Fantasy football: expect fireworks in London
Let’s be honest, for the majority of us armchair football fans, Friday Night Football is brilliant.
Week of work over, beers flowing, it’s the perfect start to the weekend.
Liverpool fans who live in the city will likely disagree now they have to make a 450-mile round trip on a work day. But we’ll do what football authorities have been doing since they sold out to the riches of the Premier League and ignore the fee-paying public.
Anyway, tonight is a humdinger. Two in-form teams, two insane managers. A book has been opening on who, Antonio Conte or Jürgen Klopp, will lose their temper first.
Conte exists in a more steady paced state of agitation, while Klopp’s blood pressure appears to rise and fall in line with awe-inspiring maniacal outbursts. It’s no wonder the league is so obsessed with its managers right now.
The game has the potential to really catch alight. Diego Costa is in fine form again, while Liverpool have at times played breathtaking football, albeit while also being breathtakingly stupid at the back. Enjoy the show.
Chelsea v Liverpool
The game promises to feature the return of David Luiz, a couple of years after Chelsea fans though they had got rid of him. Highly skilled but prone to lapses of concentration, he should give Sadio Mané real encouragement.
Sadly for Liverpool, while Dejan Lovren is back, this appears a match where their defensive insecurities cannot be covered up.
Hull City v Arsenal
Same points, same goal difference, who thought that would be the case after four games? Mike Phelan, maybe. Hull have been superb so far and will certainly be no pushovers. Arsenal will have to up their game from their laboured display against Southampton, but there is a sense their players are slowly working through the gears.
Early games suggest Leicester are working out how to accommodate new players, the loss of N’Golo Kanté and their new status. If they needed a boost, though, their brilliant Champions League debut should provide one.
Jamie Vardy still looks razor sharp and Riyad Mahrez is rediscovering his touch. Doesn’t bode well for Burnley.
After their first-half display against rivals United — it was like watching a training game — and a stroll in Europe, things are coming together very nicely for Pep Guardiola. Bournemouth’s passing style could mean this is an open encounter, which plays into the hands of talent-rich City.
West Ham United will be pleased to escape the London Stadium or whatever they call their new home.
There are teething problems in East London, which were to be expected, and the running track around the pitch is only one of them. Tony Pulis still resembles a man trying to get the sack.
The clinical way in which Everton killed off Sunderland once the opportunity arose just adds to the feeling there is a quiet revolution going on at Goodison. Certainly, Ronald Koeman looks better equipped tactically to get the most out of a talented squad. Keeping Romelu Lukaku could be a masterstroke.
Watford v Manchester United
Like many I’m guilty of writing Watford off on the basis of disliking their business model. The rapid and frequent movement of players and managers isn’t to everyone’s taste but the fact is, the Pozzo family are no novices. The comeback against West Ham was stunning, the squad is gelling and Troy Deeney is slowly losing the carb-bulk. That said, United are a wounded animal after the derby defeat and they’ll be sent out on a mission.
Palace picked up their first win of the season at Middlesbrough last weekend and will aim to play once again to Christian Benteke’s strengths. Winless Stoke have had a dismal start, which is a surprise after doing good transfer business. Surely they have to wake up soon.
Southampton appear flat but were hard done by in drawing against Arsenal. They need a home win to get their season up and running.
Swansea did well to claim a point against Chelsea but it could have been a lot worse had the referee make a couple of alternative calls. Two sides struggling to kick-start their season. Big game.
David Moyes is in danger of really ruining his CV — Sunderland are a sinking ship at present.
Tottenham move in higher orbits these days and a midweek Champions League defeat did not please those in charge. Expect a brutal response.
Lee Williams, in charge of Expected Toulouse, made the early running and wins the $100 prize for top manager in August.
Williams scoresd 200 points, two clear of How I Met Your Mata, led by Graham Gibbons, in second.
E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org for details of how to collect your prize.