By the time the October break comes around, the Premier League clubs will have all played 8 games domestically and those involved in European competition will have played a third of their Group games in a bid to move through to the Knock Out Rounds.
We also move through the Third Round of the League Cup and I do think the reassessment of what clubs are expecting from this season will be made in that October two week break. I also think it can be a critical time for clubs to make decisions about their managers and which direction their teams are going, while others will be looking to get through the two week break despite the pressure that comes about making changes.
It is a big month for my team Manchester United and manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer with some very difficult games coming up in the League. I think the Europa League Group is one they should negotiate without too many issues, but the League games coming up look very difficult on paper and the manager could be under big pressure if United can't pick up the kind of number of points expected.
I will be putting out a few more thoughts on United before the European games coming up this midweek.
The first month of the Football Picks were not as productive as I would have liked- some of it was down to bad luck, others down to poor selections. The new month will hopefully begin to turn things around and that begins with this weekend selections followed by the Fantasy Football thoughts for GameWeek 5.
Liverpool v Newcastle United Pick: The opening Premier League game of this weekend coming out of the international break is from Anfield where Liverpool will be expected to make it five wins from five in the League.
You don't always know how a team will react out of an international break with the short turnaround between players arriving back from all over the world and getting onto the field in this League game. It would still be a big surprise if Jurgen Klopp is not picking his strongest team even with a Champions League game coming up this week and I think that is a Liverpool team that will have too much for Newcastle United.
Steve Bruce might not have been the first choice of many of the fans of Newcastle United, especially not to replace a much loved manager in Rafael Benitez, but a win at Tottenham Hotspur and a home draw with Watford has got the team moving in the right direction. He has also shown signs of making Newcastle United tough to beat like Benitez had done, although his team are lacking some quality and I would fear for them at Liverpool if they were to concede early in this one.
The biggest question mark about Newcastle United is whether they have enough goals in the side and I think that is going to be a problem this weekend. Even a backup goalkeeper that Liverpool have to continue to use may not make much of a difference with the feeling that Newcastle United are going to sit deep and try and frustrate their opponents for long periods.
Newcastle United don't have a very good record here in recent seasons and last season they crumbled to a 4-0 defeat. Liverpool are creating enough chances to think they are going to be pretty comfortable on Saturday again and I think they can cover this big Asian Handicap, even if they have not been at their best defensively.
In the two home games played Liverpool have looked very threatening and I think an early goal in this one would allow the floodgates to be opened much like what happened to Newcastle United when they visited Norwich City last month. I can't deny this is a big Asian Handicap for any team to cover in the Premier League, but Liverpool have managed to win 9 of their last 21 home League games by at least three goal margins.
That might have been a bigger number if not for a late goal conceded to Arsenal in the last fixture here. Newcastle United can be a very stubborn opponent and last season only Liverpool managed to win by this margin against them, but Norwich City looked to have exposed what can be a soft underbelly and an early Liverpool goal could lead to a very one-sided fixture on Saturday.
Brighton v Burnley Pick: On paper this may not be a fixture that leaps off the page as one that could be featuring a lot of goals, but there has been enough about both Burnley and Brighton in the opening month of the season to think that is not going to be the case on Saturday.
Graham Potter's approach for Brighton might not have been rewarded with too many points from the last three League games, but they have been a touch unfortunate. There were enough chances created to beat West Ham United, while the home defeat to Southampton was very much down to being reduced to ten men in the first half.
All teams could struggle at Manchester City, but Brighton gave a good account of themselves and they should have scored there. Defensively there are one or two questions that come with a more positive style of football, but Brighton should be able to create chances against this Burnley team.
On the other hand Burnley have also been unfortunate and created enough in their first four games to believe they can give Brighton plenty of think about too. Ashley Barnes has been a player in form and Burnley have scored in four of their five games played in all competitions this season.
It does look like a game that should see both teams having chances to score, which was the case last season too. The one concern is that there is a slight lack of quality in the final third which can be an issue for both Brighton and Burnley, but I think the approach taken by the former's manager Graham Potter will ensure an open game is produced, one far more than what would have been expected when Chris Hughton was in charge at the Amex Stadium.
Both teams have only scored in one of Brighton's four League games so far, but the underlying stats suggest it should have happened in more than that and I will back both teams to hit the net in this one.
Manchester United v Leicester City Pick: Periods of sloppy play have really cost Manchester United in the first month of the new season and that has put Ole Gunnar Solskjaer under some pressure to start producing better results. Missed penalties against both Wolves and Crystal Palace have seen the club drop at least three points, while a dominant first half at Southampton was not followed up as another two points slipped away.
