Paul Merson's predictions for Manchester United vs Tottenham Hotspur and four other Premier League GW21 fixtures

Manchester United
Manchester United's showdown against Tottenham Hotspur is the standout fixture of the weekend

The first leg of the Carabao Cup produced a shock result as Middlesbrough secured a 1-0 win against Chelsea at the Riverside Stadium thanks to Hayden Hackney's first-half goal.

Chelsea were wasteful and squandered loads of chances in the game. It's always been one step forward and two steps back for the Blues under Mauricio Pochettino - they never get into a winning run. That said, I still expect them to win at Stamford Bridge and make it through to the final at Wembley, with Liverpool set to be their most likely opponent after they won 2-1 against Fulham.

The Reds were a bit lucky yesterday as if Bobby De Cordova Reid had found Andreas Pereira in the second half, Fulham would've been 2-0 up! Liverpool have a slender one-goal advantage ahead of the second leg at Craven Cottage, but I think that should be enough for them to secure a place in the final.

There are just five Premier League games this weekend but all of them are interesting clashes in their own right, with Manchester United's showdown against Tottenham Hotspur the standout fixture. On that note, here are my predictions for the game this weekend.


Burnley vs Luton Town

Burnley manager Vincent Kompany
Burnley manager Vincent Kompany

This is a huge football match, not just for these two sides but also for the likes of Nottingham Forest, Everton and Brentford, who are very much involved in the relegation dogfight.

If Burnley lose this game, you have to say turn the lights out. I'm sure they'd have highlighted this one as their biggest games of the season, so they'll come out all guns blazing to secure three points. My issue with them is they try to play like a top-six side, but they simply don't have the quality to do so.

Luton, on the other hand, keep it simple and try to put the ball into the box - their style of play is quite direct. This is why I feel they have the best chance of staying up among the newly-promoted sides. They've done well recently, but this game is equally important to them, as they need to start picking up points away from home.

I think this game will finish 1-1, which doesn't help Burnley in the slightest. Luton, Brentford, Forest and Everton, on the other hand, will probably be happy with that result.

Prediction: Burnley 1-1 Luton Town


Chelsea vs Fulham

Mauricio Pochettino and Chelsea have been inconsistent this season
Mauricio Pochettino and Chelsea have been inconsistent this season

This is a big London derby and the two sides are right next to each other on the table, so I expect a fiercely contested game at Stamford Bridge. On their day, Fulham are a really good side and I like them, but you saw what happened against Liverpool yesterday.

They played really well to take the lead and had one or two glorious chances to add to their advantage, but when it really mattered, they lacked the killer instinct to put the game to bed and the Reds staged a second-half comeback to win 2-1. If Chelsea win by two clear goals, they could go up to seventh on the table. I can't see them winning so comfortably, but something tells me the Blues will show up and secure all three points.

Willian has been fantastic for Fulham this season. For someone of his age to produce the goods at the top level is so impressive, I really thought he would fade away after his underwhelming stint with Arsenal. Certain players fit certain clubs and Willian fits Fulham like a glove.

This is probably a funny thing to say, but if Timo Werner didn't previously play for Chelsea, I think snapping him up on loan would've been something the club would have considered in January. Much like Arsenal, they need a bonafide goalscorer and I wouldn't be surprised if they manage to sign someone this month.

Prediction: Chelsea 2-1 Fulham


Newcastle United vs Manchester City

Manchester City will look to close the gap at the top of the table
Manchester City will look to close the gap at the top of the table

Newcastle are slowly getting some injured players back and are coming on the back of a good result against arch-rivals Sunderland. The win would've surely boosted their morale, but Sunderland were never going to get anything from the game after the team they put out, and Newcastle's XI was miles apart on the night.

Eddie Howe's side are really good at home and have to win this one to have a glimmer of hope in terms of finishing top four, but Manchester City are also in need of a win as they aim to close the gap at the top of the table to just two points. They'll have to be patient, though, as St. James' Park is a tough place to visit.

In terms of the title race, anything other than a Man City defeat here would make them favorites. Liverpool have a bunch of difficult games against Bournemouth, Arsenal and Chelsea coming up and are missing a lot of key players due to injuries and international commitments, so Pep Guardiola and Co. will look to capitalize.

If Man City lose here and Liverpool beat Arsenal when the two sides face each other in three weeks (February 4), then the Reds will emerge as favorites as they have been in such situations before and held their nerves.

You talk about clubs making signings in January to revitalize their squads for the second half of the season, but just look at what's happening at Manchester City. They have Kevin De Bruyne and Erling Haaland returning after their respective injury absences - that's almost like £200m worth of talent coming into the team. It's simply mindblowing, no two ways about it.

I think Manchester City will secure a narrow win but wouldn't be surprised if this game ends all square.

Prediction: Newcastle United 1-2 Manchester City


Everton vs Aston Villa

Unai Emery will look to make Aston Cilla better on their travels
Unai Emery will look to make Aston Cilla better on their travels

This is a massive football match as Aston Villa could go joint-top with Liverpool if they win, while Everton are still in trouble in terms of the relegation battle and in desperate need of points.

Sean Dyche and Co. need to make it count at home and usually, Everton are solid in front of their own fans and teams don't like going to Goodison Park. The big advantage for Aston Villa is that Everton might look to start on the front foot and go at them, which could play into their hands as Unai Emery's side are devastating on the counterattack.

In recent weeks, teams have sat back and made it hard for Villa, but they have a lot of quality in their side. I don't think they will be in the title race in a month or so as the likes of Liverpool, Manchester City and Arsenal will prove to be too good for them, but if they can keep chipping away with points, they could finish in the top four and that will go down as a monumental achievement.

Prediction: Everton 2-2 Aston Villa


Manchester United vs Tottenham Hotspur

Manchester United vs Tottenham is the standout fixture of the weekend
Manchester United vs Tottenham is the standout fixture of the weekend

If Tottenham win this, they'll leapfrog Arsenal in the table, meaning the Gunners drop out of the top four. Literally three weeks ago, Mikel Arteta's side were the team to beat and were at the top of the table, but they could be fifth when the action concludes this weekend, which is just unbelievable.

Manchester United, on the other hand, are nine points behind Arsenal and face an uphill battle to secure a UEFA Champions League spot next season. They need to win this game to stand a chance of finishing in the top four, but they haven't been consistent this season. It's so hard to predict Manchester United but one thing is for sure - they tend to show up when their backs are up against the wall.

I predict a lorry-load of goals in this one and will be shocked if it ends goalless, so I'm going for a 2-2 draw.

Timo Werner has been the talk of the town after sealing a surprise loan move to Tottenham. I watched this guy a lot when he was at Chelsea and I can't remember a player who was flagged offside more often than him. I can understand a striker being over-eager to get behind the backline if he's slow, but Werner is lightning-quick, so I have no idea why he always found himself in an offside position.

If he manages to sort out this problem, I truly think this transfer could turn out to be a masterstroke from Ange Postecoglou.

Prediction: Manchester United 2-2 Tottenham

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Edited by Paul Merson