International Break strikes again!!

Image Credits: The Sun

Hello everyone & welcome back to Bawa Says after that excruciatingly long international break!! Thankfully for most of us the next one isn’t until March 2021!

Apart from adding many more to the injury list and COVID-19 infections, this international break was probably the worst thing since Liverpool becoming Premier League champions, which, let us remind you wasn’t that long back. Bawa shall refrain from giving any further gyaan and dive straight into this week’s predictions!

Newcastle vs Chelsea

Calum Wilson’s hamstring injury is a worry for Newcastle as he brings the cutting edge up front for the Magpies. Steve Bruce will set his team up to play on the counter but this could play into the hands of Frank’s team oozing in confidence.

Hakim Ziyech is a steal and his left peg has gotten the Chelsea attack up and running. Inspite of Havertz and Pulisic not coming back for this game, Chelsea boasts a fab squad and should score a few past the Geordies.

Bawa Verdict: A routine Chelsea win.

Aston Villa vs Brighton

Dean Smith’s team inflicted the heaviest defeat to Arsenal since Mikel Arteta took charge. Jack Grealish looks the part and had an incredible time playing for the Three Lions as well. The only thing that might hinder Villa’s progress is the fitness of their players returning from international duty.

Brighton played out an entertaining but goal less draw against Burnley. Welbz and Lallana synced well but couldn’t beat a resolute Burnley defence. Analysts tell us that Lamptey’s average position during the games is the same as Maupay’s. It only confuses as much as y’all as to how, despite playing some eye catching football, Potter needs to worry about his team’s results.

Bawa Verdict: Villa to bang in a few and seal a comfortable victory.

Spurs vs Man City (Match of the Week)

MC Kane scored the all important goal in the 88th minute to take Spurs to the top of the table for a little while. Through his highly entertaining Instagram handle, Mou Mama spoke for all of us and has expressed his displeasure with the international break. It’s a tough return for his team as they face City and Chelsea in their next two PL fixtures.

Image Credits: Jose Mourinho (Instagram)

City blew their chance to stamp their authority against Liverpool with KDB’s penalty miss proving costly. With Pep signing a contract extension till 2023, he will be desperate to get a win against his old time foe in Mourinho and continue to build his legacy at City.

Image Credits: Goal (Twitter)

Bawa Verdict: Teams to share the spoils in a feisty affair!

Man Utd vs West Brom

Bruno Fernandes was instrumental in Utd’s win against Everton and reminded everyone of his class. Cavani scoring late on was the cherry on top of the cake for Ole. Now it is time to see if they can kick on against a team lacking confidence and quality to play in the PL. However it must worry United fans that Ole’s job is not on the line, as the Red Devils don’t really bother turning up unless thats the case.

As is with most teams struggling at the bottom, luck deserted West Brom against Spurs. Bilic must be proud of his team’s performance but the lack of cutting edge upfront will lead to his dismissal and West Brom’s relegation. Maybe its time for Austin to power the Baggies to a point.

Bawa Verdict: Man Utd to win this at a canter.

Fulham vs Everton

“What were you thinking”, must be the question on everyone’s mind after Lookman’s missed paneka in stoppage time. Bawa shudders to think what would’ve happened to Lookman if he was playing in a team managed by Sir Alex Ferguson. The Cottagers would cringe when they realised that Mitrovic didn’t do much better for Serbia with a Euro 2020(1) finals spot hanging in the balance.

From table toppers to top-6 hopefuls! With the returns of Richarlison and Digne, Everton will try to re-discover the form they showed in the first few weeks of the season. Carlo will be hoping that all his players come back from their international duties free of any serious injuries as Everton cannot afford to slip up further if they are to challenge for European spots.

Bawa Verdict: Everton to win.

Sheffield United vs West Ham

The same story for Sheffield, while they took the lead against Chelsea, they were far too easy for Ziyech led Chelsea to break down. Ramsdale has not been able to replace Henderson and Sheffield are finding it extremely hard replicating their form from last season. Bawa repeats ‘second season syndrome’ and takes another sip of his single malt.

West Ham got back to winning ways despite a nervy last few moments against Fulham. With Antonio still out, the Hammers will do well to come away with a win in this one.

