Paul Merson's predictions for Chelsea vs Arsenal and other Premier League GW9 fixtures

The Premier League is back this weekend
The Premier League is back this weekend

After two weeks of international football, the Premier League is back with another round of matches this weekend. These international breaks are becoming a bit of a hindrance, especially when you know that England are going to secure their qualification.

Manchester City aren't at their best at the moment, and they've lost a fair share of games in recent weeks. Pep Guardiola does get his side to peak at the right time, however, and I still don't see anybody beating City to the Premier League title.

Arsenal and Tottenham have been excellent this season and will look to further cement their places at the top of the league table this weekend. Chelsea have also managed to bounce back but will be up against a formidable opponent on Saturday.

An early relegation scrap is also beginning to take place, with Bournemouth and Sheffield United currently struggling to come to terms with the top flight. Here are my predictions for this weekend's round of Premier League games.

Liverpool vs Everton

Liverpool take on Everton this weekend
Liverpool take on Everton this weekend

I think this is the perfect time to play Liverpool - after the international break. There are a lot of South Americans on the team who are coming back during the week, and it will depend on how the likes of Jota and Diaz are feeling when they are back. Liverpool have several forwards in their ranks this season and they will have the firepower to get the better of Everton.

Everton are going to sit back and play on the counter, and they need to be at the top of their game. They are one of those teams that can surprise you, and they get results when you least expect it from them. They will keep it tight, but Liverpool will cause them problems.

The gulf between these two teams is too big, and I don't see how Everton can hold out this weekend. It's extraordinary how big the gap between these two teams has become over the years. This game can be a leveller on a few occasions, but you watch both teams this season and you can't see anything but a Liverpool win.

Prediction: Liverpool 2-0 Everton

Brentford vs Burnley

Brentford take on Burnley this weekend
Brentford take on Burnley this weekend

This is a big game for both teams. Brentford did well against Manchester United but they conceded two late goals. I keep watching Brentford play well and then fail to win games, and that's a bit of a worry for them. They need to win their home games and if they lose against Burnley, they could be dragged back into a relegation battle.

This is a game that Burnley will highlight as one where they'll try to get a result. They got ahead against Chelsea but as soon as their opponents bounced back, Burnley capitulated. This is a tight game, but I think Brentford have the upper hand this weekend.

Prediction: Brentford 1-0 Burnley

Bournemouth vs Wolverhampton Wanderers

Wolverhampton Wanderers take on Burnley this weekend
Wolverhampton Wanderers take on Burnley this weekend

This is a massive match for Bournemouth. They haven't won a football match this season, and their manager is getting away with it at the moment. They've gone to Everton in a bit of a relegation battle and they've been slaughtered. They're under a lot of pressure, and it hasn't been mentioned much.

Pedro Neto now looks like the excellent player we all expected him to become. Before his injury, he was like a speedboat without a driver - he was beating players for fun but there was no end product. He was making the wrong decisions too often.

With the way Neto's playing now, I'd be surprised if he's still at Wolves at the end of January. Apart from Liverpool, I don't think there's a top team that wouldn't be interested in him. He'd be a great addition to Arsenal, with the way they rely on their wingers.

Wolves have been getting the rewards they deserve. They were the better team against Liverpool in the first half, and they did well against Man United. Their position's a bit false at the moment, and they should have more points. I'm going to back Wolves to win this game.

Prediction: Bournemouth 1-2 Wolverhampton Wanderers

Nottingham Forest vs Luton Town

Luton Town take on Nottingham Forest this weekend
Luton Town take on Nottingham Forest this weekend

This is a must-win game for both teams. Luton have got to start winning matches, and they need to try and win this game. They played against a ten-man Tottenham side and didn't find the back of the net. They seem a cut below the rest and are struggling in the Premier League.

Nottingham Forest have picked up nine points from eight games so far. Forest are the better team at the moment and should be able to win this game.

Prediction: Nottingham Forest 2-0 Luton Town

Manchester City vs Brighton & Hove Albion

Manchester City are struggling at the moment
Manchester City are struggling at the moment

You never know what you're going to get with Brighton - they're a bag of rebels. Brighton are the one team that City didn't want to play this weekend. A lot of the other teams go to the Etihad to lie down and get their stomachs tickled. Brighton won't care about the occasion, however, and they'll go out and play their own way.

Erling Haaland is not getting a load of chances, but he's still got eight goals in eight games. He's set such a high bar for himself. Defenders are marking him well, and they know what he's good at now. I think he'll still be all right this season, and I won't be surprised if he gets a hat-trick this weekend. This dip in form won't affect him.

This is a big game for Manchester City. They've lost three of their last four matches, and there will be doubt in their mind. They follow this up with matches against Man United, Liverpool, and Chelsea - this is an important juncture of the season for them.

