Paul Merson's predictions for Fulham vs Arsenal, Liverpool vs Newcastle United and other Premier League GW20 fixtures

Liverpool vs Newcastle United is the standout fixture of the Premier League weekend
Liverpool vs Newcastle United is the standout fixture of the Premier League weekend

With games coming thick and fast in the Premier League during the festive period, I can't even tell what day it is if I'm being honest! The league table is tantalizingly poised at the moment as Liverpool lead the way with 42 points, but Arsenal could leapfrog them at the top if they manage to beat West Ham United in the London derby later today.

Manchester City finally returned to winning ways with a comeback victory against Everton earlier this week. The champions were uncharacteristically sloppy in December but have shown in the past that you can never count them out. Will they build on their result against the Toffees by racking up three more points against 20th-placed Sheffield United?

On that note, here are my predictions for matchday 20 of the 2023-24 Premier League season.

Luton Town vs Chelsea

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I was at Chelsea last night and felt they were fortunate to get all three points as they scored a late penalty to beat Crystal Palace 2-1. Luton Town are a good team at home, so I think this will be a tough game.

If you look at Luton's home form, none of the teams they've faced have wiped the floor with them. They beat Newcastle United at Kenilworth Road and got a draw against Liverpool, while the likes of Manchester City and Arsenal won by the odd goal.

I won't be surprised if Luton get three points, but I think this game will finish 1-1. Their home form is great, but they need to start winning away from home if they are to have a realistic chance of avoiding the drop. They also need to start managing games better as they tend to drop off in the last 20 minutes of football matches.

Prediction: Luton Town 1-1 Chelsea

Crystal Palace vs Brentford

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With Yoann Wissa and Bryan Mbeumo going for AFCON and Ivan Toney likely to leave the club in January, Brentford are in big, big trouble. They are a sliding team at the moment and need Toney back into the team ASAP if they are to stop the rot. If they had gotten a win against Wolves, they'd have been in a better position, but now I'm worried for them.

Crystal Palace played really well against Chelsea and were unfortunate to emerge on the losing side at Stamford Bridge. Jean-Philippe Mateta played his best game for the club against the Blues - he was absolutely unplayable. Eberechi Eze, on the other hand, didn't make the final pass a handful of times when his teammates were in better positions - that's something he needs to work on.

The Eagles have too many X-factor players on their side so I fancy them to secure all three points.

Prediction: Crystal Palace 2-0 Brentford

Manchester City vs Sheffield United

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Manchester City win, period. It's only going to be a question of how many goals they score in front of their home fans and it could get ugly for Sheffield United as they are coming on the back of a shocking defeat to Luton Town at home. Two late own goals capped off a nightmare result for Chris Wilder's team, I think they'll get relegated.

The champions got a great result against Everton as they came from behind to win 3-1. Arsenal and Liverpool would've licked their lips at half time after watching them go 1-0 down, but City showed exactly why they've won so many league titles over the years.

Prediction: Manchester City 4-0 Sheffield United

Aston Villa vs Burnley

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Welcome to the top, Aston Villa! This is the kind of pressure you face when you suddenly find yourselves up there with the big boys and it's been a bit of a reality check for Unai Emery and Co. in recent weeks.

They drew at home to Sheffield United and lost to Manchester United at Old Trafford after leading by two goals, so they have to bounce back and show they belong in the top four with a win here.

Burnley caused Liverpool problems but they don't have enough players with the cutting edge needed to win games like this, so I fancy the home side to return to winning ways.

Villa will be kicking themselves as they had Manchester United on the ropes, but Erik ten Hag's side played really well in the second half and ran a lot without the ball - something they have failed to do as a team this season. The atmosphere at Old Trafford was as good as it's ever been for a long, long time, which also worked in their favour.

Prediction: Aston Villa 2-0 Burnley

Wolverhampton Wanderers vs Everton

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Wolves have had a good Christmas so I think this should be an interesting game with a handful of goals. They have some good players and have done really well to cope in the absence of Pedro Neto, who I believe is their main man. If Matheus Cunha could score a few goals, I think he could play for any team in the world as his dribbling ability and link-up play is top-notch.

