By Neil Leverett
- The Britwatch Football Team give their preview and predictions for the weekend action
- Follow their progress throughout the season and see which writer takes up the Premier League Prediction cup
- Correct result gets one point, correct result and score gets three points.
PREMIER LEAGUE, UK – After midweek action we are at it again swiftly for Matchweek 26. Liverpool will be looking for revenge against Tottenham Hotspur, who arrive at Anfield on the back of victory over Manchester United. As usual our writers have had their say on what will happen.
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Burnley vs. Manchester City (Saturday, 12:30)
Neil: Matchweek 26 swings into action with a derby of sorts as Manchester City visit Turf Moor. The Clarets, after sneaking a point in midweek, are still without a win in eight games as they face a fully recovered Citizen side. With Chris Wood still out until the end of the month, the hosts may have to scrap for all they can in the mean time, knowing they probably have the resources to keep themselves away from any potential slide down the league table.
Despite the loss of Leroy Sane, Kevin De Bruyne once again drove forward the visitors to victory against West Brom, but the Belgian may find space at a premium in Lancashire. Having added Aymeric Laporte to their ranks, City seems perhaps even more out-of-touch for the best of sides, as the hosts will find out to their cost on Saturday, with a comfortable win predicted.
Prediction: Burnley 0-2 Man City
Niall: Burnley have gone off the boil in recent weeks, making this a must win game for the Clarets. Unfortunately for them they face the league leaders Manchester City. Sean Dyche’s side can certainly frustrate the visitors like they do to most teams who make the trip to Turf Moor, but their lack in confidence t the moment will likely be their undoing.
Prediction: Burnley 0-2 Man City
AFC Bournemouth vs. Stoke City (Saturday, 15:00)
Neil: The Cherries stunning win over Chelsea on Wednesday night, saw Bournemouth extend their unbeaten run in the top-flight to six game – the first in their history in the Premier League. Eddie Howe’s men are beginning to look a side who could now comfortably pull away from the drop zone with the current form of Callum Wilson, but a game of equal significance to that of the Blues comes here against Stoke.
The visitors are now two games without conceding under new boss Paul Lambert, with the Potters having really tightened up the ship in defence, even if their attacking threat remains inconsistent. The hosts are rare to back-to-back wins this term and though are in excellent form, I see Stoke digging their heels in and frustrating Bournemouth.
Prediction: Bournemouth 1-1 Stoke
Niall: The Cherries come into this fixture on the highest of highs after beating Chelsea 3-0 in mid-week. Bournemouth have hit form since the turn of the year and they have risen to tenth as a result. Stoke’s disappointing draw in mid-week will have halted their momentum somewhat so I believe Bournemouth will take the three points
Prediction: Bournemouth 2-1 Stoke
Brighton & Hove Albion vs. West Ham United (Saturday, 15:00)
Neil: Brighton ended their eight-game streak without a goal on the road with Glenn Murray’s seventh league goal of the campaign against Southampton, and the striker’s tally will – as I have stated many times be vital to the Seagulls’ survival chances. Chris Hughton’s men are able to take it to the sides around them, but here we may find out more about their stomach for the fight.
The goal for West Ham United to pull away from the pack at the foot of the table, but with so small a margin in terms of points that is proving so far difficult. The hosts are looking to again build a platform especially at home and with key men again absent for the Hammers that will be the goal here. I rather fancy this to be a tight affair, with a single goal perhaps being the difference and I just have a feel for Brighton here.
Prediction: Brighton 1-0 West Ham
Niall: Brighton are heading dangerously close to the relegation zone after not winning in their last five games. The Seagulls have a good chance to get back in the win column when they welcome West Ham to the AMEX on Saturday. Hughton’s side are a much better home team than away, but their form is worrying so I am going with a draw.
Prediction: Brighton 1-1 West Ham
Leicester City vs. Swansea City (Saturday, 15:00)
Neil: Two sides with contrasting fortunes in their recent results meet at the King Power Stadium. The Foxes, having been caught on the hop by Theo Walcott’s first goals for Everton last time out, will be looking for a response against a rejuvenated Swansea side. Riyad Mahrez’s latest transfer market frustrations mean the hosts will be without one of their key sources of creativity after threatening not to play for his side again.
