MLB Picks — August 22 (KC @ TB, Min @ CHW)

Here is the condensed version for Tuesday’s Tampa Bay-Kansas City and Minnesota-Chicago White Sox gams at Confidence in parentheses.

Side Prediction/Full Game: Rays -155 (3/5)
Total Prediction/Full Game: Over 7 runs -110 (4/5)
Prop Prediction/Full Game: Under 27.5 runs+hits+errors -110 (4/5)
Side Prediction/Half Time: Rays -0.5 runs -180 (3/5)
Total Prediction/Half Time: Under 3.5 runs -Even (3/5)
Prop Prediction/Half Time: No to first-inning run -150 (3/5)

Side Prediction/Full Game: Twins -109 (4/5)
Total Prediction/Full Game: Under 9 runs -115 (3/5)
Prop Prediction/Full Game: Twins to score first -160 (3/5)
Side Prediction/Half Time: Twins -0.5 runs +120 (5/5)
Total Prediction/Half Time: Under 5 runs -130 (4/5)
Prop Prediction/Half Time: No to first-inning run -115 (4/5)

Previous Day’s Record: 0-6
Season Record: 28-32

1-Star Pick Record: N/A
2-Star Pick Record: 0-1
3-Star Pick Record: 18-21
4-Star Pick Record: 7-7
5-Star Pick Record: 3-3

This is the link to the Royals-Rays preview.

This is the link to the Twins-White Sox preview.

MLB Picks — St. Louis at L.A. Dodgers August 21

Here is the condensed version for Monday’s St. Louis-L.A. Dodgers game at Confidence in parentheses.

Side Prediction/Full Game: Dodgers -155 (3/5)
Total Prediction/Full Game: Under 8 runs -110 (4/5)
Prop Prediction/Full Game: Dodgers +1.5 runs adjusted run line -330 (3/5)
Side Prediction/Half Time: Dodgers -0.5 runs -120 (3/5)
Total Prediction/Half Time: Under 4.5 runs -115 (5/5)
Prop Prediction/Half Time: No to first-inning run -125 (4/5)

Previous Day’s Record: 8-4
Season Record: 28-26

1-Star Pick Record: N/A
2-Star Pick Record: 0-1
3-Star Pick Record: 18-18
4-Star Pick Record: 7-5
5-Star Pick Record; 3-2

The full preview can be seen on the web site.

2018-19 EPL Match Day 2 Preview: Crystal Palace (1-0-0) vs. Liverpool (1-0-0)

Liverpool looked every bit the primary contender to prevent Manchester City from a second straight canter to a Premier League title in their season opener. The Reds look to sustain that momentum Monday at Selhurst Park versus Crystal Palace.


Jurgen Klopp’s team swept aside West Ham United 4-0 at Anfield on Aug. 12, showing off their new signings and taking full advantage of an Irons squad dealing with chemistry issues with so many of their new players arriving so close to the transfer deadline.

Mohamed Salah looked ready to compete for a second consecutive Golden Boot by opening the scoring, and Sadio Mane contributed a brace on either side of halftime. Daniel Sturridge added the finishing touch with a goal just seconds after his introduction in the 88th minute.

The year-long wait for Naby Keita proved well worth it as he anchored a bustling midfield that included Georginio Wijnaldum and James Milner, the latter of whom was filling in for England international Jordan Henderson as he rested following his run to the World Cup semifinals.

Alisson, who was a world-record signing at the keeper position until Chelsea’s late move for Kepa Arrizabalaga, was barely troubled in recording a clean sheet in his Liverpool debut, and Xherdan Shaqiri got his first taste of Anfield life with a late runout.

“Yes, the start was good but that’s already done, if you want,” Klopp told Liverpool’s official website. “The feeling around the club is good (and) a big part of that are the performances and the results we got in the last few months. That’s what we have to do again and again and again.”

While there are no worries about the offence, the defence is not at full strength as Dejan Lovren is recovering from a pelvis injury he suffered with Liverpool and aggravated helping Croatia reach the World Cup final. Joe Gomez stepped in and formed an effective central defence tandem with Virgil Van Dijk, justifying the gaffer’s confidence in the 21-year-old.

“I was never in doubt about Joe and his ability to play at centre-half … now he’s fit and he’s a very good football player, he can play the position good,” Klopp said. “Together with Virgil, they have a very good understanding – on a personal level as well, that’s really cool.”

While Gomez and Van Dijk will again start, Klopp is expected to add Joel Matip to the bench since fellow central defender Ragnar Klavan left Friday for Italian Serie A side Cagliari.

