There was plenty of drama in the Premier League’s midweek fixtures. Manchester United showed everyone that they’re still incapable of digging in when things get tough as they lost to bottom of the league Sheffield United. Manchester City, meanwhile, steamrolled West Brom as they won 5-0 to go top of the table, and Jose Mourinho tried not to burst into tears as Harry Kane hobbled off as his Spurs side crumbled against Liverpool. There are some big fixtures to come this weekend too, so I’ll try my best not to completely embarrass myself with my predictions as I fill in for our very own Premier League prediction genius Neil Gray.
Everton vs Newcastle United
Prediction: Everton Win
This is a pretty straightforward one to start things off. Everton come into this game with just one defeat in their last five league games, while Newcastle haven’t won a league game since December 12th. The Magpies are hurtling towards those relegation places, and there is very little chance of Steve Bruce turning that around. It could be a very long day for Newcastle if Everton’s front three are on form. I’m going for an easy victory for Everton.
Crystal Palace vs Wolves
Prediction: Wolves Win
These two sides face each other for the second time this month, having played each other in the FA Cup 3rd Round on January 8th where Wolves emerged 1-0 winners. Palace are in a dreadful run of form, having not won a match since December 6th, a run of ten games without a victory. The pressure will surely be building on manager Roy Hodgson as discontent continues to grow amongst the fans over results and the negative style of play. Wolves are on a winless run of their own, having won just once since December, beating Chelsea 2-1 on December 15th. The loss of Diogo Jota to Liverpool in the summer, along with the loss of Raul Jimenez after suffering a fractured skull earlier this season, has had a major impact on Wolves’ attacking play. They’ll be hoping new loan signing Willian Jose can add a clinical edge to their attack, and I think he might just do that this weekend. A Wolves win and Roy Hodgson to be sacked within the next two weeks is my prediction.
Manchester City vs Sheffield United
Prediction; Man City Win
To many people’s surprise, Sheffield United beat Premier League leaders Manchester United in midweek, but I wouldn’t be expecting a repeat of that this weekend. Manchester City are on a run of nine straight league victories, and they will steamroll Sheffield United this weekend just as they did with West Brom on Tuesday night. It’s just a question of how many will they score?
West Brom vs Fulham
Fulham love a draw. They’ve drawn six of their last eight league games and I’m fully expecting another one this weekend. Fulham have a decent team, but they lack a quality striker. West Brom, meanwhile, lack absolutely everything. Their team is nowhere near Premier League quality, and Sam Allardyce will be happy to take another draw instead of actually trying to win games. This has borefest written all over it.
Arsenal vs Manchester United
Prediction: Arsenal Win
I think both of these sides are in similar positions, in that they flatter to deceive. Yes, Manchester United are still 2nd in the league following their defeat to Sheffield United in midweek, but I’d almost guarantee that they’ll drop off. Despite the money they’ve spent, they lack players who can step up in the big moments and take a game by the scruff of the neck. The defeat to Sheffield United was further proof that Bruno Fernandes isn’t that player, and there is nobody else in that team who can do it either. It’s been a similar story at Arsenal this season, although the arrival of Martin Ødegaard from Real Madrid on loan will be a major boost to their top four hopes. If he plays, I think he’ll have an instant impact.
Southampton vs Aston Villa
Prediction: Aston Villa Win
A mid-table clash here, as eleventh placed Southampton take on tenth placed Aston Villa. Villa have been annoyingly good this year, with their attack really clicking together, and captain Jack Grealish being at the centre of all things good in attack. However, they still leave a lot to be desired defensively and have looked shaky at times, with superb keeper Emi Martinez saving their skin time and time again. In truth, you could say all of the same things about Southampton. Very good going forward, but can be exposed defensively. I think Aston Villa will have too much for them though.
Chelsea vs Burnley
Prediction: Chelsea Win
Thomas Tuchel is one of the first managers I’ve seen in a long time come into a major job and look genuinely excited to be in charge of the club. He spoke after the Wolves game in midweek about how impressed he was with his sides’ pressing and creation of chances, so this weekend he’ll just be hoping they add goals to their game. Chelsea play Burnley this weekend, who will have no problem giving Chelsea the ball for as long as they want it. We all know Burnley are capable of a scalp against the Premier League’s bigger sides, but I can’t see them turning Chelsea over on Sunday. Who knows, maybe Timo Werner will finally score another Premier League goal; god knows he’s due one at this point.
Leicester City vs Leeds United
Prediction: Leicester City Win
Last time these two faced off in the league, Leicester dominated and ran out 4-1 winners. I don’t expect them to score four again, but with Diego Llorente out injured once again, the Foxes may look to exploit whoever his replacement may be, whether it’s Pascal Struijk or full-back Luke Ayling. It will be a close one for sure, but I’d bank on Leicester exposing the gaps that Newcastle failed to exploit in midweek.
West Ham vs Liverpool
West Ham could overtake Liverpool and return to the top four with a win in this game: who would’ve thought it possible twelve months ago? Moyes deserves great credit for the job he’s done, and he looks to have assembled a very strong squad since taking over from Manuel Pellegrini. He’s turned utility man Michail Antonio into one of the most consistent strikers in the league, and he’s brought stability to the defence. Meanwhile, Liverpool have nothing resembling stability at the back. For some reason, they’ve put their trust in two injury-prone central defenders who, you guessed it, have gotten injured. Even a blind man could see they needed another central defender in the summer, and it’s looking increasingly likely they won’t sign one during the January window either. They could find their title challenge slipping away sooner rather than later, but for this game, I think they’ll do well to get out with a draw.
Brighton vs Tottenham
Harry Kane has injured his ankle again. Jose Mourinho has lost the only part of his plan for every match. They will not score this weekend. It feels like Brighton never score, so I’d be willing to bet they won’t score against Spurs either. A boring draw is almost guaranteed for this one.