EPL Week 4 Preview and Predictions

By Timothy Dehinbo


The Manchester Derby will soak up the headlines in Week 4 of the 2016-17 Premier League season, as Manchester United host neighbours Manchester City and managers Jose Mourinho and Pep Guardiola renew their rivalry. Saturday’s big derby will be all about the two managers, as Guardiola and Mourinho will finally go head-to-head once again. The two built an incredible rivalry over the course of just two years in LaLiga, guiding Barcelona and Real Madrid, respectively.

While managers have rivalries all the time― Mourinho and Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger have had some heated battles over the years―there was always something particularly vicious about this particular rivalry.

Mourinho and Guardiola left a year apart, neither of them seeming happy or fulfilled, both a little burnt. When Guardiola departed, he was asked about his memories of the clasicos, the biggest club game on the planet with the best players. He had seen a 6-2, a 5-0, a 2-0 in the European Cup semi-final, some of the best moments in his club’s history, but his reply was telling: “I don’t have good memories of them,” he said.

In England, Mourinho has the advantage due to his familiarity with the league and the absence of Sergio Aguero, the Argentina international will miss three matches in total after an incident with West Ham United’s Winston Reid.

Both teams enter the derby undefeated, so form-wise, the two sides look similar. City have mainly done damage with their remarkable attack, scoring an impressive nine goals already, while the Red Devils have conceded just one goal.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic has hit the ground running at Old Trafford, same as centre-back Eric Bailly, who has been the most impressive of the summer signings so far. Henrikh Mkhitaryan is expected to see more minutes after the international break, and Paul Pogba will find his best form soon enough as well.

On the opposite side of the pitch, City have endured less turnover as far as personnel goes, with the only major additions to the starting XI being John Stones and Nolito. Aguero’s absence complicates things, however―the latter could now move into a central role, or fellow summer signing Leroy Sane might be handed his first start.

The former Schalke man took a short trip back to Germany at the start of the international break but has been working hard since.

The game certainly is going to be a blast of excitement with goals galore. Man United should be ruling the city of Manchester on Saturday afternoon end of the game with a win.


The Cherries take on the Baggies at the Vitality Stadium, keen on repeating last season’s 2-1 win. Having lost their opening two games,the Cherries were denied three points by a last gasp Scott Dann’s header as they were held to a 1-1 draw at Selhurst Park. Jordon Ibe has been underwhelming thus far since his arrival from Liverpool.

Benik Afobe is also yet to get off the mark, although Callum Wilson and Josh King have both started all three games ahead of him.The Baggies started the season with a smash and grab 1-0 win at Selhurst Park which was proceeded by a 1-2 home defeat to Everton on Matchday 2, despite taking the lead early on in the game through Gary McAuley. A dreadful performance saw them draw 0-0 against Middlesbrough, which is one of the worst game of the season so far. Salomon Rondon should lead the line despite his national team involvement with Venezuela, while James McClean and Saido Berahino should provide support from the flanks.

Expect a typical Tony Pulis’s kind of performance with Claudio Yacob, Craig Dawson and Craig Gardner in midfield. Danny Fletcher should provide us with some crunching tackles which will be vital against the Cherries who keep possession for larger parts of the game.

West Brom love to sit back during most of their away games, and their defensive discipline could see them get a point, if not all three from the South Coast.


The Gunners picked up a much needed three points against Watford before
the international break with a 1-3 win. Mesut Ozil,Alexis Sanchez and
Santi Cazorla all scored in the game at Vicarage Road, and Wenger will
be expecting more of the same when the Saints visit the Emirates

The transition under Claude Puel from Ronald Koeman has been far from
steady for the Saints. Despite an impressive pre-season, the Saints
have only managed a couple of 1-1 home draws against Watford and
Sunderland, sandwinched by a 2-0 defeat at Manchester United. Creativity
has been their biggest problem thus far, with Dusan Tadic struggling to
re-create his last season’s form despite the Saints dominating
pissession in both home games, while Nathan Redmond is still feeling his
way into the team.

This fixture ended 0-0 in March, with Fraser Forster
producing a string of superb saves to deny Arsenal on the night. On paper, this looks like an easy Arsenal win, but the
Gunners might struggle in this game. They’ll sit back and hit Arsenal with the pace of Shane Long and Nathan Redmond on the
counter-attack. Alexis Sanchez’ll likely start as the lone striker with possible debuts for Shokdran Mustafi and Lucas Perez. Arsenal’s need for defensive re-inforcement could see Mustafi start alongside
Koscienly in defence, while Lucas Perez’ll have to wait till the second half to get a chance to make his debut. I’m going for a slim
Arsenal win, although I won’t put it past the Saints to force a draw.


