Premier League football keeps coming thick and fast and the midweek action did not disappoint. There were twists and turns with VAR having its devilish impact on proceedings with some awful decisions against Pavel Soucek [Featured above; Image from Sky Sports] and Lucas Moura. At the bottom of the table, there was a dramatic win for West Ham while those around them faltered. Newcastle and Manchester United recorded comfortable wins on the south coast and Manchester City gave Liverpool a guard of honour before romping home to a 4-0 win; the joint heaviest defeat for a reigning champion.
The action continues this weekend with another full set of fixtures with five games including two traditional three o’clock kick-offs on Saturday. Wolves and Arsenal meet in a big game in the battle for European places while on Sunday Liverpool will be hoping to bounce back against Aston Villa while Spurs face off against Everton in the Monday Night Football.
I am back with my predictions for these games along with the predictions made by BBC Sorts Mark Lawrenson (Lawro) and Sy Sports Charlie Nicholas as well as the infamous BT Script. As always, I am using the scoring system used by Sky for their Super 6 games (5 points for the correct score, 2 for the correct result). The action starts on Saturday lunchtime at Carrow Road…
Norwich City vs Brighton & Hove Albion
This is a big game for Norwich. 7 points from safety with 5 to play, a win here would give them a glimmer of hope with four to play but if they lose this then their fate is sealed. They were roundly beaten by Arsenal in midweek. They look too open at the back and they’re struggling for goals. Brighton have been decent since the restart and have picked up some great results. Graham Potter I think would’ve taken four points from their first three games but against Man united they were poor. Defensively they kept standing off, offered little up front and got punished for it. If Brighton can win this, it would effectively seal their survival for this season. They won the reverse fixture in December in a close game and I can see a similarly close contest at here but Brighton should have enough to win there for the first time since 2002.
Predictions Lawro 1-2, Nicholas 1-1, BT Script 0-1, Michael 0-1
Leicester City vs Crystal Palace
Leicester are certainly a side that has not benefited from the break in the season. Before lockdown, they looked nailed on certainties for a Champions League spot but their advantage has evaporated in the past couple of weeks. I didn’t see much of their game but from what I saw, they do not look too sharp although they had some big changes. Hopefully, for the Foxes, it is only a matter of time before they regain that. Crystal Palace have been fairly sharp since the restart and had most of the chances against Burnley but uncharacteristically, didn’t look too good defensively. Palace have won on their past two visits to the King Power and I’m going to go for another shock Eagles win to open up the top four battle further still.
Predictions: Lawro 2-0, Nicholas 1-1, BT Script 0-1, Michael 0-1
Manchester United vs AFC Bournemouth
If these two sides play as they did in midweek, it could be a cricket score. Man United were excellent at Brighton and Bruno Fernandes has been fantastic since joining Ole Gunnar Solsjkaer’s side in January. Bournemouth meanwhile, were terrible against Newcastle. As soon as Jefferson Lerma’s loose touch was punished by Dwight Gayle, there heads dropped. There was a feeling of inevitability and they look like a team that is going down and Newcastle’s second, there are 6 players in the 6-yard box around the keeper. There is a lot of work to improve for Eddie Howe and while the late goal gives him something to work with, Man United away is not the game he would’ve picked next. Man United have kept 5 cleans sheets in their last 6 while Anthony Martial has 8 goals in his last 7 at Old Trafford; I can see both runs continuing.
Predictions: Lawro 4-0, Nicholas 3-0, BT Script 1-2, Michael 3-0
Wolverhampton Wanderers vs Arsenal
This should be an entertaining game as both teams are in good form. Arsenal had a comfortable win against Norwich in midweek after cementing their FA Cup semi-final place and are unbeaten in three in all competitions. Travelling to Wolves will be a tough game for them. Nuno Espirito Santo’s side is unbeaten since the restart and have not conceded a goal since Serge Aurier scored against them in March. That’s 405 minutes of football. Do I think Arsenal will get the same sort of chances they did against Southampton and Norwich against Wolves? I don’t think so, it’ll be a different game for Arteta’s side. I think there will only be one goal in it either way but with Adama Traore having the impact he has had in recent weeks and the injury to Bernd Leno it would not surprise me to see Wolves nick this one.
Predictions Lawro 2-0, Nicholas 2-1, BT Script 1-1, Michael 1-0
Chelsea vs Watford
This will be an interesting game with Chelsea still pushing for Champions League football and Watford fighting relegation. They both have something to play for and they need to bounce back from poor results. Chelsea had quality going forward but it was defensively that let them down at West Ham. They could not contain the physicality of the way West Ham played and that cost them in the end. That is something Nigel Pearson could look to exploit here. His side were dire against Southampton last weekend and he needs a response after that West Ham win as only 1 point keeps them from the bottom three. They have struggled since the restart though and haven’t won away at Stamford Bridge since 1986. That said, Chelsea have never won four successive league games against the hornets but that is something I can see changing.
