Wenger v. Mourinho and Other EPL Weekend Predictions
By: John Sefcik
After watching the U.S. drop two straight games to Mexico and Costa Rica, it’s a gross understatement to say that the international break couldn’t have ended soon enough. But here we are, and thankfully we have an interesting slate of Premier League games to look forward to. The most prominent of which is of course Arsenal v. Man U, but lets be realistic, true EPL fans are looking at this matchup as Wenger v. Mourinho, a matchup that has been utterly dominated by Mourinho.
The managers have, up to this point, faced each other 13 times in the EPL, and Mourinho has won 7 of those meetings and the pair has drawn the other 6. However, this will be Mourinho’s first time facing Wenger as the manager of Manchester United, and you’re spot on by thinking he probably wishes he was still with Chelsea right now. Is this Wenger’s chance to finally beat Mourinho in the EPL? (he has one win against Mourinho in the Community Shield, but who gives a s*** right) Or, is the Portuguese, self-proclaimed “chosen one”, destined to continue his dominance against his arch nemesis?
As much fun as it is to talk about these two managers as if they were the one’s playing the game, lets come back to what really matters, the product on the field. Despite having spent $183 million over the summer, Manchester United has failed to score a goal in their last three games, and they find themselves quickly falling behind the top of the table.
Going into Saturdays matchup they are 6 points behind Arsenal, currently in 4th, and 8 points behind the league leaders Liverpool. With that being said, Arsenal has drawn their last two matchups, which includes a game against Middlesbrough. It is fair to assume that Mourinho will approach this game like does for every game against a top flight squad; Mourinho is going to park the bus, keep his players back, and occasionally allow them to try and break up field on the counter attack.
This was fine 2 or 3 years ago when he was at the helm of the best defense in the league, but the United defense has been a disaster, leading many to even question if the modern game has begun to pass the “chosen one” by. Whether or not Alexis Sanchez plays for Arsenal and if he does what form will he be in is a major question that will only be answered as the game is progressing. The game being played at Old Trafford is the ONLY advantage that United have going into this weekend. For these reasons I foresee Wenger finally getting that elusive EPL victory against his bitter rival. No need to wake up at 5:30 for my west coast friends, Arsenal easily wins 2-0, and De Gea is the only reason the margin of victory isn’t even greater. Keeping my fingers crossed for another shoving match on the sidelines as well
Alright, that’s enough of that matchup, and don’t worry there is plenty of other entertaining action going down.
Southampton v. Liverpool
Alright, this is most likely the second best matchup of the weekend and it will be a good test for the leaders of the table. For people who don’t watch EPL, and just know the names of the big 5 clubs, Southampton in no joke, and they are a legitimate opponent. Southampton is the perfect example of what makes the EPL significantly more difficult than every other league in the world. Every league has a handful of competitive teams at the top of the league, but a middle of the table team like Southampton cannot be overlooked in the EPL. In any other league in the world the league leaders versus the team that holds the 10th place spot, it would be a slam dunk win. With all this being said, Liverpool still wins, sorry Southampton. I do believe this is a competitive game but in the end Liverpool win comfortably. For all the degenerates out there, the over 2.5 looks really good for this matchup; Liverpool have scored over that total in 4 of their last 5 and Southampton haven’t kept a clean sheet in 4 straight league games. You’re welcome.
Tottenham v. West Ham
This is an intriguing matchup as both teams desperately need to come away from this game with 3 points. Since beating Man City, Tottenham have gone on to draw 4 consecutive league matches and now find themselves 5 points behind Liverpool and 3 points out of a champions league spot. Yes its still early, but every game matters, especially with the top four looking so dominant at the moment. West Ham on the other hand find themselves in 17th place and only 1 point ahead of a relegation spot. Although it hasn’t gotten the same level of attention as Chelsea’s fall from grace last season, West Hams stuttering start is just as dramatic as their London counterparts. Although Tottenham has some key injuries, the return of Harry Kane and playing in front of their home supporters should be enough to earn a critical 3 points. Tottenham wins 1-0.
Middlesbrough v. Chelsea
Since losing an embarrassing defeat to their rivals Arsenal, Chelsea have switched formations and have been as close to perfect as you can get. They are currently on a 5 game win streak and have outscored their opponents 16-0 in that same time span. However, the international break couldn’t have come at a worse time for Chelsea and it will be an intriguing development to watch and see if they simply pick up where they left off or if their synergy has been tampered with by spending time abroad. At the end of the day, I don’t see Chelsea dropping points here and I think they continue their great form. Chelsea win 3-0.
Crystal Palace v. Manchester City
Crystal Palace have been one of my favorite teams to watch this year, they have a sloppy defense that allows a ton of goals, but going forward they are dangerous and can score on any team in the league. The best part is that when they have gone up against the top teams, they have gone right at them instead of keeping men back and trying to strike on the counter. This game is going to have goals, and for the casual soccer fan, this game is your best bet to watch for an exciting high scoring game. Man City continue their fight for the top of the table and win 3-1.