Chelsea flew under the radar a bit this summer as the discussions on the likely destination of the Premier League trophy centred on Manchester City and Liverpool, and things certainly weren’t looking optimistic for them after their dismal showing in the Community Shield.
However, new boss Maurizio Sarri has obviously succeeded in adding some much needed vigour into the team, which they demonstrated well when they visited Huddersfield in the opening round of league fixtures. They comfortably won that game 3-0, and then beat Arsenal 3-2 in much more dramatic circumstances thanks to a late goal from Marcos Alonso.
Last weekend saw similarly dramatic scenes unfold at St James Park as they beat Newcastle 2-1, despite the game being goalless heading into the final 15 minutes. Eden Hazard converted a controversial penalty to open the scoring, but Joselu levelled things up before an 87th minute own goal from DeAndre Yedlin stole the three points for The Blues.
The Cherries opened their season with a comfortable and deserved 2-0 win over the toothless Cardiff, but don’t be fooled into thinking their defensive problems have been solved. Cardiff were simply unable to threaten going forward, but when West Ham hosted them, they ended up 1-0 down in the first half. Still, Bournemouth’s attacking prowess came to the fore as Callum Wilson and Steve Cook turned the game around.
Last weekend it was a tricky hosting of the similarly attack-minded Everton. Both teams ended the game down to ten men, but Bournemouth will be the happier of the two, having come from 2-0 down to draw 2-2 at the Vitality Stadium.
Chelsea have won five of their last six meetings with Bournemouth, with the most recent being a shock win for Bournemouth at Stamford Bridge in January.
- Chelsea are aiming to win their opening four Premier League games of a season for the sixth time, having also done so in 2004-05, 2005-06, 2009-10, 2010-11 and 2014-15, winning the league in all but one of those seasons (2010-11, finished second).
- Bournemouth are looking to win three consecutive away Premier League games for the first time – their last run of three away league wins was in their final three away games in the 2014-15 season before their promotion.
- Of teams to have featured in the Premier League throughout 2018, Chelsea are the only side – excluding own-goals – yet to see an English league scorer this calendar year; opponents Bournemouth have seen 17 goals from Englishmen in 2018, second only to Spurs (21).
- Since 2015-16, only Liverpool (10) and Spurs (12) have won more Premier League matches from losing positions than Bournemouth (9).
Prediction: 12 & Under 4.5
Stuttgart – Bayern Munich
Stuttgart are the only Bundesliga club without a competitive win in the new 2018/19 campaign, after losing to Hansa Rostock in the DFB Pokal first round (2-0) and Mainz (1-0) on the opening weekend. Tayfun Korkut’s side have failed to score with any of their 29 attempts on goal so far too – 26 at Hansa and 12 at Mainz – which could prompt some change ahead of a visit from the German champions. Gonzalo Castro, Nicolas Gonzalez and Pablo Maffeo were all given debuts against Mainz, but the trio were unable to prevent a narrow defeat. Former-Wolfsburg playmaker Daniel Didavi, back at his boyhood club for another spell, was a second-half substitute last weekend and could come in to mix things up here. Former-Bayern players Holger Badstuber and Mario Gomez are nailed on starters.
Bayern Munich have been German champions for six years now, but they still look as hungry as ever for success. Bayern love nothing more than a strong start to the season – the Bavarians have won five of their last six gameweek 2 matches, drawing only to Schalke in 2014/15 – and Stuttgart, as with most German sides, have a very poor head-to-head record against them – Stuttgart have lost 16 of the last 17 meetings against Bayern Munich (W1 L16).
Unsurprisingly, Bayern also had the best away record in the league last season, winning 13 of their 17 matches on the road (W13 D1 L3), but here’s where it gets interesting. Away from home, Bayern don’t seem to be able to replicate those hugely dominant scorelines that we so often see when they’re at the Allianz Arena. In fact, Bayern Munich scored more than three goals on just two occassions on the road last season, and over 3.5 total goals were scored in just 35% of their away matches too.
Stuttgart won 4-1 in Bayern when the two sides last met in May (Bayern had already been crowned champions). Bayern Munich won each of the 16 meetings between them before that.
- Bayern Munich won 13 of their 17 away matches in the 17/18 Bundesliga campaign (W13 D1 L3).
