Premier League football is on our screens again this weekend for gameweek nine. The league is beginning to take shape, and clubs are suffering from the wear and tear of the season already.
Injuries are frustrating some managers, while rotation has seen some interesting team selections from the teams in midweek action. It might be a while until clubs are pigeon-holed for the campaign, but there are still some significant fixtures this weekend.
Below we are going to look through four of the 3pm kick-offs…
Huddersfield Town vs MANCHESTER UNITED
After flying out of the blocks and threatening to have a Premier League season for the romantics, David Wagner’s Huddersfield have struggled. They are winless in six league matches, having found the net only once in that span.
The Terriers’ failing attack has its work cut out this Saturday. Manchester United have conceded just twice in their eight league matches to date, and Jose Mourinho has already reverted to his favoured ultra-pragmatic brand of football.
The newly promoted side could slip into the bottom three with another loss here. Their 2-0 defeat at Swansea last weekend did little to inspire any optimism for this weekend, and even a depleted United should stroll to a comfortable win.
A slip up would be a hurtful blow to United’s title chances given City’s form. The only concern for Mourinho will be the form of Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Romelu Lukaku.
TIP: Manchester United to win @ 33/100
NEWCASTLE UNITED vs CRYSTAL PALACE
Crystal Palace sprung the surprise of the season in beating Chelsea at Selhurst Park last weekend to pick up their first points of the season.
The decisive match will be this one, however, when we will see if that can be used as a springboard for the Eagles to pull themselves away from the foot of the table.
Newcastle have no such relegation worries, and have started the season well. The Magpies were unfortunate not to win away at Southampton last weekend, and will be looking up as they sit only two points behind Chelsea, Liverpool and Arsenal.
Early form has to be forgotten for Palace if they are to avoid the drop this season. At the very least we can expect an organised performance at St James’. This could easily regress to stalemate.
TIP: Under 2.5 goals @ 3/4
STOKE CITY vs AFC BOURNEMOUTH
After being thrashed 7-2 by Manchester City last weekend, Stoke are in desperate need of a result. Failure to win could well see the Potters fall into the relegation zone, but injuries remain a concern for Mark Hughes, who could be without three regular starters again.
The visitors, meanwhile, are stranded in the bottom three regardless of their result in the Potteries. Eddie Howe’s team are renowned for their attacking intent and high-scoring matches, but their four goals scored in eight matches is a real concern.
The defence has improved – conceding only once in their last 180 minutes of league football. With the form of Jermain Defoe and Joshua King, however, the Cherries are a perfect opponent after Stoke’s Etihad Stadium humiliation.
With stormy weather probable, this could easily break into a battle for much-needed points.
TIP: Under 2.5 goals @ 17/20
SWANSEA CITY vs Leicester City
Tammy Abraham delivered a crucial three points for Swansea and Paul Clement last time out. A second home match in a row gives the Welsh club the chance to give themselves some breathing space, but they must be wary of the manager-change bounce that Leicester could benefit from.
The Foxes removed Craig Shakespeare from his post after their draw with West Bromwich Albion on Monday. With one win so far, it was an understandable decision, particularly with the success Leicester enjoyed after sacking Claudio Ranieri last season.
Swansea are a good, if a little imbalanced, team. Clement should guide them to comfortable safety this season, and their Liberty Stadium form will be key to that.
Having regained some confidence, the hosts are my pick to squeak this one as Leicester experience more mid-season turbulence.
TIP: Swansea to win @ 9/5
*Odds subject to change - correct at time of writing*