Premier League Matchweek 30+: Preview, Betting tips and Predictions - Project re-start in full gear as Liverpool await coronation
|Stunning red skies as darkness descends on King Power Stadium ahead of kick-off between Leicester and Everton. Source: premierleague.com|
Project re-start in full gear as Liverpool await coronation
The players weren’t as rusty as our predictions for Wednesday games, to be honest, but we’re back for the weekend.
For the first time in over three months, we’ll be having all the 20 teams on our predictions, wherever you are, grab popcorn and your favorite drink, let’s do it like we always do.
Arsenal went to the Etihad and left empty-handed, no thanks to the madness of their Chelsea import, David Luiz.
Mikel Arteta had returned to his old dugout with a very brave line up, picking Matteo Guendouzi and Joe Willock in midfield with Bukayo Saka and Eddie Nketiah up front in place of Alexander Lacazette and Nicolas Pepe.
The gulf in class didn’t become evident until injuries to Granit Xhaka and Pablo Mari forced the manager to introduce David Luiz, who gave a shambolic performance on the night,
The Brazilian defender directly gifted Raheem Sterling the opener and then hacking down Riyad Mahrez to invite a penalty and sending off, gave City the impetus to drag the gunners to the altar of Golgotha, nailing Arsenal upside down with no chance of survival, not even a shot on target.
Elsewhere on the night, Sheffield will have questions for the referee and the technology deployed as they were denied a clear goal, leaving us to wonder why we have so much trust in machines that can breakdown…
Welcome back to the predictions table, here we go!
Friday 19th June
Norwich vs Southampton
Norwich will look at that famous win over Manchester City and wonder where things went wrong, they went from finding top ten stability to hoping teams slip up so they can jump out of the drop zone, they sit at the bottom of the log and must start winning, not just sharing points if they don’t want to do it again in the Championship League next season.
Southampton went from a very cold night of embarrassment at home against Leicester City, with their fans drenched in rains of goals and the one that falls from heaven, they looked to the sky and begged for the hurricane to stop, it didn’t until they shipped nine goals, but it gave birth to a new Danny Ings, he has scored them out of the drop zone and their decision to leave Ralph Hasenhuttl at the helm, seven points above the red zone is a massive feat at this stage.
In this context of this affair, both have needs to win this, if Norwich wants to be around next season then they have to start winning, they have to start closing gaps in their defense areas and trackback when they’re pressing hard.
Betting prediction: Over 7.5 corner kicks
Tottenham vs Manchester United
By the time the ball is rolled at the center circle on Friday night, Jose Mourinho would be leading his Spurs side against an old foe in the premier league for the third time, having represented Chelsea twice and Manchester United last season. The Portuguese gaffer will be without Dele Alli for his insensitive post during the height of the pandemic on social media.
Both sides will have the luxury of having injured players back, the blessing of the pandemic especially with Marcus Rashford, Harry Kane, Tanguy Ndombele, Paul Pogba and Heung Min Son all available after long layoffs.
Manchester United were on fire before the lockdown happened, winning here and there and being pumped by their new signing, Bruno Fernandes, they also got Odion Ighalo from China, they turned the corner and would hope the long unsolicited break wouldn’t have broken their momentum.
On the field, one wouldn’t expect Spurs to attack until late in the game, Mourinho said at some points in February at the height of their consecutive losses that he thought his team was too nice and you can expect Bergwijn to start aiming for the legs of Anthony Martial on Friday.
Betting prediction: Both teams to score
Saturday, 20th June
Watford vs Leicester
Watford are out of the drop zone and would kick off this fixture from a position of relative comfort but they will look back at that unbelievable night they took Liverpool to the cleaners at the Vicarage road.
Watford will have Nigel Pearson to thank for the resurgence, after the sack of Jarvi Garcia and Quique Flores Sanchez, they can rest assured in the former team assistant and surge forward, but now they have to play Leicester, a team with UCL ambitions right in their palms and theirs to lose.
Leicester are currently battling to keep Ben Chilwell, as he has been very hot with Chelsea’s transfer men circling round him, the Foxes however can win the champions league race and use that as a leveler while negotiating with the English fullback.
Outside that, Brendan Rodgers’ side is poised to finish strong and make it back to Europe after their surprise season of 2014, Jamie Vardy’s runs and Youri Tielemans assured midfield movement will be capped by James Maddison’s cruise control, what will stop the Foxes?
Betting prediction: Leicester to win or draw
Brighton vs Arsenal
The Seagulls are just two points above the drop zone but they beat Arsenal at the Emirates in the twilight days of Unai Emery, which should give them confidence ahead of this fixture.
Brighton have been playing too well to be down and under, they don’t score too many goals but they also try as much as possible not to concede, in fact from 12th position to Norwich in 20th, they have conceded the least, now they play Arsenal, a team that scores as much as they concede.
Arsenal had their chances of beating City fly off the plane early with two injuries and a moment of madness from David Luiz, team selection may have caused rancor among fans but Mikel Arteta seems to know what he’s doing and he will take the team to greater heights if he’s trusted enough to.
Arsenal should come out tops here, but Brighton needs the fixture more than ever, they must win, no two ways about it, but Arsenal’s European return lies on every game they have left, with surrounding teams seeking points too… Arsenal can’t afford to slip up again.