- Over 3.5 goals were scored in just 35% of Bayern’s away matches last season.
- Over 3.5 goals were scored in 0% of Stuttgart’s home matches last season (Over 2.5 goals in just 18%).
- Stuttgart are unbeaten at home under coach Korkut (W4 D3), conceding just two goals over that run.
- Stuttgart recored the 3rd lowest number of shots on target in the opening weekend (3).
Prediction: Bayern Wins
Manchester City – Newcastle
Manchester City’s air of invincibility was looking impenetrable as they visited Molineux last weekend, fresh off the back of an impressive 2-0 win away at Arsenal and a 6-1 demolition of Huddersfield at the Etihad. Despite being just a couple of weeks into the season, they were already looking unstoppable.
The newly promoted Wolves threw away the predicted script though, going at Manchester City’s back line from the start and pressuring them into making mistakes. The result was something that will buoy plenty of teams around the country, a 1-1 draw against the reigning champions, and one that was well deserved as well.
Now that they’re back at The Etihad, they will be expecting to return to winning ways on Saturday. Newcastle will not be relishing this trip, especially after their dreadful start to yet another miserable looking season.
The Magpies kicked off proceedings with a rather expected 2-1 loss against Spurs, and then played a dour goalless draw with Cardiff which saw them reduced to ten men and miss a last gasp penalty in an otherwise uneventful match. It was back to losing last weekend, although they were unfortunate to taste defeat against Chelsea, and in midweek they were the victim of some late drama as Nottingham Forest scored two injury time goals to knock them out of the League Cup.
Manchester City have won five and drawn one of their last six meetings with Newcastle, with the hosts not losing to The Magpies in any of their last 21 top flight meetings. Newcastle have lost their last nine league away days at The Etihad, conceding 32 goals in the process.
- Manchester City have won all seven of their Premier League matches in September under Pep Guardiola, scoring 26 goals and conceding just twice; Guardiola hasn’t lost a match in all competitions as a manager in September since September 2010 (Barcelona 0-2 Hercules) and is unbeaten in 41 games since (W35 D6).
- Newcastle have collected just six points in their last nine away Premier League games (P9 W1 D3 L5) since winning back to back away matches against West Ham and Stoke City.
- Sergio Aguero has scored 12 goals in just seven home Premier League appearances in 2018 – the same number scored at home by Chelsea as a team this calendar year.
- Newcastle have registered the lowest average possession figure in the Premier League this season (33.5%) while opponents Man City have the second highest (68.7%) behind Chelsea.
- Newcastle completed just 247 passes in their two Premier League matches against Man City last season – only Huddersfield completed fewer against an opponent during 2017-18 (202, also against Man City).
Prediction: Over 2.5
Parma – Juventus
Juventus may not have got the most from Cristiano Ronaldo so far, but they’ve still made a perfect start to the new season. They’ve won two from two after last weekend’s victory against Lazio, and now the Old Lady are chasing a win at Parma. This is a huge game for the newly promoted side, who will finally feel back in the big time after a mixed start to the new season. Can they pick up their first victory back in the top flight by getting a result against the champions, or will Juve continue their winning run?
Parma lost 1-0 at SPAL last weekend, which was a let-down after their opening weekend slip. The hosts raced in to a 2-0 lead as they kicked off the season at home to Udinese, but they dropped that to throw away two points. It was a huge blow to the newly promoted side, and now they have to step up for this incredibly tough test. The last 120 minutes in Serie A haven’t been all the great for the Crociati, and they could potentially get worse on Saturday night.
Juventus have obviously seen a lot of focus on Cristiano Ronaldo this season, with the forward not scoring in their opening two. However, he didn’t find the back of the net until October for Real Madrid last term, and things worked out okay for them in the end. The key for the Old Lady so far is that they’ve managed to keep winning games even without their record signing hitting his stride. The reigning champions have far too much strength for the sides around them, and they’ll be expecting another three points here.
Juventus have won back to back visits to Parma, winning four of their last five encounters between these two.
- Parma’s heaviest Serie A defeat has been against Juventus: 7-0 in November 2014.
