Okay, that's the International break out of the way. I mean, England facing the likes of Germany and Brazil, and both the Republic and Northern Ireland bidding for World cup qualification is alright, but it's not the North London Derby, is it? That quiet affair is the first of EIGHT ties to tackle as the StanJames.com Premier League Predictor Competition makes its return! That's right! We're back, baby, and with such a bumper selection to get our teeth into, let's crack on!
Arsenal v Spurs kicks-off at 12:30, so make sure you get your scores in before then as we cover all eight of Saturday's matches for Week 12 of the Predictor!
So, what do I have to do to enter this FREE COMPETITION?
All you have to do is head over to our Predictor Competition, complete the quick registration form then simply enter your selections for the upcoming Premier League fixtures. Three points are awarded for a correct score and one for a correct result. The overall winner will bag a £25 Free Bet and anyone who finishes in the top 25 players will receive a £5 free bet.**
Don't forget, in order to collect your prize you must have placed at least one bet (any stake) in the 14 days prior to playing. Full T&Cs can be found here!
A hateful eight Premier League matches to predict for Week 12. If you please, all predictions to be entered before 12.30pm on Saturday, November 18th. Don't have an account yet? Click here to open one.
** Free bets will be credited within 48 hours.
ARSENAL 1 V 3 SPURS
Despite assertations that Arsenal are a fading force, they are sitting comfortably in sixth place on 19 points, level with Liverpool and just four points off second, despite seemingly not hitting top gear yet. Arsene played his favoured front line, LOS - Lacazette, Ozil and Sanchez - for the first time last time out and they responded with a goal apiece in the 5-2 destruction of a hapless Everton. True, it was against the still managerless Toffees, but the three stars showed there could be a lot to come from them, despite where their futures may lie.
Giroud and Ramsey are doubts for the Gunners, who can welcome back both Danny Welbeck and Shkodran Mustafi to the fold.
Spurs arrive at the Emirates with a swagger in their step that can be felt the footballing world over: Since beating Real Madrid in the Champions League - "They have hammered Real Madrid. Absolutely played them off the park", Paul Hayward - Pochettino's young tyros showed the strength of mind to dig out a 1-0 win against a determined and resolute Crystal Palace. Two totally different matches, but another glimpse into the evolution of Spurs. Their players have enjoyed the International break, with Son and Eriksen's goal-scoring exploits, in particular, snatching the attention and plaudits, but don't overlook the impact captaining an incredibly young England team to successive 0-0 draws against Germany and Brazil will have had on the already stoic mindset of Eric Dier. True, derbies can be an emotional tinderbox, liable to explode in any given moment - and the NLD is as combustible as any - but it seems the Spurs youngsters have learnt from the dust-up against Chelsea two seasons back that ended their title hopes.
Whilst captain Lloris is a doubt, key defender Toby Alderwireld is definitely out, joining Victor Wanyama and Erik Lamela on the sidelines. However, Pochettino can recall the England trio of Kane, Winks and Alli, all of whom missed out in playing the International break. Kane, in particular, will relish this game: the one-man wrecking ball who seems hell-bent on rewriting every Premier League record going has scored in all five of his PL North London derbies and only Emmanuel Adebayor (8) and Robert Pires (7) have more than his six goals in this fixture...
What We Sayin'?
Just a few weeks ago, Troy Deeney famously claimed the Arsenal players lacked 'cojones'.. well, if ever there was a game that Arsene Wenger would expect his charges to stand up and be counted it is this one. As discussed, Wenger played his first-choice attack together for the first time last time out and they looked devestating. If the three are on fire they'll surely give Spurs' back line a hard game. However, scoring goals has certainly not been Spurs - or Kane's - problem either, so BTTS seems a shoo-in at 1/2. Lacazete and Kane to score at any time are 5/6 and 8/11 respectively, whilst the in-form Eriksen is a tasty-looking 15/2 shot to net first.