Betting prediction: Arsenal to win
Westham vs Wolves
The sack of Manuel Pellegrini hasn’t yielded as many dividends as expected but David Moyes is still talking tough, he still believes he can help West Ham survive the drop but they currently sit above the drop zone by just goal difference advantage.
They did give a very strong showing against Liverpool some rounds before the break and are on course to finding momentum before the forced lockdown.
Wolves may have made it clear that they value the Europa league ahead of the premier league and they do have a chance.
The boys at Wolves know their job and they do it without being forced to do it, the defenders are compact and responsible, the midfield is accountable and the forwards are productive, more than 40% of fantasy managers have at least one forward from Wolves in their team and nearly 90% managershave at least one Wolves player in their fold, that counts for something.
Betting prediction: Wolves to win or draw
Bournemouth vs Crystal Palace
The Cherries like to score and concede, they don’t mind leaving their rear unguarded just because they’re chasing a game, their youthfulness can be their undoing most times and their survival now depends on how they approach life after the re-start.
Contract talks is also a point of discussion at Bournemouth, Ryan Fraiser and a few others have their contract up this summer, it really can be unsettling to have want away players to plan with, this remains a thick cloud hovering around the Vitality Stadium.
Crystal Palace strung some 1-0 wins together before the break, this helped them to steer completely clear of the drop zone, stability has been assured under Roy Hodgson, this means a lot to the Eagles and can continue with the survival mission here.
Wilfried Zaha has been fouled over 500 times, interestingly, he keeps coming back for more.
Betting prediction: Over 7.5 corner kicks
Sunday, 21st June
Newcastle vs Sheffield
Newcastle have high hopes over the lockdown period with the news of the takeover by the very rich Arabian powerhouses, while it hasn’t been concluded, especially with the news that there’s a bid from some other quarters, they can still believe they will be able to compete financially in the market.
How does it sound to expect the likes of Lewandowski and Toni Kroos at St James’s Park? Not as guests but wearing the black and white jersey… The Magpies can dream, can’t they?
Sheffield scored a legitimate goal on Wednesday but the Hawk-Eye didn’t spot it, the linesman saw it but he wasn’t brave enough to challenge technology.
Aston Villa got away with it and now, Sheffield go again. The most disciplined team in the league with fewer goals conceded than all except Liverpool and sitting pretty in pole position to take the fifth spot should City’s ban be upheld.
On Sunday, Sheffield will remain calm and force Newcastle into early errors, with home advantage no longer relevant with the absence of fans, Newcastle will need more than luck when the Blades hit their turf.
Betting prediction: Sheffield to win or draw
Aston Villa vs Chelsea
Aston Villa will have the Hawk-Eye Technology to thank for surviving against Sheffield without defeat, Villa have the leakiest defense in the league and must shore things up if they want to survive, they can score goals, especially when Jack Grealish is in the mood, thankfully, John McGinn is back from injury and their midfield can look different.
Chelsea are on another level and you would think they have a different transfer window with the names and businesses they’re talking about. Timo Werner is in the bag, they signed Hakim Ziyech even before the break, Kai Havertz is also on their radar, and should we be afraid of Chelsea?
In the context of this fixture, Villa must rise above intimidation, they should be a bit more fluid than Chelsea since they have played a competitive game and can learn from their defensive solidity as well as their attacking strength in their game against Sheffield.
Chelsea on their parts have fit players as well as those that want to leave, Pedro is one of them. This would be a very interesting game.
Betting prediction: Chelsea to win or draw
Everton vs Liverpool
The Merseyside derby is upon us, Liverpool would have been proud to win the league on the ground of their rivals of ancient history, but they will be happy to wait.
The league is back and we’ll see the magic of Liverpool again, the marauding runs of their sensational fullbacks, their inverted triangular midfield of Henderson, Wijnaldum and whoever is being picked between Fabinho and Keita, with a special mention for Alex Oxlade Chamberlain who is fit again and ready to lift the title, and then the big three upfront…
Everton can hope, they can bank on the fact that everyone is starting equal, but City proved otherwise against Arsenal, the Toffees will have to be disciplined, watch the runs of Robertson and Trent Alexander Arnold, they have to fill the spaces in midfield and make sure they don’t allow passes stick between whoever is picked by Jurgen Klopp to do the job.
Betting prediction: Straight win Liverpool
Monday, 22nd June
Manchester City vs Burnley
The final game of the round will see City squaring up against Burnley, fresh from destroying Arsenal and teaching Mikel Arteta some harsh lessons, Burnley is next and regardless of what happens at the CAS, they want to finish as high as they can.
Burnley will not go on the pitch without a plan, they are a bogey team, they don’t have respect for anyone but how much of quality can they show on Monday?
Against Arsenal, City showed why they’re champions with sleek and neatly threaded passes in the final third, two of which provided their first two goals, led by you know who… KDB.
Burnley will have to be brave on Monday, they will have to be patient and also wait for the ball, hug the line and hit on the counter, until then, they might be few goals down before such opportunity comes.
Defensively, the champions are fragile, Fernandinho is expected to return in defense with injury to Eric Garcia, John Stones still hasn’t found a space on the team sheet, Otamendi should be fit enough but the transfer window can’t come sooner enough for City, Laporte needs a solid partner.
Betting prediction: City to win
Strictly the writer’s opinion