While the underlying statistics say Manchester United have been a little unfortunate, I do think there is a vulnerability about this team even with the additions of Harry Maguire, Aaron Wan-Bissaka and Daniel James.
It says something that those are three of the better performers at the club through the first month of the season, but Manchester United are going to have to step up their levels with a more difficult set of games coming up. First up is this home game against a Leicester City team who will be full of belief after remaining unbeaten through August and who have already drawn at Chelsea in the League.
Brendan Rodgers does want his team to get forward and create chances, but they are also still happy to sit back and counter with the pace of James Maddison and Jamie Vardy a real threat for opponents to deal with. Counter attacking is what Ole Gunnar Solskjaer wants his team to thrive upon too though and I do think this could be a match in which both teams are standing off one another at times.
The onus is on Manchester United to win the game, but that will play into the Leicester City hands and so finding the right balance is going to be all important.
I do have to say both teams have actually defended pretty well for the most part in the early stages of the season and the team that has the cleaner overall performance could edge to the three points. Mistakes are going to be crucial to determining the outcome, but even then this does not feel like a game that will be featuring a glut of goals.
5 of the last 7 between these clubs has produced three or more goals shared out, but last season it took two goals in the final seven minutes to get to that number in their meeting at Old Trafford. Since Leicester City returned to the Premier League, 2 of their 5 games here have ended with two or fewer goals shared out and I think this is going to be a tight affair on Saturday too.
Manchester United are beginning to look potentially short of numbers at the back, especially if Aaron Wan-Bissaka can't be passed fit, but I think the two defences will still have a strong showing on the day. Backing under 2.5 goals at odds against looks to be the play here and that is going to be my selection as I hope Manchester United can get back on track with a home win.
Sheffield United v Southampton Pick: This looks a weekend in which I feel comfortable making a number of plays, but one fixture I can't really get a good grip on comes from Bramall Lane.
Both teams scoring would not surprise me and I can see all three results being a possibility, but I don't really know how to feel about either of these teams just yet.
Sheffield United work very hard and have shown considerable heart to come from behind a couple of times already this season to earn points. Southampton have been a team who have been playing better than their results with chances being created and I think it is a match that I will sit back and take note of the way it develops.
With other options out there, I am moving past this fixture.
Tottenham Hotspur v Crystal Palace Pick: Over the last twelve months Crystal Palace have been a very effective away team in the Premier League and they finished the 2018/19 season with the sixth best away record in the Division.
The style of play employed by Roy Hodgson has been very effective against the top teams as the results have shown. Since the beginning of the 2018/19 season, Crystal Palace have won at Manchester City, Arsenal, Wolves and Manchester United, while they have earned a draw at Old Trafford in that time too and narrowly been beaten at Liverpool in a game they took the lead in.
This makes Crystal Palace a dangerous opponent for Tottenham Hotspur who have not looked at their best in the first month of the season. Defensively there have been some real question marks about the performances, but Tottenham Hotspur have been decent enough going forward and I do think the close of the European transfer window will settle this squad down.
Christian Eriksen has to be more focused on the immediate future with Spurs and I also think the likes of Jan Vertonghen will be back in the centre of defence to help a team who have conceded in each of their opening four games. There are still some problems for Tottenham Hotspur to deal with, especially in those defensive areas, but I think a more settled squad can produce a good performance before the Champions League returns during the week.
To be fair to Tottenham Hotspur they have created chances in the majority of their games and it is only a poor defensive performance that has let them down. They did beat Crystal Palace here a few months ago so they won't be intimidated by the very strong record The Eagles have at some of the top clubs over the last several months, while most would have seen that Crystal Palace were a touch fortunate to win at Old Trafford.
If Crystal Palace defend very well they could frustrate their hosts, but I think teams have found opportunities against them and even the return of James Tomkins may not be enough to change that immediately. With that in mind I think Tottenham Hotspur will have a little too much for them on the day and I would not be surprised if they matched the margin of victory they had against Crystal Palace in the first game in this Stadium.
Backing Tottenham Hotspur to cover the Asian Handicap is my selection.
Wolves v Chelsea Pick: This is a big Premier League game for both Wolves and Chelsea as two teams who have made slow starts to the new campaign look for some momentum. A big month is coming up before the next international break with a couple of European fixtures to be negotiated and Nuno Espirito Santo and Frank Lampard would love to ease some of the pressure by helping their teams earn the three points here.