Ultimately, though, we feel this could be the wrong game and the wrong location for Arsenal. As we saw against Real with Spurs' third goal, the Lilywhites can be absolutely devestating on the counter and as Arsenal chase the win to appease their fans, we can see Spurs punishing them on the break... a flattering 1-3 perhaps but at 20/1 we'll speculate at Arsenal's expense.*
AFC BOURNEMOUTH 2 V 0 HUDDERSFIELD
Eddie Howe's Cherries come into this game in fine fettle, with three wins in their last four (the defeat being against reigning champions Chelsea) and they will be confident of securing maximum points against the Terriers, who sit in tenth after a strong start to the season. Howe will be particularly mindfull about this clash, as he sets about doing battle with a potential 'relegation' rival as his side sit just a point above the drop zone.
Despite notable victories a home against the likes of West Brom and Manchester United, Huddersfield have struggled on the road this term, and manager David Wagner will be hopeful his side can reverse this slide, starting with Bournemouth on Saturday. However, Bournemouth have won four, drawn one, and lost one of their last six meetings with Huddersfield, keeping a clean sheet in three of these four wins, so the omens aren't great for the gregarious German's side.
One glimmer of hope for Hudersfield is Bournemouth's growing injury list, with Junior Stanislas, Benik Afoe, Brad Smith, Tyrone Mings, and Adam Federici all sidelined for this clash. Jon Stankovic, Kasey Palmer, Phillip Billing, and Michael Hefele are all absent for the visitors.
What We Sayin'?
Initially we took this as a score draw, honours even for two evenly-matched teams and two equally-inspiring young managers. However, The Cherries upturn in form, coupled with Huddersfield dip has swayed our thinking. Add into the mix Huddersfield's poor away form and our reasoning for a fairly comfortable home win seems compelling. A goal in both halves, with Bournemouth winning both halves at 17/4 appeals. The Cherries to win to nil is 9/5. Finally, we'll plump for the 2-0 scoreline: 13/2.*
BURNLEY 1 V 0 SWANSEA
Burnley continue to attract fans the length and breadth of the country as Sean Dyche's side retain his footballing philosophy. Notoriously difficult to beat at Turf Moor, they are yet to beat Swansea, home or away, in four meetings, though this could be their best chance of bucking that trend. The Clarets sit in seventh in the Premier League, whilst Swansea languishes in 19th after four straight defeats on the bounce.
Burnley warmed up for this match with two straight 1-0 victories, which sees them level on points with Arsenal and Liverpool. They are full of confidence at the moment and that edge could be enough to see off a Swansea side who are desperate to get their season firing.
Expect Ward and Hendrick to return for the hosts, with Pope remaining in goal in Tom Heaton's absence. Striker Chris Wood may be a doubt after playing in Peru Wednesday (not to self: change Fantasy Football team selection!) Olsson and Britton are both available for selection for the visitors, whilst new captain, Angel Rangel is a serious doubt with a groin strain. Wilfried Bony and Renato Sanches are expected to feature at some stage, though both are suffering from a lack of game time.
What We Sayin'?
On their day Swansea can pass and move the ball as well as any team in the Premier league. If both teams arrive 'at it' then this could well end up being a game for the purists. Unfortunately, Swansea may ditch their footballing ethos for a rather more direct approach, given the fact that goals and points are at a premium for the Welsh side. This may well play into the hosts' hands, so we'll plump for a third consecutive 1-0 for Burnley at 19/4. Throw in Vokes to score first (7/2) and have the two in a scorecast (16/1) and we're about done here.* Agree?
CRYSTAL PALACE 2 V 1 EVERTON
This is a BIG, BIG three-pointer for both teams, neither of wom would one have predicted to be in their current predicament come 11 games in! Palace boss 'Woy' Hodgson is a wily old campaigner and he'll have used the International Break to his advantage, studiously working on a battle plan to overcome Everton whilst carefully nursing back t health key players, such as Benteke, who could be in line for a recall after sustaining a knee injury back in September.
Since appointing Hodgson Palace are slowly returning to their best. They gave Spurs a helluva game at Wembley and were unlucky to leave North London with nothing to show for their endeavours, prompting the former England boss into an uncharacteristic moan about 'fate' and 'luck'. However, it should be remembered that they also beat Chelsea and drew 2-2 with West Ham, further grist for the mill.
