Match to catch
The first North London derby of the season on Saturday sees both Arsenal and Tottenham struggling to impose themselves on the race for Champions League spots. The two teams have shown flashes of inspiration, but they each suffer from defensive problems and have gone down to seven defeats between them already this campaign. The match promises goals, with their last eight league meetings producing an incredible 40 — five per game — and in the corresponding fixture last season Arsenal hit back from 2-0 down to win 5-2. Prediction: Arsenal’s firepower to see them through.
Keep an eye on
Premier League surprise package West Brom will look to claim another scalp — they already have six wins under their belt this season — when Chelsea come to town on Saturday. The pressure will be off Steve Clarke’s team and they can just go out and try to cause the stuttering Blues problems. The early season leaders have fallen back to third on the back of just two points from their last three games — they really need a win this weekend. Prediction: West Brom to claim a draw.
Manchester United’s ‘Little Pea’, Mexican striker Javier Hernandez is once again showing his worth as a fine goalscorer, helping his team to progress in the Champions League and to the top of the Premier League. His impressive display at Aston Villa last week, where he scored twice and forced an own goal as United came from two down in the second half to win, took his tally to seven goals in his last five appearances. This weekend Hernandez will set his sights on Norwich City at Carrow Road — if selected that is, as he’s far from an automatic starter. Prediction: Easy win for United.
For the purists
QPR against Southampton has ‘Championship’ written through it like a stick of rock. The Premier League’s bottom two sides will battle for what could be a crucial three points, but will most likely prove inconsequential come the end of the season. The Saints do at least have one win under their belts this season, but not much else, while winless Rangers look particularly doomed. Prediction: QPR to edge a poor match.
Need a win
Reading are the team third from bottom and it wouldn’t be a surprise if the current bottom three filled the relegation places come the end of the season. The Royals need to record their first win — they have six draws from their first 10 games — soon if they are to avoid being cut adrift. Today they host high-flying Everton and a draw seems the most likely result as Brian McDermott’s side have only lost once at home so far. Prediction: All square.
Last week’s predictions
A disappointing two out of five right last week, although if Chelsea could have turned their domination of Liverpool at Stamford Bridge into a second goal, rather than allow Luis Suarez to score an inevitable equaliser, then it would have been three. Elsewhere, Stoke just about had enough to see off QPR and West Brom won at Wigan — two matches this column expected to end all square. Victories for Manchester City and Everton, although both had to come from behind, were the correct calls.