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Mohamed Salah backed to get busy on next 100

Mohamed Salah became the 30th player to score 100 goals in the Premier League last Sunday (Photograph by Rui Vieira/AP)

The English Premier League title race could be its most competitive in history. At least five teams look primed for the challenge, while others may push into form at an important time.

The fantasy landscape also looks tantalising, with several players making their claims as potential key assets in the next few weeks. For example, Wolves midfielders Rúben Neves and Adama Traoré could be important players in a favourable run of matches for the West Midlands side.

Friday

Newcastle United v Leeds United

4pm

Newcastle continued to struggle defensively in their 4-1 defeat away to Manchester United on Saturday. They did create quite a few chances at Old Trafford, but they need to be more clinical to stand a chance of survival. Leeds were far too open in their 3-0 home defeat by Liverpool on Sunday. The Yorkshire side have an abundance of talent and should be comfortable winners here, their first victory of the season.

Prediction: 0-2

Saturday

Wolverhampton Wanderers v Brentford

8.30am

Wolves picked up their first win of the season away to Watford, and new recruit Hwang Hee Chan scored his first goal for the side from the Black Country. They finally showed that clinical edge to finish off their excellent, flowing football under Bruno Lage. Brentford failed to capitalise on a dominant start last week. The Bees were punished when Leandro Trossard scored in the final minute and demoted them to a 1-0 home defeat by Brighton. Neither side have scored many goals, and both put emphasis on defensive stability so far this term. Expect a very cagey affair that comes down to the team with the best quality of chances.

Prediction: 1-1

Burnley v Arsenal

11am

Burnley went against the typical defensive approach of manager Sean Dyche in a poor 3-1 defeat away to Everton on Monday night. So far, they have picked up a single home draw to Leeds United. The Clarets must find some form quickly or they will be fighting for survival. Arsenal finally earned their first points of the season last week, a comfortable 1-0 home win over Norwich. Despite allowing the visitors to control the ball, the Gunners were often dangerous on the counter-attack. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang scored his first league goal midway through the second half. This match will be about who takes their chances, and whether the North London side can remain defensively sound.

Prediction: 1-1

Liverpool v Crystal Palace

11am

Liverpool have started this season really well, and could seriously challenge for the title. They thrashed Leeds 3-0 at Elland Road last weekend, with Mohamed Salah scoring his 100th Premier League goal. Midfielder Harvey Elliott faces a lengthy spell out after suffering a dislocated ankle, for which the teenager has undergone successful surgery. A buoyant Crystal Palace visit Merseyside off the back of a brilliant 3-0 home win over London rivals Tottenham. New striker Odsonne Édouard scored a brace on his Premier League debut against the Spurs, while midfielder Connor Gallagher provided the assist for one of the Frenchman’s goals. Both these teams like to open up and attack, so this could be the most entertaining afternoon kick-off.

Prediction: 2-1

Manchester City v Southampton

11am

Manchester City cruised past Leicester last week at the King Power Stadium, with Bernardo Silva scoring his first league goal since February. Southampton held on for a critical goalless draw at home to West Ham United, where goalkeeper Alex McCarthy made a critical double save early in the second half. This match produced a seven-goal thriller last season, but expect Saints to shut all passing lanes and dangerous areas where City thrive.

Prediction: 2-0

Norwich City v Watford

11am

Norwich struggled to find a way through in their 1-0 loss away to Arsenal. The Canaries sit rock-bottom of the table through four matches, conceding 11 goals, second-most in the division. Manager Daniel Farke will have to find a victory and some source of goals in this clash of promoted sides. Watford have suffered three straight defeats, most recently 2-0 at home to Wolves. New signing Francisco Sierralta unfortunately conceded an own goal early in the second half at Vicarage Road. Both sides are favoured to go straight back down to the Championship, so expect a cagey and scrappy affair at Carrow Road.

Prediction: 1-1

Aston Villa v Everton

1.30pm

Aston Villa have failed to find a consistent formula after losing their key player, Jack Grealish. Despite shrewd transfer business, the West Midlands side were carved open on numerous occasions in their 3-0 defeat away to Chelsea. Everton have been exceptional under new manager Rafael Benítez, scoring at least twice in all four games thus far. New signings Demarai Gray and Andros Townsend scored in their 3-1 home win over Burnley, with the latter adding an assist. Neither side were tipped to challenge for European football this season, but the Toffees could make an outside push into the Europa League. The hosts need to find some form, or else they will languish in mid-table this term.

Prediction: 1-2

Sunday

Brighton & Hove Albion v Leicester City

10am

Brighton earned a crucial 1-0 victory away to Brentford, despite the home side taking early control of the game. Graham Potter has knitted his side to become hard to beat, and then break quickly with intricate and penetrative football. Leicester, despite a 1-0 home defeat by Manchester City, still look threatening enough claim to a European spot this term. Brendan Rodgers takes his Foxes into a fixture that they are unbeaten in eight meetings. They must win this to keep within touching distance of the early pacesetters.

Prediction: 0-2

West Ham United v Manchester United

10am

West Ham have pushed on from their impressive finish to last season, beginning this term unbeaten. Despite dropping points in their last two games, the Hammers have scored at least twice in three of their first four matches. The goalless draw away to Southampton was a glimpse of their lack of clinical edge in smaller games. Michail Antonio will be suspended for this match after a second yellow card for a late challenge on Saints’ Moussa Djenepo in stoppage time. Manchester United suffered a horrible 2-1 defeat away to Young Boys of Switzerland in the Champions League on Tuesday, so Ole Gunnar Solskjaer will have to bounce back to keep their league form consistent. Scott McTominay will be a key omission from the squad, as the midfielder continues to fully recover from a groin injury suffered last month. Both sides will be favourites for European positions this season, and the Red Devils are expected to mount a title challenge. Prepare for a high-octane match, but the visitors should have enough quality to get them over the line.

Prediction: 1-3

Tottenham Hotspur v Chelsea

12.30pm

Tottenham started brilliantly under new manager Nuno Espirito Santo, but were plunged down to earth by a 3-0 defeat away to Crystal Palace last Saturday. The defence was far too open, and the attack couldn’t get going. Chelsea look imperious so far, yet they still lack a clinical edge, as shown in their 1-0 home win over Zenit in the Champions League on Tuesday. Romelu Lukaku has scored in his first 3 league games. However, he has only scored once in 12 matches against this week’s opposition, expect that to change on Sunday. This is one of the most heated rivalries in England, so expect goals and fireworks, especially as Nuno faces Blues’ manager Thomas Tuchel for the first time.

Prediction: 2-2

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Published September 17, 2021 at 7:55 am (Updated September 17, 2021 at 7:50 am)

Mohamed Salah backed to get busy on next 100

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