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The international break, eh?
Just when we were building momentum in the new season, we have to hit pause only to watch games with the competitive level reduced simply due to major mismatches.
The last round of Premier League fixtures saw a whopping 41 goals and 36.5 xG, but that looks to be a one-off, and I fully expect this upcoming gameweek to see fewer goals, mainly due to certain match-ups.
In general, I feel good about the slate this week, and about my picks, having only one real 'upset' included, which is where we'll start this week - though I have to say, I don't see it as much of an upset given the trajectories both clubs are on.
My love for all things BRIGHTON has been well documented on these pages and various podcasts for a number of years now, so it's no surprise to me to see them doing so well again this season.
Roberto De Zerbi's men are a thrill to watch, and marry the easy-on-the-eye approach with solid results AND solid underlying numbers. They are an attacking juggernaut in the Premier League, to the point where only champions Manchester City (2.18) have averaged more xGF per game than the Seagulls (2.13) since De Zerbi's arrival.
They should cause all sorts of issues for a depleted and vulnerable MANCHESTER UNITED team on Saturday, with the Red Devils expected to be without three of their starting defence (Luke Shaw, Lisandro Martinez and Raphael Varane), as well as wide players Jadon Sancho and Antony.
Even with a full complement, United have been poor this season, conceding good chances in every game they've played to the tune of 1.78 xGA per game.
The clincher for me in siding with Brighton is their record against the big boys. They have won 12 of their last 21 games against the 'Big Six + Newcastle', a staggering win ratio against the so-called best.
Score prediction: Manchester United 1-3 Brighton (Sky Bet odds: 18/1)
TOTTENHAM were emphatic in their victory over Burnley last time out, but a game against SHEFFIELD UNITED presents a completely different test.
The Clarets are a progressive team who have their philosophy of attacking football and stick to it no matter the opponent, whereas the Blades are more functional, and understand their limitations. They will set up to be difficult to beat.
They did as much when taking on Manchester City a few weeks ago, a real backs-against-the-wall job, and they could have similar success for a time at Spurs, before the hosts eventually cruise to a controlled win due to their superior quality.
Ange Postecoglou has his side cooking in attack (2.16 xGF per game), meaning it should be a matter of when rather than if they break the deadlock.
Score prediction: Tottenham 2-0 Sheffield United (Sky Bet odds: 6/1)
We could see similar for MANCHESTER CITY as they travel to WEST HAM, with Pep Guardiola's side purring to start the campaign.
They look in cruise control and their underlying numbers - albeit against a kind opening schedule - have been excellent (2.38 xGF, 0.70 xGA per game). West Ham have started well too, picking up notable wins over Chelsea and Brighton, but this is another step up, and I expect them to struggle to cause a solid City backline many issues at all.
After all, City don't play with the gung-ho, reckless abandon, nature of Brighton. Their control should suffocate the Hammers' counter-attacks and make it an easy afternoon in London.
Score prediction: West Ham 0-2 Manchester City (Sky Bet odds: 7/1)
EVERTON have had ARSENAL's number at Goodison Park in recent years, the Toffees having won four of an unbeaten last five when hosting the Gunners, including Sean Dyche's first game in charge last season.
For whatever reason, Mikel Arteta's side just don't like playing on Merseyside full stop. Across their last 10 trips to Liverpool to face either the Red or Blue half, the Gunners have lost eight times and drawn twice.
They have more quality and more of a backbone now than they have in the last five years, though, so I think this could be the turning point of their misfortunes. So far this season their defence has been bettered only by Manchester City - according to xG - shipping just 0.96 xGA per game, while their attack continues to perform at a high level (2.05 xGF per game).
Everton's issues have been putting the ball in the net, with the chances being created (1.98 xGF per game), though it is worth noting that they have had a kind schedule, facing Fulham and Wolves at home - two teams who will finish in the bottom half - and Sheffield United away.
In their sole game against a team who finished in the top seven last season, they were dismantled by Aston Villa.
Their approach here will be a very Dychian one - sit deep in an attempt to contain and counter - which could frustrate the Gunners, but they have found the secret sauce when travelling.
Arteta's side finished last term with the most away points in the league, and won 12 of 17 away games against teams who finished fourth and below, while starting this season's travels with a win at Crystal Palace.
Score prediction: Everton 0-1 Arsenal (Sky Bet odds: 7/1)
NEWCASTLE's start to the season has been a tough one, playing four sides who finished in the top seven last season. Their sole win has come at home to Aston Villa, though they should have put Liverpool away in their other home game when against 10 men.
Their home form and process since the start of last season has me trusting them to get back on track against BRENTFORD, with Eddie Howe's side having won 12 of 21, losing just three times.
If we take it a step further, the Magpies have won 10 of 15 when hosting teams who finished outside of last season's top six, averaging 2.54 xGF and 0.72 xGA per game across such fixtures since the start of 22/23.
They should win, but Brentford are playing an attack-minded brand of football which has led to chances galore in their matches, so should get on the scoresheet.
Score prediction: Newcastle 3-1 Brentford (Sky Bet odds: 10/1)
BOURNEMOUTH are yet to get fully going under Andoni Iraola, and the same can be said of Mauricio Pochettino's CHELSEA.
The two teams meet on the south coast this Sunday and while both sides are still evolving and still trying to grasp what their new coach wants of them all while trying to bed in a host of new players, I'm expecting an end-to-end tussle.
The Cherries have shown promise in what their new coach wants, but continue to leave themselves exposed at the back, shipping 2.52 xGA per game so far this term, while Chelsea have kept just one clean sheet which came against Luton.
Bournemouth's pressing style could cause an injury-hit Chelsea problems and should lead to a high-scoring game.
Score prediction: Bournemouth 2-2 Chelsea (Sky Bet odds: 11/1)
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