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Premier League Preview: Jan 1-4, 2021

Welcome to the all-new Premier League Preview for January 1st-4th, 2021. The article that does exactly what it says on the tin. Before each matchday, I’ll be taking a look at what’s on offer and trying to figure out who’s going to win, lose, or draw.

That’s simple enough, right? Right. Then without further ado let’s get on with the show.

Everton vs. Wset Ham

January 1st

Everton vs. West Ham

Premier League Result: Everton Win

Here are two teams that have surprised the hell out of me this season. But as you will see, they’re not the only ones to do so. If you’d told me at the beginning of the season that Everton wouldn’t have been wallowing in mid-table obscurity by the start of 2021. And that West Ham wouldn’t be in another relegation dogfight with David “Gollum” Moyes at the wheel. I’d have laughed in your face and then probably had you committed. Yet, this season is nothing if not strange. Here we have a Hammers side sitting comfortably in tenth place. While The Toffees are only four points off of the top and with a game in hand.

West Ham has been through a bit of a wobbly patch of late. They haven’t picked up three points since they beat Leeds on Dec. 11 and I don’t really expect that to change here. Everton are flying at the moment. They haven’t lost since the end of November. Everton have picked up 13 out of a possible 15 points in that time. Making those who were calling for Carlo Ancelotti’s head not that long ago look like the true window lickers they are.

And besides, if Dominic Calvert-Lewin fancies this today, it could be a massacre.

Manchester United vs. Aston Villa

Premier League Result: Draw

Talking of teams that have surprised the hell out of me, step forward Aston Villa. Not even the most diehard Villain could have imagined anything other than a miraculous last day escape. If not relegation this season, but they currently sit fifth in the league. Their last six matches have seen them lose only once, pick up a couple of draws, and three wins. This includes two over Wolves and West Brom. Always good for bragging rights.

As for United, they looked as if they’d be lucky to get Europa League football the way things were going. But have started to grind out results in such a way that fans and pundits alike are tipping them for the title. Personally, I think that’s a step too far at least for this season. However, the way the Premier League is playing out at the moment anything is possible.

They are unbeaten in their last six matches and I expect them to keep that going today. It’s just that I can see this fizzling out into a bore-draw.

Spurs Son

January 2nd

Tottenham Hotspur vs. Leeds United

Premier League Result: Tottenham Win

I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that not only will Spurs get the win, but it’s going to be a goal-fest. No, I haven’t been dipping into the last of the Christmas booze. It’s just that Marcelo Bielsa’s Leeds only knows how to play one way. That’s to attack, attack, attack.

We’ve already seen this season how that works. With Leeds having some blindingly high scoring games, such as the 4-3 at Anfield and the 6-2 at Old Trafford. These could have easily been bloody basketball numbers. There’s no reason to think they’ll change tact now especially considering how well it’s served them so far.

Pouring forward will leave them incredibly exposed at the back. Say what you like about José Mourinho playing anti-football, but there are not many managers that understand the art of counter-attacking better than that man.

Crystal Palace vs Sheffield United

Premier League Result: Draw

To be fair, this all depends on what Palace team decides to show up. If it’s the one that made West Brom their bitch then it’s already all over bar the shouting. But if it’s the one who fell apart at home to Liverpool then we could see The Blades finally pick up their first win this season.

I don’t think it’ll be either. I fully expect this to be either 0-0 or, at best, 1-1. This will at least give Sheffield United some cause for hope. It’ll do them no good, mind you. It pains me to say that as they were one of my favorite teams to watch last season. Nothing short of a meteor striking the earth and wiping out all of mankind is going to save The Blades from relegation this season.

Brighton & Hove Albion vs Wolverhampton Wanderers

Premier League Result: Draw

I’d love to think that Wolves could finally get their season back on track after a run of six games that have been far from stellar. However, the loss of Raul Jimenez has been a huge one. Thank God, he’s on the mend. They really need to use this transfer window to find a replacement, even if it’s just temporary.

I can’t see this being a spectacular affair either. Brighton are only just outside the relegation zone. So every hipster’s favorite manager will park the bus and happily take a point. This has got tedious garbage written all over it. Do yourself a favor and watch something else instead.