This summer’s big outfield signing – midfielder Fabinho – likely will be with the reserves for a second straight match, but the Brasil international feels he is making the proper adjustments to a three-man midfield after serving as a part of a defensive midfield pairing with Monaco before his £39 million move.

“It’s a different playing style than at Monaco; there were two of us in midfield there and here at Liverpool there’s three,” he noted. “My midfield partners have given me guidance and assistance, as have the defence. I knew my role would change and I feel I’ve adapted well. You seek guidance and help from the players around you and that has worked really well up until now.”

Crystal Palace made sure there would be no repeat of last term’s historically ghastly start by opening their season with a 2-0 victory at promoted Fulham on Aug. 11. The Eagles, who started 2017-18 by losing their first seven matches while failing to score a goal in any of them, got goals from Jeffrey Schlupp and Wilfried Zaha on either side of halftime.

Roy Hodgson’s side was sharp on both sides of the ball – nine of their 10 shots were on target and keeper Wayne Hennessey made six saves for the clean sheet – as Palace took apart a side many expected to make a seamless transition to the top flight given their flowing style of football and aggressive spending in the summer transfer window.

“It’s always the aim to get a win on your first game and from that you gain confidence to go into the next game in a positive mindet,” said right back Aaron Wan-Bissaka, who assisted on Zaha’s goal, to Palace’s official website. “Wayne Hennessey was superb and I want to give credit to him for how he played to get us a clean sheet as well.”

Crystal Palace also went about securing a big piece of their offense during the week, extending Zaha’s contract at Selhurst Park through the 2022-23 season with a pay packet reportedly worth £130,000 per week. The Ivorian has 44 goals with the Eagles, and the 25-year-old had been a constant subject of speculation to jump to a bigger club in recent transfer windows.

“Wilf grew up a stone’s throw from Selhurst Park from the age of four, and has been with the club since he was 12,” club chairman Steve Parish said. “This agreement is yet another example of his lifelong commitment to the club, and our commitment to him. This is an amazing day for everyone here at Palace, our supporters and of course Wilf – and is richly deserved.”

Hodgson has a fully fit squad and likely will keep his same XI from the win over Fulham. With the staggering depth in midfield, Klopp can afford to hold out Henderson for a second straight match, but it is also possible the England international supplants Milner in the middle of the park.

Liverpool did the double over Crystal Palace last season, winning both contests by one goal. Mane scored in both contests, bagging the winner in a 1-0 victory at Anfield and the equaliser in a 2-1 triumph at Selhurst Park in which Salah secured all three points six minutes from time.

The Reds have won four on the trot in all competitions at Selhurst Park.


Per Ladbrokes, Liverpool are heavy favourites at 4/9 odds to extend their winning streak at Selhurst Park to five matches, and Crystal Park are 6/1 underdogs. There are 7/2 odds for the teams to split the points.

Salah leads the way for first goal-scorers at 11/4 odds, firmly ahead of Sturridge (4/1), Roberto Firmino (9/2) and Mane (10/1). Zaha is the top option among Palace players, albeit at distant 9/1 odds.

Salah is better-than-even odds to score for the second time in as many matches at 8/11, while Mane — who has five goals in eight career matches versus Crystal Palace — offers a solid 8/5 return on any-time goal-scoring odds. Sturridge is slightly ahead of Firmino on the pecking order at 23/20 for Sturridge over 13/10 for the Brasilian.

Zaha is again the top Palace option at 13/5, with Christian Benteke close behind at 14/5.

Plenty of people are expecting at least three goals in this match as Liverpool are even money to win and go over 2.5 goals compared to 10/3 with a win and under 2.5 goals. For those picking a 2-2 draw or higher, the return is an intriguing 12/1.


Both sides have something to prove — for Liverpool, this match gives them a chance to show they can carry that blistering form from last week to the road, while Crystal Palace are out to show their win at Fulham was no fluke and that they are a team with at least legitimate mid-table aspirations.

Expect Henderson to return to the starting XI at the expense of Milner, further strengthening an already-potent midfield. Klavan’s departure to Italy leaves Liverpool dangerously thin at centre back considering Matip and relative unknown Nathaniel Phillips are now the primary backups for at least the next few weeks while Lovren recovers from his pelvic injury.

The battle through the midfield will be pivotal for any chance Crystal Palace entertain in taking at least a point for this contest. Luka Milivojevic must find places to hold possession for the Eagles, who are adept at hitting on the counter, but will be playing from reactionary and defence-first positions for most of this contest.

