The games keep coming thick and fast, only four sets of fixtures remain. There remains a lot to be played for in terms of European places and survival after the midweek games. Arsenal and Leicester played out an entertaining draw at The Emirates but it was not without controversy while we had a five-goal thriller between Crystal Palace and Chelsea at Selhurst Park [Image featured above from The Evening Standard]. Liverpool became the quickest side to 30 league wins in a season after they recorded a comfortable win over Brighton while Manchester City romped home putting five past Newcastle and Manchester United recorded a similarly comfortable win at Aston Villa. Spurs were held to a goalless draw at Bournemouth while Watford got a big win which will go a big way to guaranteeing their survival this season over a sorry Norwich side.
VAR has propped its head up again as a major talking point in the past week or so. In midweek, it saw Eddie Nketiah shown a straight red card. I have no problems in the way it was used by referee lee Kavanagh he did not just take it from the official at Stokley Park, he went to the pitchside monitor himself before making the decision. Ultimately, it should be the referee’s decision and if the referee sees the footage before making the decision you can’t really argue with that. The pressure was also added after former referee Dermott Gallagher claimed that VAR got three penalty decisions wrong on Thursday with Manchester United and Southampton wrongly awarded penalties and Spurs denied.
This weekend, we have some big games. The pick of the games has to be the North London Derby on Sunday which is followed by struggling Bournemouth hosting Leicester City. Manchester United host Southampton in the Monday Night Football. Everton travel to Wolves in the first of four games on Sunday while on Saturday Liverpool host Burnley in a traditional three o’clock kick-off followed by Chelsea’ strip to Sheffield United and Manchester City’s journey to Brighton. Norwich City need to win this weekend if they don’t then they are relegated.
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 with two games that could have big ramifications at the bottom of the table with the action coming from Carrow Road and Vicarage Road…
Norwich City vs West Ham United
This is groundhog day for Norwich City; lose and they are relegated; avoiding defeat might not be enough either. They eventually scored their first goal since the restart but they still lost at Watford. It wasn’t for the want of trying for Daniel Farke’s side, they gave it their all but they just do not have that extra bit of quality needed for this level. similarly, West Ham created a bucket load of chances (21) on Wednesday, the most of any game this season but they came away with nothing. This represents a great opportunity to help cement their survival; a win would create a 6 point gap to the bottom three before Bournemouth and Villa play. In the Premier League, the away side has yet to win this fixture but if West Ham create chances as they did in midweek then they should get that win and condemn Norwich.
Predictions Lawro 1-1, Nicholas 0-2, BT Script 0-1, Michael 1-2
Watford vs Newcastle United
Watford responded well to going behind early on against Norwich. They did not have most of the possession but they were dangerous on the counter and made the most of their chances with a fabulous overhead strike by Danny Welbeck. At the end of the day, it’s the result that matters. They face a Newcastle side who will want to forget about their performance on Wednesday. Man City are a great team but Newcastle were awful and Steve Bruce knew it could have been more when he described it as painful. They will have to fight in them here but I’m not sure which way this game will go. Watford are unbeaten in five Premier League meetings at home against Newcastle and I think that will continue but it will depend on if Alla Saint-Maximin plays for Newcastle if they can get something. If not, then I would back Watford.
Predictions Lawro 2-0, Nicholas 1-1, BT Script 1-2, Michael 2-1
Liverpool vs Burnley
Liverpool got their first away win since the restart in midweek and it was good to see Mohamed Salah reopening his account. They had to work for it on the south coast against Brighton but they demonstrated just why they are the champions. They will have a similarly tough match here against Burnley. The Clarets needed Nick Pope to be at his best in midweek as they nicked a result against West Ham. Against the balance of play, they wouldn’t have got a result but they fought hard and have done really well recently despite their depleted squad. Burnley would need a similar type of performance to get a result here. Liverpool have won the last four against Burnley and while the Clarets will make it difficult for the champions but just like they did against Villa, Jurgen Klopp’s side will find a way through them.
Predictions Lawro 2-0, Nicholas 2-0, BT Script 1-1, Michael 2-0
Sheffield United vs Chelsea
This should be an entertaining game really, especially if the reverse fixture in December is anything to go by. Sheffield United are still in the European place hunt and cannot be written off after their late win against Wolves and what a week it’s been for Josh Egan! He popped up with two big goals in the last week and they have reignited the Blades push for Europe. Chelsea were excellent going forward at Palace and Lampard’s substitutions helped win the game. Olivier Giroud and Tammy Abraham both scoring for Chelsea is good for them going forward. The former scored a brace in the reverse game and will surely be looking to add to that. That said, they are average at best defensively as highlighted by Palace scoring two and immediately after going 3-1 up they fell asleep and then had to fight hard for it.