West Bromwich Albion vs. Arsenal

Premier League Result: Arsenal Win

A relegation six-pointer if I’ve ever seen one. Calm down Gooners, it’s just my little joke. Kind of. I do think that Arsenal are too good to go down. I’m also not naive enough to think that wins over an out of form Chelsea and Brighton mean that Mikel Arteta is the second coming of Pep Guardiola.

He was a gamble when he was appointed. It’s now up to the Arsenal board to decide if they want to follow through on that gamble or fire him. Do they give him to the rest of the season?  Hoping he picks up enough points to move them up the table into a Europa League position and then fully back him in the next transfer window? This would allow him to get rid of all the deadwood that sucks money out of the club (and no, I don’t mean Mesut Özil) and bringing in the players he needs. Or do they say “So long, and thanks for all the fish?” Then bring in Tony Pullis who’s never been relegated from the Premier League, don’t you know.

Talking of relegation avoiding managers, this will be the last season we see Fat Sam weasel his way into a PL job. West Brom are doomed. Sorry Baggies fans, it’s nothing personal. I’ve always had a soft spot for your club. Your supporters are a great laugh to hang out with, but the way your board cut the legs off of Bilić right when it looked like he might be on to something. Well, that signed the death-kneel for you this season

Chelsea vs. Manchester City

January 3rd

Burnley vs. Fulham

Premier League Result: Burnley Win

So I said in a previous entry that Brighton could possibly find themselves in the drop-zone by Sunday afternoon, but it ain’t going to happen. Burnley have finally started to turn things around. They picked up 11 points from a possible 18. Fulham have turned into draw specialists.

I don’t expect this to be drubbing by any means, but I fully expect The Clarets to keep a clean sheet and nick it 1-0.

Newcastle United vs. Leicester City

Premier League Result: Leicester Win

If Newcastle can defend the way they did against Liverpool and if Karl Darlow can put in the kind of shift he did the other night then The Magpies should be able to come away with at least a draw. Having said all that, however, it took a gargantuan effort from the whole team to keep The Reds at bay. That may leave some very tired legs and minds when Sunday rolls around.

Also, considering that Jamie Vardy only made a cameo in their draw at Palace then he’ll be itching to fill his boots. An angry Jamie Vardy is not something I’d want to be on the receiving end of. I’ll leave that to poor defenseless casino workers.

Chelsea vs. Manchester City

Premier League Result: Man City Win

Chelsea are in the midst of a slump. Having lost four of their last six. Even though I don’t think it’s time for Lampard to go (as some sections of the press have been yelling) I don’t see him turning it around this weekend.

I’m also a realist and know that it won’t be too long before Abramovich starts getting an itchy trigger finger. A heavy home defeat against City could signal the beginning of the end for Super Frank. If Pep’s boys finally find their shooting boots at Stamford Bridge then it could be a very, very long 90 minutes for the boys in dark blue.

Then again, the money that now pulls on a Chelsea start might remember how to play football themselves. I doubt it, but it could push their opponents all the way.

Southampton vs. Liverpool

January 4th

Southampton vs. Liverpool

Premier League Result: Liverpool Win

Honestly? I have no bloody idea how this game is going to pan out, but having been a Liverpool supporter for the past 43 years. I’ve got to back them to pick up the three points here. But, if any team could grab an “unexpected” win then it’s The Saints. That’s just the kind of season it’s been so far.

Liverpool should be home clear in the title race by now. They came out of the blocks at least at a steady pace, if not flying. After the Leeds match, they brushed aside Chelsea and Arsenal. Before Adrian had an aneurysm and forgot how to keep goal against Villa. Since then it’s been a case of flattering to deceive. Yes, there have been a couple of impressive wins, but they’ve dropped stupid points when they should’ve picked up all three. They haven’t stretched their lead over the chasing pack as they did during the 2019-20 campaign.

It’s lucky for The Reds that Man City chose this season to forget how to football, or this would be all over already.

As for Southampton, I dare anyone to tell me they knew we’d get to the beginning of 2021 and they’d be only three points off of a Champions League spot.

As I said, it’s been a weird-ass season.

Give Sports Obsessive YOUR predictions for the above games January 1st-4th in the comments section below. Let’s see if you can beat our expert.

Written by Neil Gray

The podcast master. The Old Metal Bar-Steward and Weekly Wrestling Ruminations are now available on Spotify and iTunes.

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