5 Potential Premier League Shocks in October feat. Chelsea and Arsenal
Football; and in particular the Premier League, has always been an unpredictable beast. However, the number of shocks in the first two months of this season has surprised everyone, so what fixtures look like they have the potential to carry on this trend in October?
- Sunderland v West Ham United
Many people expected West Ham to go pointless from their first three away fixtures of this season. However, the Hammers have surprised everyone; including their manager Slavin Bilic, picking up maximum points from trips to Arsenal, Liverpool and Manchester City. Those results would suggest the Upton Park outfit should comfortably pick up 3 points against the hapless Sunderland at the Stadium of Light. Things are never that straightforward though and West Ham’s best performances this season have come in the games where nothing has been expected of them.
At home, they have had disappointing defeats to Leicester and Bournemouth, and a trip to face The Black Cats presents another fixture in which fans would have higher expectations.
Sunderland’s recent record at home is very poor, but the law of probability means they will pick up a win at some point this season. This game at home to West Ham may just provide that opportunity.
- Chelsea v Southampton
Both sides have made sluggish starts to the season after fantastic campaigns last year and will be looking for improved performances and results in October. Normal logic would dictate that Chelsea at home is a banker, but the Blues’ drew at home to the Saints last year and have looked vulnerable as they dropped points to both Swansea and Crystal Palace already this season.
Southampton have started the campaign poorly themselves too, having already been knocked out of the Europa League and lying in mid-table in the Premier League on the same number of points as newly promoted Norwich and Watford. A visit to the Champions will take the pressure off the Saints though, something that is a rare occurrence these days. Being able to let the shackles off may just be what Southampton need to raise their performance to last season’s level and spring another surprise at Stamford Bridge this year.
- Southampton v Leicester City
Whilst Southampton may be able to relax at Chelsea, the pressure will be very different when they face Leicester City only two weeks later. The Foxes have made a fantastic start to the season but even so, few would expect them to pick up any points from a trip to St Marys. Lack of expectation has worked well for Leicester so far this season though, allowing Claudio Ranieri’s men to play counter-attacking football, utilising the pace of Riyad Mahrez, Jeffrey Schlupp and Jamie Vardy.
With the home support urging them on, Southampton could find themselves over-committing, leaving the door open for the Leicester attack to catch them on the break as has been so successful for them and in doing so, add another scalp to their impressive season.
- Stoke City v Watford
Many people; myself included, expected Stoke to be challenging for Europe this year. However, Mark Hughes’ men have made a terrible start to the season, leaving them just outside the bottom three. On the other hand, many expected Watford’s summer spending spree to cause them difficulties in bedding a new squad into Premier League action. Despite this, new manager Quique Sanchez Flores has helped the squad to flourish with captain Troy Deeney and fellow forward Odion Ighalo adapting well to the transition from Championship to Premier League.
A visit to the Britannia is a tough assignment for any side; particularly a newly promoted one, but Watford’s early season form suggests they have the fire-power and weapons to hurt The Potters. Everton and Newcastle have already seen first-hand the damage Watford’s attacking style can cause and there is nothing to suggest The Hornets won’t carry on in that fashion.
With Ryan Shawcross still out injured, Watford will expect to score. If they can keep the door shut at the other end, then they could cause another Premier League shock.
- Arsenal v Everton
Arsenal were widely predicted to challenge for the title at the start of this season, but defeats to West Ham and Chelsea have already raised questions about the credibility of these claims. A home game against Everton should provide some respite for Arsene Wenger’s men but last season’s top six have already found the going tough at home this season.
Roberto Martinez’s job appeared under threat at the start of the season following a disappointing campaign in 2014/15, but the Goodison Park outfit have started the season strongly including a victory over defending champions Chelsea. Everton have become a more direct side this season, trying to play to the strengths of Romelu Lukaku and not always persisting with the possession football that Martinez craves. This change in philosophy could prove critical at the Emirates where Arsenal always see the majority of the ball but are often susceptible against big, strong sides. Therefore, don’t be surprised if a Lukaku-inspired Everton give the Gunners a shock.
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