The Swans, after winning back-to-back home games against Liverpool and Arsenal have been transformed under Carlos Carvalhal – at least temporarily. In truth few expected six points from six against two of the top-six, but Swansea after a extremely profitable fortnight have shown they are not the relegation fodder many thought. Bringing in Andre Ayew back to the club will help their cause no end, but on the road their story is a rather bleaker picture. With Leicester returning home after a Toffee defeat, I do believe also that they will get the maximum points, however Swansea might nick a goal.
Prediction: Leicester 2-1 Swansea
Niall: Swansea have hit their best period of the season under Carvalhal, and they can make it three wins on the bounce when they travel to Leicester. The Foxes lost in mid-week to Everton and seem rather distracted with the Mahrez saga, but back in front of their home fans they should have enough to overcome Swansea.
Prediction: Leicester 2-0 Swansea
Manchester United vs. Huddersfield Town (Saturday, 15:00)
Neil: Manchester United’s loss to Tottenham Hotspur was a wake-up call for the Red Devils, that they are still far from certain of a top-four finish this term. Perhaps the biggest eyebrow-raiser was Paul Pogba’s substitution having failed to put in a disciplined performance in midfield in midweek, whilst Alexis Sanchez was a mere spectator.
The Terriers’ goal-scoring problems are beginning to come to a head. Despite playing a front two against Liverpool for the first time, Huddersfield offered fleeting glimpses in front of goal only, and ahead of a trip to Old Trafford – with their worrying away record – may not be looking at this fixture with relish. United were out of sorts but caught off guard by a better organised team against Spurs, but here there should be no similar issues.
Prediction: Man United 3-0 Huddersfield
Niall: The reverse fixture was one of the shockers of the season as Huddersfield beat Manchester United at the John Smith’s Stadium. That day was one of the Red Devils’ poorer performances of the season, and they should be much better here. The Terriers are in terrible form and are close to falling into the relegation zone if they are not careful. I think United will win fairly comfortably with Sanchez possibly getting a goal.
Prediction: Man United 3-0 Huddersfield
West Bromwich Albion vs. Southampton (Saturday, 15:00)
Neil: I expected a better showing from the Baggies at the Etihad, as West Brom were soundly beaten earlier this week. They get a chance to respond as the Saints visit the Hawthorns for Matchweek 26 on Saturday. Daniel Sturridge made a cameo in midweek against his former club and though only afforded a few minutes, looks like he could forge a strong partnership with – ironically – a man he could be competing with for an England place this summer, Jay Rodriguez.
What can say about the visitors other than goals are again in short supply. So much so, that their last two goals have come from a centre-back in Jack Stephens who had previously not scored for the club. I have no confidence in Southampton’s ability to find the net and with a leaky defence to boot still, West Brom should notch a win here.
Prediction: West Brom 2-0 Southampton
Niall: This is a relegation six-pointer and then some. Two of the bottom three meet at the Hawthorns with both sides needing a win to boost their chances of staying in the league. They are both cagey teams so I expect a rather dull encounter with not many chances. In fact I believe we may be in for a stalemate.
Prediction: West Brom 0-0 Southampton
Arsenal vs. Everton (Saturday, 17:30)
Neil: Walcott, after scoring a brace a few days ago, will be looking forward to a warm reception at the Emirates Stadium as he returns to face his old employers on Saturday evening. Even though the hosts have added an attacking array of talent to their ranks in Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Henrikh Mkhitaryan, the more pertinent questions remain in their ever-shaky back line.
The Toffees notched a crucial win in their last outing but will be but under more concerted pressure here. Even if Everton might struggle to keep the opponents out this weekend, the return of Seamus Coleman in tandem with the flying Walcott in attack is likely to provide a similarly stern test in the home defence. I will be at this game, but I am rather unsure of the final outcome. In what could be an open encounter, I am plumping for the draw.
Prediction: Arsenal 2-2 Everton
Niall: Aubameyang may have to wait for his Arsenal debut after picking up a virus prior to this game, so Arsenal will line up with their £60 million star on the bench this weekend. The Gunners are eight points off the top four and have only won once in their last five, making this a must win for Arsene Wenger. Everton got back on track against Leicester in mid-week with ex-Arsenal man Walcott bagging a brace. I do not see the same happening here though as I believe Arsenal will respond well here and get the three points.
