The Premier League features another round of massive games this weekend, and we have several exciting clashes in store for us in the English top flight. There are important games scheduled at both the top and the bottom of a Premier League table that could look very different come the end of the week!
The Premier League’s relegation battle is increasingly becoming a four-horse race this season, and Everton should be able to do better now with Ferguson in charge. Watford, Norwich, Newcastle, and Burnley still find themselves on the brink at the moment and have important fixtures ahead of them this month.
Manchester City seem to be running away with the Premier League at the moment, and both Liverpool and Chelsea have fallen behind in the title race. The top-four race becomes more interesting by the day, with Arsenal, West Ham, Tottenham, and Manchester United fighting it out for Champions League qualification.
As we approach the business end of the season, a six-pointer every week will seem par for the course. We have more than just the one this time around, and here’s a look at my predictions for this weekend’s Premier League matches.
Watford vs Norwich City
Wow, this is the biggest game of the weekend. Both teams are relegation contenders at the moment, and this is a massive Premier League match. The other teams at the bottom would hope for a draw, but they wouldn’t mind Norwich winning this game. Norwich don’t seem like they can go on a run. If Norwich do manage to win this game, they’re out of the bottom three. Unthinkable, isn’t it?
Watford have the better front three of the two teams and have been dangerous with their counter-attacks. They can open up a gap at the bottom and put major pressure on the rest of the chasing pack with a victory here. I’m going to back Watford to win this game.
Prediction: Watford 2-0 Norwich City
Everton vs Aston Villa
Everton will put up a better showing this weekend with Duncan Ferguson in charge. They’re all over the place at the moment but I think Ferguson will make a difference. They have more of a chance than they did under Rafa Benitez, but they’ll up against a strong Villa side.
Steven Gerrard’s return to Goodison Park will spice this fixture up. I don’t think Coutinho will start this game, but he’s an excellent substitute to have in the Premier League. I like Jacob Ramsey – he didn’t start well against Manchester United, but he played through his sticky patch and that’s not easy as a youngster.
Aston Villa are playing well at the moment. They needed game-changers in the transfer window, and they have quite a few now. Everton could nick a draw here, but Aston Villa are the better team at this moment in time.
Prediction: Everton 1-2 Aston Villa
Brentford vs Wolverhampton Wanderers
Brentford should’ve been out of sight in that first half against Manchester United. They didn’t take their chances and were punished in the end. I think this’ll be a harder game for them than the one against United.
Wolves are on a high at the moment. They’re a solid team and are very hard to break down – they go to places and hardly let in a goal! Wolves have become dark horses for the top four this season. They put three goals past Southampton last week, and hold the upper hand against Brentford this weekend.
Prediction: Brentford 0-2 Wolverhampton Wanderers
Leeds United vs Newcastle United
Leeds managed a brilliant result against West Ham in their previous Premier League game, and this is suddenly not as big a match now. The pressure is off for Leeds – if they win this game, they’re safe. Leeds do give away too many chances, however, and I think the pace of Almiron could hurt them.
I’m going to go with a Leeds victory here. Newcastle are struggling in the Premier League and can’t seem to win a game. They were in front against Watford last week but just couldn’t seem to hang on. I think Newcastle can find the back of the net here, but Leeds should be able to win this game.
Prediction: Leeds United 2-1 Newcastle United
Manchester United vs West Ham United
I can’t have Manchester United at the moment. Their Premier League win against Brentford yesterday papers over the cracks. Little Brentford gave them a footballing lesson in the first half, and United needed David de Gea to bail them out yet again. It’s happening too many times – they conceded the lead against Newcastle, and they had to hang on for a draw against Aston Villa.
West Ham are not particularly consistent either – just when you think they’re back, they go and lose to Leeds at home. I just can’t bring myself to predict a Manchester United win at the moment, however, and I think West Ham will cause them some problems in the final third.
Prediction: Manchester United 1-1 West Ham United
Southampton vs Manchester City
Southampton have a surprisingly impressive record against Manchester City – they’re unbeaten in two of their last four games against Pep Guardiola’s men. Southampton can cause them a few problems. They’re composed up front, and they could pose a threat with their set-plays.
