Premier League Week 8: Elite Teams Who Will Struggle After International Break
The international break can be an opportunity for some clubs to take a breather, regroup or gain some perspective over their recent form.
Alternatively, the time spent apart can cause other teams to lose their rhythm and their way, or force struggling sides to slide back down their slippery slope without the regular games to haul themselves back to health.
With World Cup qualifiers putting a block on Premier League action between the matches in Week 7 and Week 8, the state of the league once action recommences could well be very different to the present scenario.
Below is a table of predictions for the fixtures after the international break in Week 8, followed by a breakdown of some of the key clashes between the top-flight's elites to look out for:
|Date and Time (BST)||Home team||Prediction||Away team|
|Saturday, October 19 - 12:45||Newcastle United||1-3||Liverpool|
|Saturday, October 19 - 15:00||Arsenal||2-0||Norwich|
|Saturday, October 19 - 15:00||Chelsea||3-1||Cardiff City|
|Saturday, October 19 - 15:00||Everton||2-2||Hull City|
|Saturday, October 19 - 15:00||Manchester United||1-1||Southampton|
|Saturday, October 19 - 15:00||Stoke City||0-2||West Bromwich Albion|
|Saturday, October 19 - 15:00||Swansea City||2-0||Sunderland|
|Saturday, October 19 - 17:30||West Ham United||0-2||Manchester City|
|Sunday, October 20 - 16:00||Aston Villa||2-1||Tottenham Hotspur|
|Monday, October 21 - 20:00||Crystal Palace||1-1||Fulham|
Manchester United vs. Southampton
The Saints have been impressive so far this season and travel to Old Trafford with the perfect weapons to trouble David Moyes' stuttering reigning champions.
Mauricio Pocchetino likes his team to play an intensive pressing game that will place Michael Carrick and Co. under immediate pressure in the middle of the park. With United struggling to impose themselves upon games of late, Southampton's boldness could bear fruit.
West Bromwich Albion were able to force errors and make the most of the home side's sloppiness at the back when they visited Manchester in Week 6.
Should Rickie Lambert be dropped to make way for Wayne Rooney in the England team, Southampton's main striker could be well-rested and fully motivated to outfight his United counterpart. Nemanja Vidic has been error-prone of late and may not appreciate the added attentions of the striker.
Prediction: Manchester United 1-1 Southampton
Everton vs. Hull City
Roberto Martinez's Everton started the season with Champions League aspirations, and although the Toffees may have been beaten 3-1 by Manchester City in Week 7, their newly fluent football has marked them out as one of the elites in the early round of games this year.
However, while the team's attacking play may have improved over the past two months, their defence has looked vulnerable and disorganised.
Hull City's current run of form may be more held together by good morale, early momentum and the canny management of Steve Bruce than quality, but if they can carry forward their self-belief into Week 8, they may be able to get at Everton.
Romelu Lukaku will fancy himself to tear Hull to pieces, but with some industry, defiance and good luck, Bruce's written-off Championship runners-up could come away from Merseyside with a result that would delight them.
Prediction: Everton 2-2 Hull City
Aston Villa vs. Tottenham Hotspur
The international break could be the ideal tonic for Andre Villas-Boas' team after they were throttled 3-0 by West Ham United at home in Week 7.
His heavily renovated squad still require time to jell, however, and with the cosmopolitan make-up of Spurs' summer arrivals, Christian Eriksen and Co. will be racking up the air miles apart rather than fostering any sort mutual understanding together.
Paul Lambert will surely have sympathy for the Tottenham manager's predicament, having seen through a similar transition at Villa Park last summer when he dumped the likes of Darren Bent to the bench to make way for Christian Benteke.
He may also have a good idea of how to get at a team who are brittle if hit with the wrong sort of approach and misfortune.
Should Jan Vertonghen put in another performance similar to one against West Ham, Benteke will find plenty of joy in front of his home fans.
And even if the Belgian defender is on form in Week 8, the Belgian is proving to be one of the most difficult players to play against in Premier League, and he will be more than capable of unsettling Villas-Boas' visitors in and around their own penalty box.
Prediction: Aston Villa 2-1 Tottenham Hotspur
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