Predictions Lawro 2-0, Nicholas 2-1, BT Script 1-2, Michael 2-1
Sheffield United vs Burnley
How big a game could that prove to be in Sheffield United’s season? The Blades played well against Spurs and while the VAR decision was a turning point, they knuckled down, played well and deserved the big win. Burnley put in a decent performance at Palace. Yes, they did not create as much as the Eagles but defensively they were solid, made it difficult for them and had a slice of luck in Guaita not getting as strong a hand to Ben Mee’s header as he should’ve. Still, they were deserving of the win and they have found themselves in the mix for a Europa League place. So this game does have that added significance. The Blades have not won at Turf Moor in their last three visits while Burley will want to avenge the 3-0 defeat they suffered back in November and they will be slightly fresher.
Predictions Lawro 2-1, Nicholas 1-1, BT Script 1-0, Michael 1-2
Newcastle United vs West Ham United
Wow! That was perhaps the best performance I’ve seen from a Newcastle side for a long while. They dominated at Bournemouth and Alan Saint-Maximin was magnificent on the day. They are all but safe now and Steve Bruce has done well considering the situation he came into at Newcastle. I was going to go for a clear Newcastle win before West Ham beat Chelsea. David Moyes side did really well to not only bounce back from Soucek having a goal disallowed by VAR to falling behind and being pegged back to 2-2. Despite all that, they won late on. It is a priceless three points for the hammers, pulled them out of the relegation zone and to win it so late, it will be a huge morale boost there. Newcastle are playing well though and I think it will be closer than originally thought.
Predictions Lawro 1-1, Nicholas 1-2, BT Script 3-2, Michael 2-1
Liverpool vs Aston Villa
I would not want to be Dean Smith or any of the Aston Villa players on Sunday. You are deep in a relegation battle and you cannot catch much of a break in terms of getting results and now you have to go at Anfield, against the newly crowned Champions who will be raring to go after their humbling on Thursday. Jurgen Klopp felt his team lacked fluidity and did not act like a team who had just been crowned champions so that is something he will be determined to put right. They have been mighty at home this season and returned with a 4-0 thumping of Crystal Palace last weekend. The way Villa are defensively, especially if he fields Orjan Nyland who has looked circumspect in goal, I think they could bounce back with a comfortable win. They still have City’s 100 point haul in their sights.
Predictions Lawro 3-0, Nicholas 3-0, BT Script 4-0, Michael 4-0
Southampton vs Manchester City
In their last games, both these teams were impressive. Southampton bossed the game against Watford to win their record 8th away game of a Premier League season. Danny Ings has a good shot at the golden boot and what a finish that was from James Ward Prowse. Against Man City though, I can see it being difficult and that’s before considering Sputhampton’s iffy home record. Pep Guardiola’s side have been mostly brilliant since the restart and that victory over Liverpool was ruthless, that said, they did lose their other league away game since the restart. They will be gearing up for next season now and keeping momentum before then will be key. This could be a tight game but I would expect Man City, with the quality that they do have even in the absence of Sergio Aguero up front to have enough to claim the three points.
Predictions Lawro 0-2, Nicholas 1-3, BT Script 1-4, Michael 1-2
Tottenham Hotspur vs Everton
This has the hallmarks of a good game, Mourinho vs Ancelotti. Mourinho will be looking to bounce back from the defeat to Sheffield United. The VAR call against Lucas Moura was ridiculous though. He’s already on his way to ground and it doesn’t appear to hit his hand for me so I don’t know what happened. If that goal stands, it’s a different game you feel and Spurs might have got something from it. After that though, the defending was poor! Everton came out of the blocks firing against Leicester but they had to work hard for the win in the second half. It was a determined display and you can see just how they’ve improved under Carlo Ancelotti. I can see this being an evenly fought game but Everton have not won away to Spurs since 2008 and the last two meetings between these sides have ended in draws so i’m going to go for a third.
Predictions Lawro 2-0, Nicholas 2-2, BT Script 3-1, Michael 1-1
Before you go…
How does the prediction scoreboard look like coming into this weekends action?
Lawro still leads the way on 398 points after predicting only three correct results (6pts) over the last weeks’ action.
I close the gap by five points after predicting one correct score and three correct results (11pts) and sit on 392 points.
Charlie Nicholas remains third after predicting for correct results (8pts) and has 377 points.
The BT Script also predicted one correct score and three correct results (11pts) and has 351points.
How will all this look after this weekends action? There’s only one place to find out!