One interesting thing of note is that Liverpool pumped in 29 crosses against West Ham, which means they got forward fairly easily on the flanks to create scoring chances. Both left backs — Andrew Robertson and Patrick van Aanholt — are going to be challenged to avoid being pinned back, more so van Aanholt given the prolific nature of Liverpool’s attack.

Mane has proved a problem to contain for Palace and is looking to run his goal-scoring streak against the Eagles to three matches. But when one considers Liverpool’s attacking options beyond the Senegal international, Palace will wind up on the short end of this tussle for a fifth straight time at Selhurst Park.


(Writer’s Note: This preview can be seen in a text-only format at the STATS Hosted Solutions site. I am adding edits, projected starting lineups, odds-related picks and a final score prediction for the match in this blog.)


MLB Picks for August 18

Condensed version (confidence in parentheses)

Game 1 — Detroit at Minnesota

Side Prediction/Full Game: Twins -174 (3/5)
Total Prediction/Full Game: Over 9.5 runs -115 (3/5)
Prop Prediction/Full Game: Over 28.5 runs+hits+errors -115 (4/5)
Side Prediction/Half Time: Twins -0.5 runs -120 (3/5)
Total Prediction/Half Time: Over 5.5 runs -110 (3/5)
Prop Prediction/Half Time: Yes to 1st-inning run -125 (3/5)

Game 2 — Los Angeles Angels at Texas Rangers

Side Prediction/Full Game: Angels -117 (3/5)
Total Prediction/Full Game: Over 10.5 runs -120 (3/5)
Prop Prediction/Full Game: Over 31 runs+hits+errors -115 (3/5)
Side Prediction/Half Time: Angels -0.5 runs +115 (5/5)
Total Prediction/Half Time: Over 6 runs -105 (4/5)
Prop Prediction/Half Time: Angels to score first -170 (3/5)

Previous Day’s Record: 7-5
Season Record: 20-22

1-Star Pick Record: N/A
2-Star Pick Record: 0-1
3-Star Pick Record: 12-15
4-Star Pick Record: 5-5
5-Star Pick Record; 3-1

Note: Picks can be found at

MLB Picks for August 17

Writer’s Note: In addition to EPL previews, I also do other sports previews for the site

Condensed version (confidence in parentheses):

Game 1 — Kansas City Royals at Chicago White Sox

Side Prediction/Full Game: Royals +118 (3/5)
Total Prediction/Full Game: Under 8.5 runs (Even) (3/5)
Prop Prediction/Full Game: Under 27.5 runs+hits+errors (-105) (3/5)
Side Prediction/Half Time: Royals Money Line (Even) (4/5)
Total Prediction/Half Time: Under 5 runs (-130) (3/5)
Prop Prediction/Half Time: Yes to 1st-inning run (-110) (3/5)

Game 2 — Houston Astros at Oakland Athletics

Side Prediction/Full Game: Athletics +134 (3/5)
Total Prediction/Full Game: Under 8 runs (-120) (5/5)
Prop Prediction/Full Game: Under 25.5 runs+hits+errors (-105) (3/5)
Side Prediction/Half Time: Athletics +0.5 runs (-110) (3/5)
Total Prediction/Half Time: Under 4 runs (-105) (4/5)
Prop Prediction/Half Time: No to 1st-inning run (-135) (4/5)

Previous Day’s Record: 6-6
Season Record: 13-17

1-Star Pick Record: N/A
2-Star Pick Record: 0-1
3-Star Pick Record: 8-11
4-Star Pick Record: 3-4
5-Star Pick Record; 2-1

2018-19 EPL Match Day 2 Preview — Chelsea (1-0-0) vs. Arsenal (0-0-1)

While they had directly opposite outcomes in their first matches in charge, both Maurizio Sarri and Unai Emery know there is much work to be done to rebuild both their teams to an elite level as Chelsea and Arsenal meet in a London derby at Stamford Bridge on Saturday.


Sarri, who came over from Napoli to replace Antonio Conte, is in the midst of an overhaul from a counterattacking unit to a flowing one with a 4-3-3 formation. Everything mainly went according to plan in Chelsea’s season opener as they routed Huddersfield Town 3-0 on the road last Saturday.

The focal point of his makeover, holding midfielder Jorginho, contributed a penalty right before halftime as both N’Golo Kante and Pedro added goals. Kante, the France international and World Cup winner, is still finding his legs going forward as Jorginho plays the deeper role Kante rose to international stardom playing for both Chelsea and Leicester City over the past three seasons.

