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Gameday – PL Gameweek 4 Preview


When you hear the term franchise players, there aren’t many bigger than CR7. This weekend Ronaldo returns to Old Trafford. AS FPL managers scramble for ways to fit him in their teams, how will he fair in his homecoming game against Newcastle?

Last week, Sam took on News UK Sports Editor Kieran Benn in his score predictions against the football community. With a correct prediction from both sides, but more correct results on one end, Sam claimed GW3 45-35, leaving him with a 10 point lead going into gameday 4. This week, the football community is represented by Eyes On The Ball co-host, and Manchester United fan Darren Balogun. How will Darren get on in representing the football community against Sam’s predictions?

 

Crystal Palace Vs Tottenham Hotspur

CPFC Form: LDD

THFC Form: WWW

Key Man: Connor Gallagher

Viera’s Palace will welcome Nuno’s Spurs to Selhurst park in what will be their fifth consecutive London derby. The Eagles are yet to register a win in any of those matches but earnt an impressive draw away at West Ham prior to the international break and could easily have run out winners if Benteke could have converted from close range in the final moments. It’s expected they’ll have new signing Odsonne Edouard leading the line from now and he’s sure to bring a more clinical nature to proceedings going forward. A key ingredient that Palace will surely need if they want to get anything from this game given the fact Spurs are yet to concede in the league and boast a 100% win percentage.

However, despite what the form might suggest, I think Palace have good chance of getting a result here. Spurs are winless from their last three visits to Selhurst Park and the home team are coming off two solid performances in the league, one of which included a clean sheet at home to Brentford. Heung Min Son is an injury doubt and if he doesn’t play, the way he compliments Kane will be a huge miss for Spurs who could struggle to break down this resolute Palace side. So long as Connor Gallagher puts in the type of performance he did against West Ham, his quality, along with that of Zaha and Edouard, will give Palace a fighting chance here.

SAM’S PREDICTION: 1-1
DARREN’S PREDICTION: 1-2

Manchester United Vs Newcastle United

MUFC Form: WDW

NUFC Form: LLD

Key Man: Cristiano Ronaldo

Whether you’re bunkering down in your living room at 10:30pm to watch Match of the day or sourcing a not so legitimate stream, this is the game we all want to see this weekend.

Bruce’s men have conceded at least twice in every game so far, including four against the Hammers, who happen to be the only decent attacking side they’ve faced. So, the prospect of facing one of the game’s greatest ever goal scorers should really strike fear into the hearts of all Newcastle fans. I’ve personally thought Man United have lacked a proper goal scorer for a while now and the fact they’ve signed Ronaldo should be the final piece in the jigsaw that will allow them to mount a title challenge once again. The iconic frontman will thrive on the creative produce from Pogba and Fernandes and could easily push for 30 goals this season. Never mind the effect he’ll have on the rest of the squad and club as a whole.

The showman never fails to show up on the big stage and Ronaldo’s Premier League return is one of the biggest. I fancy him for a brace here and a hiding for Newcastle in what should be a frenetic atmosphere at Old Trafford.

SAM’S PREDICTION: 3-0
DARREN’S PREDICTION: 4-0

Southampton Vs West Ham

SFC Form: LDD

WHU Form: WWD

Key Man: Michail Antonio

This will be an interesting game. Southampton were so attacking against Newcastle racking up an expected goals tally of 3.88 and I’m still not convinced by West Ham’s defending at all. They shipped two to Palace, two to Newcastle, yet their red-hot form going forward has made the Hammers the talk of the town.

If their poor defending continues to go unaddressed, it will come back to bite them once their front players form begins to fizzle out. However, will it here? Doubtful. Adam Armstrong looks like a good player in the making and a decent replacement for Danny Ings, but the Saints are lacking a quality goal scorer in the present moment. So, whilst they should score, the form of Antonio and the various playmakers in behind him for West Ham should be enough to outgun Southampton and allow the London club to run out victorious.

SAM’S PREDICTION: 1-3
DARREN’S PREDICTION: 1-3

Brentford Vs Brighton

BFC Form: WDD

BHA Form: WWL

Key Man: Neil Maupay

Both these teams have been amongst the most impressive so far this season for me. New boys Brentford remain undefeated and have excelled in making games difficult for their opposition. Whereas Brighton look to be making that step from relegation candidate to established Premier League club. They’ve built on their already sturdy defence by adding some much-needed goals to their game and are well placed to have a great season.

Both managers prioritise keeping it tight at the back and there certainly won’t be free flowing goals. Brentford will have home advantage, but I think Graham Potter’s side have the superior quality throughout the ranks to hurt the home side. Bissouma in particular has been imperious in the midfield; his presence, and the creative flair of Neil Maupay, will be key in getting Brighton over the line for a narrow win.

SAM’S PREDICTION: 0-1
DARREN’S PREDICTION: 0-2

Leicester City Vs Manchester City

LCFC Form: WLL

MCFC Form: LWW

Key Man: Kevin De Bruyne

Leicester love playing against Man City. They’ll be looking to score their third win in four against Pep’s men here and happen to have caught them at a good time as well given Ederson’s suspension and the positive COVID case returned by their second keeper. 36-year-old veteran Scott Carson remains City’s only option in net and to say the former Liverpool back up is short on game time would be an understatement, so Leicester will want to test him throughout. Although, the Foxes aren’t exactly in the best of situations themselves having been relatively underwhelming so far given everyone’s lofty expectations for them this year.

Man City of course are big favourites, and you would expect them to score a few with KDB set to return to the starting eleven and the team’s recent run of goals. But Vardy bagged a hattrick against City last season and Ashley Barnes has the pace to thrive against their high line and expansive set up, so they could get plenty of opportunities to beat Scott Carson if they’re fully at it.

