Updated: Jan 10
Hello everyone, welcome to November, the month that saw the return of Mauricio Pochettino but do hold your horses as it was on Sky Sport's Monday Night Football and not the dugout. If rumors are to be believed then his return to management might be sooner than we think as he is touted to replace Ole Gunnar Solskjær, who suffered another torrid week as United manager. Or it could just be good old Ed putting Ole under the next level of pressure so that Ole navigates the PL like he's Ken Miles at Le Mans.
Image Credits: Sky Sports (Instagram)
After their win against Leipzig most United fans thought that the team had turned a corner but in Roy Keane's words, "It's the longest corner ever!" as United first lost to Arsenal at Old Trafford in the PL after 14 years and if this wasn't enough, the team put up an embarrassing performance against İstanbul Başakşehir.
While Bawa got a lot more of his predictions right compared to previous weeks, he got the most important one wrong - that of his beloved United!
Refereeing including VAR continues to baffle but we must laud its consistency in getting decisions WRONG. So much so that Luis Suarez decided to take it upon himself to explain the mysteries of VAR to the common man - only to end up with another yellow.
Image Credits: ESPN FC (Twitter)
With the international break looming large let us dive straight into this week’s predictions!
Brighton vs Burnley
Graham Potter must be a very worried manager with just five points from the first seven games. Playing without an out-and-out striker was an interesting strategy but it didn't really yield the desired result. While it's still early days, another relegation battle seems on the cards unless Potter gets Maupay to correct his attitude and wear his scoring boots.
Burnley huffed and puffed against a strong Chelsea unit but the difference in quality is apparent for all to see. Sean Dyche really needs McNeil to regain some of his forms and provide Wood and Barnes with some goal-scoring opportunities.
Bawa Verdict: Brighton to nick this one.
Southampton vs Newcastle
James Ward Prowse, take a bow son! While the Saints are a treat to watch and could've scored 6 against the in-form Villa, Hassenhutl must be a little worried about his defense allowing Villa to score 2 goals in stoppage time. The injury to Danny Ings will keep him out for 4-6 weeks and we shall all see if the Saints can cope without their main man or will they be a dyINGS by the time he comes back.
Calum Wilson's brace earned Newcastle an unlikely win against Everton. Defensively the Geordies are a well-drilled team that is tough to break and it will be interesting to see if Bruce applies the same strategy of soaking the pressure and hitting the Saints on the counter.
Bawa Verdict: Teams to share the spoils!
Everton vs Man Utd
The suspensions to Richalison and Digne cost Everton dearly as they lost to a well organized Newcastle side. In the last 8 games that Richarlison has missed due to injury/suspension, Everton has failed to win. Everton has drawn two and won one in their last three PL meetings against United but Bawa reckons this might be a tough one for Carlo and his men.
Ole must be wondering what went wrong after fantastic results against PSG, Newcastle, and Leipzig. Bawa thinks that Ole' is out of his depth at this level and points to the fact that he has now been in charge of 100 matches for United AND STILL DOES NOT KNOW HIS BEST XI. Continuously changing formations and team personnel is never going to take United forward and it shows. And United won't be winning this game.
Image Credits: B/R Football (Instagram)
Bawa Verdict: Everton to add to Ole's misery and take the 3 points.
Crystal Palace vs Leeds
With their winning run halted, both the teams come into this game wanting to win before heading into the international break. Zaha and Co. had a tough run out against Wolves and they will have to get back to their organized selves if they want to come out of this game with points.
On a horrible, rainy Monday night at Elland Road, Leicester took advantage of the Leeds high line with some breathtaking counter-attacking football. Bamford missed two gilt-edged chances which could've made a big difference to the eventual result.
Bawa Verdict: Leeds to continue their impressive away form and come away with the 3 points.
Chelsea vs Sheffield United
Despite an injury in the warm-up to Pulisic and COVID-19 positive test for Havertz, Chelsea comfortably beat both Burnley and Rennes 3-0. Ziyech looks like a bargain and with a plethora of crafty footballers around him, will create enough chances for the likes of Werner, Tammy, Giroud to outscore their opponents every time they step out onto the field.
