We take a look at this week’s Premier League fixtures, focusing on a big test at The Etihad when Man City welcome Newcastle, and Man United travel to Tottenham Hotspur. Friday night football also sees a big test at the lower ends of the table, as Nottingham Forest host Sheffield United.
This Week’s Premier League Fixtures
Nottingham Forest v Sheffield United
Fulham v Brentford
Liverpool v Bournemouth
Wolves v Brighton
Tottenham Hotspur v Man United
Man City v Newcastle
Aston Villa v Everton
West Ham v Chelsea
Crystal Palace v Arsenal
Nottingham Forest v Sheffield UnitedEmbed from Getty Images
We may only be one game into the season, but this result could go a long way in deciding the fate of either side. Forest will be looking at purely surviving in the league, as Sheffield United and their early form will do them wonders.
After the delayed kickoff against Arsenal, Forest looked poor for most of the first half. They did have some brilliant chances, and could easily have had a goal had Brennan Johnson not missed a one-on-one.
Ultimately, they were undone by two bits of brilliance in the first half. The assist from Martinelli was world-class, taking two defenders out of the game, whilst the second goal from Saka was simply unstoppable.
Despite them only having 21.7% possession, and only two shots on target, they did manage to pull one back in the second half. Two substitutes, Elanga and Awoniyi, combined, giving Forest a bit of hope, but it was to no avail.
Forest fans should be happy with the performance in the end. They were facing a side that finished 2nd last season, away from home, and they put up a fight. They held Arsenal off for long periods of the game and gave themselves a chance of a result after pulling one back. If they can perform like that at home, or away against sides in the bottom half, they could comfortably stay up.
Sheffield United on the other hand were absolutely woeful in their opening fixture. They have been losing key players from all parts of the pitch, and have only now started to replace them. They need to bed these players in quickly and ensure they hit the ground running.
Being drawn at home against Crystal Palace, it gave them a good chance to get some early points on the board. But instead, they showed why many have them as one of the favourites for relegation.
They were dominated on the ball, having just 32.2% possession, and managed just one shot on target. On the opening weekend, at home, you would expect your side to put up more of a fight.
A poor start to the season for Sheffield United could be made worse this weekend. Both Forest and Bournemouth struggled for away wins last season, and it could be the same for Sheffield United this season.
Early on in the season, it is hard to tell how teams are going to do over the course of a 38-game season. Come to the end of the season, this may not have been a relegation 6-pointer, as either side could be sat comfortably in mid-table.
It is important for both sides, however, to get points on the board early. If Forest plays like they did against Arsenal, where they took their time, and made the most of their chances, they should pick up their first win of the season here.
Prediction: Nottingham Forest 1 – 0 Sheffield United
Wolves v BrightonEmbed from Getty Images
I think Wolves proved a lot of people wrong when they faced Man United on Monday night. After the poor transfer window, and Lopetegui walking out days before their first fixture, many people predicted Wolves to get hammered, and be candidates for relegation.
Their performance against Man United said otherwise. They registered a staggering 23 shots, with 6 of those being on target. For a side that did not have much time to prepare under their new manager, that certainly bodes well.
They were exciting to watch as well. The linkup play between some of their players was brilliant, and they have the pace to hurt teams on the counter this season. Pedro Neto is going to be huge for Wolves this season, and I cannot wait to see what else he has to offer.
Wolves should have had a penalty in this game as well and will be extremely unhappy that VAR took a look at the incident and deemed it correct. Onana was lucky to get away with that, and Wolves are right to feel that the wrong decision was made.
Despite a brilliant performance, they did not get the result they wanted. They were the better team over the course of the game, and still went home empty-handed.
That will be their problem this season, as it was last season. They do not have that player who can consistently find the back of the net. Should they bring someone in who is capable of that, then they could surprise a few.
Brighton had, potentially, the easiest opening fixture out of any of the teams in the league. At home against the team, everyone has nailed on to finish bottom of the table. Despite that, it was still a very strong showing from The Seagulls.
They dominated the ball as expected, with 70.7% possession, and they certainly made the most of it, creating 27 shots, with 12 of those on target. They were relentless, just as they were last season.
It was also good to see that their goals were being spread across the team. All 4 of their goals were scored by different players, including new man Joao Pedro, and Simon Adingra. Kaoru Mitoma looked his best, and he is going to be a massive player for them this year.
The only downside was the penalty that Brighton conceded. It lost them their clean sheet, and it gave Luton half a chance, bringing the scores to 2-1. But, it only took them 4 minutes to regain their 2-goal advantage.
If Wolves managed to get something out of their game with United, this would have been a very difficult game to predict. But, I think due to the lack of goals in that Wolves side, and the quality and abundance of goals in Brighton’s side, it should be an away win.
