Not the best of starts to the weekly predictions, but not completely out of the ordinary either. I’ve got a readymade excuse in that it was the first week of the season, but honestly, it’ll probably continue on a similar course for the rest of the year.
Tottenham v Everton. 2:45pm, Setanta: Tottenham was not good on Saturday. Their flank play was abhorrent, they didn’t get as much penetration from Berbatov and the other strikers as last season, and all and all, they showed little that would suggest they can challenge for fourth. But Spurs are notorious late-starters. And despite Everton’s win against Wigan, I refuse to pick them away from home. At least at this stage of the season, where I can still convince myself they’ll end up having a poor year. Spurs 2-1
Portsmouth v Manchester United, 2:45pm, Setanta: With Rooney out for the near future, Tevez has to be in line for a start here. And it’ll be interesting to see how he fits. He’s assuredly a class player, but he’s only been training with United for a week. That said, every United player will undoubtedly be raring to go after being screamed at by Ferguson non-stop for the past few days because of their inability to score in their home opener. United 3-1
Manchester City v Derby, 2:45pm, Setanta Xtra: Here’s where I apologize. Kind of. Manchester City played miles better than I thought they would, although in my defense, West Ham was utterly awful. I’ll continue to take shots at Eriksson as it’s a favorite pastime of mine, but I might be a bit more reserved about it. Derby channeled Watford’s resolve and scrapped their way to a draw against Portsmouth at home as well. Both teams were much better than I gave them credit for. City specifically looked impressive (yes, I’m stunned), although I’m still not sold, and the Manchester derby will tell us a lot more. I am curious to see if trends continue, and how much better they’ll be in front of goal at home than they were last season. City 2-0
Reading v Chelsea, 3pm. FSC: I doubt that Chelsea will be as weak defensively as they were on Sunday, even with Terry still out. However, if they are, Reading are able to take advantage. Steve Coppell’s teams rarely sit 10 men behind the ball as they did against United; like Coppell was as a player, Reading is best playing an attacking game. But Reading proved they can play a defensive style as well as they can offensively. Still, I can’t bet against Chelsea this early in the season, no matter how much I’d like to, especially ahead of this weekend’s match. Chelsea 2-1
Birmingham v Sunderland, 2:45pm: Both of these promoted teams played well over the weekend. Birmingham’s defense was shaky, but they were still able to put two past Chelsea, which is no easy task. Meanwhile, Sunderland showed great fortitude in keeping Tottenham at bay before a last second winner. If this game was in Sunderland, I’d have no qualms about guessing they’ll pick up 3 points, but I can’t see that happening in Birmingham’s home opener. 1-1
Fulham v Bolton, 2:45pm: Poor Little Sam, it’s going to be a long season. Kevin Davies is out for the next six weeks while el-Hadji Diouf is already asking for a transfer if he doesn’t start games. Newcastle was able to put three past them at the Reebok, and I can’t ever remember happening at home under Allardyce. Pity too, because Lee's a Liverpool legend, but if I was a betting man, he’d be my candidate for first to be sacked. Fulham 1-0
Wigan v Middlesbrough. 3pm: Yawn. I rarely if ever predict Middlesbrough to pick up points away from the Riverside, but I saw nothing on Saturday that led to be believe that Wigan will be able to stay out of the relegation fight. Boro 1-0
Preview of Liverpool's Wednesday CL qualifier at Toulouse tomorrow morning.