Everton, meanwhile, are the shock team of the season. After spending the best part of £160m during the summer they remain managerless after dispensing of Ronald Koeman's services, and the team looked disjointed. True, they beat Watford last time out - a mistaken Tom Cleverly in the 101st minute the difference - but caretaker manager David Unsworth will know that the Toffees will need to be far sweeter if they are to come away from South London with anything but a sour taste in their mouths.
As above, Palace could welcome Benteke back to the fold, whilst Ruben Loftus-Cheek faces a late fitness test after his heroics for the Three Lions. Everton arrive with the likes of Ramiro Funes Mori, Yannick Bolasie, Seamus Coleman and Cuco Martina all sidelined. James McCarthy is a worry, though Unsworth may recall Ross Barkley for his first start of the season.
What We Sayin'?
This one has 1-1 writen all over it, doesn't it? That's why we're plumping for the home win. Crystal Palace have shown a real resolve under Hodgson, who sould have enough nous and knowhow to outwit his counterpoint in Unsworth. Zaha, in particular has been on fire for the Eagles and we can see the Ivory Coast international netting first in a high-octane game (11/2). Likewise, fellow speedster Andros Townsend's appetite seems whetted by the man who gave him his international chance and a long-distance rocket from the former Spurs player to open proceedings is 13/2. Everton, meanwhile, do have quality all over the pitch. Rooney is a cheeky 2/1 to score at anytime, whilst dead ball specalist Sigurdsson can be had at 6/1 to score first/last. Finally, BTTS is 9/10, BTTS and Palace win is 17/4.*
LEICESTER CITY 2 V 2 MAN CITY
A tale of two Cities - quite literally! Despite their recent good form Leicester host a team who look virtually unstoppable at the moment. Pep Guardiola's Citizens sit atop the Premier League, with 31 points from a possible 33 in the bank. They've scored 38 and only conceded 7 thus far, which gives a measure of the size of the task facing the Foxes. However, if we learnt anything from Leicester's title-winning season it's that you write them off at your peril. Claude Puel has steadied the ship since taking over and they remain unbeaten in their last six games, including a 2-2 draw last time out at Stoke, where they twice led. You suspect such charitable defending will be harshly punished by City, which could see a switch in formation by the hosts come kick-off.
As stated, City are brushing all aside at the moment. The defeated Arsenal 3-1, with Sergio Aguero, Kevin de Bruyne and Gabriel Jesus all on the scoresheet. That victory sees them overtake a club record of 15 consecutive wins, in the process recording a perfect 5 out of 5 on the road including the 2-3 defeat of WBA last time out.
Key defender Robert Huth misses this one for Leicester, whilst Iborra and Chilwell have both been declared fit. Sterling and Delph, both withdrawn from the England squad see to have overcome their mysterious ailments and are in contention for a starting place. Kompany may feature on the bench after a lengthy absence, where he could be joined by record goalscorer Sergio Aguero, a cautionary move after the striker fainted at half-time in Argentina's game against Nigeria.
What We Sayin'?
Okay - this is the one where we're going out on a limb. Many may feel the absence of Huth is a major blow, but the rugged German, for all his undoubted qualities, can be slow. Given the pace of Man City's attack, this may be a blessing in disguise. We can see Leicester sitting back and defending resolutely at the King Power, frustrating the champions-elect in the process. In Vardy they have the perfect outlet to play this type of footbal and the England hitman's pace on the counter could be a real weapon here. His partner in crime, Riyad Mahrez, involved in five goals in his last four games, seems to have refound his swagger.
LIVERPOOL 3 V 1 SOUTHAMPTON
Free-scoring Liverpool, with 15 goals in their last five games, welcome the Saints to Anfield in fine fettle... with manager Jurgen Klopp hoping THIS will be the game where his Reds finally beat Southampton, the German yet to taste victory against Southampton in the league. Indeed, the Saints unbeaten in their last five games against 'Pool and a shutout would see them go six in a row against Liverpool for the first time ever!