Prediction: Wolves 0 – 2 Brighton
Tottenham Hotspur v Man UnitedEmbed from Getty Images
Two unlikely goal-scorers for Tottenham Hotspur last weekend, but that just shows what Postecoglou and his team are about. They looked threatening from set pieces, and Royal is being given to license to roam forwards.
With no Kane, it was a new-look attack for Spurs, and the only player that really impressed, was James Maddison, who grabbed the assist for both goals. He is going to be huge for them this season if he stays fit.
His linkup play, and ability to carry the ball forwards, take his man on, and put a decent ball into the box, helped Spurs get back into the game. He looks like a steal for them at the moment.
The same old issues came back to haunt Spurs however, as their poor defending meant they conceded two goals away from home. They had this exact issue last season, and if Postecoglou cannot solve this, then a spot in the top 4 looks a step too far for them.
All in all, Spurs did look good. Once their attacking play clicks, and Son and Richarlison get used to their new roles, the goals could flow, but for now, their defending is really letting them down.
Man United got away with it on Monday night football. They impressed in spells, but overall, they were poor. Their midfield was too soft, and Casemiro was often left on his own, struggling to pick out a pass.
Ten Haag needs to find the right balance in midfield now. Mount and Fernandes are always going to be attacking, and against bigger teams, he needs someone to sit back with Casemiro to help break up play when they lose the ball, otherwise, they will get overrun easily.
It is no surprise that Onana got the man of the match. His saves proved vital come the end of the game, keeping Wolves at bay with a few smart stops. There were questions raised towards the end of the game when he appeared to clatter into the head of a Wolves player, which could have seen him give away a penalty.
United will have to be better in these next few games. This is a big test for them already, against a Spurs side who will try to control possession. If United go with 2 attacking midfielders again, Spurs might be able to pass right through them.
This will be an entertaining game for sure. Both sides will want to send out a message to the rest of the league, but at the same time, neither side can afford to drop points so early on in the season. I think Spurs may edge this one.
Prediction: Tottenham Hotspur 2 – 1 Man United
Man City v NewcastleEmbed from Getty Images
Man City will be feeling the hectic fixture list already, having played in the Community Shield, the Premier League, and now the UEFA Super Cup. Just how much will that Super Cup game have taken out of them?
To make matters worse for them, they have a massive game against Newcastle at home at 8 pm on Saturday. This game is huge for both sides, with both sides vying for a place in the top 4 at the very least.
De Bruyne picked up an injury in Man City’s 3-0 opening-day win against Burnley, and he is expected to be out for a few months, which is a massive shame for them. He is such a big player, but it is now time for Foden to step up and take his chance.
City’s win against Burnley was routine at the very least. They dominated the ball, tested the keeper with shots, and won comfortably in the end. Haaland was back to his best with 2 goals in the first half, putting his Community Shield performance behind him.
However, there were many defensive mistakes on the City side that night that will worry Pep. It is surprising that they came out of that game with a clean sheet. Against the better sides in the league, they would have been made to pay for their mistakes.
This is a good chance for City to send out a message to their title challengers here. Anything but a win for them will be a disappointment, but it will not be easy for them.
Newcastle surprised me in their opening game. They were deserving of their lead in the first half and reacted brilliantly to Villa’s equaliser, which was against the run of play at the time.
Their second-half performance could have gone either way. The early goal in the second half from Isak settled them into it. They left Villa with enough chances to not only get back into the game but to win it, which is concerning.
In the end, though, they produced another brilliant attacking display. Beating any team in the Premier League 5-1 is an amazing feat, let alone the dark horse from last season, who was predicted to do well again this year.
On another day, it could have been a different story. It could have ended with Newcastle on the end of a slender defeat that they felt they did not deserve. Sandro Tonali looks a brilliant purchase, he grabbed an early goal and controlled the game well in spells.
Harvey Barnes also put in a good performance off the bench. He grabbed a goal and an assist on his debut, pushing for a spot in that starting 11. Newcastle have signed well, as they did last season, and I cannot wait to see how far they can go this season.
This is incredibly tough to call. If Newcastle plays how they did against Villa, they will cause City problems. It all depends on how well City defend. Another defensive performance like the one at Burnley, and I think Newcastle have every chance of taking home 3 points. I want to say Newcastle will edge this one, but you cannot bet against Pep at home.
Prediction: Man City 2 – 1 Newcastle
- Fulham 1 – 1 Brentford
- Liverpool 2 – 0 Bournemouth
- Aston Villa 2 – 0 Everton
- West Ham 2 – 1 Chelsea
- Crystal Palace 1 – 2 Arsenal