“He is playing like a centre right-midfielder and I am very happy for the performance of Kante, especially when I think he only arrived with us on (Aug. 6),” Sarri noted to the team’s official website.

The victory also marked a return to relevancy for centre back David Luiz, whose falling out with Conte last season essentially made him a forgotten man at Stamford Bridge. Despite the Brasil international’s sometimes adventurous forays forward, Sarri values Luiz as a player who can carry the ball forward from the back and be a voice of leadership in the locker room.

“He is very good to build up the action from defence,” the manager said. “If you are a good defender you can play in a three-man defensive line and a four-man defensive line. I think he will be very useful for us – on the pitch and in the dressing room.”

Keeper Kepa Arrizabalaga had a rather easy time in winning his debut following his record £71 million transfer from Athletic Bilbao. He finished with one save but was also fortunate when a shot thumped the crossbar with the score 1-0.

Sarri likely will elevate Eden Hazard into the starting XI for this match after the Belgium international was a late substitute and assisted on Pedro’s tally versus Huddersfield Town. It also seems less likely Hazard will move to Real Madrid before the European transfer deadline at the end of the month, which would scuttle a reunion with compatriot, former Chelsea teammate and keeper Thibaut Courtois.

The other position of intrigue for Chelsea is the other wide midfield spot, where Ross Barkley is trying to fend off England international Ruben Loftus-Cheek. Barkley started the opener, but it would not be surprising to see Loftus-Cheek in the first 11 with another week of practice under his belt.

“Playing in a 4-3-3 in an attacking midfield position is kind of my position really, my suited position, so hopefully I can bring my best football to the team,” said the 22-year-old Loftus-Cheek, whose game grew on loan at Crystal Palace last term before contributing to England’s semifinal run at the World Cup. “I feel like I have got that experience of a Premier League season now, and international football as well. I feel more mature as a player to help battle for three points every game.”

While Sarri saw most of his match-planning come to fruition, Emery had a first-hand look at the enormous scale of Arsenal’s rebuild to rejoin the Premier League’s elite as the Gunners started their season with a 2-0 defeat to champions Manchester City on Sunday at the Emirates.

The loss was not due to lack of graft as Arsenal harried City all over the pitch and tried to rapidly regain possession of the ball when it was lost. Even with one of the most potent attacks in Europe, the Gunners simply did not have enough talent to deal with City, especially in the midfield.

Granit Xhaka still is not the box-to-box destroyer many thought he would be upon his arrival prior to last season. French teen Matteo Guendouzi gave a game effort but was overmatched against the likes of Raheem Sterling, Bernardo Silva and Riyad Mahrez, and the hopes and dreams of Aaron Ramsey being a playmaker in a more advanced role in Emery’s 4-2-3-1 set-up were put on hold as he failed to unlock City’s defence.

“It’s two different halves, the first and the second half, for me,” Emery told Arsenal’s official website. “The first half, we conceded more space on the pitch for Manchester City to progress. In the second half, we took more risks with our pressing, took more risks with the ball to break their lines and go forward quickly.

“I think we need to improve collectively and also individually. But I think this process is normal against a great team like Manchester City.”

One area Emery will be forced into a change is at left back, where Ainsley Maitland-Niles was forced off with an injury after 35 minutes but also run ragged by both Mahrez and Kyle Walker. Summer signing Stephan Lichtsteiner will likely step into the spot, and his veteran presence brought some discipline to the back four.

Arsenal also looked better going forward after Alexander Lacazette replaced Ramsey, which means Emery may have to juggle his attacking players to find a group who work well together. It is also possible Lucas Torreira could start in Xhaka’s place after the Uruguay international got a 20-minute runout in his Arsenal debut.

Emery is also sticking with Petr Cech between the sticks for this match over £22 million summer signing Bernd Leno. Cech finished with six saves, including a double in the first half, and denied Sergio Aguero on a 2-on-1. While Emery expressed confidence in both keepers, the Gunners still appear to be in a place where the sooner Emery rips the band-aid off and commits to a rebuild from the back out, the better they will eventually be.

“I am very happy with Cech’s performance – he has experience, he has quality, he has the capacity,” the Arsenal manager told The Telegraph. “Also, with Bernd Leno. They are two goalkeepers who are important for us. They have different qualities but for us, in the way we want to play, they can [both] play. For Saturday, the decision for me is easy. Petr Cech can continue to start the match. I believe in him. If Bernd starts, I believe in him also.”

