The international break is over, and club football is finally returning. It will be very interesting to see how teams cope with rotating squads due to fatigue and injuries. The main highlights of this round will be the 3 city derbies! But let’s go through everything in order.
Liverpool v Everton
The Merseyside derby! A loud match title, creating anticipation of a grand game, but will it really be so? Liverpool are the clear favorites and in good form, the loss to Tottenham was referee misconduct, and the draw with Brighton was a battling performance with a plus for Liverpool. Everton, on the other hand, have only pleased in the last game against struggling Bournemouth. Will this victory give them the necessary impetus for a positive result against Liverpool? I don’t think so. Klopp’s team are clear match favorites, and barring any incidents with injuries, sendings off or referees, the winner is clear. However, derbies are derbies because sometimes the team with more motivation wins. We’ll see.
Chelsea v Arsenal
The London derby. The second inner-city clash, with a less loud title, but hopefully a more interesting game. Chelsea seem to be coming alive, and the big win over Burnley and home advantage at Stamford Bridge will give them confidence. Meanwhile, Arsenal beat City and it is questionable whether they will have the physical and emotional strength for such a match, especially after the international matches. This match will be an excellent test for Arteta’s team, of their ability to play consistently. A minimal Arsenal win is more likely, but this is football and this is a derby, so we should expect at least 2-3 goals scored.
Nottingham Forest v Luton Town
A match between two lower half teams. Forest are closer to mid-table while Luton share 18th place with Burnley. The match should be interesting, Forest look stronger on paper but a plethora of injuries, especially Taiwo Awoniyi, is a serious problem leading to many draws in recent rounds. Luton have just one win this season, they don’t concede many but also struggle to convert their chances. Most likely it will be a draw or a minimal win for either side.
Manchester City v Brighton
The match between the Citizens and the Seagulls should be one of the most interesting this round. Despite the completely different status of the teams, Brighton have shown attacking football since the end of last season. And they are only 2 points behind City. The Seagulls are pushing for a Champions League spot, while the Citizens have no intention of letting the London clubs lead the table. Brighton have shown they can score against big teams and score many, but their defense is not so solid, and City will likely take advantage of this if two straight losses have not hurt their morale. We expect a match with many beautiful goals and intrigue over who will win this shootout. But of course City are the favorites, with more ‘heavyweight’ names in their arsenal.
Newcastle v Crystal Palace
Table neighbors meet at Newcastle’s ground, just 1 point above Palace. But this neighborhood is very deceptive. Palace are not playing very consistently so far, with a win in recent matches only over crisis-hit Manchester United. Newcastle, on the other hand, are in good form and playing well. Newcastle had a slow start due to an inconvenient early schedule, playing City and Liverpool in rounds 2 and 3 where points were lost. Newcastle are clear match favorites, and Palace will need to make huge efforts not to lose.
Brentford v Burnley
A meeting of two teams hungry for wins. Both have earned just 3 points in 8 rounds. However, the Bees haven’t lost as much as Burnley, so they are higher in the standings. Most likely we are in for a viscous, physical game between two equal teams, where on paper the Bees are stronger, but several injuries to key players and two more disqualifications may prevent them from playing well. Burnley should take advantage of this and try to move away from the relegation zone. A draw is the most likely result, but breaches in defense of both teams could bring a minimal victory to whoever better utilizes their chance.
Bournemouth v Wolverhampton
The Wolves go to visit the second to last team in the league, without a win to their name. Will they continue Bournemouth’s sad series or relax due to results and give Bournemouth a chance? We’ll see. Both teams will certainly try to win. And Wolverhampton are clearly the favorites in this clash.
Sheffield United v Manchester United
Awaiting this match, there are hopes among the Red Devils’ fans to see their team as clear favorites not only on paper. United will definitely try to demonstrate all their might and return to the path of victory, especially as all key attacking players are fit again. Sheffield will try not to lose and take advantage of the weaknesses in United’s defense, which definitely exist. But Erik ten Hag’s team are clear favorites, and we can expect them to win by two or more goals.
Aston Villa v West Ham
Two roughly equal teams will clash in Birmingham. Aston Villa are two points ahead of West Ham and have won more confidently over their opponents, but this is deceptive. The schedules have been completely unequal, while Villa have thrashed mid-table opponents in recent matches, the Hammerers have dropped points to City and Liverpool, while in other matches against equal opponents they have looked confident and won too. I think this will be the most interesting non-top club match. And most likely West Ham will win, already adapted to playing strong clubs.
Tottenham v Fulham
The final match of the round is another London derby! The match is expected to be very interesting, the teams will try to please fans with an excellent win, and Tottenham are clear favorites. Recently Fulham have only beaten teams from the bottom five, while Tottenham are in 1st place and don’t want to drop from there. The schedule gives the teams a chance to show everything they are capable of, with extra days of rest and preparation after the international break. We are in for an emotional game where Conte’s team are the obvious favorites.