Prediction: Arsenal 3-1 Everton
Crystal Palace vs. Newcastle United (Sunday, 14:15)
Neil: In the first of two games on Sunday afternoon, The Eagles hosts Newcastle at Selhurst Park. After holding West Ham at the London Stadium on Tuesday night, Roy Hodgson’s men return to the capital against their struggling opponents. After a rare league goal, Christian Benteke will be looking to rediscover his touch in front of goal as we head toward the final third of the campaign.
The visitors are still desperately searching for a central figure to give Newcastle a greater attack vigour up top. The loan signing of Islam Slimani may bring that, but I will be more curious about the contributions of on-loan winger Kenedy from Chelsea who impressed against Burnley on his debut. The Magpies won on their last visit to London just before Christmas and so Palace will be wary of that fact, however, I can only really see a home win here.
Prediction: Crystal Palace 2-1 Newcastle
Niall: One place separates these two sides heading into Matchweek 26 and neither are clear of the bottom three at the moment. Neither can afford dropped points either, but Palace are in slightly better form and have the home advantage to go along with it, so I am picking the Eagles to grab the win in this one.
Prediction: Crystal Palace 2-0 Newcastle
Liverpool vs. Tottenham Hotspur (Sunday, 16:30)
Neil: It seems like Liverpool are the highlight to watch on any given weekend, but that is without a doubt the case this Sunday afternoon on Matchweek 26, as Spurs travel to Merseyside. After such a prolific first-half of the season, the expectancy of Mohamed Salah’s goals per game ratio for the Reds would be to dwindle. So having netted in midweek, the Egyptian is showing no signs of letting up. Nor for that matter is Roberto Firmino.
Tottenham outclassed Man Utd at Wembley, but traveling to Anfield have a poor record against their hosts. To replicate the 4-1 win earlier this season would be some feat then, but the Lilywhites might see this as an opportunity to correct a statistic of having only two Spurs managers that have won at Anfield in the modern Premier League era. Despite their loss in the FA Cup last weekend, I would err on the side of caution of any other result than a Liverpool win. And I think just, Jurgen Klopp’s men will get the job done.
Prediction: Liverpool 3-1 Spurs
Niall: Now we hit the main event of the weekend. Two points separate them and this game is a big one when it comes to the top-four battle. Within this you have many mini battles, but the biggest will be Harry Kane vs. Salah. The Premier League’s two most prolific players this season will go head to head to see which will have the most influence. Liverpool boast a more fluid attack, but Spurs are much more functional in defence. This is a hard one to call, so I am going to sit on the fence and pick a 2-2 draw.
Prediction: Liverpool 2-2 Tottenham
Watford vs. Chelsea (Monday, 20:00)
Neil: Matchweek 26 is rounded off in Hertfordshire as Watford host Chelsea at Vicarage Road. After new boss Javi Gracia took his first league point in England in the Potteries, hosting the Blues will be almost a baptism of fire however for the Spaniard in his first home game in charge. Having brought Gerard Deulofeu back with him for another stint in the top-flight, his boss will be expecting great things of the on-loan Barcelona man.
Especially, in the light of Chelsea’s shock 3-0 loss to Bournemouth on Wednesday night. The Cherries rather ironically picked off their, rather sheepish opponents on the Kings Road last time out and in the knowledge are to be got at, the Hornets might fancy another upset here. On the road however, Antonio Conte’s men are fairly reliable and with Olivier Giroud set to make his debut in familiar hunting grounds at least geographically, the Frenchman might be amongst the goals on a winning night for his new club.
Prediction: Watford 1-3 Chelsea
Niall: The reverse fixture of this contest was truly one of the best games of the season thus far. Watford impressed and led the Champions until a late collapse saw them lose out in the end. A lot has changed since that day, especially with Watford who have since gone off the boil and sacked their manager. Chelsea are not looking great either after losing to Bournemouth, but I expect them to bounce back in this one.
Prediction: Watford 1-2 Chelsea
Premier League Matchweek 26 takes place this weekend between the 3rd and 5th of February
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