Manchester City are in trouble, out of the top four at the moment, title hopes fading as fast as Arsenal’s yearly run and they’re not even playing Swansea next, they face the slayers of everything good, Poch and Co. Hull are sliding down with the kind of upcoming fixtures and some thoughts to the fluctuating Bournemouth, the troubled Watford and Swansea. Up there, Chelsea look the part as champions elect, Liverpool need to win again and will Manchester United ever stop being sixth? Our premier league predictions below.
Saturday 21st January
Liverpool vs Swansea
And Swansea won’t still get a bailout, down and under and still playing a title contender. Welcome to the premier league Mr Paul Clement, this is how we roll. Liverpool overcame a resilient Plymouth side in the league cup in midweek, days after stopping Manchester United’s winning run.
Sadio Mane may be off to Gabon, but influential playmaker Philippe Coutinho is back, in fact it was his pin point cross that gave birth to Lucas Leiva’s first goal in seven years, so what was the complain about Mikel Obi again? Don’t sweat too far, Swansea stand no chance here, whatever they do, Liverpool will edge them.
Verdict: Liverpool to win
Bournemouth vs Watford
Bournemouth have migrated from brilliance to mediocrity this season, even in same games if you remember their first half sloppiness vs Liverpool and the monstrous second half display and then the rampage against Arsenal in the first half and the late collapse in the same game.
Watford aren’t any better, poor from the sticks to their point man and you wonder how crazy it must be between Mazzarri and the board. The two teams need to win, badly, for the fans, for their pride and league position, but who on earth would score for Watford? Injuries not helping matters, but Bournemouth can’t keep a clean sheet, no thanks to Chelsea that took Nathan Ake back.
Verdict: Bournemouth to win or draw
Crystal Palace vs Everton
Crystal Palace are down there too, Sam Alardyce is there to do his usuals, fight and win the war against the drop but how easy would that be this time? The only lifeline would come in the form of surrounding teams, but for now, they negotiate Everton, slayer of Manchester City.
Look at the effortless manner in which Koeman and the Toffees dismissed the Citizens, hitting them hard like there was a grudge somewhere, like the first leg, Manchester City left frustrated. How will the Eagles approach this? Pace and gut or conservative defending? Whatever they do, the best they can get from this fixture has to be a point, in fact, it will rather swing the opposite.
Verdict: Everton to win or draw
Middlesbrough vs Westham
Westham seems to gradually be finding their mojo, but they’re doing so without their talismanic midfielder Dmitri Payet. His contract situation seems increasingly appalling and won’t feature against the Reds. Boro forced out a point last time out at the Vicarage, surviving the onslaughts of the hosts.
This would go down to the wire, Aitor Karanka and Slaven Bilic going head to head, interestingly, the Hammers are without Andy Carrol on suspension and Andy Ayew who’s off to Gabon to lead Ghana to something that has eluded them for decades. It’s anyone’s game but a few game changers like Negredo, Ramirez, Antonio and Lanzini will decide this.
Verdict: Boro to win or draw
Stoke vs Manchester United
Stoke stunned Manchester United at Old Trafford in October, late Joe Allen strike cancelled out Anthony Martial’s beauty if a curler, a day David De Gea wouldn’t mind erasing from history. Manchester United were stopped by Liverpool last weekend, every bookmaker tilted in the directions of the Red Devils for that fixture but it took a super late Zlatan Ibrahimovic header, albeit controversial to earn the host a point.
Stoke were winners last weekend, beating Sunderland at the stadium of light, big big result that did more good to their league standing. Manchester United are favorites here, but Stoke can be a bogey team to anyone. Win, draw or lose, United stay sixth.
Verdict: Manchester United to win
Westbrom vs Sunderland
Westbrom failed epically last weekend, quite understandable because they hosted a crazy side on a rampaging run, the good people of Tottenham. Talking Spurs, Dele Alli and Harry Kane are devastating, making it hopeless for every opponent and it doesn’t look like stopping soon.
Sunderland can dream here but how far? Westbrom are wounded, they need to respond, Sunderland are almost always beaten, they’ve been needing to respond since forever. This could spell doom for David Moyes unless he manages to get a point here at least. Talking names, Matt Phillips, Solomon Rondon and Chris Brunt are all fit to play, it won’t be very pretty for the Black Cats who’s Khazri is out there in Gabon, depleting them further.
Verdict: Westbrom to win or draw
Manchester City vs Tottenham
Yes! It’s the fixture of the weekend across Europe. Remember when Manchester City were beating everyone? At the start of the season? Stringing wins every here and there? It was Tottenham that brought them back to planet earth, this makes this fixture a super crazy one. Grudge?
Maybe! City must respond after that horrendous showing at the Goodison, where they shamelessly shipped four, and yea, they play a team that shipped four past Westbrom! Whatever is left of City’s title hopes would be up in flames if they fail to click here. Mauricio Pochetinno knows exactly how to deal with people like Pep who seems humbled now.
Verdict: Both teams to score
Sunday, 22nd January
Southampton vs Leicester City
St Mary’s Stadium
The champions are putting up a sensationally poor defense of the title they surprisingly won nine months ago. Now it’s unquestionably clear that it was a fluke as all big guns failed to spark last term.
The last result was a 3:0 reverse at home to Chelsea, well, they face Southampton now, a team quite strong at home, could be tired having been stretched until the last minute in midweek at the league cup but should be ready for the champions.
Jefferey Schlupp headed to London to join Palace while influential winger Riyad Mahrez is out there in Gabon, that leaves Claudio Ranieri with his tiny squad of the usual faces. Saints will go hard here, but a loss could plunge the champions into the relegation fight.
Verdict: Saints to win or draw
Arsenal vs Burnley
No one else enjoys playing at home as much as Burnley, twenty five of their twenty six points have come at home but they hardly spark on the road. Arsenal are back to winning ways, their players beginning to settle and good times may be back at the Emirates but they will be without Olivier Giroud who appeared to injure himself after scoring against Swansea and didn’t last the second half.
It took a very controversial Laurent Koscielny goal to earn all three points at Turf Moor in the first leg, something that could be relived if Arsenal doesn’t score early. The gunners are without Theo Walcott and Elneny, leaving room for a first start for Welbeck or Sanchez returning upfront and Ramsey and Xhaka holding things at the middle. It should be a good day for the hosts.
Verdict: Arsenal to win
Chelsea vs Hull
Champions elect, Chelsea host one of the most troubled sides in Europe, Hull City. The former champions beat reigning champions black and blue last weekend with Alonso striking twice. Hull beat Bournemouth last weekend, but the run of fixtures coming up for the Tigers look scary with top six opponents coming consecutively in league and cup games.
Whatever Hull does at the Stamford Bridge, they’ll be fighting to lose as the blues are obviously too good at the moment. Key men for the blues might change this weekend with Diego Costa likely to return upfront, for Hull, it’s Abel Hernandez and Diomande again, but how much of opportunities will they get?
Verdict: Chelsea to win
Strictly the writer’s opinion.