Here we are – the first four day weekend of the 2020-2021 Premier League season. Now that the Champions League and Europa League have gotten into full swing, the games will begin getting more spread out to account for the teams playing in Europe. That just means more opportunity for games each week!!! But enough about that, let’s get into Matchweek 6, shall we?
Friday, October 23rd:
Aston Villa v. Leeds United
We kick off the matchweek with a very intriguing matchup. Marcelo Bielsa’s Leeds squad will descend upon Villa Park to take on one of only two teams yet to lose a match this season. By now, you’re well aware of the energetic, pressing style of Leeds and the havoc it can wreak on opposing teams. This match should provide more of the same, despite the loss of midfielder Kalvin Phillips to a shoulder injury.
They’ll face s Villa team that are off to a rip-roaring start to this campaign. They’re the only team with a double-digit goal differential (+10). Ross Barkley arrived on loan and announced his presence with a goal in last week’s victory over Leicester.
He’s another weapon in a squad that already features guys like Ollie Watkins, Emiliano Martinez, and Jack Grealish. It’s been a remarkable turnaround for this team, which flirted with relegation last season. They currently sit second in the table and will look to continue their undefeated season.
Saturday, October 24th:
West Ham United v. Manchester City
Pep Guardiola‘s boys will travel to the London Stadium, and he’ll be shorthanded for the trip. They were already planning to be without DeBruyne, LaPorte, Mendy, and Jesus. It was revealed that they’ll also be without Fernandinho, which makes an already tenuous defense that much weaker. They’ll be hoping that their history of dominance against West Ham will help see them through this match.
The Hammers, despite that history, have every reason to come into the game with confidence. After an astounding comeback against Tottenham last week to salvage a point after being down 3-0, they will want to carry that momentum forward. They’ve been in fine form, scoring 10 goals in their last three matches. Will this be the match that finally nets a win for West Ham against a City team that has won the last 9 matches across all competitions?
Fulham v. Crystal Palace
A draw is better than a loss, right? Last week’s match against Sheffield saw the team finally put points on the board this season. They played well enough to take all three, but a late equalizer from the penalty spot by Billy Sharp left them with one point instead of all three. It was a much better showing than any other game so far this season, and they’ll want to continue improving before they find themselves in too deep of a hole at the bottom of the table.
Palace will be without a plethora of regulars for this match. The biggest news was Jordan Ayew testing positive for COVID, causing him to miss the trip to Craven Cottage. He joins a laundry list of players who won’t see the pitch against Fulham. Wilf Zaha will want to continue adding to his goal tally, but the Eagles will need a better performance than what they offered last weekend against Brighton.
Manchester United v. Chelsea
Fresh off a solid performance in their Champions League opener against PSG, United will welcome Chelsea to Old Trafford in this week’s Turf War. On paper, this has the possibility to be the game of the weekend. There are huge implications in this early season clash (and I don’t mean bragging rights between myself and Wilhelm). They had markedly different transfer windows, but have seen similar results so far this campaign.
United have certainly looked to be on the up of late after taking care of business against Newcastle, then following it up with a 2-1 victory over PSG in Paris. Of course, it hasn’t completely allowed them to forget about their embarrassing showing against Tottenham not long ago. They will have some new pieces in the fold for this match, with Edinson Cavani and Alex Telles likely to play a part. They’ll also be without Martial, who is still serving his red card suspension.
Chelsea have been inconsistent to start this season as well. Perhaps it’s a byproduct of all the new players they’ve brought in and having to develop a chemistry. Whatever the reason, they find themselves sitting in 8th in the table. These two squads are historically evenly matched over 56 previous Premier League matchups. Chelsea have won 18 to United’s 17. The remaining 21 matches have been draws.
While I hope for a Red Devil victory, I fully expect this to be an exciting, hard fought match that could go either way. Let’s hope it lives up to the hype.
Liverpool v. Sheffield United
This match features two teams who aren’t quite at the level they were last season. For Liverpool, they’ve stumbled a bit of late. After victories in their first three matches, they’ve suffered a 7-2 loss to Aston Villa and a draw last weekend to Everton. It was to be expected that they’d fall back to Earth a bit after last season’s dominant showing. However, there’s early reason for some concern. The injury to Virgil Van Dijk was a crushing blow, topped by the controversial VAR decision that cost them a win in the Merseyside Derby. They should still manage to beat a struggling Sheffield side, but it remains to be seen how they’ll adjust moving forward.