Everton should have got a result against Tottenham and pushed Manchester City to their limits earlier this week, indicating that both sides are playing some decent football heading into this one. That said, Sean Dyche's side are just a point adrift of the relegation zone and need to get a result here.

Prediction: Wolves 2-2 Everton

Nottingham Forest vs Manchester United

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Who saw Nottingham Forest getting three points against Newcastle United the other day? That was an absolutely incredible result for them and they'll fancy their chances against an inconsistent Manchester United side.

Forest are one of those teams that are better away from home, so I'm not sure this game will suit them. I hate predicting Manchester United games as they are a bag of revels - you never know what you're going to get from them. I watched them beat Chelsea 2-1 and thought they'd finally turn a corner, but they followed it up with losses against Bournemouth, Bayern Munich and West Ham United, while they somehow managed to get a point against Liverpool.

They haven't shown enough consistency this season, which is a big problem for Erik ten Hag. A draw would be a huge result for Forest, which is believe is on the cards.

Prediction: Nottingham Forest 1-1 Manchester United

Fulham vs Arsenal

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Fulham are another funny team. They couldn't score a goal to save their lives at the start of the season but were flying along a month ago. However, it looks like they are back to square one at the moment as they've scored just one goal in their last four games.

London derbies are always tricky and Fulham will want to win this one, but I think Arsenal will get all three points away from home. It's looking good for Mikel Arteta's side at the moment, but they have to stay consistent and keep going as they look to get their hands on the Premier League title.

It depends on what happens when the Gunners take on West Ham later today, but I think Arteta will go full strength and start all his key players. Gabriel Jesus is the connecter up front for Arsenal, so I doubt he'll put the Brazilian on the bench for Eddie Nketiah or Leandro Trossard.

Kai Havertz has been good in recent weeks after a tough start to his Arsenal career. I was always a big fan of him and knew he'd come good, so it's been nice to see him emerge as a key player for the club during the festive period.

Prediction: Fulham 0-2 Arsenal

Tottenham Hotspur vs Bournemouth

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Tottenham have turned it around in recent weeks and have got some key players back from injuries, but Bournemouth are absolutely flying at the moment, making this one of the most exciting games of the Premier League weekend.

In fact, this is a bit of a nightmare game for Tottenham, as this is the worst time to face the Cherries. Cristian Romero is out for a month and Micky van de Ven is yet to return from his injury, so Ange Postecoglou's side might struggle at the back against an in-form Dominik Solanke.

He has really come into his own and his confidence is sky-high at the moment, but I think interested clubs might wait until the end of the season to take a punt on him. He's been around for a while and has finally made his mark in the Premier League, so I'm really happen for him.

Prediction: Tottenham 2-2 Bournemouth

Liverpool vs Newcastle United

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I can't believe Newcastle United were beaten by Nottingham Forest earlier this week, it was an absolutely shocking result for Eddie Howe's side. It's all about timings when you play one of the so-called big games and Liverpool are playing the Magpies at the perfect time.

Forest's victory against Newcastle wasn't a smash-and-grab as they were really poor on the night and got well beaten. Newcastle were also poor in the cup game against Chelsea, so things are not going well for them at the moment.

Liverpool, on the other hand, got a hard-fought 2-0 win against Burnley in a game that marked Diogo Jota's return to the team. He's a top player and his presence will come as a timely boost for Jurgen Klopp, who is set to lose Mohamed Salah next month as the 31-year-old prepares to represent Egypt at the AFCON.

Liverpool are very much in the thick of it in the race for the Premier League title and should win this one at home. Their squad isn't perfect, but I can't see Klopp dipping into the market in January despite their injury crisis at the back, with the likes of Joel Matip, Andy Robertson and Kostas Tsimikas on the sidelines.

Prediction: Liverpool 2-0 Newcastle United

West Ham United vs Brighton & Hove Albion

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As I said with Manchester United earlier, both West Ham and Brighton are a bag of revels. I thought the Seagulls would give Arsenal a run for their money, but the Gunners absolutely blew them away earlier this month.

West Ham are a good team at home and the likes of Mohammed Kudus, Lucas Paqueta and Jarrod Bowen have been in fine form in recent weeks, so they should have enough to win this game.

Prediction: West Ham 2-1 Brighton

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