Alli’s finger back on Premier League pulse
Unless your name was Ben Woodburn, the international break contained as many twists and turns as the Aquarium’s giant tortoise enclosure.
However, a few things did catch my eye this week.
1, Dele Alli’s middle-finger “salute” to team-mate Kyle Walker. NOT the referee, you understand. Let’s get it straight, he wasn’t flicking the bird to the ref, but to his buddy Kyle. Glad that’s clear. Right?
2, Leicester failed to register new signing Adrien Silva by 14 seconds. Sure, it hinged on Danny Drinkwater’s late move to Chelsea but the transfer window had been open for two months, 22 days. Take off the two months Leicester spent trying to convince Riyad Mahrez to stay and that STILL leaves 22 days to complete business before the deadline. If the deal was homework, the club would be in detention.
3, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain’s video post to Liverpool fans after his escape ... I mean move from Arsenal. There hasn’t been a smugger piece to camera since “Hannibal” took a slow puff on his cigar, turned to BA Baracus and said, “We got this”. The Ox could barely keep the smile of his face as he thanked his old fans from Melwood. Never before has someone been so happy to take a pay cut.
11am kick-offs unless stated
Manchester City v Liverpool
This may come as a surprise, but Liverpool have kept a clean sheet in six of their past seven league matches. And that’s with Dejan Lovren in their ranks. That said, and on a similar stat theme, City are undefeated in their past 13 league games. Jürgen Klopp has a terrific record against the other top-six teams and has won five of his previous ten meetings with Pep Guardiola.
Plenty of attacking riches on display. Prediction: 2-2
Arsenal v AFC Bournemouth
After their wobbly start to the season, and their transfer window sagas, this is a big game for Arsenal.
On the face of it, Bournemouth have had an even worse start to the season but looked to have gained some of their verve — if not points — against City. Nevertheless, Arsène Wenger should get some relief here. Prediction: 2-1
Brighton & Hove Albion v West Bromwich Albion
On the quiet, Tony Pulis has not only made an excellent start to the season with his refreshed WBA team but they have also done good business in the transfer market. Grzegorz Krychowiak and Kieran Gibbs could both make their debuts and the former, especially, is one to watch. Brighton have yet to convince anyone they have the goals to stay up — the WBA defence will provide a stern test.
Everton v Tottenham Hotspur
Wayne Rooney took a breather during the international break ... and he still managed to pick up three points! Tasteless drink-driving gags aside, this game promises to be a real combative encounter between two sides with good records: Everton have won ten of their past 11 at Goodison in the league, while Spurs have not lost to the Toffees in their past nine games. Prediction: 1-1
Leicester City v Chelsea
Back-to-back wins have got Chelsea’s mojo back and Leicester, while impressive, are in the middle of a tough run. Shorn of Drinkwater (and Silva), Chelsea have the chance to continue their mini resurgence. Prediction: 0-1
Southampton v Watford
Both teams have identical records after three games but Saints have registered two stalemates in those. Virgil van Dijk is back in training but, no doubt, remains royally p****d off at failing to secure a move to Anfield. Both have new managers and are highly organised. Could be an attritional battle. Prediction: 1-1
Stoke City v Manchester United
Stoke are unbeaten in four against United, but it’s hard to see United being as wasteful as Arsenal were when they visited the Potteries. Prediction: 1-2
Burnley v Crystal Palace
Frank de Boer is making friends fast in South London, so much so that his future is already under threat after three dispiriting defeats. Rumours of dressing room unrest plus the fact no one has seen Frank smile since he walked into Selhurst Park have only heightened the feeling he is on borrowed time. Prediction: 2-0
Swansea City v Newcastle United
The arrival of Renato Sanches and re-signing of Wilfried Bony should give the home side a huge boost, and extra quality in their line-up.
Newcastle have a dark cloud hanging over them, with Rafa Benítez making it no secret he is unhappy with the club’s hierarchy. Him and the rest of the city, it seems. Prediction: 2-1
West Ham United v Huddersfield Town
If West Ham had half the nous Huddersfield had shown so far this season, Slaven Bilic might feel more secure in his job.
This is the Hammers’ first home league game this season, so expect them to find some solace in that. David Wagner’s side, however, have their tails up. Prediction: 1-2
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