When the Premier League fixtures were released in June, many would have
predicted this game as a relegation six-pointer, and probably, is a
relegation six-pointer. The Clarets have started life, back in the
Premier League with a win and two defeats and a win. An opening day 0-1
home defeat to Swansea was followed by a 2-0 home win against Liverpool,
both at the Turf Moor.

Their third game saw them outclassed at Stamford
Bridge as Chelsea thrashed them 3-0 and it could have been more, if not
for impressive saves from Tom Heaton. Hull City have started with two
wins and a defeat. Beating Leicester City 2-1 and Swansea City 2-0 was
followed by a late goal conceded, against Manchester United, culminating
in a 0-1 defeat. Curtis Davies has been
very impressive for the Tigers this season, making mockery of the
player who struggled with injuries at Aston Villa. Ryan Mason arrived
from Tottenham for a club record fee alongside two other deadline day
signings. The last meeting between the sides ended 1-0 in favour of
Burnley in 2015 at the KC Stadium, which proved detrimental to the
Tiger’s Premier League status then. There isn’t much to choose between
the sides, so it should be a draw.


Boro have made a steady start to life back in the Premier League. They
started the campaign with a 1-1 draw against Stoke City at the Riverside Stadium. They followed that up with a 2-1 win over Sunderland in the North East derby thanks to a pair of goals from
Uruguayan attacker, Christian Stuani.

They earned a point against West
Brom at the Hawthorns in their last outing: a game where they barely created chances, or made attempts at goals. They come up against the
Eagles this Saturday, who are still seeking their first win of the
campaign after two defeats and a last gasp draw at home to Bournemouth last time out. Loic Remy joined on loan from Chelsea, but he looks set
to miss the game after picking up an injury,which could see him missing
action two months. They have lacked bite and creativity in their opening three games.

A game of two equals is upon us. Boro will
depend on Gaston Ramirez’s creativity, Albert Adomah’s pace and Stewart
Downing’s crossing. Negredo hasn’t really been offered the kind of service he enjoyed at Sevilla and Manchester City. Jason Puncheon and Wilfried Zaha are expected to provide ammunition for
Benteke. This looks like a game that could easily end in a draw. If there’s any side who looks likely to nick all three points, then its the home side.


Spurs haven’t really played the kind of football we saw them play last season, having started the campaign with a win and two draw: the
latter which they managed to pick a point after being outplayed at home
by Liverpool. Harry Kane has fired blanks in the opening three games while summer signing Vincent Janssen, has been dreadful,
especially in the 1-1 draw against Liverpool where he struggled to make
any meaningful impact after coming on for the injured Kyle Walker.

Walker’s injury could see Eric Dier continue at right back while Kane
should play in a more orthodox centre foward position, having played as a
number ’10’ to complement Janssen.  For Stoke, they’re worse off! They started with a good point away at Middlesbrough, lost 1-4 at home to Manchester City and losing to Everton 1-0 last time out. Xherdan Shaqiri has been missed in the past
two games having crocked up an injury in the opening game.

The flair on
both sides should provide us with an exciting game with Spurs relying on
Christian Eriksen, Erik Lamela and the surging runs of Dele Alli from
midfield. Stoke will be relying on Arnautovic, Bojan and Mame Biram Diouf. A fiesty midfield battle between two midfield
destroyers, Gianelli Imbula and Victor Wanyama should be interesting,and
has the  inclination as to where the pendulum’ll swing.


The Hammers have endured a tough start in their first three games of the
season. Playing away to Chelsea and Manchester City, sandwiched by a
home tie against a side they lost 3-4 to last season was always gonna be
a difficult task. Playing in a new stadium, makes it more difficult, and considering their key man Dmitri Payet has only played twenty minutes; in the game against Chelsea, whilst missing the games
against Bournemouth and Manchester City, its understandable. 
Watford have started the new season poorly, drawing their opening game 1-1 at
Southampton, and losing 1-2 and 1-3 to Chelsea and Arsenal respectively
although few would have given them any chance of upsetting their
illustrious opponents. Walter Mazarri’s 3-5-2 doesn’t seem to be working, as Odion Ighalo and Troy Deeney have both struggled.
Nordin Ambarat has been the greatest beneficiary of this
tactical switch as the Moroccan has shone in all three games, playing in
a wing back position. Robert Perrerya made his debut against Arsenal in
the second half, as well as Isaac Success. Stefano Okaka who once played for Fulham as a youngster could also make his debut. Payet will be back for this game and he could make all the
difference. Mannuel Lanzini’s return against Man City will give them
further impetus in attack. It’s hard to look beyond a West Ham win.


