Midweek football is back in the Premier League as games prepare to come thick and fast in the busiest period of the year. Gameweek 17 has a handful of tantalizing fixtures in store, with Manchester United getting the ball rolling with a trip to Brentford.
A few Premier League clubs have been hampered by a COVID-19 outbreak, with Tottenham Hotspur's clash against Brighton & Hove Albion being called off last weekend. There have been reports that Manchester United and Aston Villa have been rocked by the virus as well in recent days, so we'll have to wait and see if each of the ten Premier League games happen as scheduled.
Brentford vs Manchester United
It was a great result for Brentford the other day when they got a much-needed win against Watford. Manchester United, on the other hand, were really poor against Norwich City and would've probably lost the game if they played against a better team.
They need to perform much better than they did at Carrow Road to have a chance of winning this one and I'm sure they will. They have two wins from two in the Premier League under Ralf Rangnick and have a nice set of fixtures coming up, so most of their upcoming games are winnable.
They have to make this run count in the race for a top-four finish, in my opinion, they are the favorites at this point in time. That said, it could change every week, as Spurs have a few games in hand and if Arsenal beat West Ham United, they'll suddenly go above the Hammers.
Prediction: Brentford 1-2 Manchester United
Norwich City vs Aston Villa
Norwich City played really well against Manchester United but couldn't quite get a positive result. Aston Villa gave a good account of themselves against Liverpool as well and have improved quite a bit under Steven Gerrard. They've defended well in recent weeks and have also looked threatening up front, so I expect them to win this one 2-0.
I just can't see how Norwich are going to score, so if Aston Villa keep their shape and get their attitude right, they should win this Premier League encounter.
Prediction: Norwich City 0-2 Aston Villa
Manchester City vs Leeds United
I was impressed with Leeds United against Chelsea. They will play a certain way and cause problems for opposition teams. Unfortunately for them, that will suit Manchester City. As Thomas Tuchel said, you always get a hectic game from Leeds. They are very frantic and man-to-man all over the pitch, which pretty much plays into Manchester City's hands.
I think Manchester City will record a big win in the Premier League in this one.
Prediction: Manchester City 4-0 Leeds United
Brighton vs Wolves
This is a hard one to call and I can't see too many goals being scored when Brighton and Wolves lock horns at the Amex Stadium. Wolves are really solid defensively, but they haven't scored enough goals this season and will be without Raul Jimenez for this one.
It was a bad, bad red card and that could swing it in Brighton's favor. Wolves played well against Manchester City and it has to be said that it was never a handball from Joao Moutinho, common sense has to prevail in such situations.
Without Jimenez, this is a Premier League game that could well be decided by a solitary goal, so I think Brighton will just nick this one.
Prediction: Brighton 1-0 Wolves
Crystal Palace vs Southampton
Crystal Palace got a great result against Everton the other day, they deserved it. They've been playing really well in the Premier League this season and finally got rewarded for their performances. I'm worried about Southampton - they did alright against Arsenal but ended up getting blown away 3-0.
I look at this Premier League encounter and can't see how Southampton have enough to beat Palace, so I'm predicting a 2-0 win for the home side.
Prediction: Crystal Palace 2-0 Southampton
Burnley vs Watford
What a big game this is in terms of the relegation battle in the Premier League. Watford will be really disappointed that they lost to Brentford, these are the kind of games they should be winning if they want to avoid the drop. As for Burnley, I don't think they are scoring enough goals without Maxwell Cornet in the team, so I'm starting to worry about them a little bit.
Watford also have an exciting attacker in Emmanuel Denis who has been outstanding this season in the Premier League, his goal tally is amazing, really. Now that he's playing so well, can they keep him?
This is a hard one to call but I think Watford will just nick it. If Burnley lose this one, it'll be a major problem for Sean Dyche and his players.
Prediction: Burnley 0-1 Watford
Arsenal vs West Ham United
Wow, what a game this could turn out to be! West Ham played really well against Burnley but they couldn't score. If Arsenal win this one, they'll go above West Ham in the Premier League standings and that's rather unbelievable considering where the two sides were a few weeks ago.
I think Arsenal will win this one, they'll make their home advantage count. West Ham look a bit tired at times and tend to rely on a group of players too much, which has started to show a bit in recent weeks.
As for Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, I don't think he will return to the team immediately. He was punished by Mikel Arteta and wasn't part of the matchday squad for the Premier League encounter against Southampton, so I'll be shocked if he was named in the starting XI for this one.
Prediction: Arsenal 2-1 West Ham United
Leicester City vs Tottenham Hotspur
I think Leicester City will win this one, they did really well against Newcastle United the other day. James Maddison set the bar in that game and that's what you would expect from a player like him. However, the problem with Maddison is that he gets to a certain level, everyone speaks about him and he just horribly dips off in a week or two. I don't know what it is with the lad, only he knows.
Tottenham, on the other hand, haven't played in a while and have been hampered by COVID-19 cases, so this could be a hard game for them if it goes ahead.
Prediction: Leicester City 2-1 Tottenham Hotspur
Chelsea vs Everton
I think this is an easy one to call, so I predict a 3-0 win for Chelsea. Everton are sitting ducks at the moment and I just don't give them a chance. They were fortunate to beat Arsenal and didn't do anything extraordinary that day, they just showed a lot of heart and scored an absolute peach to win it late in the game.
If you look at Everton's Premier League record in recent weeks, it's been dismal. They've only got five points from a possible 30 and are bottom of the table if you only consider results from October. Chelsea, on the other hand, weren't great against Leeds, but they still scored three goals and won the game.
The only question for Chelsea is Romelu Lukaku's situation. He's clearly back fully fit now, but when is he going to get back into the team? If he stays on the bench for a few more games, people will start to wonder if Thomas Tuchel really fancies him or not.
Prediction: Chelsea 3-0 Everton
Liverpool vs Newcastle United
Newcastle United need to get this game out of the way. They got absolutely slaughtered by Leicester City the other day and obviously wouldn't want something like that to happen against Liverpool. This is a horrible game for them and I can't see anything other than a Liverpool win, so I think the home side will prevail 4-0.
After Liverpool, Newcastle play the two Manchester clubs back-to-back in the Premier League, oh gosh that is a horrible run of fixtures for Eddie Howe and co. They are in major trouble and just need to make sure they hang in there and not get their confidence shot. Judging based on their fixtures, they aren't going to get a single Premier League point from their next three games, so they'll need the teams around them to go on bad runs and do them a favor.
Prediction: Liverpool 4-0 Newcastle United