- Parma’s last five Serie A home wins against Juventus have been by a 1-0 scoreline, including the most recent one in April 2015.
- Parma have the current joint-longest run without a win in Serie A among the 2018-19 Italian top-flight sides (D4 L4).
- Juventus are looking to win their opening three Serie A games of the season in three consecutive campaigns for the first time in the club’s history.
- Juventus are enjoying the current longest run of away games without defeat in Serie A among the current Italian top-flight sides: 14 (W11 D3).
- Juventus have fired in the most shots in Serie A this season so far (43), while Parma have conceded the second-most (35, fewer only than Chievo, 49).
- Juventus have been leading for 95 minutes so far in Serie A this season, fewer only than Atalanta (136).
Prediction: Juve Wins
Nimes – PSG
Thomas Tuchel will be looking for their fourth win of the season but will probably be facing their toughest opponents yet as this Nîmes side have impressed everyone with two wins from their first three games.
Nîmes finished second behind Reims last season in Ligue 2 and achieved automatic promotion to Ligue 1 for the first time since 1993. This season will be a momentous year for the club and they have already shown that they aren’t just here for the ride. The side definitely turned heads as they scored three times in the final 15 minutes to beat Angers 4-3 on the opening day of the season but their real highlight, and a match that will be remembered on the south coast for years, was their 3-1 victory over Marseille two weeks ago.
PSG have obviously gone into this season as the champions and few doubt their ability to win the league again, but they have already faced some scary moments that they’ve had to overcome. They beat Caen 3-0 on the opening day without much struggle but Guingamp proved much tougher opponents as they lead 1-0 at half-time and should have had two if it wasn’t for a very suspicious VAR call which disallowed Nico Benezet’s headed goal for a slight push on Antoine Bedene. Paris eventually ran out 3-1 winners on the night but Guingamp definitely showed how they can be rattled over 45 minutes; the real task is to do that over 90.
This hasn’t been the most common fixture in recent times but over the last nine matches, Nîmes have actually managed to win two of them, both in the early 1990s and 80s though when these teams were on a similar playing field. There haven’t been any recent clashes with the last game being a 3-0 win for Paris in 2007 in the Coupe de France.
- Nîmes have won two of their last three Ligue 1 games (L1), as many as in their previous 26 (D9 L15).
- Paris have lost only one of their last 19 Ligue 1 games (W14 D4); back in May against Rennes (0-2).
- Paris can start a Ligue 1 season with four consecutive wins for the 5th time in their history, after 1985/86, 1992/93, 2015/16 & 2017/18.
- Nîmes have lost only two of their last 15 league games at home (Ligue 1 + Ligue 2), winning 11 and drawing two in that run.
- Paris are unbeaten in their last nine away games in Ligue 1 (W6 D3), the best current run in the top-flight.
- Paris have won only two of their last four Ligue 1 games against newly promoted teams (D1 L1), after winning each of their previous 11.
Prediction: PSG Wins
PSV – Willem II
Champions PSV Eindhoven owe Willem II after their last league meeting back in March which saw the underdogs thrash the title chasing Dutch giants 5-0, and with both teams winning last weekend we’re expecting another action packed game between the pair when they meet in the Eredivisie on Saturday.
PSV are now the only side in the Eredivisie with a 100% record after three games, thanks to a narrow 2-1 win over Zwolle last Saturday. The game at the MAC³PARK Stadion was very evenly matched and if anything the hosts will feel aggrieved not take have taken at least a point after they claimed 55% of the overall possession.
We’re confident that PSV will continue their excellent start to the season with another three points on Saturday and have backed this game to feature over 2.5 goals. Four of the last six meetings between these two clubs have featured over 2.5 goals, while PSV have won three of their last five games against Willem II. Five of PSV’s last six games have produced over 2.5 goals, and we’re expecting at least three goals to be scored on Saturday as well.
These two sides have played one another eighty-four times over the years, and with 61 wins, 12 draws, and 11 defeats its the Dutch giants PSV who have dominated this fixture.
- Four of the last six meetings between these two clubs have featured over 2.5 goals.
- PSV have won three of their last five games against Willem II.
- Five of PSV’s last six games have produced over 2.5 goals.