Cech has beaten his former club just once in six tries (1-2-3) since moving across London in 2015.

Arsenal are unbeaten in their last five (2-3-0) in all competitions versus Chelsea starting with their 2017 FA Cup victory, and eliminated them in the Carabao Cup semifinals over two legs last season. The teams played to a pair of draws in league play last season, and the Pensioners have taken points in 12 of the last 13 league matches (7-5-1).

Chelsea had won five straight over Arsenal in league play at Stamford Bridge prior to last season’s scoreless draw.


Per Ladbrokes, Chelsea are decisive 4/5 favourites, while Arsenal are 3/1 underdogs. For those thinking the Gunners can escape with another point like last season, the odds are 11/4. A 2-1 Chelsea scoreline seems to be the preferred option among punters at 7/1, ahead of 0-0 (17/2) and 1-0 to the hosts (9/1).

Alvaro Morata and ex-Arsenal forward Olivier Giroud are joint first-choice options for first-goal scorers at 4/1, followed by Hazard and Aubameyang at 5/1 and Pedro at 6/1. Willian slots in just behind at 13/2, closely trailed by Lacazette at 7/1. Morata and Giroud also lead the way with 13/10 any-time goal-scoring odds, with Hazard and Aubameyang joint-third at 8/5.


One gets the sense Arsenal will eventually figure out what Emery is asking of them with his higher-pressing, higher-tempo style. The key word is eventually as opposed to now in mid-August where concepts are still taking hold. While that still holds true on the other side of London with “Sarri-ball,” the fact the Gunners do not have a possession-based No. 10 to link their defensive midfielders to their attack is going to prove problematic until either Ramsey figures it out or Emery potentially drops Ozil deeper to take better advantage of his playmaking skills.

The fact Kante has quickly figured out his new role is not surprising, and regardless of who is on Jorginho’s left — eventually it will be Loftus-Cheek, otherwise they would have loaned him out again — Chelsea are going to have a relentless and tireless midfield trio. How this group links with Hazard in attack will be a bellwether for the Blues as they go forward. They had some impressive sweeping movements against Huddersfield Town, and while Arsenal are a step up in class, one gets the sense Jorginho has made the transition on the blue side of London far more seamless than the red.

Prediction: Chelsea 2, Arsenal 1.

(Writer’s Note: This preview can be seen in a text-only format at the STATS Hosted Solutions site. I am adding edits, projected starting lineups, odds-related notes and a final score prediction for the match in this blog.)

Other Match Day 2 previews:

West Ham United vs. Bournemouth
Everton vs. Southampton
Cardiff City vs. Newcastle United

2018-19 EPL Match Day 2 Preview: West Ham United (0-0-1) vs. Bournemouth (1-0-0)

Rome was not built in a day, and after West Ham United were thrashed in their first match under Manuel Pellegrini, the Chilean will not get the East End side rebuilt in seven days to match Romulus and Remus either.

The new-look Irons hope for better things in their home opener Saturday versus a Bournemouth side eager to build on their season-opening victory.


Optimism abounded for West Ham United with the arrival of Pellegrini coupled with an overhaul of the side in the summer transfer window. All told, the Irons brought in 10 new players while spending more than £90 million to make sure they would not be part of the relegation scrap that dogged them much of last term.

But the gap between where West Ham are and where they want to be was presented in stark and brutal nature by Liverpool, who swept aside the Irons 4-0 at Anfield last Sunday. Player chemistry was always going to be an early concern with the raft of new signings, but West Ham were second-best everywhere over 90 painful minutes.

Midfielder Declan Rice was overmatched against Liverpool counterpart Naby Keita, with Pellegrini mercifully subbing off the Ireland international at halftime, and central defender Fabian Balbuena endured a torrid time in his Premier League debut.

“I was so upset with the way we defended and I was not happy with the way we attacked,” Pellegrini told the club’s official website. “Every time that you bring in so many players it is difficult to adapt to a new system but we are just starting the season.”

Operating as a lone striker, Marko Arnautovic got little service as Jack Wilshire – playing a more forward role than he did at Arsenal – made little impact. Linchpin summer signing Felipe Anderson, though, is confident the quality of the newcomers will help the side gel quickly.

“We have very good expectations for the season, this team wants to play beautiful football, and with a bit more time, all the signings are going to adapt,” the midfielder said. “The club made a big investment and now what we need to do is to work to make things go well.”