It is going to be an interesting game as neither team has defended as well as they would like, but both have also shown they can score goals. That should show up on Saturday out of the international break and I do think the layers are underestimating the chance of seeing at least three goals shared out.
That was how the corresponding fixture ended last season and I think the way Chelsea have been playing this season will contribute to that being the outcome here. Frank Lampard does want his side to get forward and create chances, but that has left them vulnerable the other way and it is not surprise that 4 of Chelsea's 5 games under Lampard have ended with at least three goals produced.
Wolves games have not seen as many goals before the game at Goodison Park, but there have been chances for teams and they have struggled for clean sheets. This is a team who do enough to create opportunities for themselves though and I would not be surprised if both teams score here with the 1-1 scoreline perhaps the one that worries me the most.
I don't think either team will be happy with that result, so I am expecting to see both Wolves and Chelsea looking to be positive for much of the ninety minutes. Only a Paul Pogba penalty miss prevented the Wolves game against Manchester United hitting at least three goals and that is not going to put me off in backing there being at least three goals in this one.
I mentioned ahead of the game against Manchester United that Wolves had been involved in a lot of high-scoring games against the top six teams last season and that would have continued if Pogba had scored his penalty. This is a fixture where both teams look capable of scoring while not being the most convincing at the back and I think the odds against quotes of seeing at least three goals is a big price and one that can't be ignored.
Norwich City v Manchester City Pick: The late afternoon Premier League game comes from Carrow Road and if Daniel Farke continues to ask his Norwich City team to play in the style they have been for the first month of the season, it could be a very entertaining game.
However it is also a style that Manchester City will be very good at exploiting and I really don't think this is going to be anything but an away win. Manchester City have been creating chances for fun in the opening weeks of the season and only a very lucky Tottenham Hotspur team have avoided conceding at least three goals and also escaping without being beaten.
The Champions have scored five times at West Ham United and three times at Bournemouth in wins away from home in the Premier League and they have created wide openings in all of their fixtures so far. The international break can snap some of the momentum created with the players coming back from far and wide, but this is a deep squad and the likes of David Silva, John Stones and Gabriel Jesus have been at home preparing for this fixture.
Aymeric Laporte's injury is a big blow for Pep Guardiola as the one defender he relied on the most. I do think that leaves Manchester City short of cover and perhaps even a little short of quality in defensive areas, but they will make do and the manager is not someone who is going to use the injury as an excuse considering Kevin De Bruyne missed a large chunk of last season and Manchester City still won the domestic treble.
One thing the injury does do is give Norwich City an opportunity to contribute to this fixture and they have shown they can create chances in their first four League games despite playing two of the top four from last season. In the weeks ahead there might be a real possibility to start racking up the points, but for this fixture I would say it is going to need a super effort to be very competitive which is about as far as I think Norwich City can go.
I do think the home team can play a part, but Manchester City should have enough quality in the final third to really open up this Norwich City defence missing two key performers. It might turn into a high-scoring game in which both score, but my edge goes to Manchester City and I will back them to win a game featuring at least four goals shared out, a number that has been hit in all four of their Premier League games so far.
Norwich City have been beaten 4-1 at Liverpool and 2-3 here by Chelsea so goals should be in the offing on Saturday. I can't really back Manchester City to cover this Asian Handicap as they will need to win by at least three goals to earn a full payout, while Norwich City don't defend well enough to believe they can stay within that number with any confidence either.
Last season the large majority of Manchester City away games did not feature as many as four goals shared out, but I do think the loss of Laporte might leave them a touch vulnerable at the back. That is especially the case against an attacking Norwich City team and in the first game without Laporte's influence in the team and so backing the Champions to win a high-scoring game is the play.
Bournemouth v Everton Pick: The first of the live Sunday offerings from the Premier League comes from the Vitality Stadium and you have to believe this is going to be a game that does feature goals.
It might be a surprise to say that about any Everton away game considering they have yet to score on their travels in the Premier League and 5 of the last 6 away League games have featured two or fewer goals shared out. Even then it would be a massive surprise if they can't create good chances against this Bournemouth defence which has been decimated by injury and who have given opponents massive opportunities in each of their four Premier League games played so far this season.
Those chances are a major reason Bournemouth are set as the home underdog, but I couldn't back Everton to win considering their lack of goals in away games. They might get one or two here this weekend because of the porous defence the hosts have been playing with, but I can't be having Everton as a favourite.