If Man City lose this game, they'll drop to third place in the Premier League. They aren't used to losing a lot of games. Brighton will play their own way, but I don't see City dropping points in this match.

Prediction: Manchester City 3-0 Brighton & Hove Albion

Newcastle United vs Crystal Palace

Crystal Palace take on Newcastle United this weekend
Crystal Palace take on Newcastle United this weekend

Newcastle have been solid in recent weeks, and they've been flying along nicely. A 2-2 draw against West Ham isn't the worst result. They're unbeaten in their last seven matches and they're in excellent form.

I think Alexander Isak should start this week. Palace are going to sit back, and with teams that defend, Isak's got that X-factor to help Newcastle break the game open. When they go up by one or two goals, Callum Wilson can come on to make runs in behind the defence.

Crystal Palace will be difficult to beat, and they did a job on Man United. I think Newcastle should win this comfortably, and I don't see how Palace can live with them.

Prediction: Newcastle United 2-0 Crystal Palace

Chelsea vs Arsenal

Arsenal take on Chelsea this weekend
Arsenal take on Chelsea this weekend

This is a huge day for both teams. Arsenal pulled off a massive result against Man City. Chelsea have won their last three matches in the Premier League, and I don't think that they would've wanted the international break this month.

Chelsea haven't been great at home, but they are dangerous when they click as a unit. Arsenal's biggest strength is their midfield three. With Chelsea, you don't know what the team is going to be, but I know what their midfield looks like - Enzo Fernandez, Moises Caicedo, and Conor Gallagher. I expect Sterling to play on the right because he can cause Zinchenko problems.

The only problem for Chelsea is that Arsenal are a polished team. Chelsea are just starting out, and that's a big disadvantage for them this weekend. Arsenal are a settled unit and they know exactly what they're doing. Chelsea are a hard team to predict - against teams that come out and play, they can be a major threat. The best game Chelsea have played at home this season was against Liverpool.

Chelsea had built up some good momentum before the international break, and a lot depends on how they come back from the break. I'm going to go with a draw here, but if you asked me to get off the fence, I'd pick Arsenal to have the upper hand.

Prediction: Chelsea 2-2 Arsenal

Sheffield United vs Manchester United

Manchester United take on Sheffield United this weekend
Manchester United take on Sheffield United this weekend

You'd like to think that Manchester United would surely win this game. You never know what you're going to get with them, and their win against Brentford just papered over the cracks.

If they had lost against Brentford, we'd be asking serious questions of Ten Hag. They won the game with two late goals, and they didn't deserve their victory. People think that everything's great again - it's not, and they're a million miles away.

Something has got to change at Manchester United. You can't keep blaming the Glazers - they aren't the ones that are playing. McTominay has got to play this match after what he did against Brentford. If he doesn't, he has to leave in January - the same goes for Harry Maguire.

I don't see how Sheffield can get a win - they haven't had one all season. Sheffield are not good enough for the Premier League at the moment, and we see this a lot with newly-promoted teams. I'm not majorly confident about backing Man United, but I think they should be able to win this game.

Prediction: Sheffield United 0-3 Manchester United

Aston Villa vs West Ham United

West Ham United take on Aston Villa this weekend
West Ham United take on Aston Villa this weekend

This is a good game between two teams that can be unpredictable but are having very good seasons. It could go either way. Villa are going to have a go at West Ham and David Moyes would love that because West Ham are excellent on the counter.

West Ham are difficult to beat, and the likes of Bowen and Antonio can be dangerous. Aston Villa are playing at home, however, and I'm going to back them to win this game.

Prediction: Aston Villa 2-1 West Ham United

Tottenham Hotspur vs Fulham

Tottenham Hotspur take on Fulham this weekend
Tottenham Hotspur take on Fulham this weekend

We keep expecting Tottenham to drop the ball, but they don't. I thought they were very dogged against Luton the other day, and they did well with ten men. I thought Tottenham should've been out of sight within ten minutes. Luton did create a couple of half-chances, but Tottenham picked up a very solid victory.

Manchester City and Arsenal have difficult matches this weekend, and if results go their way, things could shape up brilliantly for Tottenham. They're playing with a lot of confidence and have a very good manager. I would call this a very Spursy game, like the Luton match - I wouldn't be surprised if they lost. These are big games for Tottenham because they'll define how competitive they're going to be this season.

I don't consider Tottenham title contenders at the moment. I'm not just saying that because it's Tottenham - their squad is too small and they have a long way to go. I do expect them to beat Luton comfortably this weekend.

Prediction: Tottenham Hotspur 3-1 Fulham

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Edited by Paul Merson