With another international break looming, the Premier League clubs will look to head into the 2-week pause on a high. While that will be the case for some, others will inevitably endure a difficult couple of weeks.
Find out below which clubs are tipping towards success this weekend as they continue their season in Matchday 7 of the Premier League.
Swansea City v Liverpool (TSN4, 7:30 A.M. EST Saturday)
Swansea City have not won since the opening day of the season, and a visit from a red-hot Liverpool side may not be coming at a good time for the Welsh side. Swansea manager, Francesco Gudolin, has admitted that he may lose his job if his team fail to beat Liverpool, with rumours swirling around that Ryan Giggs, or even Jurgen Klinsmann could be appointed as Guidolin’s successor if Swansea does not win. The Swans were much improved in last week’s 3-1 defeat to Manchester City, and they matched the league leaders for just over an hour by pressing them high up the pitch and unsettling them. While that performance can be classified as an admirable defeat, Swansea needs some actual results in order to push up the table.
Liverpool has had a full week to prepare for this fixture due to their absence from European competition this season, and Jurgen Klopp has urged his side to take advantage of this opportunity by avoiding a slip-up at the Liberty Stadium. The Reds have enjoyed a very good start to the campaign, but this could be a tricky fixture for them. If Swansea can play as well as they did against Manchester City and disrupt Liverpool by getting in their faces, then they might be able to produce a positive result. But Liverpool have been a joy to watch in recent weeks, and they have particularly been devastating on the break. Swansea will give it a good go, but if Liverpool escape the Swans’ high pressure, there will be tons of gaps and spaces left to exploit at the back, and the Reds’ definitely have the potency to score some goals.
Hull City v Chelsea (Sportsnet, 10 A.M. EST Saturday)
Hull City’s excellent start to the campaign seems a bit distant now that they have gone winless in their last 4 league games. In fairness, all 3 of their defeats have come against Manchester United (1-0), Arsenal (4-1), and Liverpool (5-1) – by no means the type of opposition that Hull would expect to realistically compete with. The Tigers have had a man sent off in each of their last 2 league matches, and that is never a recipe for success. Mike Phelan has yet to be appointed as the club’s permanent manager, much to his bewilderment, but he will only be focused on Saturday’s opponents in the meantime.
Chelsea are on a 3 match winless run themselves, having suffered back-to-back defeats in the league at the hands of Liverpool and Arsenal. Antonio Conte has warned of another difficult season for the club if his side do not improve defensively and collectively. Chelsea’s fine start to the campaign was never truly convincing, as it was marred with inconsistent and average displays. Diego Costa has bailed the Blues out on a few occasions this season, but the entire team must step it up if Chelsea are to challenge for a top 4 place, let alone the league title. Defeats to their main title rivals, Liverpool and Arsenal, in the past fortnight have been damaging, and Conte’s men desperately need to get back on track at the KCOM Stadium.
Hull will defend resolutely and pack men behind the ball, but Conte’s expected switch to a 3-5-2 formation should shore up Chelsea’s defensive woes for Saturday’s clash, and give them the impetus to control the match.
Sunderland v West Bromwich Albion (TSN4, 10 A.M. EST Saturday)
Sunderland’s dreadful start to the season continued last week, as the Black Cats threw away a 2-0 lead at home, before conceding a 94th minute goal to fall 3-2 to Crystal Palace. David Moyes’ side is all over the place at the moment, but they will have another crack at getting their 1st league victory of the season at the Stadium of Light on Saturday, with West Bromwich Albion visiting.
Tony Pulis’ side looked set to suffer a narrow defeat last weekend at his former stomping ground, but Salomon Rondon’s late header gave the Baggies a share of the spoils in a hard-fought 1-1 draw against Stoke City. Rondon may fancy his chances of scoring once again on Saturday, as Sunderland have the league’s joint 3rd worst defensive record, having conceded goals 12 times so far. West Brom are awkward opponents for most teams, and Sunderland should be wary of Albion’s set-piece prowess. If Sunderland are going to avoid relegation they need to win these types of matches, and they just might condemn West Brom to a 3rd defeat of the season here.
Watford v Bournemouth (Sportsnet World, 10 A.M. EST Saturday)
Watford were very disappointing in their 2-0 defeat at Burnley, especially given the fact that they had produced excellent displays in their 2 previous matches against West Ham United and Manchester United – both yielding victories. The Hornets were outfought at Turf Moor last Monday, and Walter Mazzarri will be expecting a much better effort on Saturday against Bournemouth.
The Cherries were well worthy of their 1-0 win over Everton last week, and Eddie Howe will want to see more of the same from his side. It’s been a bit of a yo-yo start to the campaign for Bournemouth, and now they will face a stern test at Vicarage Road. There’s very little separating these 2 teams in terms of quality, and considering both matches between the sides ended in draws last season, another stalemate could be on the cards here.
