Joleon Lescott column: Maguire will bounce back and prove boo boys wrong
Harry Maguire’s woes continued on England duty this week — but some of the treatment and talk surrounding the Manchester United skipper has been very harsh.
Having been dropped by Erik ten Hag, it’s a horrible period for him and I know from experience how difficult it is for a defender to play their way back into form.
You’re waiting patiently for that opportunity. Then when it arrives, you end up trying to do things that will catch the eye and build your confidence.
Really, all you need to try and do as a defender is go unnoticed.
I was sad to see him being booed before the Germany game by some supporters. How on earth does that help?
It reminded me of my time with England when the likes of Frank Lampard and Ashley Cole would get booed. Two of our best players!
When results aren’t going well, our media and fans seem to need a fall guy who takes the brunt of the criticism and that man is Harry at the moment.
Things look bleak for him right now but he’s not reached the level he's at by chance — I’m confident he will turn things around for club and country in due course.
While Maguire won’t be involved due to injury, United head to the Etihad on Sunday looking to stun Manchester City and make it five league wins in a row.
Confidence is such a huge thing in football. Although City remain favourites, you’d expect the visitors to be much more competitive than in last season's two derby drubbings.
Their momentum may have been checked a bit by the international break but getting players like Marcus Rashford back fit gives Ten Hag a big boost.
I'd imagine they'll look to soak up pressure and hit City on the break, but it’s going to be a question of whether they can handle wave after wave of attack from Pep Guardiola’s side.
As always, keeping Erling Haaland under wraps is going to be an almighty challenge.
Lisandro Martinez has been much improved since his nightmare debut at Brentford. But like all defenders facing the Norwegian, he must accept this is not 90 minutes to try and be dominant.
Martinez is an aggressive defender who likes to play on the front foot — but one slip-up against Haaland is almost certain to be punished.
He’ll have to pick and choose his moments wisely and it’s going to be a fascinating battle to watch.
Of course, the weekend kicks off with a tasty North London derby between Arsenal and Tottenham.
Given it’s early in the season, this result won’t define either side’s campaign but it's still a huge chance to land a mental blow.
Though the Gunners’ performances have been more impressive, Spurs have still been picking up results and it doesn’t really matter how you get the points on the board.
Belief is increasing in both camps that they can maintain their current levels and a victory for either side on Saturday lunchtime will only see that optimism grow further.
The contest will be won and lost at the top ends of the pitch with in-form attackers and defenders facing off.
Eric Dier will be full of confidence after returning to the England fold but needs to be at his best to contain Gabriel Jesus, while I can’t wait to see how young William Saliba fares against Harry Kane.
Let’s kick off my weekend predictions.
Joleon Lescott's Premier League Matchday 9 predictions
Arsenal vs Tottenham (Saturday, 12.30pm, BT Sport)
I do think home advantage is a big boost for Arsenal given the positive vibes around the club currently — it's going to be loud at the Emirates!
The Gunners may also hold an edge in terms of sharpness after the international break with a few of their key players not playing as many minutes as their opposite numbers.
I won’t be surprised however this one pans out but I’m leaning towards the hosts.
Prediction: Arsenal 2-1 Tottenham
Bournemouth vs Brentford (Saturday, 3pm)
Gary O’Neil looks set to be in charge at Bournemouth for a while longer yet, so I expect to see him putting his stamp on things a bit more in the coming weeks.
Brentford are dangerous opponents and Ivan Toney will want to kick on from that England call-up even though he didn’t get any minutes.
Thomas Frank’s men seem to carry more threat and I’ll go for an away win.
Prediction: Bournemouth 0-2 Brentford
Crystal Palace vs Chelsea (Saturday, 3pm)
Graham Potter has had more time on the training field with Chelsea than he would’ve expected recently, so that should stand them in good stead for this trip.
But Crystal Palace are always difficult to play against and we know how capable they are of upsetting a top side under Patrick Vieira.
It’s a tough test for the Blues but one I expect them to pass.
Prediction: Crystal Palace 1-2 Chelsea
Fulham vs Newcastle (Saturday, 3pm)
Newcastle’s points tally is probably lower than they feel their performances have merited so far this term — and if they have European ambitions, these are games you have to win.
Fulham are playing to win every game and I’ve really enjoyed watching Marco Silva’s side since their top-flight return.
The players look to have a great understanding of each other and I reckon the Cottagers can take care of Eddie Howe’s men at home.
Prediction: Fulham 3-1 Newcastle
Liverpool vs Brighton (Saturday, 3pm)
New Brighton boss Roberto De Zerbi could have had an easier to start to life in England and I think he needs to tread with caution on this trip to Anfield.
Naturally, a manager wants to impose their own ideas and philosophies quickly but the last thing he wants is to start his tenure with a thumping.
The break will have done Liverpool good and I can see them putting in a commanding performance.
Prediction: Liverpool 3-0 Brighton
Southampton vs Everton (Saturday, 3pm)
That win for Everton prior to the international break has lifted the mood around the club and I really liked the business they did late in the transfer window.
Southampton are a difficult side to predict. At their best, they would expect to beat the Toffees at home, but I struggle to trust them.
I’ll plump for my old side to seal a second straight victory.
Prediction: Southampton 0-1 Everton
West Ham vs Wolves (Saturday, 5.30pm, Sky Sports)
Even this early in the season, this has the look of a huge game for both sides and a loss would heap huge pressure on either manager.
Scoring goals has been a problem for both clubs this season but I think West Ham may be able to take advantage of Nathan Collins’ suspension.
He’s a big miss for the visiting backline and I expect the Hammers to win.
Prediction: West Ham 2-0 Wolves
Manchester City vs Manchester United (Sunday, 2pm, Sky Sports)
I’m not sure you can ever describe a side as strong favourites when factoring in the unique atmosphere and pressure that a derby brings.
That said, City are expected to get the job done and I’m anticipating a typically high possession, intense level of performance from the hosts.
The result may not be emphatic but I still expect the champions to impress on their way to victory.
Prediction: Manchester City 2-0 Manchester United
Leeds vs Aston Villa (Sunday, 4.30pm, Sky Sports)
Recent results mean Aston Villa will travel to Yorkshire in good spirits and another win would see them start to build some real momentum.
However, the Elland Road factor is in play with the Whites having impressed on their own turf this term.
All things considered, I have to go with my head and say this one ends level.
Prediction: Leeds 1-1 Aston Villa
Leicester vs Nottingham Forest (Monday, 8pm, Sky Sports)
This feels like a must-win for Brendan Rodgers after surviving the international break and I’m expecting his players to get the job done for him.
Listening to some of them speak in recent days, I don’t think Rodgers has lost the dressing room and this is a perfect chance for a morale-boosting success against local rivals.
The visitors are still bedding in a lot of new players and I think Steve Cooper’s side may come undone here in an intense atmosphere.
Prediction: Leicester 2-0 Nottingham Forest
Joleon Lescott was talking to Matthew Hill