While Sheffield gave a good account of themselves against City, the lack of cutting edge upfront cost them a point at least. Playing Liverpool, City, and Chelsea in 3 consecutive weeks are tough enough but to do it with a team lacking confidence is just sheer bad luck.
Bawa Verdict: Chelsea to secure another comfortable win.
West Ham vs Fulham
West Ham was unlucky to not come away with a point from Anfield but such is the form and class of Liverpool. Without Antonio - the Hammers are a little light upfront but are playing some neat football and should be able to see off Fulham.
With their first win of the season, Fulham will come into this fixture hoping to repeat their performance against West Brom. The return of Andersen helped shore up their defense and with two assists for Mitrovic, the team seems to be clicking into form.
Bawa Verdict: West Ham to come up trumps (lol) in this London derby.
West Brom vs Spurs
West Brom's struggles continued against their fellow relegation battlers, Fulham. There are rumors of a fall out between Bilic and the board after they sold Hegazi and typically this means that Bilic's days are numbered if the results don't turn favorable soon.
Harry Kane scored another penalty but Spurs needed a Bale out against a gritty Brighton team. While their performance was good in parts, Mou Mama must be wondering how can he buy a clean sheet. This could also be FPL gold for all you Kane & Son holders.
Bawa Verdict: Spurs to send West Brom to the cleaners.
Leicester vs Wolves
While Bawa's zoology isn't great, he fully expects a feisty affair in the game of the Foxes vs the Wolves. Both teams come on the back of fantastic wins and this is a real toughie to call.
Pacy Vardy & Co. vs organized Coady & Co. makes this a really entertaining watch for the neutral.
Bawa Verdict: Exciting draw.
Man City vs Liverpool (Match of the Week)
This is shaping up to be a blockbuster! City has had an indifferent start to the season compounded by injuries to KDB, Aguero, Jesus. However, KDB & Jesus have now recovered and will be expected to start vs Liverpool. Pep will be desperate to get a win and go into the international break with renewed confidence.
Klopp & Co meanwhile just do not know when they are beaten. They have managed to pick up wins while barely getting out of second gear and despite not playing particularly well and that is a hallmark of great teams. It will be interesting to see if the impressive Jota starts in place of the badly out of form Firmino or will he come on again as an impact sub.
This game promises a lot and we hope it delivers on the hype!
Bawa Verdict: A tough one to call but an exciting draw on the cards.
Arsenal vs Aston Villa
Mikel Arteta became the first manager after Herbert Chapman to win his first two games against United, a record that stood for far too long. He got his tactics spot on and the surprise inclusion of The Real Slim Shady aka El Neny helped Party in gaining control of the midfield and keeping the likes of Fernandes and Pogba quiet. It will be interesting to see if Arsenal can now kick on and find a way to improve offensively as well.
After a poor first half, the Villans showed resolve and scored two goals in injury time to nearly sneak a point against Saints. After two consecutive losses, Dean Smith will need his team to pull up their socks against an invigorated but beatable Arsenal side.
Bawa Verdict: Arsenal to carry on with their good run of form and beat the Villans.
The FPL Corner: Ones to watch
From the Leagues of Yonder…
Image Credits: Sportbible (Instagram)
Closer home, November is also the month when the Indian Super League will kick-off, making it the first major sports event to begin in India post-COVID-19. The season is going to be keenly watched for a lot of reasons, not the least that it finally gets an actual derby which some might say is Asia's biggest derby!
Zlatan Ibrahimović scored another overhead kick at the ripe age of 39 to secure a win at Udinese. Bawa loves Ibra and hopes he continues to score many such worldies!
Image Credits: B/R Football (Instagram)
In some more Zlatan news, the Swedish legend also hinted at making a return to the national team colors, and set Twitter abuzz, only for Swedish manager Janne Andersson to pour cold water on his hopes by calling it a closed matter.
Credits: @ibra_official on Twitter (if you didn't follow him already)
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* All views and opinions mentioned in the above article are solely of the author.