Paul Merson’s predictions for Liverpool vs Arsenal and other Premier League GW18 fixtures

Paul Merson predicts Liverpool vs Arsenal
Liverpool host Arsenal in a top-of-the-table clash at Anfield on Saturday

Yet another exciting Premier League gameweek is here and it could be pivotal in the title race. Reigning champions Manchester City find themselves five points adrift of leaders Arsenal, who have accumulated 39 points in 17 matches. The top two, meanwhile, will lock horns at Anfield, in a match that could have major ramifications on the title.

City won’t be in action this gameweek as their game with Brentford has been postponed due to their involvement in the 2023 FIFA Club World Cup. This could see the likes of Villa, Arsenal or Liverpool build up a solid lead and put some scoreboard pressure on Pep Guardiola's men.

Without further ado, let us get into this gameweek's fixtures:

Crystal Palace vs Brighton & Hove Albion

Brighton manager Roberto De Zerbi
Brighton manager Roberto De Zerbi

I thought Brighton got blown away by Arsenal last weekend and the 2-0 scoreline was kind to them. Brighton will play all the football against Palace but Roy Hodgson’s men could definitely cause them problems on the counter.

As for Crystal Palace, I just didn’t see last weekend’s 2-2 draw with Manchester City coming. At 2-0, it looked like City were cruising to a win. But Palace have got the kind of players who can hurt any team in an instant.

Having said that, I don’t see much between Palace and Brighton and I think they’ll settle for a draw in what could be an entertaining encounter.

Prediction: Crystal Palace 1-1 Brighton & Hove Albion

Aston Villa vs Sheffield United

Ollie Watkins has been in fine form for Aston Villa
Ollie Watkins has been in fine form for Aston Villa

Aston Villa have won 14 on the trot at home in the league and fans are going to turn up at Villa Park expecting all three points on Saturday. Sheffield United frustrated Chelsea for the first 45 minutes and then they just ran out of energy and ran out of ideas. I don’t see Sheffield United causing too many problems for Aston Villa this week.

They will go top of the league if they win against Sheffield United and they could go seven points clear of Manchester City with a win. That’s unbelievable! They’ve beaten Arsenal and Manchester City at home already this season and we now have to start considering them as title contenders. I’m going for a comfortable 2-0 win for Aston Villa here.

Prediction: Aston Villa 2-0 Sheffield United

West Ham United vs Manchester United

Manchester United manager Erik ten Hag
Manchester United manager Erik ten Hag

Wow, this one is a game and a half, isn’t it? You don’t know what you’re going to get with either of these two teams. Take West Ham for instance. They go to Europe and win, go to Tottenham and win and then get hammered by Fulham in the next match. Then they win against Freiburg and Wolves only to get pummelled by Liverpool in the quarter-final of the Carabao Cup.

I think Manchester United performed excellently away at Anfield last weekend. If Arsenal went to the Etihad and put in a display like that, we’d be singing praises all day.

The Hammers will score goals and I think Manchester United will cause problems as well. Both these teams can be really poor or really good on their day.

This game is really tough to predict and I am going to go with a draw.

Prediction: West Ham United 2-2 Manchester United

Tottenham Hotspur vs Everton

Tottenham attackers Kulusevski and Richarlison have been in fine form
Tottenham attackers Kulusevski and Richarlison have been in fine form

Everton are flying in the Premier League. The midweek Carabao Cup loss to Fulham in the quarter-final was unfortunate. Tottenham also have their frontline firing right now. Richarlison is playing well and so is Dejan Kulusevski. Son Heung-min is enjoying a revival of sorts.

Spurs are going to suffer next month when some of their biggest stars will leave for AFCON and the AFC Asian Cup. However, I think they have enough firepower to pull through.

I think Tottenham are going to use their home advantage to go on and secure all three points against The Toffees despite the latter’s upturn in form in recent weeks.

Prediction: Tottenham Hotspur 3-1 Everton

Nottingham Forest vs Bournemouth

Bournemouth star Dominic Solanke
Bournemouth star Dominic Solanke

I can't believe what Nottingham Forest have gone and done with the Steve Cooper situation. I just don’t get their decision to fire him at all. Sometimes, these owners and the top brass just believe that their club belong in the top half of the table. But no, that is not the reality. This league is really hard.

