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Premier League: Window shut, nerves settled... Predictions and Betting tips

Manchester city players celebrate another stunning victory


The January transfer window was slam shut on Wednesday night, a window that is arguably the busiest in the history of winter windows, big names switched tents, some highly expected while most were nothing but shockers, was this responsible for the several crazy results in the midweek round?

Swansea got the better of Arsenal on a night Petr Cech would hate to remember, Bournemouth bounced Chelsea at Stamford Bridge with their shock new signing Olivier Giroud watching helplessly from the stands and Manchester United crashed at Wembley with their new boy, spotting the famous jersey number 7 cutting a frustrating figure, good round to be honest for the drowning lots, sake for Westbrom who were expectedly usurped by Manchester City, picking points here and there is certainly what a team in the drop zone hopes for at this perilous stage. 

We start the game week 26 with Manchester City trip to Turf Moor, the league leaders extended their lead again to 15points with Manchester United slipping up at Tottenham and Chelsea fumbling at home to Bournemouth, City as champions is the worst kept secret, by what margin they’d win is the new subject of discourse as the chasing park must now turn their attentions elsewhere for their hopes of silverwares; Burnley can be a bogey team, they have been poor in recent but managed a point on the road in midweek, how strong can they be against the Citizens on Saturday?

Slayers of Chelsea, Bournemouth are home to Stoke City, the latter battled out to a goalless draw at home to Watford in Jarvi Garcia’s first game in charge in the premier league, the Potters have it all to fight for as they sit just a point above the drop zone, Bournemouth are rejuvenated, buoyed by their two victories on the bounce, both against two of the best in the league in Arsenal and Chelsea, Stoke must be at their very best to stand a chance at all. The Britannia stadium landlords didn’t do any meaningful high profile business in the just concluded transfer window and one would expect some strong bolstering, they must fight if they want to avoid championship football next term. 

Brighton are home to Westham, after losing heavily at home to Chelsea on a day they played their best football, the new boys were brave against Southampton and they earned a point, deservedly too but now have to face a very tasking and energetic Westham side, whatever the reason was for the Hammers to struggle hard under Slaven Bilic are now under the carpet as the unheralded David Moyes has now overturned the gloom, from a precarious red zone positioning, they now sit in 12th. Brighton are poised to fight here and strongly too, Westham will be conservative, just a point separates Brighton from the drop zone so expect them to be the hungrier here but they have to watch the runs of Aurnatovic whenever Manuel Lanzini is on the ball.

Leicester City are home to Swansea, two sides on a contrasting form, with Leicester suffering from transfer speculations around their best player, Riyad Mahrez such that he was dropped on the night they lost to Everton at Goodison Park, the window is shut now and they certainly have their man who was eventually dumped by Manchester City when his price tag was quoted at a staggering £90m. Swansea were better and maybe luckier against Arsenal, benefitting from a sensational Petr Cech howler to eventually record a 3-1 success which lifted Carvalhal's men a place up on the log, give or take it’s a must win for Leicester while a point on the road would be more than welcome for the Welsh side. 

Westbrom will take on Southampton at about the same time, two struggling teams, a clear relegation six-pointer but who would have expected the Saints to be in this sort of position with the quality in their squad? They hardly score goals, when they do, they’re quite swift to concede, the window is over and they made a lot of money especially from the more than expected sale of their Dutch defender to Liverpool for a mouth-watering £75m, they are short on confidence, porous and weak all round, Westbrom can capitalize on these weaknesses climb them to worsen the situations for Mauricio Pellegrino.

Manchester United are home to Huddersfield in a must-win match, they can’t afford another slip up and they really have to respond to their midweek defeat to Tottenham at Wembley as well as their pathetic first leg showing away to Huddersfield where a terrible howler from Lindelof helped David Wagner’s team to a 2:1 famous win. Whatever happened in midweek must be quickly fixed and forgotten, from having a slow start to being bullied and bandied around by a more mobile midfield to the impotent front men, the wide men must effectively cut in and make successful take on, the hype around Alexis Sanchez has to be justified, he has to lift the team now. Huddersfield would be beaten, but it won’t be easy, they will give a fight to improve their positioning too, they aren’t well placed and can see the drop zone by just a defeat here. 

Arsenal will face Theo Walcott and Everton late on Saturday, it was the reverse fixture that got Ronald Koeman fired and this might be a revenge mission, Theo Walcott spent a whopping eleven and half years at Arsenal with interesting memories but he never lived up to the expectations that his arrival announced when he was barely 16. Arsenal had their most successful winter window at the just concluded one, although they witnessed high profile departures, the acquisitions of Henrikh Mhikitaryan, Pierre Aubemeyang and most importantly, Mesut Ozil signing a new contract epitomised the window for the north London outfit, they collapsed heavily at the Liberty Stadium on Tuesday night but they can take solace in the prospects of their strengthened squad; knowing Sam Allardyce, he would play deep and launch upfield balls, Arsenal must be wary of this.

Crystal Palace will face Newcastle on Sunday, at Selhurst Park, the Eagles aren’t safe yet, in fact, they need to put results together again, their high flying form was deflated by Arsenal at the Emirates a fortnight ago and they managed a point at Westham in midweek. They weren’t at their attacking best on Tuesday and laboured hard to avoid defeat after Westham equalized, Roy Hodgson has no doubt tried to calm the nerves and steadied the ship, but they’re just three points above the drop zone, they need some respite; Newcastle aren’t doing so well too, they are more of the pedigree of their manager than squad quality, they need some response too. 

The match of the round has to be the one at Anfield, Liverpool up against Tottenham, both on the back of decent and solid wins, Huddersfield were well beaten by Liverpool while it was business of the highest class when Manchester United visited Wembley, both sides need the result, they both need to challenge for the second spot with United blowing hot and cold. The defensive frailty of Liverpool will be at the fore again as Harry Kane tries to test them again, but can Tottenham stop the dynamic front three of Sadio Mane, Roberto Firminho and Mo Sallah? 

Chelsea were roundly destroyed by Bournemouth in midweek, the panic stance of the blues in the transfer window was badly exploited by the Cherries and the rest is history, from being linked to Andy Carrol, to Peter Crouch and then eventually settling for Arsenal’s Olivier Giroud, Chelsea are on a downward spiral under Antonio Conte and they need to watch it; Jarvi Garcia will expect to further cast questions around Chelsea’s title defence which in actual fact is over with another bullish performance, can Chelsea bounce back against Watford?



Fixture
Verdict
Burnley vs Manchester City
City to win again
Bournemouth vs Stoke
Bournemouth to win or draw
Brighton vs Westham
Brighton to win or draw
Leicester vs Swansea
Leicester to win
Manchester United vs Huddersfield
United to win
Westbrom vs Southampton
Westbrom to win or draw
Arsenal vs Everton
Arsenal to win
Crystal Palace vs Newcastle
Both teams to score
Liverpool vs Tottenham
Both teams to score
Watford vs Chelsea
Both teams to score


Strictly the writer’s opinion

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