Is it just me, or does anyone else get the distinct impression that Jose Mourinho is trying to get the sack? Ever since Eva he has been moody. Having a pop at his players, referees, the FA, the media, teenagers in the street… Having one less trophy to play for won’t help. I’d suggest he is down to one now.
Maybe it’s because he is no longer the most charismatic manager in the PL. There’s a new kid on the block - and he arrives for lunch on Saturday. Trick or treat? Let’s see…
12.45 Chelsea v Liverpool
Chelsea and Jose have got history with Liverpool. From four seasons of going toe-to-toe in the CL in the mid-00s, to Stevie G’s Bambi moment in the title run-in in 2014. This has all the ingredients of another dramatic one. On or off the pitch. Chelsea haven’t lost v Liverpool for nine matches. So long ago in fact that Daniel Sturridge was playing for Chelsea.
Score Prediction: I fancy they’re due one. 1-2
MVP Prediction: No team have conceded more headed goals than Chelsea. Christian Benteke.
15.00 Crystal Palace v Man United
Striking similarities here. Palace need one – a striker, that is. United need theirs back. Since Conor Wickham was injured in GW 3, no-one in the No 9 role has completed a match for Palace. Cabaye and Souare are out too. United insist on playing their biggest threat wide left, but should have enough here.
Score Prediction: United on points. 0-1
MVP Prediction: Anthony Martial looks value for money. A player.
15.00 Man City v Norwich
If City put six past Newcastle and Newcastle put six past Norwich… If only it were that easy. But Norwich have lost three on the spin now and this is the wrong place to go showing cracks. City are not the same without Aguero, but could welcome Silva back and that will be enough.
Score Prediction: The unmistakable waft of morning coffee in the air. 4-1
MVP Prediction: We need to talk about Kevin De Bruyne
15.00 Newcastle v Stoke
Newcastle looked to have turned a corner hitting Norwich for six, but it turned out to be a dead-end. If they can beat Stoke, the Sunderland defeat can be written off as a derby hoodoo. If not, they can be just written off. Stoke have only lost once away – at Arsenal – and will enjoy playing on the break.
Score Prediction: Stoke’s lack of bite will cost them the points. 1-1
MVP Prediction: Bojan Krkic, toe permitting.
15.00 Swansea v Arsenal
Swansea’s win at Villa might have impressed many onlookers, but as the first win in five it was a big deal for Garry Monk. Despite a bright start, it is those matches that Swansea need points from. Anything else – like this match, for example – is a bonus. Arsenal have midweek business in Bayern and a poor record v Swansea (W2 D1 L4). But the rotation in key areas is working so far.
Score Prediction: A total football 2-2
MVP Prediction: Andre Ayew gets the nod, because we know he’ll start.
15.00 Watford v West Ham
This is the nitty-gritty period for promoted teams. The honeymoon is over, surprise factor gone but still a long haul before the inevitable end-of-season dogfight. This fixture might’ve had a point pencilled in for it, before the season started. But seven unbeaten and out-scoring all bar Man City, The Hammers look too string here.
Score Prediction: Could even be a rare clean sheet. 0-2
MVP Prediction: Watford will not have seen anything like Dimitri Payet.
15.00 West Brom v Leicester
A watered down version of an immovable object v the unstoppable force. West Brom will try to park the bus after two wins ‘to Nil’. Leicester will try to tip the bus over and dance on it. Although they did keep a clean sheet themselves last time out. With alleged Real Madrid target (no laughing at the back!) Jamie Vardy on fire, they will fancy their chances of out-scoring their hosts.
Score Prediction: And I think they will. 1-2
MVP Prediction: True or not, it’s not going to do his confidence any harm. Keep Jamie Vardy as your skipper.
13.30 Everton v Sunderland
Everton have taken just one point from their last (admittedly tough) three v Liverpool, Man United and Arsenal. Making this a must win. Sunderland will be boosted by their customary win v Newcastle and the absence of the host’s skipper Phil Jagielka – which takes the average age of Everton’s back four down by a decade or so.
Score Prediction: Could be ugly for Everton. 1-1
MVP Prediction: Steven Fletcher might’ve got the scent of goals back.
16.00 Southampton v Bournemouth
This south coast derby is something of a rarity, with only five since 1960. The Saints won the three most recent (2010/11) and this looks to have come at a good time for them too. Bournemouth look all at sea (sorry) since losing Wilson, Gradel and Mings to long-term injuries. Shipping (sorry) ten in their last two.
Score Prediction: A sorry looking 3-0.
MVP Prediction: Graziano Pelle is due one.
20.00 Tottenham v Aston Villa
All matches are looking ominous for rudderless Villa these days. But this one and Man City at home need to be navigated with pride intact, otherwise we could see them cut adrift. Tottenham are starting to bear Pochettino’s trademarks. Their unbeaten run stretches as far back as Villa’s run without a win. And that’s far.
Score Prediction: Perhaps not a thrashing, but 3-1
MVP Prediction: Is Harry Kane back? Let’s see.
That’s how it looks from here…
Until next time.
Matt Nesbitt’s unspectacular but joyful playing career has given way to a much more successful but miserable one writing about football and providing betting advice. Email: Matt Nesbitt