Compass forecaster James Whittaker went 4-for-10 in his first week handicapping the English Premier League schedule, and he’s back for another shot at winning the whole lot.
Southampton v Leicester – Local Time: 2pm
Leicester playmaker James Maddison has been in the headlines recently for an illicit visit to a casino while on England duty. The talented young midfielder’s off-field concerns don’t seem to have affected his form, however, and he has emerged as a $100 million target for Manchester United (to be fair, who hasn’t?). While that kind of outlay would certainly represent a significant gamble, we are prepared to roll the dice on Maddison leading the Foxes to another win at struggling Southampton on Friday.
Whittaker Pick: Southampton 1, Leicester 2
Manchester City v Aston Villa – Local Time: 6:30am
Normal service resumed at Manchester City this week. Resounding wins over Crystal Palace and Atalanta should have restored any lost confidence after a couple of stuttering performances. Inspired by the magnificent Kevin De Bruyne, back to his imperious best after a season out through injury, a home fixture against dogged but limited Aston Villa should hold few fears.
Whittaker Pick: Manchester City 4, Aston Villa 0
Brighton v Everton – Local Time: 9am
Everton’s Portuguese coach Marco Silva is the front runner in the current ‘sack race’ – the running tab of managers most likely to be fired. He might have earned a stay of execution with a win over West Ham last week and we think he can hang on to his job a little longer with another decent result on Saturday.
Whittaker pick: Brighton 1, Everton 2
Watford v Bournemouth – Local Time: 9am
Pegged to the bottom of the table after just one win in nine games, Watford may be at the point where it is considering sacking the coach for the second time this season. The new boss, the wonderfully named Quique Sánchez Flores, has previous experience being fired by Watford, which let him go after an earlier spell with the club in 2015. It wouldn’t be a major shock if history repeats itself.
Whittaker Pick: Watford 1, Bournemouth 1
West Ham v Sheffield United – Local Time: 9am
The inquest that followed Sheffield United’s victory over Arsenal on Monday inevitably focussed on the shortcomings of the insipid Gunners. But Sheffield United’s boss, Chris Wilder, is disproving the stereotype of English coaches as stuck in the dark ages and deserves all the credit for keeping his side competitive with far more expensively assembled squads. In the long term, a lack of star quality may hurt them.
Whittaker Pick: West Ham 2, Sheffield United 1
Burnley v Chelsea – Local Time: 11:30am
For a long time, Chelsea was one of the least likeable sides in the division. Perhaps it was the Russian rubles of uncertain origin flowing into the transfer kitty from the oligarch owner. Maybe it was the lopsided ratio of ego to talent among the playing staff. Either way, the class of 2019 doesn’t fit the bill. Mawkishly dubbed Lampard’s lambs because of the British media’s fondness for alliterative associations between managers and their young charges, this Chelsea side is nonetheless the most interesting in many years.
Whittaker Pick: Burnley 0, Chelsea 2
Newcastle v Wolverhampton – Local Time: 9am
While the lower end of the Premier League has been refreshed by a new wave of sharp young coaches, Newcastle boss Steve Bruce is a holdout from the old school. The last of a dying breed of coaches who (to borrow a joke from I forget whom about I forget who) think that tactics are a type of breath mint, Bruce looks lost in this modern world.
Whittaker Pick: Newcastle 0, Wolverhampton 1
Arsenal v Crystal Palace – Local Time: 11:30am
Arsenal this season are about as easy to predict as Donald Trump’s twitter feed. Literally anything could happen next. We’re guessing this Sunday will be one of those good days, but really, who knows?
Whittaker Pick: Arsenal 3, Crystal Palace 1
Liverpool v Tottenham – Local Time: 11:30am
Frustrated by a well-executed tactical plan, Liverpool dropped its first points of the season at Manchester United last week. But it says a lot about the Reds’ ambition and expectations that they left Old Trafford disappointed with a point. Spurs present another challenge to their title aspirations in the game of the day on Sunday.
Whittaker Pick: Liverpool 2, Tottenham 1
Norwich v Manchester United – Local Time: 11:30am
“Ole’s got the wheel,” Manchester United fans sang gleefully when their former striker Ole Solskjaer took over less than a year ago. But while his famously defensive predecessor, Jose Mourinho, was known for “parking the bus”, the well-meaning Norwegian has driven it to the cliff’s edge. Sunday’s trip to Norwich begins a sequence of five winnable games for United that may well determine how long the man once known as “the baby-faced assassin” is allowed to sit in the driver’s seat.
Whittaker Pick: Norwich 0, Manchester United 2
Do you think you can outfox the Compass handicapper?
Send in your Premier League picks to [email protected] for a chance at weekly glory and bragging rights over James Whittaker.