Expect an action-pack week as the best League in the World resumes after the international break.
Here is Paul Merson’s prediction for the top six clubs over the week as he previews the Premier League
Game Week 5.
Wolverhampton Wanderers vs. Liverpool
“A Saturday morning game after an international break is always a hard one to call as most players – at least from the so-called top six sides – go away to represent their countries. It acts as a bit of a leveler and is a huge advantage, so Liverpool will have to be wary of that.
It’s particularly hard for South Americans like Alexis Mac Allister and Luis Diaz, but the Reds might be able to get away with rotating a few players. Mac Allister will probably start, but Liverpool can afford to bench Diaz as the likes of Cody Gakpo and Diogo Jota – who both scored for their countries in the international break – are waiting patiently on the wings.
Jurgen Klopp and co have begun the 2023-24 campaign in good form but will have to carry on if they want to challenge Manchester City for the Premier League title. Wolves, on the other hand, have had a tough start to the season, so I can’t see them getting a result here. They don’t score too many goals, so even if Liverpool concede, they won’t find it difficult to outscore the home side. Prediction: Wolves 1-2 Liverpool.”
Tottenham Hotspur vs. Sheffield United
“Tottenham have come along really well under Ange Postecoglou and I expect them to win this one quite comfortably. I like the way they’re playing, but their first big test of the season comes next weekend when they face arch-rivals Arsenal. Spurs need to win this one, though, and I think they’ll do so with ease.
“Son Heung-min played through the center and scored a hattrick in his previous Premier League encounter, but Sheffield United are a physical team, so big Ange might look to play Richarlison up front to add something different to his attack. Prediction: Tottenham Hotspur 3-0 Luton Town.”
West Ham United vs. Manchester City
“Both teams are flying at the moment, but I still look at this one and think, ‘How will Manchester City not win?’ because the standard they’ve set over the years in the Premier League is just outstanding. That said, this game suits West Ham, as they have a lot of counter-attacking threat. As they showed against Chelsea, they have the ammunition to hurt you, with Michail Antonio and Jarrod Bowen showing their class in front of goal.
“This won’t be an easy game, but I fancy Manchester City to get all three points to continue their perfect start to the new campaign. As for the Premier League title, I think only Arsenal and Liverpool have a chance of competing with the Cityzens. Newcastle have already dropped too many points and could even run the risk of missing out on a place in the top four if their early season struggles continue. Prediction: West Ham United 1-2 Manchester City.”
Manchester United vs. Brighton & Hove Albion
“This game could turn out to be a bit of a nightmare for Manchester United as Brighton are a hard team to play against. Erik ten Hag has a few issues to address, and it’ll be interesting to see who starts up front at Old Trafford this weekend after Antony’s recent suspension.
“There have been reports that Facundo Pellistri is in line for a start, but I think Marcus Rashford will be joined by Alejandro Garnacho and Rasmus Hojlund up front. I like Garnacho, and he’s likely to start, but he’s better off coming on as a substitute as I feel he’s more effective while running at tired legs.
“Speculation surrounding Jadon Sancho’s future has dominated the headlines in recent weeks after a public back-and-forth involving Ten Hag. There have been reports that his Old Trafford career is as good as over, but I don’t think that’ll be the case.
A lot can change between now and the January transfer window, and with Manchester United desperately short of options in attack, Sancho could claw his way back into the manager’s plans if he sticks to his guns and works diligently. Prediction: Manchester United 2-2 Brighton.”
Bournemouth vs Chelsea
“I watched Chelsea two weeks ago against Nottingham Forest when they lost 1-0 – they could still be playing now and wouldn’t score! However, away from home, they could prove to be tricky customers as they have a lot of pace in attack.
“Raheem Sterling has started the season strongly, and despite scoring just once in the Premier League, Nicolas Jackson has shown flashes of his brilliance and could cause major problems for opposition teams once he’s finished adapting to his new surroundings.
“If the Blues don’t win, the alarm bells will start winning as they’d have just one win from five Premier League encounters. They’re playing just once a week and have spent so much money in the transfer market, so Mauricio Pochettino and co can’t have any excuses if they don’t start winning games soon. Prediction: Bournemouth 0-2 Chelsea.”
Everton vs Arsenal
“Everton strangely turn up in these big games so I wouldn’t be surprised if this one ends all square. One day, they’re going to start putting all their chances away, and that will be the day they click.
“That said, Arsenal undoubtedly go into this game as overwhelming favorites and will be under pressure to get all three points if Manchester City win their game. This game is far from a foregone conclusion, but I fancy Arsenal to step up to the plate and pick up all three points.
“Arsenal have had their fair share of problems in recent weeks, but Gabriel Jesus’ return to full fitness is a massive boost. With UEFA Champions League football on the horizon, they’ll need timely contributions from everyone in the squad to compete on all fronts. Prediction: Everton 0-2 Arsenal.”