Prediction: PSV Wins
Everton – Huddersfield
Everton fans welcomed the appointment of manager Marco Silva with open arms after they got their wish and saw Sam Allardyce leave in the summer, and so far it’s looking promising for the Portuguese boss.
The Toffees opened their season with a 2-2 draw at Wolves, despite playing the entire second half with ten men. Next up was a 2-1 victory over Southampton, and last weekend another 2-2 draw away to Bournemouth. They remain unbeaten, and the brand of football that Silva is instilling in the players is an exciting prospect at Goodison Park, but that’s not to say there aren’t concerns that need addressing.
For one, their defensive setup looks absolutely abysmal at times. They have scored first in all three of their Premier League games, but they saw Wolves come from behind twice to equalise in that opening weekend, and despite looking comfortable against Southampton, they still opened the door for a nervy finish. Last weekend was exactly the same, with a comfortable looking 2-0 lead almost instantaneously turning into a 2-2 draw inside four frantic second half minutes.
Huddersfield will hope to take advantage of this defensive instability, but The Terriers aren’t exactly looking sound at the back themselves. They did open the season with a hosting of Chelsea and a trip to Manchester City, but they conceded a huge nine goals in those two games. Despite the illustrious opposition, they were certainly heavier defeats than they would have wished for.
Their first realistic proposition of points came last weekend at home to Cardiff, but they couldn’t manage to break through the admittedly strong Cardiff back line and the game ended goalless. Add to that their 2-0 League Cup defeat against Stoke in midweek and it’s not looking like a promising season for Huddersfield.
Away from home they have won just three league matches since the start of last season, losing 12 of these 20 matches. They have, however, scored in three of their last four, so against this shaky Everton back line they will fancy their chances of getting on the scoresheet.
Everton have won four and drawn two of their last six meetings with Huddersfield, including a 2-0 double over them in the Premier League last season. Huddersfield haven’t won away to Everton since 1937, losing 12 of their 14 trips there since.
- Everton have won 17 of their last 20 home Premier League games against team starting the day in the bottom half of the league (D3) since losing to 14th placed West Brom at Goodison Park in February 2016.
- Three of the eight red cards shown in the Premier League this season have been given to either Everton (2) or Huddersfield (1).
- Huddersfield have managed just 16 shots in their first three Premier League games this season – the same tally as Sergio Aguero and Mohamed Salah have attempted alone so far this season.
- Huddersfield have failed to score in their last five away matches in September in all competitions (D1 L4) since winning 1-0 at Leeds United in September 2016.
- Yorkshire teams have won none of their last 15 Premier League visits to Goodison Park (W0 D5 L10) since Sheffield Wednesday won 2-1 there in April 1999.
Prediction: 1X & Under 4.5
Real Madrid- Leaganes
Real Madrid’s second home game of the season and again it’s a Madrid derby against a Leganes side that they’ve never dropped points against in the top flight. The visitors will cross the Spanish capital for this Saturday’s clash more in hope than expectation as they look to build on their solitary point so far.
That came via a dramatic late leveller from Nabil El Zhar against Real Sociedad on Friday night that saw Leganes complete a comeback from 2-0 down to draw. It was a boost for Mauricio Pellegrino who had seen his team defeated by an even later goal four days earlier in Bilbao. Overall it hasn’t been a terrible start for Leganes but it could be a long, hard season for the team that has finished 17th in each of their two top flight campaigns to date.
Real Madrid are getting up to speed now you sense following the World Cup and they should have far too much creativity and firepower for this Leganes side. The visitors were pretty organised for most of last season but they look to have lost some of that defensive solidity with the departure of coach Asier Garitano. They also lost arguably their best player this week with Gabriel Pires joining Benfica for £9 million and with some key men still carrying injuries, this could be a really tough evening for Leganes.
There have been 6 meetings since Leganes won promotion to La Liga in 2016. Real have won 5 of them but they were eliminated by their city rivals in the Copa del Rey last season. Last term’s meetings at the Bernabeu produced two 2-1 scorelines, one in favour of each team.
- 5 of Real Madrid’s last 6 league games have produced over 3.5 goals.
- Leganes have won just 1 of their last 8 in La Liga.
- They’ve conceded twice or more in all of their last 6 league matches
Prediction: Madrid Wins