Pellegrini may look to integrate more of his summer signings into his starting XI for this match. Central defender Issa Diop – a £22 million signing from Toulouse — was a spectator at Anfield, and Andriy Yarmolenko could push for a spot on the right wing at the expense of Michail Antonio following his 23-minute runout replacing Arnautovic.

Now in their fourth consecutive Premier League season, Bournemouth opened a campaign on the right side of the ledger for the first time with a 2-0 victory over new boys Cardiff City last Saturday. The Cherries used their team quickness to confound the Bluebirds as Ryan Fraser scored in the first half before Callum Wilson – who assisted on Fraser’s strike — atoned for a missed penalty later in the opening 45 minutes by adding an insurance marker in second-half stoppage time.

For a club that had started their previous three top-flight seasons 0-0-2, getting off on the right foot coupled with a clean sheet – something Bournemouth accomplished only six times in league play last season – was a welcome change.

“A first win in the first game since we have been in the Premier League made it a bit unusual for us,” defender Charlie Daniels told the Bournemouth Echo. “It was a good 2-0 win and a clean sheet as well, which is a big bonus. The manager has faith in us and we have all improved as players as well.

“I felt ever since preseason started, how we came back, how well we trained and how well we prepared, we deserved the win and I think it showed in our performance as well.”

The Cherries have posted back-to-back clean sheets in the Premier League just four times, with the last a three-match run versus Newcastle United, Huddersfield Town and Swansea City from Nov. 4-25, and have just 10 shutouts in 57 top-flight matches outside Dean Court.

Howe must decide if he will give record summer signing Jefferson Lerma his Bournemouth debut. The midfielder and Colombia international, who moved from Levante on a £25 million deal, was not in match shape after helping los Cafeteros reach the round of 16 in the World Cup.

Fellow new signing and wide back Diego Rico remains ineligible as he serves the second of his three-match ban for a red card picked up in his final match with Leganes. Lewis Cook, who impressed as the captain of England’s World Cup-winning Under-20 side, could also get a runout after being an unused substitute versus Cardiff City.

The sides have split six all-time Premier League matches (2-2-2) and played to draws in both contests last season. Fraser and Chicharito Hernandez traded second-half goals two minutes apart in last term’s corresponding fixture, and the teams have combined for 25 goals in their prior meetings.


Per Ladbrokes, West Ham are a solid favorite at 21/20 odds, while both Bournemouth and a draw carry 5/2 odds. Despite the teams averaging more than four goals in their previous six top-flight meetings, the combination of a draw and over 2.5 goals is still offering a tempting 9/1 return.

Bournemouth have scored more than three goals on the road just five times in Premier League play, but one of those occasions came in a 4-3 win at Upton Park in 2015 in which Wilson had three goals. But if one discounts their season-ending win at Burnley, the Cherries have just one win in their last 12 road matches (1-5-6).

Chicharito and Arnautovic share joint-honours as top first-goal scorers at 4/1, with Wilson trailing the pair at 6/1 as the top option for Bournemouth. Yarmolenko and Jermain Defoe are both 13/2 odds while West Ham striker Lucas is slotted between them at 11/2.

Arnautovic edges out Chicharito for any-time goal-scoring odds at 13/10 for the Austria international compared to 7/5 for the Mexico striker. Wilson is again Bournemouth’s top option at 2/1.


There is no way West Ham United are as bad as their 4-0 loss to Liverpool showed, but the challenge for Pellegrini and the Irons now is to make rapid progress with cohesion and chemistry. It made sense to hold out Diop against Liverpool, but for £22 million, Pellegrini cannot really afford to let him be a spectator for a second straight match.

The curiosity comes offensively as Wilshire — who played for Bournemouth on loan in 2016-17 — tries to adapt to his more forward role. Another train of thought would be to let him drop into a deeper midfield role in place of Rice — also playing out of position to a degree — and have Antonio in the middle and Yarmolenko on his preferred right side.

Bournemouth looked impressive in disposing of promoted Cardiff City, but West Ham present an obvious step up in talent. That is not to say the Cherries cannot hang with the Irons, but Andrew Surman and Dan Gosling are going to have to boss the midfield to keep West Ham from finding a forward flow. This should be an end-to-end match with plenty of scoring chances.

Prediction: West Ham United 2, Bournemouth 2

(Writer’s Note: This preview can be seen in a text-only format at the STATS Hosted Solutions site. I am adding edits, projected starting lineups, odds-related picks and a final score prediction for the match in this blog.)

Other Match Day 2 previews:

Chelsea vs. Arsenal
Everton vs. Southampton
Cardiff City vs. Newcastle United