Everton have not won a League game here with 2 losses and 2 draws in the 4 games since Bournemouth were promoted. And for my criticisms of Bournemouth defensively, this is a team who have been still looking productive going forward, one that has scored in all of their Premier League games played this season and who will have noted the problems Wolves caused Everton two weeks ago.
While Marco Silva's men have looked good defensively for the most part, they are far from watertight as the Wolves game underlined. Watford, Aston Villa and Wolves all have had decent openings against Everton and Bournemouth have a system which does produce attacking returns.
3 of the 4 League games between these teams hosted by Bournemouth have featured at least three goals and I will back that to be the outcome of this one.
Watford v Arsenal Pick: When you think of Arsenal playing Watford you do tend to believe the underdog has a big chance of an upset because they are a bogey team for The Gunners, but since returning to the top flight it is Arsenal who have won 6 of their 8 meetings in the Premier League.
The side have a very good record at Vicarage Road too and I do think Arsenal are looking a tempting price to win here.
The only factor that is hard to really put a value in is the return of Quique Sanchez Flores who takes over from sacked Javi Gracia for his second spell as manager of Watford. In the 2015/16 season Flores took Watford to 13th in the Premier League table and to the FA Cup Semi Final, but that was not enough to save him from the chop by the notoriously impatient Pozzo family.
He clearly impressed enough to be given a second run at Vicarage Road but his Watford team were beaten heavily by Arsenal in both League games in the season he managed the club. Quique Sanchez Flores did lead Watford to an upset at the Emirates Stadium in the FA Cup, but he is coming into a side that have been struggling defensively and with little time to work with players between the return from international duty and this game kicking off on Sunday afternoon.
Arsenal should be much more settled and they have a front line that looks like it will provide plenty of goals in the months ahead. They have been creating chances for fun and it is making up for some of the defensive vulnerabilities that continue to be displayed by the Champions League chasing club.
Ultimately I do think the Watford defensive problems are far grander of the two clubs at the moment and that can be the difference on the day. It should be a tight game with Watford trying to impress a new manager, but I think Arsenal will edge to the three points and they are at just a good enough price to be worth backing this weekend.
Aston Villa v West Ham United Pick: The final game of the Premier League weekend comes on Monday Night Football as Aston Villa try to win their second League game of the season. It looks a big test in front of them against a West Ham United team who had been in fine form going into the last international break.
Manuel Pellegrini has to be very happy with the way West Ham United have bounced back from the opening day hammering at the hands of Manchester City. They have won 3 straight games in all competitions and The Hammers have been creating plenty of good goalscoring chances in their wins over Watford, Newport County and Norwich City.
They will continue to take an attacking approach to this fixture as West Ham United look to be one of a number of clubs chasing a top six or seven finish which will come with a potential European berth. So far the quality in the final third is hard to ignore and West Ham United will certainly pose problems for an Aston Villa defence still finding their feet at this level.
James Chester could be back in time for this fixture which will be a boost for Dean Smith's men, but he might be a touch rusty so West Ham United will feel they have the players to exploit any vulnerabilities left in the home team.
Aston Villa have some decent players of their own who have made a mark at the top level of English Football. However losing Trezeguet to suspension is a blow and I do think they are still struggling with the right balance needed to win games in the Premier League.
They do have a good home record against West Ham United with 3 wins from the last 5 hosted at Villa Park, but the latter are the team who have played better through the first month of the season. In fact West Ham United have won 4 of their last 5 away games in all competitions and being able to back them on the Asian Handicap in an essential 'Draw No Bet' market looks to be the play.
MY PICKS: Liverpool - 2.25 Asian Handicap @ 2.05 Bet Victor (2 Units)
Brighton-Burnley Both Teams to Score @ 1.85 Bet Victor (2 Units)
Manchester United-Leicester City Under 2.5 Goals @ 2.00 Bet Victor (2 Units)
Tottenham Hotspur - 1.25 Asian Handicap @ 1.95 Bet365 (2 Units)
Wolves-Chelsea Over 2.5 Goals @ 2.00 Bet Victor (2 Units)
Manchester City & Over 3.5 Goals @ 1.72 Bet Fred (2 Units)
Bournemouth-Everton Over 2.5 Goals @ 1.80 Bet Victor (2 Units)
Arsenal @ 2.05 Bet Fred (2 Units)
West Ham United 0 Asian Handicap @ 2.00 Bet Victor (2 Units)
August 2019/20: 14-17-2, - 8.78 Units (64 Units Staked, - 13.72% Yield)