What a weekend of sport that was! The F1 returned and the football did not disappoint either. Southampton pulled off a shock victory over Manchester City after a stunning chipped effort from Che Adams and a ferocious defensive performance from Ralph Hassenhuttl’s side; Newcastle and West Ham played out an entertaining draw, there were goals galore between Manchester United and Bournemouth; big wins for Arsenal, Chelsea and Leicester in the chase for European football as Jamie Vardy eventually joined the Premier League 100 goal club. What an achievement that is! Liverpool responded to their Man City drubbing and Brighton secured a much-needed win against Norwich [featured above, image from BeSoccer] that should all but secure their survival.
The Premier League action continues this week with another round of 10 fixtures before the weekend. Chasing European football, Spurs and Manchester United travel to relegation-threatened Bournemouth and Aston Villa respectively. Those two games are on Thursday. Wednesday sees Liverpool travel to Brighton while newly deposed Champions Manchester City will be hoping to bounce back at home to Newcastle. Wolves travel to Sheffield United in the hunt for a European place while Arsenal host Leicester City later on tonight.
I am back with my predictions of each game and comparing them with those made by BBC Sports Mark Lawrenson, Sky Sports Charlie Nicholas and the infamous BT Script. As usual, I will be using the same scoring system as the Sky Super 6 game (five points for the correct score and two for the correct result). The action starts at 6pm at with two big games at Selhurst Park and Vicarage Road…
Crystal Palace vs Chelsea
Crystal Palace disappointed me on the weekend. I thought they’d have given it more but they did not offer much at Leciester in a disappointing performance. They did not turn up and neither did the goalkeeper. It will be interesting to see if Vicente Guiaita plays in goal.after his poor week continued with being caught in two minds for Leicester’s opener. With Chelsea, you just don’t know which side will turn up. The one that got outmuscled against West Ham or the one that swept past Watford. Chelsea will have most of the ball and the chances again I think here but it is whether they take them and can defend when called upon. There hasn’t been a draw in 17 Premier League meetings between these two and Chelsea have won the last four in the league, I’m going to back Lampard’s side to edge it.
Predictions Lawro 1-1, Nicholas 1-1, BT Script 1-1, Michael 0-1
Watford vs Norwich City
Watford did not show much at Chelsea, they only fashioned one chance of note and they were torn apart. I worry for Watford again now, the momentum that Nigel Pearson brought when he first arrived has deserted them but he needs to get them fired up again as there are some big games ahead. I wouldn’t expect Bournemouth or Aston Villa to get any points in these games so if they can win here they can create a bit of a gap between themselves and the relegation zone. Norwich, with five games left they are as good as relegated. They did not have the quality in front of goal against Brighton and they were duly punished, they just don’t look like scoring. They had 12 chances and only hit the target once. This could be a game poor in quality but I will back Watford to win this.
Predictions Lawro 2-0, Nicholas 2-0, BT Script 2-1, Michael 2-0
Arsenal vs Leicester City
This should be a good game. Both sides had big results over the weekend. Arsenal surprised me a bit. Wolves away I thought was the sort of game they would slip up in the past few years but they kept a clean sheet and came away with all three points. Likewise, it was a big win for Leicester. They found their edge in the second half and took their chances against an admittedly poor Palace side but Jamie Vardy is back amongst the goals. It was such a big performance and result as the sides around them have been closing in. Arsenal have not lost at home to Leicester since December 1973 but Leicester have won the last two meetings. This is a game that I think could go either way but after they beat Wolves, I am going to back Arsenal but only just.
Predictions Lawro 1-2, Nicholas 3-2, BT Script 2-1, Michael 2-1
Manchester City vs Newcastle United
I would not want to be Newcastle travelling to the Etihad after Man City suffered that shock defeat at Southampton because Pep Guardiola will be demanding a reaction. Ederson showed being a sweeper keeper can sometimes be an issue, His passing range is sublime but he was awfully caught out by Oleksandr Zinchenko’s lapse in possession. That one lapse cost them. Attacking wise, they huffed and they puffed but they couldn’t cut through. It’s almost as if they try to pass it too hard into the net. Newcastle have been decent since the restart and seem to have found their scoring boots; 10 in the 4 games, the same as in their previous 13. However, if Steve Bruce sets out as they did in the FA Cup Quarter Final then there will be only one winner. Man City have been rampant at home and I can see a similar score here.
Predictions Lawro 3-0, Nicholas 4-0, BT Script 0-0, Michael 4-0
Sheffield United vs Wolverhampton Wanderers
This will be an interesting game if slightly attritional as both teams play a similar style and they are both in the mix for European places. Sheffield United have not been all that convincing since the restart and defensively there were questions about them in their draw at Burnley. They could easily have lost that but the quality of the finish from Josh Egan was brilliant. If they defend like that then Wolves could really hurt them. Wolves were pressed well by Arsenal though on Saturday and that is something Chris Wilder would look to for inspiration but Nuno Espirito Santo will be wanting a response from his players. They cancelled each other out in a 1-1 draw earlier in the season and the Blades did well to beat Spurs at home last week so while I think Wolves have the better quality attackers I will go for a draw.
