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Vinnie Jones: If Liverpool lose this weekend, we really are in for some season!

A close call in the golf, but we nailed the football.

Well done England for beating Belgium, the team ranked best in the world. They might have been missing a few players, but with no Sterling and only Kane for some of the game - and Grealish left on the bench - so were the three lions!

It was a strange game to watch - not helped by an empty Wembley. It’s a tough stadium to generate an atmosphere in at the best of times, so I reckon even 5,000 people - socially distanced, of course - would have generated something.

It all seems such a waste - and I’m sure the players are fed up with it. However, they’re professional and are getting on with it and, to be honest, the games themselves have been decent. It’s end-to-end stuff and like watching basketball - not Barcelona!

Look at the number of goals being scored. Aston Villa hitting seven against Liverpool, Man United being hit for six by Spurs. Great for the fans - if they were there.

The quality of the football is top-notch. You might not think it is, because of the defending, but it’s like a training game. You relax to a certain extent and probably take more risks because there’s no crowd to give you a load of stick if things don’t come off!

The shackles are off. More and more the lads are playing from the back, taking their time and building up for an attack. They’re not being rushed by anxious fans worried the goalkeeper or defender will f*** it up for a goal.

There’s still mistakes, of course, and that’s why we're seeing loads of goals. That and the fact the away team aren’t getting screamed at or booed every time they touch the ball! It means the away teams are more relaxed and can play their game - and are doing well.

For these reasons, this year’s Premier League could be wide open. We probably all felt Liverpool or Man City would dominate again, but both have suffered heavy defeats already - Liverpool against Villa and City against Leicester. Unheard of in recent years.

It means Chelsea, Arsenal, Everton - and even Man Utd IF they get their act together - will fancy their chances. Look at the table. Liverpool are 5th and Man City 14th. Wow!

Villa sit second behind Everton - with a game in hand - and it’s a far better season already for Dean Smith after last season’s brush with relegation - and it’s also going well for Carlo Ancelotti at Everton. They’re four-from-four. Superb.

But now comes the test. The Merseyside Derby is this weekend - lunchtime on Saturday - and it couldn’t have come at a better time.

They’re having a tough time of it in that part of the world just now, but seeing Ancelotti going head-to-head with Klopp - the Blues versus the Reds - will give the city of Liverpool a chance of think about something else for 90 minutes instead of you-know-what.

I think it’ll be tight, but I just sense they’ll be a reaction from Liverpool. By all accounts, Klopp went berserk afterwards away from the cameras. And why not? His team were torn apart by Villa. If a reality check was needed, they got one.

I don’t see them slipping up at Goodison Park - especially without the Toffees’ fans giving it to them! They can play their game, tighten things up, and leave it to the boys up top to get them back on track. Any other result and we really are in for some season!

I’m going with Chelsea to get all three points against Southampton. They’ve got Hakim Ziyech back from injury and he’ll be pushing for a place - Frank’s men looked good again Palace recently. I’ve also been impressed with Chilwell. He’s looking a great signing.

Arsenal struggled to see off Sheffield United and will find Man City tougher to beat at the Etihad - and go for a Manchester double with Ole’s men set to roar back against Newcastle at St James’ Park. They were too bad to be true against Spurs.

The pick of the Sunday games is easily Tottenham versus West Ham. These are two in-form teams and, while Jose’s men have home advantage, the way Antonio and Rice are playing for the Hammers makes me think they can get a draw.

Leeds play on Monday at home to Wolves. Bielsa and the boys were always a team to watch this season and they haven't let me down. Kalvin Phillips is running the midfield and is now an England player, Rodrigo is a top signing and Bamford is scoring goals. Perfect.

I also hear Leeds are looking to get Todd Cantwell from Norwich. He’s a cracking young midfield talent who makes goals and scores goals.

Finally on the beautiful game I see this Project Big Picture made the news over the weekend - men in suits trying to shape the future of the game.

I’ll leave the ins and outs to better qualified minds, but all I know is grass-roots football needs help - especially now. The likes of Wealdstone helped me big-time and players like Ian Wright and Jamie Vardy also came through that way. 

Football is a community sport as much as a global powerhouse and needs looking after - from the bottom up. Make sure you do it, lads.

SO to the golf.

I was hoping Shane Lowry would finish what he started at Wentworth in the BMW PGA Championship, but things just slid away from him - leaving Tyrrell Hatton to wrap things up. Tyrrell was fantastic and is one of the ten best players in the world now.

He’s also a trend-setter. Did you see what he was wearing? He was Tyrrell Hoodon, not Hatton.

Personally I reckon he looked great in his hoodie across the four days, although I’m sure some of those stuffier golf club members weren't too happy!

So to this week and it’s the Scottish Championship up at St Andrews - not the Old Course, but nearby Fairmont. For golf fans it’s a magical area, but no doubt the pros will be on weather-watch. There’s no hiding place when the wind and rain comes out to play!

That might make things difficult, but expect a birdie-fest at Fairmont and I’m going with two of the younger players to shine in Renato Paratore, who finished well at Wentworth, and Min Woo Lee, who scores for fun on his day.

Talking of fun, the top players on the PGA Tour are in Las Vegas again this week for the CJ Cup at Shadow Creek.

It’s been a busy week for the likes of Tyrrell Hatton, Ian Poulter, Matt Fitzpatrick and Tommy Fleetwood given they played at Wentworth on Sunday before taking flight, but Tommy is ready to take off at any time!

He tops Vinnie’s Three Off The Tee stateside along with Rory McIlroy and Bubba Watson.

Good luck all, enjoy your sporting week and stay safe.

Vinnie

 

Vinnie’s best bets

Thursday

Golf - Scottish Championship

Renato Paratore

Min Woo Lee

CJ Cup

Tommy Fleetwood

Rory McIlroy

Bubba Watson

Premier League 

Saturday

Everton v Liverpool LIVERPOOL WIN

Chelsea v Southampton CHELSEA WIN

Manchester City v Arsenal MAN CITY WIN

Newcastle United v Manchester United MAN UTD WIN

Sunday

Sheffield United v Fulham SHEFFIELD UTD WIN

Crystal Palace v Brighton DRAW

Tottenham Hotspur v West Ham United DRAW

Leicester City v Aston Villa DRAW

Monday

West Bromwich Albion v Burnley BURNLEY WIN

Leeds United v Wolverhampton Wanderers LEEDS WIN

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