and heaving a sigh of relief, then we will wait a few weeks before season two and final battle in London, north of the Thanes. I hope for my team, I am wrong.

We would love to hear your predictions and comments below. Tweets to @Oke4chukwu