This has all the hall marks of a high scoring thriller, so I’ll be going with a very ambitious prediction here.

SAM’S PREDICTION: 2-3
DARREN’S PREDICTION: 0-3 

Watford Vs Wolverhampton Wanderers

WFC Form: WLL

WWFC Form: LLL

Key Man: Adama Traore

Wolves absolutely outplayed United in their last fixture. No doubt about it. However, their dry spell in front of goal is something out of the ordinary. 58 shots on goal so far this campaign and not one has struck gold. Surely, the floodgates will open soon.

And when they do, you can bank on Adama Traore being the catalyst. He’s consistently the main man for Wolves and has ripped through high level opposition defenders in recent weeks. There has been criticism aimed at his final product, but Wolves have a very favourable run of fixtures from now and I fancy him to start bringing some returns against the lesser teams as they get more chances.

Not that he’ll have it all his own way. Watford did get the better of Villa at Vicarage Road and Palace in the cup, so they could spring a surprise. Yet, for me there’s still plenty of question marks over the quality of that side and I think Wolves are about to hit a good patch.

SAM’S PREDICTION: 0-1
DARREN’S PREDICTION: 1-2 

Arsenal Vs Norwich

AFC Form: LLL

NFC Form: LLL

Key Man: Gabriel

There’s big pressure on Arsenal, this truly is a must win if they want to avoid hitting rock bottom. Arteta will be counting his lucky stars that a raft of first team players look set to return in Gabriel, Ben White, and Thomas Partey, who will offer a much-needed boost to the North London side. Gabriel really is going to be key in steadying the ship. He was their stand-out last season, and his physical presence is an absolute necessity in an Arsenal back line that is looking fragile at best on current form.

Fortunately for them, Norwich haven’t looked overly threatening despite their tricky fixture list and an ageing Teemu Pukki shouldn’t have them sweating too much. The start will be crucial, if Norwich can turn the crowd on the home team it could be an eventful evening. Otherwise, the superior quality of the Gunners should shine through, easing the pressure on Mikel. For the time being anyway…

SAM’S PREDICTION: 2-0
DARREN’S PREDICTION: 2-0

Chelsea Vs Aston Villa

CFC Form: WWD

AVFC Form: LWD

Key Man: Mason Mount

Unlike a lot of the games this weekend, this one seems a certainty. Villa have been poor this season. Many people, myself included, looked at the summer recruitment from Villa and tipped them for big things, but adapting to the gaping hole that Jack Grealish has left in their side has proven more difficult than first thought. The team clearly need time to gel, especially going forward. So, breaching a defence that managed to shut out Liverpool with 10-men at Anfield might be asking a bit much…

Anyway, they’ll be too busy keeping the Blues out at the other end to worry about that. Romelu Lukaku picked up a minor knock on international duty but is expected to lead the line against Villa in what would be his first home game back at Stamford Bridge. The big Belgium was quiet against Liverpool, mainly feeding off scraps, however he should have much more joy here as Mason Mount and others will be expected to dictate proceedings throughout.

It should be a fairly routine victory for Chelsea who won’t get out of second gear.

SAM’S PREDICTION: 2-0
DARREN’S PREDICTION: 2-1

 

Leeds United Vs Liverpool

LUFC Form: LDD

LFC Form: WWD

Key Man: Thiago

Liverpool are another side that have been disrupted by the Brazilian player ban for this game week with Allision, Fabinho and Roberto Firmino all set to miss the clash at Elland Road. The keeper problem could again cause issue when you consider how important Fabinho is defensively to the Reds and the ‘all guns blazing approach’ from Bielsa. However, Leeds haven’t really impressed enough to suggest they can prove any real danger to Liverpool in this fixture so long as they have their general ‘VVD’ commanding the back line.

The Yorkshire outfit have shipped eight goals already this campaign and Liverpool have the firepower to add plenty more to that tally on Sunday. Thiago is set to return to the starting eleven and the open nature of the game should provide the perfect platform for the Spaniard to display his creative talents, which will surely have Jota and Mo Salah licking their lips in anticipation.

Leeds might well score, but it won’t be enough to stop the Reds, who will be hungry to bounce back from their draw with Chelsea.

SAM’S PREDICTION: 1-3
DARREN’S PREDICTION: 2-2

 

Everton Vs Burnley

EFC Form: WDW

BFC Form: LLD

Key Man: Demarai Gray

Hopefully it’s a cold Monday night on Merseyside this coming week. It would be suitable for this fixture in what should be an old-style English football clash. The new Everton under Rafa is purposeful and effective, characterised by a direct approach that means they have only averaged 71% passing accuracy to this point, which when compared to Ancelotti’s 86% at this stage last term, demonstrates the drastic shift in style they’ve gone through. A stat bettered only by Burnley, who are of course famous for their direct approach, with a 68% passing completion rate.

So, expect plenty of long balls, crosses, and turnovers in possession amongst a feisty affair. Where Everton will have the edge, apart from their added quality in attacking areas, is the pace of the in-form Demarai Gray. The new signing has been scintillating since he arrived on Merseyside and has been key in creating an abundance of chances for DCL, whilst also notching himself against Brighton and Leeds. He’s become that perfect cut price midfielder in many an FPL team and he should be lively against an ageing Burnley defence here, creating plenty of opportunities.

Everton to edge it.

SAM’S PREDICTION: 2-1
DARREN’S PREDICTION: 1-0

This article was written by Sam Torrance. To check out their other work click here or you can leave them a comment below.

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