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
Watford vs Chelsea
This is a dangerous game for Chelsea. Claudio Ranieri is not under much pressure at Watford. He knows the Premier League and with the way Watford play, Chelsea's defense will be tested. Ranieri will open games up in the Premier League this season and you won’t see many draws with Watford’s brand of football.
Chelsea dominated over the weekend, but Manchester United sat deep and didn’t give them any space. Timo Werner didn’t really look like scoring, and I think Kai Havertz’s intelligence could play a big part against Watford.
Mason Mount was also a huge miss against Manchester United – he should be playing this game. It’s only a matter of time before Chelsea go back to steamrolling opponents, and I’d back them to win this match.
Prediction: Watford 1-3 Chelsea
West Ham United vs Brighton & Hove Albion
West Ham managed to get into the top four but have now lost their last two games. They’ll be disappointed at the moment and will need to win this match. Brighton are a good team that dominates football matches and this will be a hard Premier League game for West Ham.
Brighton are getting back to where they were last year in the Premier League, to be honest. They produce lovely football from box to box but they’re missing far too many chances. Both teams have work to do at the moment and a draw is very likely here.
Prediction: West Ham United 1-1 Brighton & Hove Albion
Everton vs Liverpool
I can honestly see only one winner here. If you’re an Everton fan, you’re probably hoping that this game doesn’t get out of hand. There’s only one way Everton can play this game – they’ll put 11 men behind the ball and play on the counter.
I don’t think Everton have enough to hurt Liverpool at the moment. They’ve had huge injury issues in the Premier League this season and they’ll need to work hard to get a result here. The gap between the two Merseyside clubs is massive.
I think what Diogo Jota’s done at Liverpool is brilliant. Roberto Firmino is usually the gel that binds the front three together, and I still think he’ll play the bigger games when he’s back. At the moment, however, I can’t talk highly enough of Jota. Liverpool have far too much quality for Everton and should be able to win this Premier League match.
Prediction: Everton 0-3 Liverpool
Aston Villa vs Manchester City
I thought Aston Villa were outstanding against Crystal Palace. Steven Gerrard is already putting his stamp on the team in the Premier League, and they have the team to counter Manchester City. Villa will sit back and defend. They’ll close City down and plug pockets of space. The longer this game goes on, the more Aston Villa will back themselves.
If Manchester City turn up and play well, however, they win. It’s as simple as that. Villa do have Ollie Watkins on the counter, and their forward players can hurt Pep’s plans. Aston Villa will need a slice of luck here, but I don’t see how they can stop Manchester City.
Prediction: Aston Villa 1-2 Manchester City
Tottenham Hotspur vs Brentford
This is a massive game for Brentford. They did well to beat Everton over the weekend, and they now have two good results after four bad games in the Premier League. They’ll need to keep it tight against Spurs. Brentford have good players on the counter and Tottenham are defensively not good enough just as yet.
Spurs had a bit of a rest the other day and will be fresh going into this game. They have a lot of class up front with Kane and Son. Brentford could keep one eye on their crucial game against Leeds on Saturday, and Spurs will likely hold the upper hand this week.
Prediction: Tottenham Hotspur 2-1 Brentford
Manchester United vs Arsenal
This is another huge football match. Arsenal are back to beating the teams they should beat and got a good result against Newcastle. They struggled against Brighton and Liverpool in the Premier League and haven’t been very good away from home.
Manchester United rode their luck a couple of times against Chelsea, but got an excellent result in the end. Carrick made a big statement by leaving Ronaldo out, and I think it worked. They took Rashford and Sancho off for Ronaldo after they went 1-0 up, and Chelsea dominated the rest of the game.
United haven’t become a good team overnight. Carrick will take a chance against Arsenal – I’d be shocked if Bruno Fernandes and Cristiano Ronaldo don’t start. They aren’t very good defensively, however, and can’t afford to be too open against Arsenal. I reckon both teams would be pretty happy with a draw this week.
Prediction: Manchester United 1-1 Arsenal