Following a short layoff, I am back with my Premier League picks for an interesting weekend of matches.
Wolverhampton Wanderers vs. Leicester City
This is an interesting matchup for Wolverhampton as it pits them against a very similar opponent in Leicester both in terms of performances and positioning in the league table. Wolverhampton surprised Liverpool with an upset victory in the FA Cup before they were thoroughly outclassed by Manchester City a week later despite being reduced to 10 men. Leicester had a less desirable outcome as they were bounced from the FA Cup by Newport County. They also lost to Southampton last weekend in a match I believed that they could win going into that match. I really have a tough time picking this match as both teams have been inconsistent, but they have a propensity for scoring.
Prediction: Leicester 2-1 Wolverhampton
AFC Bournemouth vs. West Ham United
Bournemouth enter this match in absolutely terrible form as they have been unable to muster a solid defense for the past two months. This has been compounded by a slip back into the bottom half of the table, and a re-emergence of questions surrounding their squad. Meanwhile, West Ham look like a side who have finally assembled their pieces together properly only for questions to be asked about the long-term future of Marko Arnautovic at the club. They have been better lately and have managed to climb into a more desirable mid-table place in the league as they look to regain a spot in the European places. I see a West Ham victory in this match as Bournemouth’s suffering will likely continue.
Prediction: West Ham United 2-0 Bournemouth
Liverpool vs. Crystal Palace
Liverpool enter this match following a rebound against Brighton that followed up their previous league match which ended in defeat to the defending champions Manchester City, Liverpool’s first of the season. They have put together one of the best seasons in Premier League history and have been borderline unstoppable for most of the season. Palace come into this fixture having inflicted some surprise results including a 3-2 victory over Manchester City earlier this season. However, they still only sit four points clear of safety, and have been uninspiring in their last five matches. I see a comfortable Liverpool victory over Palace.
Prediction: Liverpool 3-0 Crystal Palace
Manchester United vs. Brighton & Hove Albion
Manchester United look like a side that finally solved the puzzle that was so difficult for former manager, José Mourinho: play attacking football. Since they made the change in management, United have not dropped a single point and look like the high-flying sides of the Sir Alex Ferguson years. Brighton have been a pleasant surprise once again this season as they find themselves in 13th place comfortably outside the relegation zone. Despite some recent draws, Brighton remain one of the most resolute sides in the Premier League. I think this is a nut that Manchester United can easily crack, and will do so again at home.
Prediction: Manchester United 2-0 Brighton & Hove Albion
Newcastle United vs. Cardiff City
Newcastle come into this match fresh off of a win a week ago, but they have been playing more negative football lately which hasn’t yielded kind results. Newcastle will hope that points from this match helps them on their march to safety as this is a crucial fixture for both sides. Cardiff have seen a series of mixed results that has seen small streaks of brilliance compounded by an inability to secure valuable points in the quest for survival. Their recent form that is filled with losses and draws does not forecast well across the final months of the season. I see a narrow Newcastle victory in what is likely to be a scrappy affair.
Prediction: Newcastle United 1-0 Cardiff City
Southampton vs. Everton
Southampton initially experienced a positive start to life under their new manager, but that quickly faded following a series of disappointing results. It seems like they may be on the right track, and this is an opportune fixture against an Everton side that has rebounded, but has previously looked vulnerable. Everton appear to be enjoying the new year much more than 2018, but they have still been fairly inconsistent. Despite this, they still find themselves in the middle of the table and in a stable state following an adjustment period to their new manager at the start of the season. I see a draw between these two sides as nothing immediately jumps out at me as something to separate them.
Prediction: Southampton 1-1 Everton
Watford vs. Burnley
Watford have rebounded from a slight dip at the new year, but still find themselves nine points outside the European places. They have managed to win their last two matches, but their leaky defense will be of some concern against a Burnley side which appears to have regained its spirit following a series of good results. Burnley are looking more like the side from a year ago as they have now won four straight and have crawled out of the relegation places into safety. They still only sit three points clear, but a massive road result could do wonders for their confidence. I see a surprise Burnley victory as they look to build on their last results.
Prediction: Burnley 2-1 Watford
Arsenal vs. Chelsea
Arsenal enter this match a far cry from the high-flying side that was challenging for a Champions League place at this time a month ago. Several missed opportunities in front of goal and a large number of injuries has left the squad pretty depleted. Chelsea have continued to make strides under their new manager and appear to be clicking at an opportune time as they look to sneak into the Champions League places themselves. Their recent form shouldn’t fool you as this is a side who are clicking on many levels right now. I see a Chelsea win in this one (it hurts to say), but they are currently the better side with Arsenal unable to sort out its defensive woes.
Prediction: Chelsea 2-1 Arsenal
Huddersfield Town vs. Manchester City
Huddersfield face a stern test under their new manager as they welcome the defending champions to their home. Huddersfield remain rooted to the bottom of the league, and their leaky defense could be problematic throughout the day. Manchester City appear to be the dominant force that they were for most of last season following a victory over title rivals Liverpool. City have picked up their form at the best time, and should relish their opportunity to keep the pressure on Liverpool at the top of the table. I see a comprehensive victory for City in this match.
Prediction: Manchester City 3-0 Huddersfield Town
Fulham vs. Tottenham
Fulham have continued to disappoint despite a change in management due to their frail defense. That defense has cost them points this season, and they are in serious trouble if they are unable to rectify the situation. Tottenham have their own crisis as Harry Kane picked up a serious injury in their last match and will be unavailable until March. They still sit in third place, and will hope to find a makeshift option until their goal-scoring talisman returns to the side. I see a draw in this match as I am unconvinced of Tottenham’s ability to score goals at the moment.
Prediction: Fulham 1-1 Tottenham