Saturday’s late game sees Jurgen Klopp’s men welcome the champions to
Anfield keen to win their first home game of the season. Liverpool won this tie 1-0 last Boxing Day thanks to Christian Benteke’s early second half goal. Both sides have identical points with records of W1,
D1, L1 each, although the Foxes are ahead of the Reds on the table
thanks to a better goal difference. Islam Slimani arrived from Sporting
Lisbon for a club record fee of £28m, and the Algerian’ll be hoping to
play some part in the game.
For Liverpool, this is their first home game of the season. Their Week 2 tie against Burnley which
was played at Turf Moor was supposed to have held at Anfield but wasn’t,
due to the construction work in the Anfield stands. This should provide us with an open and exciting game, which could favour
Leicester City’s preferred counter-attacking strategy. Sadio Mane is fit and ready to play despite an injury scare on international duty with Senegal which should serve as a boost for manager, Jurgen Klopp. A draw seems a possible result here.


Sunday’s only game sees Swansea City host Chelsea, the hosts seeking to
repeat last season’s result in April when Leroy Fer’s first half goal
saw the Swans beat Chelsea 1-0 at the Liberty Stadium. It was then boss,
Guus Hiddink’s first away defeat in charge of Chelsea, and the Blues
will be seeking to exact revenge when they visit South Wales on Sunday. 
Swansea started with a 1-0 win at Burnley, which was proceeded by two consecutive defeats to Hull City and Leicester City by
0-2 and 1-2 scorelines respectively. Fernando Llorente has started all
three games since his arrival from Sevilla, while Borja Baston is in
line to make his debut since his summer arrival from Atletico de Madrid
for a club record fee of £15m.
For Chelsea, Marcos Alonso and David Luiz were signed on deadline day to bolster the defence. Alonso
came in from Fiorentina having had underwhelming spells with Bolton Wanderers and Sunderland previously in the Premier League. His arrival
could see Conte implement a 3-5-2 due to his versatility, having the ability to play in central defence, left back, and left wing back, which could also see Cesar Azpilicueta move to a more orthodox right
back position. Luiz is back after he left for PSG in 2014. His arrival
could see Antonio Conte finally play 3-5-2 due to his ball playing
abilities and Premier League experience. 
The Blues have had a fantastic
start, winning all three games. Eden Hazard was named Premier League
player of the month of August on Tuesday after a fantastic start to the
season which has seen him score twice and display the form that saw Chelsea win the Premier League in
2014/2015. Diego Costa, fresh from a brace and an assist On
international duty with Spain will lead the line and will be looking to
continue his good form against the Swans. Since his arrival in 2014,
he’s bagged five goals in three appearances against this weekend’s opponents. Since their promotion in 2011, Swansea have played Chelsea 10 times in the league with a poor record of W1 D3 L6.
Although they knocked Chelsea out in the 2013 League Cup semi finals
after winning 2-0 at Stamford Bridge thanks to goals from Michu
Fernandez and Danny Graham, while Eden Hazard was sent off in the second
leg goaless draw for kicking out on a ball boy. History certainly
favours Chelsea in this tie and they have all it takes to win this game,
but don’t expect the home side to go down without a fight.


The final game of Week 4 sees a Monday Night clash between Sunderland
and Everton at the Stadium Of Light. The Black Cats are yet to win a
game, losing twice and drawing once in their last trip to Southampton this season. A Jermaine Defoe’s penalty had given the Black Cats the
lead before a potshot from Jay Rodriguez squirmed underneath the body of
Jordan Pickford, who had made impressive saves to keep his side in the
game prior to his howler. 
The Black Cats were busy on deadline day,
bringing in players to strengthen the squad, compared to this weekend’s
opponents. Victor Anichebe has joined to strengthen the attack while Everton saw a bid to bring in Moussa Sissoko rejected by
the player, who then completed a move to North London, Tottenham
Hotspurs. These two sides met in May in this stadium, where Jermaine Defoe inspired the Black Cats to a 3-0 win, a defeat which cost then manager, Roberto Martinez his job, as he was sacked few days later.
For Everton, its been an impressive start to the season. Drawing
their opening game against Tottenham at Goodison Park, they followed it
up with a comeback 2-1 win at West Brom. Their last game before the international break saw them defeat Stoke City 1-0. There were 11 goals
in ties involving these two sides last season with the Toffees wiining
6-2 at Goodison Park. The Black Cats have the chance to pick their first
win of the season.

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