I can’t see how Southampton can keep City quiet. Man City are a machine, and it doesn’t matter who they play on a given day. You can’t imagine taking someone like Van Dijk out of Liverpool, but City bench Ruben Dias against Chelsea and still keep a clean sheet. They’ve won 12 Premier League matches on the trot – we just take Pep Guardiola and his side for granted now.
The Premier League is a hard league, and you have to be ready for every single game. Liverpool might still be in with a chance if they win at the Etihad. I don’t see a team that can beat Man City at the moment. All of a sudden, they’ve gone bang-wallop-crash!
The quicker Manchester City wrap this up, the better their chances are in the Champions League. This is a team that’s expected to win the Premier League. It doesn’t seem to matter who goes in or out of their eleven – it doesn’t really weaken the team. Southampton have troubled them in the past, but I don’t see Manchester City dropping points this weekend.
Prediction: Southampton 1-3 Manchester City
Crystal Palace vs Liverpool
This is a hard match for Liverpool. This could be the Premier League game that bites them. They have a big cup game against Arsenal tonight – if they go and drop points against Crystal Palace, that would be it. If they don’t win on Sunday, they’ll be in trouble in the Premier League title race.
I thought Palace were terrible against Brighton, but they’re a good team. They’re having an impressive season under Vieira and they’ll cause Liverpool a few problems. Liverpool will have to do without Mane and Salah this weekend and Crystal Palace could hold them to a draw.
Prediction: Crystal Palace 1-1 Liverpool
Arsenal vs Burnley
This is a big Premier League match for both teams. Burnley can’t get a game played at the moment. You look at them and think, “This is the year they go.” With so many games in hand, they’ve got to pick their matches now, and choose fixtures that are winnable.
This is a bigger game for Arsenal than tonight’s cup game against Liverpool. They’d rather finish fourth in the league than win the cup – that’s just the way football has gone now. If you told them they’d lose 1-0 to Liverpool and beat Burnley, they’d take that all day long. Burnley have several problems to deal with at the moment, and I can’t see anything but an Arsenal win here.
Prediction: Arsenal 3-0 Burnley
Leicester City vs Brighton & Hove Albion
Leicester can’t believe it, can they? The game was won! Tottenham pulled off the unthinkable against them last night.
Brighton pulled off another good performance against Chelsea. I was at Chelsea the other day when Brighton gave them the run-around. If I were Chelsea, I’d bring Cucurella to my club all day long. He’s a very good wing-back - one of the best around in the Premier League.
These are two good football teams, and this is going to be a proper match. Brighton are very good going forward, and Leicester can’t seem to keep a clean sheet at the moment. Both teams will find the back of the net and could play out a draw here.
Prediction: Leicester City 2-2 Brighton & Hove Albion
Chelsea vs Tottenham Hotspur
This is a big game now for both teams. If Tottenham win their games in hand, they go above Chelsea in the Premier League table. If Tottenham do manage to win this game, I’d start sweating as a Chelsea fan.
I know Chelsea aren’t playing particularly well right now, but I couldn’t believe how comfortable it was for them in the cup. Beating them twice in the cup and playing them again in no time hands them a psychological advantage.
I don’t think Lukaku get involved enough in Chelsea’s play – he doesn’t show up a lot. When Lukaku’s at his best, you put the ball into space and he’ll use his pace and power to finish. Chelsea are often up against 11 men behind the ball, and Lukaku often finds himself in tight and congested spaces. That’s why he left in the first place. But you do need him – he occupies defenders, and I think he’ll play this game.
Chelsea will revert to a back-three, and Harry Kane will have his work cut out for him. Rudiger was allowed to go in to mark Kane in both cup matches, and Chelsea will employ a similar tactic here. Tottenham will be on a high after yesterday’s result, but I’m going with a Chelsea win in the Premier League this weekend.
Prediction: Chelsea 2-0 Tottenham Hotspur