Iain on Game Week 4

Iain Macintosh is one of FanLeague’s pundits and will be providing us with his take on each Game Week for this season.

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It’s easy to point and laugh and it’s become clear to me that this is exactly what many of you are doing. Here we are, me, James, Sven and a man with a horse’s head, paid for our wisdom and knowledge and, in only Sven’s case, a stellar track record in the global game, and we’re all getting pulverised. This has been a great start to the season for the neutral, two rounds of fixtures full of shocks and surprises. I hope you will spare us a thought, however. It’s not going well at all. Hopefully, things should calm down this week and we, as a panel, may even record our first double figures score. Hopefully. Hopefully…

1. Ipswich – Fulham (AWAY WIN) Upset

I don’t understand Ipswich’s great start to the season and I don’t get Fulham’s failings. Ipswich can’t keep up with the league’s big spenders, they don’t make many chances and you do suspect that they’re enjoying a run of good fortune right now. Fulham, on the other hand, have one of the best squads in the league and can’t buy a win. I believe that this will have to change and I believe it will change on Saturday

2. Cardiff – QPR (AWAY WIN) Upset

I feel very much the same about Cardiff City, you know. They’re probably a better squad, but not so good that they should be winning four games on the bounce. That can’t last. QPR aren’t really a better team, but they’re very unpredictable and might capitalise if the Cardiff players begin to overthink their position.

3. Birmingham – Reading (DRAW/AWAY WIN)

These are already worrying times for Harry Redknapp’s Birmingham. A pitiful defeat to Burton Albion invoked a furious reaction from the veteran manager. The question now is whether it will inspire the players to prove him wrong or only deepen the malaise in the dressing room. Reading are in a good position to take advantage of their woes.

4. Watford – Brighton – (HOME WIN) Banker

I predicted Watford to go down at the start of the season and I’ve been suitably chastened by their impressive performances, their midweek cup exit notwithstanding. Marco Silva has exceeded expectations once again by quickly drilling his new charges into shape and conjuring up far more than his predecessor ever did. I predicted Brighton to go down at the start of the season too. Nothing has changed.

5. Newcastle – West Ham (HOME WIN) Banker

It looks miserable for Newcastle right now; their time honoured story of a chairman seriously at odds with his manager, but they should get back on track here. West Ham have been really poor thus far and the word is that the Hammers are already making a shortlist for a new manager (with Benitez at the top). A St James Park sell-out should lift the players and this will be another difficult day for poor Slaven Bilic.

6. Huddersfield – Southampton (HOME WIN/DRAW)

I was at the John Smith’s Stadium last weekend and it was an extraordinary day. The chairman is loved, the manager is inspirational, the players work hard for the badge and the fans are euphoric. It’s sickening really, it’s not what we expect from the Premier League at all. It’s still too early to know what to expect from this new Southampton, but I think they could get beaten here.

7. Crystal Palace – Swansea – (DRAW/AWAY WIN)

Swansea’s defeat to Manchester United looked bad, but the truth is that they held their own quite well for much of the match. A morale-boosting win in the League Cup is always useful and I do back Paul Clement to bring back a more organised, effective version of the Swansea way. Not least because he’s up against Frank de Boer’s Crystal Palace who are only in the very early, and as yet unconvincing, stages of their transformation.

8. Nottingham Forest – Leeds (HOME WIN/DRAW)

Nottingham Forest were close to relegation last season, but I’m not sure that will be the case this time. What we have here are two slowly recovering former European superpowers, ironing out their kinks and plotting their return to relevance. But neither of them are close to that yet and as such I intend to hedge the naked bottom off this one.

9. Man Utd – Leicester (HOME WIN)

Do you know what? I was tempted to put this down as an away win. Manchester United look indestructible right now, but that never lasts. Perhaps complacency will creep in? Perhaps Leicester, with all that pace on the counter, might be able to hold them off and then hit them late in the game? Perhaps. But probably not, all things considered.

10. WBA – Stoke (HOME WIN/DRAW)

West Bromwich Albion seem to be in a hurry to reach the 40 point marker that traditionally signals the end of their season. Two wins from two have put them in a very strong position and Stoke, still glowing with pleasure after beating Arsenal, will be right up against it. The Potters have the players, Jese in particular, but the Baggies have the defence. I can see yet another 1-0 here.

11. Chelsea – Everton (HOME WIN/DRAW)

Chelsea showed resilience and cunning at Wembley to beat Spurs and they’ll need to be at their best again to stop an increasingly interesting Everton side. Ronald Koeman’s men haven’t quite clicked yet, but the developing partnerships around the park suggest that they may not be so far away. I think Chelsea will still just about have enough for them here. But not by much.

12. Spurs – Burnley – (HOME WIN) Banker

This will be the week that we put the Wembley Curse nonsense to bed. It’s not a curse. It’s a different football pitch. Spurs didn’t lose to Chelsea because of leylines, solar flares or dark magic. They lost because sometimes two very good football teams play a very balanced game of football and one of them doesn’t win. They’ll beat Burnley here, 2-0 I would say, and then we can all move onto something else.

13. Liverpool – Arsenal  (HOME WIN/DRAW)

God knows. Seriously. No-one can predict this one. Both teams are overloaded with attacking talent, both teams are managed by men who implore their players to express themselves, both teams are quite capable of losing 3-4 in a training session against traffic cones. There will be chances, there will be goals, there will be tears of frustration and neither of them will win the title.

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