Look at the other dugout. Bournemouth manager Androni Iraola has been backed from the start of the season and they are now getting the results to show exactly how that helps. I’m going to go with a Bournemouth win here because they have won four of their last five matches and should have too much for this Forest team.

Dominic Solanke has been in great form and if he continues banging in goals for fun, some of the 'bigger' teams might start taking an interest.

Prediction: Nottingham Forest 1-2 Bournemouth

Fulham vs Burnley

Burnley FC manager Vincent Kompany
Burnley FC manager Vincent Kompany

I'm going with Fulham here. They are flying high and have now got into the League Cup semi-final.

On the other hand, I just don’t understand Burnley and the way they play.They are trying to play out from the back but they don’t have the players to do it. Unless they mix this up, swallow their pride and get the ball away from their goal quite quickly, they’ll go down with a whimper at the end of the season.

Meanwhile, the Cottagers have been scoring plenty of goals and I think they’ll fancy themselves to win big once again this weekend.

Prediction: Fulham 3-0 Burnley

Luton Town vs Newcastle United

Newcastle manager Eddie Howe
Newcastle manager Eddie Howe

I went to watch the game between Chelsea and Newcastle United in midweek. The Magpies might have only lost on penalties, but they did not look fluent at all. Luton Town are tough to play against at Kenilworth Road and this is a tricky fixture to call.

Newcastle United have got just way too many injuries and they’re not anywhere close to full strength. Their players are dropping like flies at the moment.

Kieran Trippier is struggling right now and it’s sad to see. His confidence seems to have dropped after a strong start to the season. I just think this is going to be a very difficult game for Eddie Howe’s men.

If Luton get in front first, I don’t see Newcastle steamrolling them after that. I’m leaning towards Luton but I still think the spoils might be shared in this one.

Prediction: Luton Town 1-1 Newcastle United

Liverpool vs Arsenal

Liverpool superstar Mohamed Salah
Liverpool superstar Mohamed Salah

I think Liverpool have started games very well of late. They did that against West Ham and Manchester United. If Arsenal can get past the first 20-30 minutes and the game calms down, this could go in any direction.

If Liverpool score inside the first 20 minutes, they win this one. Otherwise, Arsenal will fancy themselves to get all the three points. The Gunners just need to hang in there and ride out the initial barrage.

Klopp has a few big selection calls to make. I think he is going to keep playing Darwin Nunez because you need to have height in the team. They will need to make their set-pieces count and it’s going to be difficult against the likes of William Saliba and Gabriel without a physical presence like Nunez.

Gabriel Jesus, Gabriel Martinelli and Bukayo Saka are going to cause a lot of trouble in the attacking third for Arsenal. Martin Odegaard has been in great form and I think the battle between him and Dominik Szoboszlai could be one to keep an eye on.

Unlike Manchester United last weekend, Arsenal will have a go at Liverpool. This one could open up pretty quickly and we could be in for a treat.

Prediction: Liverpool 2-2 Arsenal

Wolverhampton Wanderers vs Chelsea

Chelsea manager Mauricio Pochettino will be keen to get all 3 points
Chelsea manager Mauricio Pochettino will be keen to get all 3 points

I thought Wolves were poor last weekend against West Ham. That’s the worst they’ve looked all season.

You never know what you’re going to get with Chelsea. It’s rather unfortunate that one of their best players, Reece James, is now sidelined for a long time again. It’s a bit of an issue at this point. He seems to rushing himself back because he clearly loves playing football.

But with these injuries, one has to be patient. I feel for the guy, he is a very good footballer too. But he’s got to show some patience if he is to avoid these constant injury problems.

Despite Chelsea's morale boosting performance against Newcastle in the Carabao Cup, I am going for a draw in this one as Chelsea are still suspect defensively.

Prediction: Wolverhampton Wanderers 2-2 Chelsea

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Edited by Paul Merson