Paul Merson's predictions for Man City vs Man United, Arsenal vs Tottenham, and other Premier League GW 9 fixtures

The Premier League features a few derbies this weekend
The Premier League features a few derbies this weekend

The Premier League is finally back with a full set of games after the international break, and we have a brilliant round of fixtures this weekend. We have two big derbies to look forward to at the moment, and there are several other important Premier League games this week that could produce intriguing results.

Four of the big six in the Premier League are playing against each other this weekend, and that opens up a few opportunities for the other teams in the competition. Chelsea and Liverpool, in particular, have been in poor form this season and will need to ensure that they don't drop points to make the most of their rivals' fixtures this weekend.

Last season's Premier League top six will have to keep one eye on their European commitments as well. The footballing calendar in October is fairly packed, and the likes of Chelsea, Liverpool, Tottenham, and Arsenal cannot afford to compromise their continental aspirations.

The international break has offered Premier League teams an opportunity to regroup, and we might witness some resurgence from teams that have struggled so far this season. Here are my predictions for this weekend's round of Premier League matches.

Arsenal vs Tottenham Hotspur

Tottenham Hotspur v Arsenal - Premier League
Tottenham Hotspur v Arsenal - Premier League

This is a game that never lets you down. There are certain other games in the Premier League calendar where we build them up and they disappoint, but that is never the case with this fixture.

The way they're playing at the moment, I don't see Tottenham being able to beat Arsenal. They did defeat Leicester by a 6-2 margin the other day, but the scoreline flattered them in my opinion. Son Heung-Min hasn’t done well when he’s started games so far this season, and Antonio Conte might use him as an impact player to turn to from the bench.

Are Arsenal title contenders? I'll be able to answer that question after they play Liverpool next week. There's no point in winning one big game and losing the next one. Arsenal lost to Manchester United and they now have two big games which they need to win.

I was quite shocked that Ben White didn't make it to the England squad. He can play in three different positions, and that could help Gareth Southgate. When White plays at right-back for Arsenal, it allows Kieran Tierney to bomb forward and they effectively play with a back three. It has worked well for Mikel Arteta so far, and there's no reason to change that.

With Manchester City in the title race, both these teams should realistically aim for a top-four finish. Arsenal absolutely dismantled Brentford in their previous game, and their home advantage gives them the upper hand in this match.

Prediction: Arsenal 2-1 Tottenham Hotspur

Liverpool vs Brighton & Hove Albion

Manchester United v Liverpool FC - Premier League
Manchester United v Liverpool FC - Premier League

This is a massive game for Liverpool. They have a Champions League match next week and a Premier League fixture against Arsenal after that - it's such a big week so early in the season. In my opinion, they'll need to win all three of these matches

The way Liverpool have played over the past three years, a third or fourth-place finish in the Premier League is not a success. If they don't win their next two league matches, they might find themselves out of the title race.

Liverpool's players have not featured heavily in the international break. Fabinho played only 27 minutes for Brazil, but he has traveled quite a bit. Thiago wasn't picked by Spain for their Nations League fixtures, and he'll be fresh going into this game.

Jurgen Klopp will persist with Salah and Luis Diaz in his forward line. I think he's got to play Darwin Nunez as well - they paid a massive fee for him and they now have to back him. I'm still going with Liverpool to win this game.

Prediction: Liverpool 2-1 Brighton & Hove Albion

Fulham vs Newcastle United

Newcastle United v AFC Bournemouth - Premier League
Newcastle United v AFC Bournemouth - Premier League

This is going to be a really good game. I watched Newcastle in their previous game and I thought they struggled without Allan Saint-Maximin. I do like how Eddie Howe sets up his teams, however, and I think they'll be difficult to beat this season.

I'm impressed with the way Fulham have started their Premier League campaign - they always have a go at teams! Aleksandar Mitrovic seems to be scoring every week and if I had to go with someone here, I'd pick Fulham. Newcastle also have impressive players in their ranks, however, and a draw is a more probable outcome.

Prediction: Fulham 1-1 Newcastle United

Southampton vs Everton

Everton FC v West Ham United - Premier League
Everton FC v West Ham United - Premier League

With the stories I've heard coming out of Southampton, this is going to be a massive match for Ralph Hassenhuttl. They play Everton at home this week, and he'll need his team to win this football match. I do worry for the manager if they don't get a good result in this game.

Everton are working hard and have become difficult to beat. Frank Lampard is getting the best out of his players, and that's all you can ask for from a manager. Everton fans ask for only one thing - a hundred percent from their players every week. The team has lived up to that expectation and they've produced a couple of good results.

Everton are far from the best team in the Premier League, but Frank Lampard is getting a tune out of them. Southampton have home advantage in this fixture and could play out a draw this weekend.

Prediction: Southampton 1-1 Everton

Crystal Palace vs Chelsea

Chelsea FC v FC Salzburg: Group E - UEFA Champions League
Chelsea FC v FC Salzburg: Group E - UEFA Champions League

A match against Crystal Palace away from home is always difficult. I feel for Graham Potter - he's had important players missing at the club over the past few weeks, and he now has very little time to make the team play the way he wants them to play. The games are going to come thick and fast, and then we'll have the World Cup.

Potter is a good manager and a good coach, but he took some time to build his team at Brighton. It might take him a while at Chelsea as well, but he'll need to finish in the top four this season. They also have a massive double-header in the Champions League and might be out of the competition if they fail to beat AC Milan over two group games.

