In a new weekly column, Compass writer James Whittaker runs down the upcoming English Premier League fixtures and gives his verdict on how the games will go.
Everton v West Ham — Local time: 6.30am
Perpetually trapped in an annual “best of the rest” battle for seventh place, Everton’s recent form suggests it risks falling short even in that modest ambition. West Ham, revitalised under Chilean coach Manuel Pellegrini and buoyed by an exciting front three of Andriy Yarmolenko, Felipe Anderson and Sebastien Haller, look better placed to take advantage of the demise of Manchester United and the instability at Spurs and Arsenal to break into the top six. At home, Everton should be good for a point.
Whittaker Pick: Everton 2, West Ham 2
Bournemouth v Norwich — Local time: 9am
After upsetting Manchester City early on in a result that sent shock waves rippling through the league, Norwich have reverted in recent weeks to the kind of form that some critics expected when they tipped them for relegation. Missing half the squad through injury and with Finnish striker Teemu Pukki seemingly lacking some of his early season fizz, Norwich is likely to struggle again at Bournemouth.
Whittaker pick: Bournemouth 3, Norwich 0
Aston Villa v Brighton — Local time: 9am
Coached by lifelong Aston Villa fan Dean Smith and captained by lifelong fan Jack Grealish, the Birmingham club is a throwback to the days when football clubs truly belonged to their city. Brighton, led by modish young coach Graham Potter, has developed a sophisticated technical style in a short space of time. But we are backing a tenacious Villa side to outfight Brighton this weekend.
Whittaker pick: Aston Villa 1, Brighton 0
Chelsea v Newcastle – Local time: 9am
Forced by a transfer ban into an uncharacteristically quiet summer, Chelsea has finally given a chance to some of the talented youngsters coming off the academy conveyer belt. Serial winners at youth level, the likes of Mason Mount, Tammy Abraham and Fikayo Tomori have given a new zest to the side that makes Chelsea a dangerous and unpredictable force. It is likely to be a season of ups and downs for Frank Lampard in his first year in the dugout at Stamford Bridge, but at the end Chelsea may find it had the core of a world-class side hidden behind the sofa all along.
Whittaker Pick: Chelsea 4, Newcastle 1
Leicester v Burnley – Local time: 9am
Like West Ham, Leicester look like another side ready to challenge the accepted wisdom that the top six will always be the top six. On paper, the Foxes have a better squad than Manchester United, possibly even than Arsenal and Chelsea. Brendan Rodgers, underrated because his cringeworthy management-speak has made him an easy target for satire, is leading the team ably. Winning the league in 2016 was probably a once-in-a-lifetime miracle. But the current vintage looks capable of a run at the top four.
Whittaker Pick: Leicester 2, Burnley 1
Tottenham v Watford – Local time: 9am
It is hard to figure out what has gone wrong at Spurs this season, or indeed for the latter part of last season. Perhaps it has something to do with the new heights being reached by Manchester City and Liverpool and the slow but certain realisation that their best chance to win the league has passed. This squad of B-plus level players may well have peaked and those with ambitions of league titles – perhaps even including their brilliant young manager – have half an eye on new horizons.
Whittaker Pick: Tottenham 2, Watford 0
Wolverhampton v Southampton – Local time 9am
After a tough start, Wolves are beginning to look more like the side that romped to promotion from the Championship and went toe-to-toe with the best teams in the Premier League last season. Steady at the back and dangerous on the break, they are often better away from home or against teams that like to dominate the ball. Southampton will provide a different kind of challenge.
Whittaker Pick: Wolves 1, Southampton 0
Crystal Palace v Manchester City – Local time 11:30am
If there is one thing that Pep Guardiola’s side is not good at, it is winning from losing positions. Perhaps because City is so used to dominating teams from start to finish, when things don’t work out it looks confused, maybe even upset, like nobody was aware this could happen. The Citizens have lost twice this season against lowly opposition, Wolves and Norwich. They can’t afford to lose another one.
Whittaker Pick: Crystal Palace 0, Manchester City 3
Manchester United v Liverpool – Local time: 10:30am
It’s impossible not to like Jurgen Klopp, the affable, eccentric genius driving Liverpool towards its first Premier League title in nearly 30 years. It is equally hard to avoid the growing sense of inevitability that this will be their year. An eight-point lead in October is not the same thing as an eight-point lead in April, but this ebullient team has an aura of champions-elect even at this early stage. It is difficult to imagine Manchester United, at its lowest ebb since the 1980s, putting a dent in Liverpool’s perfect record.
Whittaker Pick: Manchester United 1, Liverpool 3
Sheffield United v Arsenal – Local time: 2pm
Arsenal is one of the most exciting teams in the division right now. That is as much because of the Gunners’ chaotic defence as for their brilliant forwards. Unai Emery always seems to have a new formation and new configuration. You sense Arsenal’s players are as confused as the opposition. Sheffield United is one of the most tactically innovative sides to come out of the Championship in a long time and it would be no surprise if coach Chris Wilder can come up with a plan to steal a point here.
Whittaker Pick: Sheffield 1, Arsenal 1