Compass forecaster James Whittaker is hitting on 53% of his predictions through three weeks and feeling confident for the matches to come. Do you think you can outpick him? Send your picks for next week’s games to [email protected] for a chance at glory.
Norwich vs. Watford – Local time: 3pm
Norwich’s coach Daniel Farke delightfully mixed metaphors as he summed up the challenge his side faces to survive in the Premier League. “You have to have a mentality like selling Hoovers – you have to knock on many doors,” he said. “The task is like I said at the beginning – it’s about climbing Mount Everest.” It is going to be tough, is about as much of a moral as we can discern from that little story.
Whittaker Pick: Norwich 0, Watford 1
Chelsea vs. Crystal Palace – Local time: 7:30am
Frank Lampard may sound like a well-intentioned PE teacher, but he has shown surprising tactical nous in his short tenure at Chelsea. Perhaps his boldest move was in knowing what to persist with from the old regime as well as what to change. The deep-lying midfielder Jorginho was derided by fans as both teacher’s pet and totem of the failed Maurizio Sarri regime. Yet Lampard has retained the under-rated Brazilian in the same role and he is proving the fans wrong with some influential performances.
Whittaker pick: Chelsea 2, Crystal Palace 1
Burnley vs. West Ham – Local time: 10am
A derby of sorts between two underperforming sides who play in claret and blue. Burnley were embarrassed at Sheffield United last weekend while West Ham contrived to lose at home to Newcastle.
Whittaker pick: Burnley 1, West Ham 1
Newcastle vs. Bournemouth – Local time: 10am
Pound-for-pound, Bournemouth manager Eddie Howe may well be the most successful manager in English football. When he took over the tiny club in 2009, it was in the lowest tier of the professional game, where it had comfortably resided for the best part of its existence. Howe led Bournemouth to three promotions in six years and even more astonishingly has survived in the Premier League for four seasons and counting. He has done it playing a neat brand of passing football that has gone a long way to disproving the theory that defensive tactics are the way to survive at the foot of the table.
Whittaker pick: Newcastle 1, Bournemouth 1
Southampton vs. Everton – Local time: 10am
Southampton bounced back from a 9-0 drubbing against Leicester with a slightly more credible 2-1 defeat at Manchester City. Regardless of the difference in performance the result was the same in terms of points on the board. A big fat zero. We don’t see Southampton getting anything more against an Everton side that is better than its league position suggests.
Whittaker pick: Southampton 0, Everton 2
Tottenham vs. Sheffield United – Local time: 10am
Tottenham’s likable Korean forward Son Heung-min looked as horrified at the result of his bone-crunching challenge on Andre Gomes last week as the unfortunate Portuguese midfielder himself. But while Gomes was hospitalised and faces a long road to recovery, Son will be back on Saturday to try and ignite a Spurs revival against a stubborn Sheffield United defence.
Whittaker pick: Tottenham 1, Sheffield 0
Leicester vs. Arsenal – Local time: 12:30pm
It says much about the relative trajectories of these two teams that Leicester starts Saturday’s encounter as favourites. Defeat could hasten the seemingly inevitable exit of Arsenal coach Unai Emery, whose constant tactical tinkering is contributing to the troubles of his top-heavy side.
Whittaker pick: Leicester 2, Arsenal 1
Manchester United vs. Brighton – Local time: 9am
Just when Manchester United fans thought they might be turning a corner, they were soundly beaten by Bournemouth. United has won three games this season and has not been unlucky – 13 points from 11 games is a fair reflection. More worryingly, it looks about par for one of the weakest Manchester United squads in memory. When you are praying for the return of Jesse Lingard, you know things are bad.
Whittaker pick: Manchester United 2, Brighton 1
Wolverhampton vs. Aston Villa – Local time: 9am
The West Midlands derby gives Wolves a chance for revenge after a cup defeat to Villa last month. In the league, on home turf, an improving Wolves side should be a tougher prospect and too strong for Villa.
Whittaker pick: Wolves 1, Aston Villa 0
Liverpool vs. Manchester City – Local time: 11:30am
Two of the best teams of the Premier League era, led by the two best coaches of the modern age, face off Sunday in the most important game of the season so far. City coach Pep Guardiola sought to dampen expectations ahead of this encounter by commenting that Liverpool has not lost at home “in a hundred years”. If anyone is going to break that run it is Manchester City. It will be desperate not to go nine points behind in the title race Sunday and that additional incentive could be enough to give the road side the edge in what will undoubtedly be an incredibly close encounter.
Whittaker pick: Liverpool 1, Manchester City 2