Predictions: Lawro 1-1, Nicholas 2-2, BT Script 1-5, Michael 2-3
Brighton & Hove Albion vs Manchester City
It must be said Brighton made a game of it against Liverpool on Wednesday apart from the crucial opening 20 minutes. Graham Potter’s side put a lot of effort into it and you could see some tired legs in the closing stages. However, they need to regroup for another difficult game. Man City responded to their shock defeat empathically against Newcastle. It could have been more than five but it must be said just how brilliant David Silva was. He will be a big miss for Pep Guardiola next season and who will step up to replace him? Mahrez? Bernardo Silva? Foden, who has been brilliant since the restart? I think they will be nervy after what happened at Southampton; they’ve lost both away games since the restart but Man City have won all five premier league meetings scoring 15 in the process and I expect that run to continue.
Predictions Lawro 0-3, Nicholas 1-4, BT Script 1-3, Michael 1-3
Wolverhampton Wanderers vs Everton
This is another game that should be intriguing, it was a five-goal thriller in the reverse game. Wolves started so strongly after the restart and hadn’t conceded a goal until last weekend but they seem to have hit a bit of a buffer losing to Arsenal and then Sheffield United. They were big games in the battle for European football. Carlo Ancelotti will have been slightly happier with the performance of his side against Southampton; they were more adventurous going forward than they were at Spurs and responded well to going behind. It was not a good goal to concede; Jordan Pickford should not be getting caught out like that Defensively, there are still question marks and I don’t think they have enough about them to win this despite the progress made under Ancelotti. The last two meetings at Molineux have ended in draws and I’m going for that outcome.
Predictions Lawro 2-0, Nicholas 2-1, BT Script 0-1, Michael 1-1
Aston Villa vs Crystal Palace
This is a huge game for Aston Villa. After this, they have Everton and Arsenal before West Ham on the final day so they must win this to give themselves a chance. They looked totally demoralised against Man United on Thursday and Bournemouth getting a point beforehand will not have helped the situation in that dressing room. Against Crystal Palace, they will be facing a team that is difficult to beat even though they have lost their last four. I can see this being a low scoring affair and the longer it remains goalless the more it might benefit Palace as the pressure on Villa builds. It’s Villa that need the win and they will need to push for it so if Palace can be solid at the back and hit on the counter it could be a big blow to Villa.
Predictions Lawro 1-1, Nicholas 1-1, BT Script 1-0, Michael 0-1
Tottenham Hotspur vs Arsenal
Spurs were disappointing at Bournemouth. They failed to get a single shot on target with another sluggish performance after their Everton display and although VAR did deny them a penalty, it also came to their rescue. Arsenal meanwhile looked set for another big win before Eddie Nketiah saw red. That was the turning point of the game as while Leicester threatened, it looked like they had it under control when it was 11 v 11. Arsenal will miss Nketiah. He’s featured a lot since the restart but they should be fresher for this game having played on Tuesday; Spurs Thursday. Given how sluggish Mourinho’s men have been, I can see it being a factor in the game going Arsenal’s way. Bukayo Saka and Pierre Emerick Aubameyang are working well together in that attacking three and I can see them having a positive impact on this game too.
Predictions Lawro 2-0, Nicholas 1-2, BT Script 1-1, Michael 1-2
AFC Bournemouth vs Leicester City
After conceding nine in their previous two, Bournemouth were much improved defensively against Spurs and that is a positive for Eddie Howe. The other positive is with the return of Calum Wilson they looked more dangerous springing Spurs on the counter and could have nicked it late on. VAR got it right but just how big will that decision impact Bournemouth’s season. They need a result here because they’ve got Man City away next. Leicester did well at Arsenal and a draw was a decent result for Brendan Rodger’s side. They could have won it nearer the end but also had to withstand a lot of pressure in the opening half-hour. Jamie Vardy is back in the goals so it is looking better for Leicester going into the final games. The Cherries have not lost at home to Leicester since 1990 but I cannot see them winning this.
Predictions Lawro 0-2, Nicholas 2-1, BT Script 1-1, Michael 1-2
Manchester United vs Southampton
Momentum is well and truly on Man United’s side right now. I’m not sure that was a penalty for their opener against Villa but they were still well worth their win. Mason Greenwood is doing very well for an 18-year old while Bruno Fernandes is continuing his hot run of form and he’s bringing the best out of Paul Pogba too. They’re almost irresistible at the moment. It will be a difficult game for Southampton. Ralph Hassenhtull’s side will probably feel they should’ve won at Everton, they had more chances including a penalty but with a striker in such form as Danny Ings in their side, they will always have a chance in a game. This one I think might be too far for Southampton, man United are irresistible at present, scoring for fun and I can see another comfortable win for Ole Gunnar Solskjear’s side.
Predictions Lawro 3-0, Nicholas 3-1, BT Script 2-1, Michael 3-0
Before you go…
How does the prediction scoreboard before this round of games?
- After predicting one correct score and four correct results (13pts), Lawro extended his lead to 12 points and he is on 425.
- I remain in 2nd place after predicting five correct results but no correct scores (10pts) and I am on 413.
- Nicholas remains in 3rd place after predicting one correct score and two correct results (9pts) and he has 397 points.
- The BT Script remains bottom but predicted two correct scores and two correct results to win the midweek round. It has 374 points.
How will the scoreboard look like coming into the weekend games, there is only one place to find out…