Predictions Lawro 1-1, Nicholas 1-2, BT Script 1-0, Michael 1-1
West Ham United vs Burnley
West Ham have had a very good week. First, they get a big win over Chelsea and probably should have got more than a point at Newcastle but David Moyes would have taken four points from those two fixtures. They’ve made a little gap between themselves and the drop zone but the job is not totally done. Burnley, I thought played well against Sheffield United and had some good chances but ultimately they did not take them and were punished. There are injury concerns for Sean Dyche as well with Ben Mee, Jack Cork, Ashely Barnes and Chris Wood unavailable while the contract situation has not been kind to them either. Given the situation at these clubs and the fact, West Ham seem to have found their groove that they should have enough to collect another three points and cement Premier League survival.
Predictions Lawro 2-0, Nicholas 2-1, BT Script 0-0, Michael 2-1
Brighton & Hove Albion vs Liverpool
Graham Potter will be happy after that Norwich game. They pressed Norwich well in their last game and they were rewarded for it. They had to defend well at Carrow Road and they will have to do more of the same in this game. Whether they can get a result will depend on their mentality. If they perform as they did against Man United last week, sit off and don’t press then they will be punished again. They have to get in the Liverpool players faces. Their performances have dipped a bit since being crowned champions and they weren’t entirely at their best when they dispensed of Aston Villa on Sunday. Liverpool have won all five Premier League encounters and while I feel this one might closer than if there had not been a break to the season but I think Liverpool will have too much for Brighton.
Predictions Lawro 0-2, Nicholas 1-2, BT Script 0-1, Michael 0-2
AFC Bournemouth vs Tottenham Hotspur
Eddie Howe was able to work on the late goal against Newcastle and got a reaction from his Bournemouth players, the only problem was they scored too early at Old Trafford and Man United eventually outclassed them. Spurs were not that great on Monday against Everton. There didn’t seem to be that much intensity in the performance and their probably more passion from Hugo Lloris directed at Son Heung-min at half time than there was from the rest of the squads’ performance combined. They won against Everton but it was a very fortunate goal as well. Do Spurs have enough energy going forward I don’t know but if Bournemouth don’t improve defensively then they won’t get the results they need to stay up either. I can see this being another tight game and with Mourinho’s men just having enough to win.
Predictions Lawro 0-2, Nicholas 2-1, BT Script 0-2, Michael 0-1
Everton vs Southampton
Carlo Ancelotti will have been bitterly disappointed with his Everton side at Spurs, I think they barely scraped 10 touches in the opposition area. You would not expect such a lacklustre performance from an Ancelotti team. He will certainly be demanding a response. Southampton were excellent on Sunday! You would not have thought watching that performance that this was the same team that was trounced 9-0 earlier in the season but all credit must go to Ralph Hassenhuttl and the way he galvanised that squad. It was terrific defensive performance and Alex McCarthy in goal was top draw. It was an excellent performance but I do wonder just how much that performance will have taken out of them. They do have the advantage of a days extra rest but their record at Goodison isn’t great and were brilliant against Leicester so I see them just winning this one.
Predictions Lawro 1-1, Nicholas 1-1, BT Script 3-2, Michael 2-1
Aston Villa vs Manchester United
It was a valiant effort from Aston Villa at Anfield, no side has kept Liverpool out at home for as long as they were able to; the 71st minute. It was a good performance from Dean Smith’s side and they were able to hit Liverpool on the counter but the end product was missing. It will be another such game here. Man United do have defensive frailties though; Bournemouth managed to get two but in front of goal Man United really have momentum. It was good to see Marcus Rashford scoring, Mason Greenwood has been a revelation this season and Anthony Martial is on form too. It is a terrifying front three to face at the moment and then there is Bruno Fernandes, his performances have been excellent. I think Villa will score but the way Ole Gunnar Solskaer’s side are playing, they will record another good win.
Predictions Lawro 0-2, Nicholas 2-2, BT Script 1-2, Michael 1-3
Before you go…
How does the prediction scoreboard before this round of games?
- Despite not predicting a single score, Lawro scored 14 points for 7 correct results and extended his lead to 412 points.
- I remain in 2nd place after scoring 11 points for predicting one single correct score and three correct results; I have 403 points
- Nicholas remains 3rd after also scoring 11 points for one correct score and three correct results.
- The BT Script scored 9 points for one correct score and two correct results and remains bottom of the scoreboard on 360.
How will the scoreboard look like coming into the weekend games, there is only one place to find out…