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  • Ash, @FPLHints

Chief @FPLHINTS’ 5 Picks: Premier League 21/22 Contest #2

Wasn’t it great to see full stadiums across the country on the opening weekend of the Premier League? The fan factor advantage almost certainly contributed to the majority of matches ending in home wins as well as the flurry of goals. However, let us not be complacent. Covid is sadly still in our midst (as we saw with the pre-season outbreak at Manchester United) and all the personnel will still need to be vigilant and undertake relevant precautions across the Premier League. That aside, with Champions League football yet to begin you would expect the elite teams to field their strongest possible teams in the league and in turn build momentum early on.


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Here are five of my predictions for the second Perfect Picks’ Premier League contest:


Liverpool v Burnley


The Clarets started their campaign with a loss to Brighton courtesy of conceding two late goals. What was worrying is that Burnley were arguably more or less at full strength. Of course, Chris Wood may have still been a bit fatigued following his recent return from the football tournament at the Olympics. But it’s more the defence, Burnley’s hallmark, which needs correcting almost immediately. On the other hand Liverpool were pugnacious against the Canaries with 8 shots on target, 3 of which were goals. Some may point out that Mohamed Salah has a questionable scoring record against Burnley. But does that really matter? Anfield will have a full house of fans for the first time in over 15 months in the Premier League (before Klopp’s men even became champions) and Liverpool are the clear favourites in this tie. Prediction: Liverpool to win by 2


Aston Villa v Newcastle United


It all started so well for Bruce’s team on Sunday. Two goals scored before half-time almost seemed too good to be true with Wilson and Saint-Maximin on the attack. The less said of the second half the better as the Hammers ran riot. Aston Villa also ended up on the losing side despite two late goals in vain against Watford. The loss of Grealish didn’t help but you would expect their new signings to assist the team with a bounce back win. For that to happen, Villa will almost certainly need to have more shots on goal than last time out and that may be the case if the Toon Army don’t address their defensive issues. This could be a tighter match than many would expect but I think Aston Villa may just edge it with their attacking threat. Prediction: Aston Villa to win by 1


Man City v Norwich


Who would have thought that Man City would start the season with two defeats in a row without scoring? Of course, I’m counting the Community Shield in that run, even if Guardiola fielded a weaker team in the curtain raiser. But against Spurs, despite having more shots on goal and large share of possession they simply weren’t good enough and lacked end product. Maybe they could do with a new striker after all? If there’s one thing that Guardiola hates it is losing. More often than not after a disappointing loss he is able to rally his troops with a resurgent win in the following match. This could be problematic for the Canaries and their default attacking style of play. Man City can easily exploit the inevitable gaps that are created and in turn score big. However, almost two years ago (in the reverse fixture) Norwich caused an upset by beating Man City by playing an almost similar brand of football. They could even score in this game but you would expect the Citizens to overcome them by a big margin. Prediction: Man City to win by 4 (Star Pick)


Southampton v Man United


They may have avoided relegation with a 16 points buffer last season, but will it be plain sailing for the Saints this time around? A number of experienced players departed the club during pre-season with new signings mostly consisting of players with no Premier League experience. Their defeat last weekend against Everton didn’t seem too unexpected but they’ll want to address their fault lines quickly as they face a Man United team next that they lost to 9-0 last season. The Red Devils were clearly rejuvenated against Leeds despite the absence of some senior players. Pogba displayed his attacking prowess and Greenwood led the line perfectly fine. Southampton have only beaten United twice since 2003 and they will be hard pressed to add to their head-to-head win tally this weekend. Prediction: Man United to win by 2 Arsenal v Chelsea


Last time out, you would have been forgiven to think that Arsenal were the newly promoted team and Brentford were the incumbent Premier League team. The Gunners were far from their best regardless of Aubameyang and Lacazette being absent. The team simply lacked any semblance of being cutting edge and were outclassed. Chelsea will offer an even more difficult test. Add to the fact that we are likely to see the return of Lukaku in this fixture which will add to Arsenal’s problems. Chelsea on the other hand gave an assured performance against Crystal Palace despite playing in the European Super Cup a few days before the game. The Blues won at the Emirates last season and there is a clear gulf between these two London clubs at this moment in time. Even if Tuchel rotates his team again that wouldn’t matter due to their strength in depth. The result of this game will almost certainly go one way. Prediction: Chelsea to win by 2


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