Marc Cucurella will definitely play this game - Potter knows him well, and there's not a lot of work to be done there. He didn't bring in Wesley Fofana and Kalidou Koulibaly, however, and that's a problem - how much does he rate them? This is a dodgy game, but I'm going to go with a Chelsea victory.

Prediction: Crystal Palace 0-2 Chelsea

Brentford vs Bournemouth

Brentford FC v Leeds United - Premier League
Brentford FC v Leeds United - Premier League

I feel for Ivan Toney. He got called up for England and they played two games in the Nations League, but he didn't get a look in. It was an absolute waste of time for him. He will be disappointed, and his performance will depend on how this has affected him.

Brentford were absolutely slaughtered by Arsenal in their previous game, and I haven't seen that before with them. They've now started badly against both Fulham and Arsenal. I don't expect Brentford to lose this match, but they've got to get off to a good start.

Gary O'Neil has done a good job at Bournemouth so far. These are the games you need to win, however, and their fans will now want them to pick up a few victories. Brentford have a good squad, however, and I think they'll have a bit too much for Bournemouth on Saturday.

Prediction: Brentford 2-1 Bournemouth

West Ham United vs Wolverhampton Wanderers

Nottingham Forest v West Ham United - Premier League
Nottingham Forest v West Ham United - Premier League

West Ham fans are a bit worried about their team at the moment, but I think they'll be all right. For the unbelievable Premier League campaign they had last season, it'll be a complete reversal if they don't win this game. They set the bar so high last year that they've now put severe pressure on themselves.

West Ham's big names haven't hit the levels they achieved last season. They aren't a free-scoring side, and they'll need to find a way to score the first goal. When they do, they're solid at the back and force the other team to chase the game. They've got Michail Antonio and Jarrod Bowen on the counter, and they'll need to go back to that blueprint.

Wolves are a good team but they don't score enough goals for my liking. West Ham are not a million miles away at the moment, and I think they're going to get back on the horse this week.

Prediction: West Ham United 2-0 Wolverhampton Wanderers

Manchester City vs Manchester United

Wolverhampton Wanderers v Manchester City - Premier League
Wolverhampton Wanderers v Manchester City - Premier League

Manchester United have got the players to hurt Manchester City. We've seen a lot of times that it's one way or the other for United - they'll either get a result, or they'll get ripped to shreds.

The longer they stay in this game, the more they'll get involved and create chances. There will be gaps in City's defense, and the likes of Christian Eriksen and Bruno Fernandes will need to find that perfect pass.

Cristiano Ronaldo will find himself on the bench yet again this weekend. If United have to win this game, they have to play with pace on the counter. Ronaldo struggled for Portugal the other day, and he isn't going to start the game.

Tyrell Malacia hasn't done much wrong in the Premier League so far. Erik ten Hag knows him, and he's probably going to start against Man City. Man United have been harder to score against in their last four games and will probably stick to the same defense.

It's going to be a tough game for Man United's front line. I'm not sure if Ten Hag will play Antony from the start - there will be a lot of tracking back with Joao Cancelo bombing forward. Manchester City will look to create overloads in the final third, and I wouldn't be shocked if Elanga plays just to track Cancelo.

I don't imagine Pep Guardiola asking his players to play diagonal balls onto Erling Haaland's head. I don't think Haaland really cares about his opponents. He's just scary - he's exceptionally quick and his movement is phenomenal.

Man United are going to sit back and soak it all up, with Marcus Rashford playing on the counter. They'll have to defend unbelievably well to get anything out of this match. I don't see how they're going to sit back without Man City not hurting them, and I think Pep Guardiola's side will break them down eventually.

Prediction: Manchester City 3-1 Manchester United

Leeds United vs Aston Villa

AFC Bournemouth v Aston Villa - Premier League
AFC Bournemouth v Aston Villa - Premier League

Leeds are a bit dull at the moment and this is a big game for them. If they lose this game, their good start goes out the window. Neither team has played particularly well so far this season.

Aston Villa pulled off a big result against Southampton but if they lose here, they're back to square one. Their victory against Southampton was important, but the game was dire. If Steven Gerrard had lost that game, serious questions would've been asked. They did win, however, and fair play to them. They'll have to go and grind one out again this weekend.

Prediction: Leeds United 1-1 Aston Villa

Leicester City vs Nottingham Forest

Brighton & Hove Albion v Leicester City - Premier League
Brighton & Hove Albion v Leicester City - Premier League

What a game this is! It's another big Premier League derby. The two teams haven't played against each other in the top flight in well over 20 years. Leicester are all over the place defensively, but they're still brilliant going forward.

I know that people worry for Leicester City, but I think they'll be all right. They've bought nothing in the transfer window at a time when Premier League clubs have spent more money than they have in a long time.

I'd stick with Brendan Rodgers even if he does lose this game because he's a top manager. It's a matter of perspective for Leicester this season - they've lost two of their best players in Fofana and Kasper Schmeichel. Schmeichel, in particular, has saved them points in the past. Their goalkeeper at the moment isn't saving points - he's giving them away.

Leicester have scored goals consistently in the Premier League. Even if both teams go gung-ho, I don't see how Nottingham Forest are going to outscore Brendan Rodgers' side. I don't see anything but a Leicester win here.

Prediction: Leicester City 3-0 Nottingham Forest

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Edited by Paul Merson
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