Leicester City v Chelsea
Leicester host the Blues in the weekend’s early kick off. Brendan Rodgers has been recently touted as future Man United manager but his Foxes side remain in a spot of bother. Their mini revival was halted by Arteta’s Arsenal and they’ve slumped since. Leicester went with a 4-3-3 against Leeds last time out but may well match up Chelsea’s 3-4-2-1, stodging the midfield. If they do, this one could be tight.
Prediction: Leicester City 1-1 Chelsea
Newcastle v Brentford
‘My body is burning,’ said Brentford boss Thomas Frank after the recent home defeat against Norwich, ‘I hate losing’. Brentford have been poor lately, losing four in a row—and perhaps teams are starting to work out their high pressure football. Newcastle remain the only winless side in the Premier League but they now have new manager Eddie Howe who will presumably receive considerable investment in the January transfer window. This one could also be tight.
Prediction: Newcastle 0-0 Brentford
Burnley v Crystal Palace
Patrick Vieira’s smoothly coordinated press has caught many an eye this season but you won’t find Burnley playing out from the back. The rugged Clarets battled hard to win a point at Chelsea and picked up their first win of the season the week before. They’ll hope to make this a fairly turgid affair. The talented Eberechi Eze will be back in a Palace squad whose firepower should prove just too much.
Prediction: Burnley 1-2 Crystal Palace
Aston Villa v Brighton
One of the three managers beginning at a new club this game week is Steven Gerrard, whose Aston Villa side will face Brighton. Gerrard’s time at Rangers in Scotland was a resounding success and he favoured an unusual 4-3-3 system where, instead of playing with two wingers, he deployed dual number tens behind the striker. Emi Buendia, a central attacking midfielder whose start to live in Birmingham since signing in the summer has been disappointing, could be one to watch if Gerrard opts for a similar system. Brighton is a tough opening game but I expect a debut win.
Prediction: Aston Villa 2-0 Brighton
Watford v Manchester United
A relegation clash! We always feels like one game away from Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s inevitable sacking but with recent reports that the United manager has lost much of the dressing room, defeat at Vicarage Road could prove the final straw. Clearly, the Red Devils’ board no longer see the Norwegian as the long term solution but don’t want a mid-season change. Their top four place looks an ever-increasing risk, however, and we could see an interim. Watford were dogged and cynical against Arsenal last time out but ultimately impotent. Solskjaer to slip the net once more.
Prediction: Watford 1-2 Manchester United
Wolves v West Ham
It’s a shame this one isn’t televised as it looks a really fun game to watch. Wolves have impressed this season, playing an attacking, free flowing brand of football in sharp opposition to the defensive discipline of previous boss Nuno Espirito Santo. West Ham, meanwhile, are dreaming of top four. Moyes’ highly physical Hammers side are excellent on the counter with several good dribblers who can feed impressive target man Antonio. Expect goals.
Prediction: Wolves 2-2 West Ham
Norwich City v Southampton
If you’d said to me two weeks ago that Dean Smith would be managing Norwich I’d blink twice and leave the room. It feels like a good move for the Canaries (less so for Smith) who got their first win of the season in their most recent game. Southampton, who have one of the league’s weaker squads, have been quietly effective yet again under Ralph Hasenhuttl but Carrow Road will be rocking. Norwich will score first but won’t be able to hold on.
Prediction: Norwich 1-1 Southampton
Liverpool v Arsenal
The big one. Sadio Mane is back for the Reds as is Thomas Partey for the Gunners. Liverpool have stuttered in recent weeks but Arsenal’s run of form flatters them a little (they’ve had a kind run of games). Anfield will prove a real test for Mikel Arteta’s side. Lacazette has added some much needed physical presence and creates an useful fulcrum in Arteta’s 4-4-2 but Benjamin White won’t be allowed to make those now trademark marauding runs forward against Liverpool. Klopp’s side will win a tight game.
Prediction: Liverpool 2-0 Arsenal
Man City v Everton
When Man City play at home, it’s normally a case of how many. Not so against Palace but Everton, winless in five and still with a lengthy injury list, should prove a comfortable opponent. City have their own absentees (De Bruyne and Grealish and possibly Foden) but have the resources to cover. Slick City yet again.
Prediction: Man City 3-0 Everton
Tottenham v Leeds
Antonio Conte’s first home league game as Spurs boss will see the north London club host Leeds. It’s a juicy looking fixture for the Italian. Leeds have been well off their fluent best this season and have a tricky run of games coming up (five of the so called big 6 plus Brighton in their next eight games). They really could be dragged into a relegation scrap. Kane was banging in the goals for England and should score again here.
Prediction: Tottenham 2-0 Leeds