West Ham United v Middlesbrough (Sportsnet One, 10 A.M. EST Sunday)
It’s not been a good season for West Ham United so far, and Slaven Bilic knows that time is running out if he is to fix the Hammers’ problems. West Ham owns the league’s worst defensive record, having conceded a staggering 16 goals in just 6 matches, and a major defensive improvement is critical if West Ham are to inch their way out of the relegation zone and up the table. Fortunately for the Hammers, Middlesbrough are the visitors to the London Stadium on Saturday, and they have been a tad goal-shy so far this season, scoring at a rate of just 1.0 goal/game. That has meant that their defence has been under quite a bit of pressure in most games, and for most teams, it’s difficult to win many games by being so conservative.
There is no doubt that Aitor Karanka is a more defensive-minded manager, especially given the fact that he was schooled by Jose Mourinho, but ‘Boro need to be given the license to attack a very shaky West Ham backline. It could help them snap out of a 3-match losing streak in the Premier League. The visitors have struggled to cope with big, strong presences in their own penalty area, and Michail Antonio could do considerable damage to ‘Boro if they do not mark him tightly.
Manchester United v Stoke City (TSN4, 7 A.M. EST Sunday)
After embarking on a 3-game losing skid, Manchester United have now flipped the tables and won 3 on the bounce. Last week’s 4-1 demolition of the reigning champions, Leicester City, indicated that United have regained some of their early season momentum. Jose Mourinho has warned against complacency as his side host bottom-of-the-table, Stoke City on Sunday.
The Potters, winless in 6 league matches to date, thought that they had done enough to secure their 1st victory of the campaign last week, only for West Brom to spoil the party with a late equalizer. Stoke do not generally fare well on their visits to Old Trafford. In fact, they have not beaten United on their travels in over 40 years (1976). Despite an improved showing by Stoke last week, Mark Hughes’ men look destined to remain in the drop zone for at least another fortnight.
Leicester City v Southampton (TSN4, 9:15 A.M. EST Sunday)
It appears as though Leicester City are saving their finest performances for the Champions League this season, and who can blame them. The Foxes want to go as far as they can in that competition, and rightly so, as it could be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for the club, the players, and of course, the supporters. Their league results have deteriorated as a result, but Claudio Ranieri’s side will look to rebound from last week’s 4-1 thrashing at Old Trafford at home. against an in-form Southampton side on Sunday.
Southampton have been excellent of late and have won 4 of their past 5 matches in all competitions, conceding only once in the process. Claude Puel’s team took a bit of time to gel, but they are now firing on all cylinders. Their 2 defeats so far this season have come away from home, against Manchester United and Arsenal, and if truth be told, they deserved a draw at Arsenal and were on course for one until a soft penalty decision was awarded to the Gunners in 2nd half stoppage time. Leicester have a terrific home record stretching back to last season, and with Southampton traveling to Israel and back for their Europa League commitments midweek, the Saints might have to settle for a score-draw with the defending Premier League champions.
Tottenham Hotspur v Manchester City (Sportsnet, 9:15 A.M EST Sunday)
This is a battle between the league’s only remaining unbeaten sides, as 2nd placed Tottenham Hotspur host the league leaders, Manchester City. Spurs have yet to hit top gear, but they have been picking up results and have stayed near the summit of the table. For their part, City have been immaculate to date, winning all 6 matches and maintaining their perfect league record. But last week’s 3-1 win at Swansea was far from comfortable, as the Swans pressed Pep Guardiola’s men high up the pitch and disturbed their passing rhythm. Then in midweek, City’s 10 match winning run (in all competitions) came to an end after Celtic produced a spectacular display to hold the Premier League table toppers. City were harried by the Scottish champions, with Celtic employing a pressing game of their own to disrupt their opponents’ possession game. Spurs’ boss Mauricio Pochettino will surely have analyzed those matches, and considering his own team plays a high-energy, press-from-the-front style, there could be more trouble for Guardiola and co.
Tottenham did the double over City last season, but overall, City have won 8 of the past 12 fixtures between the sides. Yet, Pochettino’s 1st ever win as a football manager came against Guardiola, when the pair managed Espanyol and Barcelona in La Liga, respectively. Although Pochettino’s tenure at the Catalan club ended with the sack, he has gradually become one of the finest young managers in the game since he moved to the Premier League. He could also be the manager who halts Guardiola’s perfect start in England.
Burnley v Arsenal (Sportsnet, 11:30 A.M. EST Sunday)
Burnley were full value for their 2-0 win at home to Watford last Monday. The Clarets worked hard as they always do, and kept a good defensive shape and organization. Although they took advantage of some shaky Watford defending to score, Burnley demonstrated that they are a threat on set-pieces. They will need to capitalize on their chances and be strong collectively if they are to get anything versus Arsenal on Sunday.
The Gunners have been terrific since their early season struggles, and Arsene Wenger will be hoping that his side can extend their purple patch at Turf Moor. Even with Arsenal playing so well, it will not be a straightforward task for them against a Burnley side who will dig in and try to frustrate them. If Burnley can start well and repel the early waves of Arsenal attacks, they just might nick a point on Sunday.
You can follow Farzan Mirzazadeh on Twitter @Farzan_4