Last season’s impressive top flight return seems a distant memory already for the Blades. They have been poor thus far to say the least. They were lucky to escape with a draw to bottom side squad Fulham last week. They’ve only scored 2 goals so far this campaign. It will be an uphill climb for this side as they start a treacherous run of fixtures between now and the next international break.
Sunday, October 25th:
Southampton v. Everton
This match should be filled with intrigue. Ancelotti’s Everton side have come out of the gates absolutely on fire. They’ve looked impressive at every turn, and have yet to show any signs of slowing down. Dominic Calvert-Lewin is in top form, supported by the likes of James Rodriguez and Richarlison. Heading to St. Mary’s, however, will prove to be a test they should not take lightly. Richarlison is unavailable due to suspension, and Rodriguez may not feature due to injury. It remains to be seen if these obstacles will derail the freight train at all, or whether they’ll just keep speeding down the track.
The Saints showed grit and resiliency in their 3-3 draw against Chelsea last time out. They went down early, but kept grinding throughout the match. A stoppage time equalizer afforded them a point, and they will look to take all 3 this weekend when Everton pay a visit. If they can maintain the competitive level against a tough but shorthanded opponent they may be able to pull it off.
Wolves v. Newcastle United
It was a bounceback second half for Wolves that led to them escaping with all three points from Leeds last weekend. They were true to form after being outplayed in the first half. As usual, they hung around and kept themselves in the match. Adama Traore came off the bench and helped jolt the team. Raul Jimenez put one past Leeds keeper Meslier (with the benefit of a deflection) to secure the victory. They’ll come into this match looking to build momentum from this win.
Newcastle, on the other hand, will want to quickly put their last match behind them. The Magpies managed to keep a 1-1 scoreline against Manchester United, only to be blitzed in the final 5 minutes. The end result was a 4-1 scoreline that surely left a sour taste in their mouths. It was a bleak end to a match that showed their vulnerability at the back when they do manage to press forward. They’ll need to do better if they want to avoid a similar fate against Wolves.
Arsenal v. Leicester City
Both of these teams are coming off of losses in the league last weekend. Arsenal were felled by Manchester City while Leicester surrendered all three points to Aston Villa.
The Gunners have looked to be an improved squad under Mikel Arteta, and they seem to finally be settling into a reliable formation. Their recent shakiness in the back has been improving as well. Their victories so far this season have all been relatively routine, though they’ve still not shown an ability to handle the “big six”, having succumbed to Liverpool and Man City thus far. Having to account for their participation in the Europa League will make things interesting when it comes to the XI Arteta will put forth, and this clash with Leicester will be no easy task. Look for Alex Partey to factor into his plans.
The Foxes had gotten off to a solid start this season and looked primed to be in the mix for the top few spots. Recent form, however, have left some scratching their heads. A 3-0 defeat to West Ham followed by the 1-0 loss to Villa make for some questions about how realistic that goal may prove to be. They have had their fair share of injuries, to be fair, but they made it through their Europa League opener pretty unscathed. This should be a good battle between two teams looking to get “over the hump”.
Monday, October 26th:
Brighton v. West Bromwich Albion
West Brom played Burnley to a tough 0-0 draw last weekend. It was the first scoreless draw of the season, and Branislav Ivanovic was a big part of it. Making his debut for the team, he had a stellar performance at both ends of the pitch. Despite that, the team are still winless on the campaign coming into a tough matchup.
Despite having only a single victory this season, the Seagulls have been one of the most consistently entertaining teams in the league. With each game, they have shown marked improvement, but still find themselves near the bottom. They’ve definitely had some bad luck along the way, and should probably have more than their 4 points to show for it. Last week’s draw came after dominating possession and unleashing 20 shots against Palace. If they continue to impress they should finally break into the win column again.
Burnley v. Tottenham Hotspur
While they’ve played one fewer game than most in the league, Burnley are still in search of their first victory of the campaign. They did manage a point against West Brom last time out, but things will be considerably tougher against Spurs.
I turned off the Spurs game last week at halftime. They were up 3-0 after 16 minutes and the rout was on. Harry Kane and Son Heung-Min have been playing out of their minds, and I had no reason to doubt this game would be a laugher. Then my phone started blowing up with notifications. Basically, Kevin was having a meltdown I can only picture in my mind. I flipped back to the game and discovered why. In the 82nd minute, West Ham started what would prove to be an improbable comeback, culminating with a stoppage-time goal to tie the game.
It was a shocking scoreline, and needless to say, Mourinho will have his team primed to put that in the rear view mirror as quickly as possible. Given the plethora of weapons available, and the form that Son and Kane are in, this could get ugly for Burnley.
Ten games over four days should provide plenty of excitement and entertainment for your Premier League weekend!
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