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Premier League Preview, Nov 5th / 6th.

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Nottingham Forest vs Brentford

Steve Cooper was far from happy in front of the cameras after Nottingham Forest caved in at Arsenal last weekend. The 5-0 defeat was a huge setback after the 1-0 home win over Liverpool and Cooper was frustrated with his side’s lack of aggression and fight.

Exactly what he said to his players behind closed doors is unclear, but we can assume they got a severe dressing down after making the leaders’ life far too easy at The Emirates.

Cooper will demand a reaction against the Bees in what will be the first of three important home games before the break for the World Cup.

Forest sit bottom of the pile with nine points from 13 games, but a win over the Londoners could shoot them out of the bottom three.

We can expect Forest to show some bottle at the City Ground, where they have won all but two of their points to date. They displayed plenty of tenacity in the narrow win over Liverpool last month and they have beaten West Ham and drawn with Villa on home soil.

Cooper could well shuffle his pack against the Bees. Neco Williams was left out for Renan Lodi at left-back against Arsenal despite Forest keeping successive clean-sheets against Brighton and Liverpool.

Williams could well return, while Jesse Lingard could find himself dropped after a poor start to life with Forest. 

Cooper desperately needs to find some goals from somewhere, with just eight scored so far – only Wolves have scored less.

But roared on by a vociferous home support, Forest might just find enough to get past an out-of-form Brentford. 

Thomas Frank’s side have only won once in their last seven games, and they are yet to win away from the capital. And their last away day saw them 3-0 down against Aston Villa after just 15 minutes, before going on to lose 4-0.

Frank admitted his side were “struggling” and labelled their performance “a shambles.” 

Like Forest, they need to improve and quickly. They did grab a point at home to struggling Wolves last time out.

But their away form has been a big concern and 4-0 and 5-1 defeats in their last two away games does not bode well for a trip north. What’s more damaging is that star striker Ivan Toney is suspended after picking up five yellow cards.

Take away his eight goals and Brentford have managed just 11 in 13 games.

It looks like being a tight game with few goals, but Forest might just have enough to get the job done.

Chelsea vs Arsenal

Arsenal are flying in the Premier League this season with Mikel Arteta’s methods starting to bear fruit.

His short-passing and possession style, drilled into him under Pep Guardiola, has seen the Gunners win 10 of their 12 games and rise to the top of the table.

Only Man City, Liverpool and Chelsea have more possession away from home, but it’s the Gunners’ chance creation which has been much improved.

Only champions Man City have recorded more than the 16.2 shots per game than Arsenal have this season with the Gunners returning 30 goals from 12 games.

Sunday’s Stamford Bridge tussle will be a battle between two rivals with similar styles. 

Graham Potter likes his sides to play out from the back and through midfield, but he has yet to see his side click into gear.

Chelsea have come unstuck against the bigger teams so far in west London. Draws with Tottenham and Man Utd have stunted their progress up the table.

It may come down to just which players are in form at Stamford Bridge.

There’s no doubt Chelsea have players of equal calibre to Arsenal, but Arteta seems to be getting more from the likes of Gabriel Jesus, Gabriel Martinelli, Martin Odegaard, William Saliba, Granit Xhaka and Bukayo Saka at this point in time.

Saka returned to full training on Thursday and could play after being injured in the 5-0 win over Forest. 

Arsenal also have the upper hand in recent head-to-heads, having won four of the last five meetings between the sides, including a 4-2 win at the Bridge last season.

Another repeat of that scoreline cannot be ruled out but taking Arsenal DNB seems like the safer option. 

Tottenham vs Liverpool 

The bookmakers have Liverpool down as the favourites in Sunday’s clash in the capital.

That looks brave and based on the Reds’ efforts last season rather than their exploits this time around.

Jurgen Klopp’s men look a shadow of the side that ran Man City so close last season. Already they are well off the pace with a record of four wins, four draws and four defeats.

Klopp’s men only lost two games in the whole of last season, so it’s easy to see why they are not the same team this time around.

Away from home they have tasted defeat at Arsenal, Manchester United and Forest and they have lost three of their last five games in the Premier League.

Klopp has yet to get the pressing intensity he demands, and the Reds have been too easy to play against. And if you take away their 9-0 hammering of Bournemouth, they have only scored 14 goals.

It’s hardly the sort of form that makes them a bet at around 6/5 away from home.

Spurs though have also not been convincing this season. Antonio Conte’s pragmatism is starting to show in his side, and Spurs have made a solid start and sit third with 26 points.

At home they have started to look like flat-track bullies beating five teams you would expect them to dispose of. But they came unstuck against Newcastle last time out, losing 2-1 and only just managed to bounce back with a late win at Bournemouth last weekend.

Conte is unlikely to go for Liverpool’s throats from the off and he will more likely keep things locked down before going for a winner in the second half.

They do though have goals in them and Harry Kane’s second-half performance in midweek could be precursor to a star showing on Sunday. Conte will be without Son Heung-min, who needs surgery on a fractured eye socket so Lucas Moura could get a rare league start.

Tottenham have scored in all their home games this season and they look set to continue in that trend against Liverpool’s leaky rearguard. 

It’s hard to back Spurs with any real conviction though and it may well be a repeat of last season’s draws (2-2 at Tottenham; 1-1 at Liverpool).

Key stats

There have been over 2.5 goals scored in 11 of Brentford’s last 13 away PL games 

Nottingham Forest have failed to win 10 of their last 11 PL matches

Brentford have failed to win their last six away matches

Nottingham Forest have scored in five of their six home PL matches

Arsenal have won 11 of their last 13 PL matches 

Chelsea are undefeated in their last nine home PL matches

Tottenham have conceded at least two goals in their last three PL matches 

Liverpool have failed to win their last five away PL matches

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