Liverpool have only lost two of their last 32 home games, and Klopp is returning Anfield to the fortress it once was. However, as exciting and dominant his team are going forward, especially at home, Saints have only conceded three away goals thus far this term, which could really set this up as a game of attack v defence. In Mohamed Salah Liverpool have a player on fire and the Egyptian with seven goals already to his name, can equal or break Robbie Fowler's Liverpool record of eight goals in his first 12 PL matches should he net at any time.
Mane, another who has been invigorated this term looks set to sit this one out as he suffered a reoccurrence of his hamstring problem while on international duty. Philippe Coutinho could return after playing against England midweek while Lallana could make a welcome return to the bench for the Reds. Southampton arrive without any major injury worries, though Puel could look to rotate his squad after their defeat to Burnley.
What We Sayin'?
Attack v Defence... many years ago we returned home with a bloody nose. Pops asked what happened, then explained that I should hit first and hit hard. We can see Southampton returning south with a similarly bloated hooter as Liverpool's attacking threat live up to the hype.
Hit first and hit hard... A goal in minutes 1-10 is 14/5. We'll take Salah to equal Fowler's record (at least). He's 14/5 to score first at 9/10 to score at any time. Liverpool, suspect defensively as shown in the 4-1 by Spurs, can be got at and Gabbiadini, smarting from Italy's exit from the World Cup, will have a point to prove. He's 15/2 to score first and 5/2 to net at any time. Given those thoughts, BTTS seems fair at 9/10. We'll stick by the scoreline predicted as well; Liverpool 3-1 is 10/1.*
WEST BROM 1 V 3 CHELSEA
Rumours persist that West Brom coach Tony Pullis' tenure at The Hawthorns could be under threat. If so, it seems the speculation hasn't spilt over to his players, who showed in a battling 2-3 defeat to Man City that they are prepared to fight for their manager. Unfortunately, since holding Chelsea in four visits to The Hawthorns between 2012-2015 (D1 L3), Chelsea have since won back-to-back matches there, including in May when they won the title. Conte's charges have won three PL games on the bounce, including an impressive 1-0 win over Man United, with Morata the scorer on that occasion. Conversely, without a win in nine, The Baggies have lost their last three on the spin, including a 1-0 reverse to fellow strugglers Huddersfield. Only four teams have taken fewer points at home this season than West Brom, while Chelsea have the third best away record in the league... food for thought, surely!
Chadli is sidelined for West Brom, having picked up a hamstring injury in training, whilst James Morrison and Craig Dawson are both long-term absentees. For the visitors Moses has no chance of performing a miraclous recovery, whilst Luiz and Batshuayi are both mnajor doubts.
What We Sayin'?
Chelsea need to pick up wins against the likes of West Brom if they really hold any hopes of chasing down Man. City and retaining their title. The Hawthorns is never an easy place to go to, but Morata is a player on fire. The Spaniard is 5/2 to net first. We'll take that, along with our prediction of 1-3 at 12/1.*
MAN UNITED 2 V 0 NEWCASTLE
United are strong favourites to win here and despite Newcastle's proclivity of producing an upset, we are finding it hard to look beyond a comfortable home win here. Romelu Lukaku, who scored three goals for Belgium in two matches over the international break, is back in fine form and the big striker is surely eyeing the Golden Boot this year round. Both Zlatan and Pogba return to the United fold and Newcastle's midfield will have their work cut out containing them. The Red Devils are unbeaten in 22 PL matches at home and are zeroing in on winning seven home games in a row for the first time since 2010.
Rafa could become the ONLY manager to guide three different clubs to Premier League victory at Old Trafford. However, off-field distractions seem to be affecting the players, with rumours of takeover possibly attributing to their recent slump.
Phil Jones is likely to be absent after he limped off against Germany. Christian Atsu, Jamaal Lascelles and Mikel Merino are all doubts because of injury, and Rob Elliot could return after leaving the ROI squad due to a family bereavement.
What We Sayin'?
*All prices subject to fluctuation. Make sure to check StanJames.com for up to date prices.
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