The first few weeks of the Premier League season have been nothing short of entertaining, with the three newly-promoted sides adapting adequately to life in the top-flight; Liverpool asserting their early dominance over the current champions, Manchester City; and Wolverhampton Wanderers not living up to their performances of last campaign. As matchday six rolls around, let’s take a look at three of the most mouth-watering ties of the weekend.
Southampton v Bournemouth
Friday night sees the ‘other South Coast’ derby, as Bournemouth travel the 30-odd miles to Southampton to take on their neighbours (not rivals, as many Cherries or Saints fans will point out). Since Eddie Howe’s side joined the elite ahead of the 2015-16 season, the two have met on eight occasions, with Bournemouth winning just once and a further four games ending in honours even.
The stage will be set at St. Mary’s, with the two, not only vying for points on the board but bragging rights over Hampshire. Both Bournemouth and Southampton have had similar starts to the season – they sit ninth and tenth, respectively, in the Premier League table; with two wins, one draw and two losses from their opening handful of games. For the winner, it could mean a push up the table and possibly into the top six. While for the loser, it could be a precarious drop into the lower half of the table.
Prediction: With their home advantage, we think Ralph Hasenhüttl’s boys have it in the bag. Although they need to start scoring more goals if they wish to win games and propel themselves up the table.
Manchester City v Watford
On paper, this is a bit of a David v Goliath battle, as second meets twentieth. City may still be early favourites in English Premier League winner odds, but their positive start to the campaign took a turn last weekend as they suffered a shock defeat at the hand of newcomers, Norwich City.
However, all eyes will be on their Argentine striker Sergio Agüero, who will make history at the weekend, should he score a goal – and become one of three players to reach a century of league goals at his home ground. It looks likely too, with Agüero the division’s current joint-top-scorer with seven goals.
It’s been a winless start for Watford, who sit rooted to the foot of the table. They have just two points from their opening five games. After 20 months in charge, the Hornets parted company with manager Javi Gracia and the rest of his team following the Hertfordshire club’s dire start to this campaign. His replacement, Quique Sánchez Flores, is no stranger to Vicarage Road and picked up a point against Arsenal during his first game in charge.
Prediction: despite the potential change in fortunes under a new manager, we can’t see City dropping points here – especially at the Etihad. City to win and Agüero to score to make history, once again.
Chelsea v Liverpool
An early battle between two of the sides in the ‘top six’, as current-leaders Liverpool make the trip to West London, to take on a Chelsea side that have thus far defied the critics. Nobody could predict as to how the Blues would get on this season. Club legend Frank Lampard is now at the helm, with a vastly inexperienced and young side, and the departure of Eden Hazard still firmly at the forefront of minds. But two wins and two draws from their opening games, plus the free-scoring nature of young Tammy Abraham, has meant it’s been a fairly successful start for life back at Stamford Bridge for Lampard.
Liverpool, however, have continued from where they left off last season. Five wins from their opening five games, with 15 goals scored means that Jürgen Klopp’s side already have an early five-point advantage over Manchester City. The trio of Roberto Firminho, Mo Salah and Sadio Mané will no doubt prove deadly over the course of the season.
Prediction: The Reds have been merciless and clinical thus far, and we can see that continuing on Sunday. Chelsea may have scored 11 goals, but they’ve conceded the same number. Defensive frailties could well be their downfall against a powerful Liverpool side.