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Chelsea And Liverpool Meet As Another Week Of EPL Kicks Off

Players warm up before the UEFA Champions League group H match between Chelsea FC and Valencia CF at Stamford Bridge on September 17, 2019 in London, United Kingdom. (Photo by Richard Heathcote/Getty Images)

SALT LAKE CITY, UTAH – The fifth round of the English Premier League games delivered its first true shock this past weekend.

Newly promoted, and injury-ravaged, Norwich City pulled off a phenomenal 3-2 victory over reigning champions Manchester City. You can’t say it was luck either. It’ll just go down as one of the many twists and turns in an already exciting season.

Throw in the fact that the group stages of the European competitions, UEFA Champions League (played on Tuesdays and Wednesdays) will include the six-time champions of Europe, Liverpool, last season’s runners up Tottenham Hotspur, and qualified Manchester City and Chelsea.

Europa League will play their games on Thursdays and you’ll see the likes of Manchester United, Arsenal and Wolverhampton Wanderers. This is where you’ll see these teams start to utilize their entire squad. The Wolves have already struggled in the early qualifying rounds as they adjust to the increase in games and expectations.

SOUTHAMPTON vs AFC BOURNEMOUTH

The south coast derby kicks off the weekend in the right direction for soccer fans. It’s the Friday night (1:00 pm MST) kick-off.

Just 31 miles separate the teams in the south of England. Form, as we see with lots of local rivalries, goes out the window when they meet up. This rivalry is no different. Both teams are sat mid-table, and both have won seven points after five games. Saints (Southampton) are 10th, whilst the Cherries (Bournemouth) are 9th.

The reason for reviewing this game is not just of the local rivalry, but more to do with the two managers. They both get their teams to play the game the right way. Attractive attacking with pace (even if they’re both a little suspect at the back).

Ralph Hasenhüttl (Saints), also known as the Alpine Klopp, has started the long process of changing the fortunes of the club that was going nowhere fast and last season staring relegation in the face. This team’s rehabilitation will be a long process – but the way Hasenhüttl has adapted to England and the way the players have adapted to the Austrian, has shown a transformation that a lot of other coaches might not have achieved in such a short period of time.

Eddie Howe for Bournemouth is a hometown hero. Through thick and thin he has only seen his stock rise from the lower leagues when the club almost went out of business through crippling debts. Howe’s success aligns with the new ownership, money being pumped into the club, the rise of various promotions and then managing to turn the Cherries into a solid EPL team. Coming off the back of a 3-1 win over Everton we saw a team comfortable in possession or on the counterattack.

Bournemouth are a little more polished in their approach, but both teams will be looking for maximum points. With that said, I think Southampton will make the comforts of home pay off and claim all three points. Keep an eye out for the central midfield battle. This is where the game will be won…or lost.

PREDICTION: 3-2, Southampton

NEWCASTLE UNITED vs BRIGHTON & HOVE ALBION

Both teams are with new managers and both teams are in the bottom fighting for survival. The benefit of having promotion and relegation outside of the U.S. is that every point and goal counts. KSL premiere match of the weekend will provide this game.

Newcastle caused an early scare last weekend by thumping into an early lead against Liverpool, despite eventually losing 3-1. They’re starting to raise some eyebrows particularly a 1-0 road win against the Spurs. They are a physical and robust unit that will batter the backline with some long balls and set pieces. It’s not always attractive.

Right now they are trying to establish themselves as a regular in the EPL. Brazilian forward Joelinton will be looking for better service and former Atlanta United man, Miguel Almirón, will look to provide for him, as both players continue to settle into life in England.

Brighton are an intriguing team, looking to the lower leagues to get their players under new manager Graham Potter. They play a similar formation to Newcastle with three center backs, but they are much easier on the eye to watch, preferring to keep the ball on the floor.

Frenchmen Neal Maupay was one of my favorite players in the English Championship last season for Brentford with 28 goals and nine assists in all competitions. He has two goals to his name already and I expect him to be a handful for Newcastle’s backline.

I can’t pick an outright winner. I expect a thoroughly entertaining draw that will lack in outright quality but will not lack in guts and glory.

PREDICTION: 2-2

CHELSEA vs LIVERPOOL

The last game, and most anticipated of the entire weekend, will be the Sunday showdown at Stamford Bridge.

A rematch of the European Super Cup that Liverpool won on penalties.

Slowly but surely, Chelsea’s young crop of talent, under the guidance of CFC legend Frank Lampard, is starting to settle into the season. Chelsea, under a current transfer ban, turned to their long line of young players. These players have not let the side down.

Mason Mount and Tammy Abraham have continued to come on leaps and bounds as they make the adjustment from last season’s outstanding performances in the Championship last season for Derby and Aston Vila respectively.

Liverpool are the only team in the EPL that are on maximum points with five wins out of five games and are showing signs of another EPL title challenge.

The front three of Mane, Salah and Firmino are almost unstoppable. If given the right opportunities this trio will cause multiple problems for any team in the league.

What is frightening is that this team has more to come, will it come on Sunday? I’m not so sure, Liverpool travel to Italy for a massive game with Napoli. Chelsea will also be in action against Valencia, they just won’t have the same travel as LFC.

This is a mouthwatering prospect and I think the last 100% record in the EPL will fall, finally.

Liverpool have given up a few goals this season which was uncharacteristic compared to last season. In my opinion, the lack of clean sheets and coming up against a much better attacking unit in Chelsea, LFC will see this one end in a draw. Expect the technical quality to be high, but the scoring to be low.

PREDICTION: 1-1