Bawa Verdict: A stalemate.

Leeds vs Arsenal

Leeds is one of the most exciting teams to watch this season. While the 4-1 scoreline flatters Crystal Palace, Leeds had enough chances of their own to make this into a 4-4. Kalvin Phillips might be in contention to play this and will make a huge difference to balance in the midfield.

Arsenal fans were brought right back to the ground after a dismal performance against the Villans. It will be interesting to see how Arteta’s team responds to their loss. Arsenal have been poor offensively this entire season and the loss of Thomas Partey to injury and El Neny to the virus leaves a huge gap in the midfield. With Leeds losing 4-1 in their previous two matches, Arteta’s men will be hoping to take advantage of the holes left in the offensive minded Leeds defence.

Bawa Verdict: An exciting draw.

Liverpool vs Leicester

Klopp must be wondering if there is a witch doctor behind the wretched injuries to this players while United and Everton are wondering where this witch doctor was, all of last season! International break definitely has not been kind to the champions and Bawa is sure that Klopp is one interview away from losing his top. This could also be the real test of the championship mettle in the Liverpool squad, and they could just turn up!

Top of the table going into the international break is something no one could’ve predicted for the Foxes but here they are. The pace of Vardy & Barnes and the craft of Maddison & Tielemans have propelled the Foxes to the top playing some fantastic counter attacking football. With the imminent return of Pereira adding value at both ends of the field, the Foxes are right up there to challenge on all fronts.

Bawa Verdict: An action packed game, culminating in a draw.

Burnley vs Crystal Palace

Burnley defended stoutly against an improved Brighton but remain in the relegation zone with a mere 2 points. Sean Dyche is probably the only manager who relished the international break as it gave him time to figure out his tactics and team formation.

Zaha and Co. took their chances well against Leeds but the scoreline flattered them a bit as the result could’ve easily been a 4-4 draw. Roy will be hoping that his team can continue their fantastic start against a beatable Burnley team.

Bawa Verdict: Crystal Palace to come away with the 3 points.

Wolves vs Southampton

Wolves were outsmarted by Leicester and Nuno must be unhappy conceding two penalties in a usually water tight defence. While Podence is a good player, he hasn’t added the goals that Jota provided from midfield in the past. With the one goal machine, Jimenez running dry, Nuno must be worried who will come up with the goods.

Winning games without Danny Ings is a great sign for Saints fans. The signing of Theo Walcott has gone under the radar and he has added some much needed experience upfront along with an in-form Che Adams.

Bawa Verdict: Southampton to nick this one.

The FPL Corner:

Goalkeeper: Martinez/Fabianski (look away Arsenal fans)

Defenders: Lamptey/Chilwell/Cash

Midfielders: Ziyech/Grealish/Fernandes

Strikers: Werner/Kane/Vardy

The “Rona” bench:

Mo Salah (Liverpool), Mo El Neny (Arsenal), Matt Doherty (Spurs), Sead Kolasinac (Arsenal), Andriy Yarmolenko (West Ham)

From the Leagues of Yonder

The Indian Super League kicks off this evening (20th November) at 7:30 pm IST with Kerala Blasters facing ATK Mohun Bagan. The matches will be broadcast across the Star TV network to boost the viewership for a league high on ambition but low on quality. The league attains massive importance in light of it being the first sports event to be held post-pandemic (if you can call it that) in India.

Scotland and Hungary qualified for Euros 2020 in dramatic fashion by beating Serbia and Iceland respectively. The final groups table below shows some tasty fixtures in the offing. Hint: check out Groups A, D and F

Image Credits: ESPN

Whatever team one may cheer for, Bawa hopes that we are all cheering for Marcus Rashford and his incredible work in helping children. In addition to providing meals to 1.3 million children, Rashford has launched a book club to promote reading and literacy. Go on good sir, football fans are on your side!

Image Credits: B/R Football (Instagram)

Despite leaving LA Galaxy and Hollywood a year back, Zlatan Ibrahimovic is set to return in the fall of 2021with a movie based on this life, unsurprisingly titled “I am Zlatan”. Bawa is really excited to see what new controversy this will cause.

Image Credits: B/R Football (Instagram)

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