Here it is, the ninth week of Premier League action, and what a nine weeks it has been. The reigning champions Chelsea are hanging out near the bottom of the table and two teams that were near the bottom of the table last season — Crystal Palace and Leicester City — are sitting fourth and fifth on the table and are only separated by a two goal differential. My what a difference a summer can make! That is one of the things that makes the Premier League so much fun to watch, and a lot better than the other leagues in Europe. The top-four teams in the BPL have changed over eight times this season so far — in just nine weeks. If things keep going this way, can you imagine the way things will be when we hit February?
We are changing things up a bit this week, and instead of having myself as the narrative for matches to watch, we will include the thoughts of Salute Magazine’s newest writer, John Bratt as well.
TOTTENHAM v. LIVERPOOL 7:00 a.m. EST NBC
KE: John, since this is your first week I’ll give you the honor of getting things started with this match. What do you think of Tottenham‘s form currently? What are your thoughts on Liverpool‘s new manager Jurgen Klopp?
JB: The main story here is, of course, Klopp. But Liverpool’s latest savior from the tactical area has drawn a short straw for his first assignment. Spurs haven’t lost since Opening Day, and have a chance to move into the top-four with a win. Tottenham is playing very well as a team, and they have a real scoring touch — just ask Man City, who they liquefied 4-1.
Clop will be a massive improvement to spirits at Liverpool and will make them a solid top-four team, possibly as soon as this year. But Klopp will work steadily, and I’m not expecting a dramatic turnaround this week, and Liverpool fans shouldn’t be saddened by a loss to a hot Spurs team.
KE: I don’t think that Klopp will make that big of am impact immediately. I agree that he is a massive improvement over Brendan Rodgers, but there aren’t many managers in the Premier League that wouldn’t be. Rodgers wasn’t the only thing that was keeping Liverpool out of the top-four either — the players were too. There are some bright spots for the Merseysiders, but nearly as many as there were in 2013-2014.
I’ll admit that I’m shocked that Tottenham is playing as well as they are. That doesn’t mean that the second half of the season won’t be utter crap, but they’re playing well for now. The person that has surprised me the most for Spurs is Harry Kane. He just can’t find his scoring form at all this season. If Tottenham are going to make a run at the top-four then he needs to start scoring goals.
CHELSEA v. ASTON VILLA 10:00 a.m. EST USA Network
KE: Next we have Aston Villa paying a visit to the oh so friendly confines of Chelsea‘s Stamford Bridge grounds.
JB: I’m as stunned as anyone at how the Blues have started the season. They obviously have talent and can beat any team in the League, and Jose Mourinho — recent madness aside — is certainly not a bad manager. But the table doesn’t lie: they may not be flirting with relegation yet, but they could well make eye contact with it soon.
On the other hand, Villa is undoubtedly bad. Games they can’t win, they give up on quickly, and games they can win, they let slip away. If Chelsea has a get-well game, it’s here. If not, then the Mourinho Deathwatch really ramps up.
KE: Villa isn’t just bad, they’re horrid. I think that I could get my old high school team together and we could at least draw them. Hell, we might be able to pull out the win if we allow some of the kids today to play — that’s how bad Villa is. They’ve been flirting with relegation at the pub for a while — now they might actually go through with it and ask relegation for their number. Oh the not-so “Special One” and his champions, where to start with these guys?
Isn’t this the same Chelsea team that won the league just five months ago? They’re sitting on a minus-five differential. I know that their number one goalkeeper, Thibaut Courtois, is out but shouldn’t your backup be just as good? It also appears that Falcao is scoring just as many goals playing in the Greater London area as he did while playing in the Greater Manchester area. Mourinho has proven that he can win, but he’s got to find a way to stop bleeding points. This might be the game that they turn things around for a week. That is until they play a better team the next weekend, like say, West Ham United.
EVERTON v. MANCHESTER UNITED 10:00 a.m. EST NBCSN
KE: Our next match is the “other” team from the Merseyside, Everton. They welcome Manchester United to Goodison Park this weekend.
JB: Ordinarily, Wayne Rooney being questionable for the game would be a real problem, but Anthony Martial and Memphis Depay look like the Truth and they are the very-near future of this team. On the other side, I personally believe that Romelu Lukaku has a set of tools similar to that of Zlatan Ibrahimovic and will be just as big of a star by the end.
Couple that with a couple of good-but-not-great seasons by both De Gea and Howard and their respective defenses, and I expect some goals.
KE: I have to agree with you that Rooney’s form has been lackluster recently. I really think that he needs to take a seat for a couple of games and think about what he’s doing out there. United have some really talented kids that he and his ego are preventing from getting minutes. James Wilson is one of the names that springs to mind.
During Everton’s recent match at West Brom, Lukaku and Arouna Kone drug the Toffees back into the match kicking and screaming with 35 minutes left and won it 3-2. The best part about it is that Kone came on in the 72nd minute.
United have their own goal scoring combos too. Juan Mata has discovered that he and Martial and he and Memphis work very well together. Wait, who am I kidding, Mata works well with everyone in a United kit. This game has the potential to really do a number on someone’s differential.
MANCHESTER CITY v BOURNEMOUTH 10:00 a.m. EST NBC LiveExtra
KE: Our final match is top of the table Manchester City welcoming newly promoted Bournemouth to Etihad Stadium
JB: After the past month, we’ve seen that being a mid-table club is the true Bournemouth Identity (I’m so, so sorry I said that). They swap wins, losses and draws equally; they can slip up on defense; they can weather lengthy threats; they can get into goal-scoring contests; they can play up to (or down to) anyone’s level. In short, they can’t be predicted.
Man City, however, has recovered from their recent two-game skid by thumping Newcastle. With all of the chaos in the table behind them, they have a chance to widen their lead on the pack against a mediocre Bournemouth
KE: I’m going to have to lean toward the Bournemouth Supremacy (I’m not sorry that I typed that) for this match. With all the injuries that City is dealing with right now — Sergio Agüero, David Silva, Aleks Kolarov — just to name a few, they’ll be lucky to be able to keep up with a mid-table team.
Not to mention that Fabian Delph got hit with a little karmic payback when he got injured. Delphi, that’s what happens when you assure the supporters of your club that you’re not leaving and then leave. Yes, City crushed the Maggies, but they were mostly at full strength and I doubt that they can do that this week.
Bournemouth’s Supremacy (Yes I did it twice) comes from their unpredictability. If City has no idea what they’re going to do from one minute to the next then they have no way to defend against it. It’ll be a close one, but I don’t think there will be more than three goals scored total.