We’re all set to witness more Premier League action this week as the country’s top-flight resumes with a set of midweek fixtures. It’s that time of year again where our football becomes relentless, and the clubs have their work cut out of them ahead of a hectic schedule.
Premier League action has always been at its peak in December and this week’s games are on the eve of a crucial period for several teams. Chelsea, Manchester City, and Liverpool remain within two points of one another in a title race that’s only going to get better in the weeks to come.
There already seem to be a few early relegation battles in the Premier League, and there are a few big six-pointers this week. Newcastle United, Norwich City, Leeds United, and Burnley have a difficult road ahead and a non-stop schedule in December could make or break their campaigns.
The week also features a massive clash between two arch-rivals as Manchester United and Arsenal battle it out at the Theatre of Dreams. Here are my predictions for this week’s Premier League fixtures.
Newcastle United vs Norwich City
This is a massive game for both teams. Norwich have turned the corner a little bit with two good results in the Premier League. They did well against Wolves and probably could’ve beaten them. Norwich have now put themselves in a position where they can afford to just draw this game.
Newcastle went gung-ho against Brentford but conceded three goals. They sat back against Arsenal and kept it tight – fair play to them. When they have to go win a game, however, I’m not sure they’re good enough to keep a clean sheet.
I can’t emphasise how massive the next four days are for Newcastle. If they don’t win their next two games, they probably will be relegated by the end of the season. They haven’t played a cup final in god knows how long – this is a cup final. It’s an absolute must-win game of the highest order. They’re already six points adrift, and they have to win these two games.
If Norwich are brave, I think they can get something out of this. I think Norwich are going to sit back and let the hosts play, and that could play into Newcastle’s hands this week.
Prediction: Newcastle United 2-0 Norwich City
Leeds United vs Crystal Palace
Leeds are just floating around at the moment. People keep telling me that they’re playing well, but they aren’t winning matches this season. This game also has an impact on the relegation zone – if Leeds win this game, Newcastle are suddenly further down in the pecking order.
Patrick Vieira’s Crystal Palace juggernaut came to a grinding halt against Aston Villa. That was a poor result for Palace, but I think they will eventually bounce back in the Premier League. Crystal Palace are a better team than they were over the weekend, but Leeds could present a determined front.
Prediction: Leeds United 1-1 Crystal Palace
Southampton vs Leicester City
I thought Southampton played well the other day. I know they lost by a 4-0 margin to Liverpool, but they didn’t get battered. Their back three didn’t work against Jurgen Klopp, but they improved after they switched to a four-man defense.
Leicester City, on the other hand, are struggling at the moment. They can’t seem to keep a clean sheet – it’s been their Achilles’ heel this season. We’ve seen it in the Europa League as well. Leicester will concede goals, and I’d back Southampton to pull off a victory this week.
Prediction: Southampton 2-1 Leicester City
Wolverhampton Wanderers vs Burnley
Wolves were disappointing the other day against Norwich, but they didn’t lose. It’s been a theme with teams trying to get into the top six this season. Wolves were nearly there after the West Ham game but they couldn’t kick on against Norwich.
We’re a third of the way into the Premier League season, and it’s not early doors anymore. Wolves have the quality to finish in the top six, and I think they’ll win this game.
Prediction: Wolverhampton Wanderers 2-0 Burnley