By Neil Leverett
- The Britwatch Football Team give their preview and predictions for this weekend’s 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 a midweek of FA Cup replays, league action resumes with Matchweek 24. With Manchester City having lost their unbeaten streak to Liverpool, can the Citizens bounce back at home to struggling Newcastle United? As usual our writers have had their say on what will happen.
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Brighton & Hove Albion vs. Chelsea (Saturday, 12:30)
Neil: If you discount Wednesday night’s extra time and penalties at Stamford Bridge, Chelsea have now gone 270 minutes of normal game time without a goal, as they travel to the AMEX on Saturday lunchtime to kick off Matchweek 24. Goals have dried up for both Eden Hazard and Alvaro Morata in attack, and whilst their back line continues to shut the opposition out regularly, the Blues were fortunate not to lose to Leicester City last weekend.
The Seagulls poor away form continued at West Brom last time out, but on the south coast, Chris Hughton’s men are a different proposition altogether. That is not to say they will bowl their visitors over here – far from it – but they have a better chance to avenge their Boxing Day loss in West London. This is a really tough game to call with Chelsea suffering stage fright in front of goal – now without the suspended Morata to boot – but I do believe they will get a narrow win here.
Prediction: Brighton 1-2 Chelsea
Niall: Chelsea’s busy January continues with a trip to Brighton in a match where the Blues need to re-establish their authority. Chelsea have been dragged into the top four battle after last weeks results and they can not afford to lose ground against a Brighton side that is difficult to beat at home. The Seagulls’ home form is key to their survival and they will make things hard for Chelsea, but I believe the Blues will run out winners.
Prediction: Brighton 0-2 Chelsea
Arsenal vs. Crystal Palace (Saturday, 15:00)
Neil: Whilst the headlines continue to be dominated off the field for the Gunners, Arsenal will look to bounce back from another woeful display at Bournemouth as they host one of the Premier League’s most in-form sides in the Eagles. With the Alexis Sanchez saga almost at an end in North London, the hosts must look to a number of returning players to get the three points here with fresh recruits waiting in the wings.
Palace’s last defeat – their only in the last 12 games – did indeed come against this weekend’s opponents, but with the home-field pressure likely to off this time around, Roy Hodgson’s men may be capable of a better display. The hosts are struggling to find any semblance of attacking verve right now and I simply don’t see where the goals may come for the moment. For this reason, I am backing the draw.
Prediction: Arsenal 2-2 Crystal Palace
Niall: Arsenal will look to respond to their loss against Bournemouth last week when they host an in-form Crystal Palace at the Emirates. The Eagles earned a nice win against Burnley last week and are closing in on the top ten as a result. Arsenal on the other hand are falling further and further away from the top four, making this a must win. Hodgson will make his side difficult to beat but I feel Arsenal will have enough going forward to edge a tight encounter.
Prediction: Arsenal 2-1 Crystal Palace
Burnley vs. Manchester United (Saturday, 15:00)
Neil: The Clarets’ balloon has start to deflate at a rapid pace in the past month, having scaled the highest heights of the English top-flight during the first-half of the season. Without a win in the last six, Burnley host a Manchester United side who in a rare showing of swashbuckling play from the past few weeks, easily put Stoke to the sword – but by a scoreline that flattered the Old Trafford outfit in the extreme. The hosts have missed the presence of striker Chris Wood in the last few outings, and with the Kiwi forward again ruled out for the weekend, the Lancashire side may again be short of fire power.
Paul Pogba was again the talisman for the Red Devils against Stoke, and whilst Jesse Lingard may be in the form of his life for the time being, the Frenchman is again Jose Mourinho’s most potent weapon in the United lineup. This will be a tough and close-fought encounter, but rather like when Liverpool rolled into town, the visitors should have too much for Burnley to handle – with a similar result to boot.
Prediction: Burnley 1-2 Manchester United
Niall: Man United have gotten back into form after a rocky patch and if there was any time to face Burnley it would be now. The Clarets are winless in their last five and have struggled in their recent encounters with top six sides. I do not foresee many goals here but I think United will grab that crucial one that earns the three points.
Prediction: Burnley 0-1 Manchester United
Everton vs. West Bromwich Albion (Saturday, 15:00)
Neil: The Sam Allardyce honeymoon period seems to be at and end on Merseyside, with Everton having lost three games on the bounce – albeit with two of those against top-six opposition. Cenk Tosun made an impressive debut for the Toffees against Spurs, despite having a lack of service and the Turk is set to make his debut in front of the Glawdys Street End this Saturday.
After back-to-back domestic 2-0 wins, Alan Pardew will look to complete a triple as the Baggies travel to Goodison Park. There are signs of an upturn in fortune for West Brom with the return of Craig Dawson being a major factor in the positive results in the last fortnight. This game will provide a litmus test for the visitors newly-found confidence, but I do believe they will take a point back to the West Midlands here.
Prediction: Everton 1-1 West Brom
Niall: The Baggies got their first win in 20 matches last weekend and it comes as a big relief to Pardew. His side can make it two In a row when they travel to an out-of-form Everton who have had a come down to earth in recent weeks. This will likely be another low scoring game between two defensive oriented sides. The Toffees’ form is worrying and West Brom might be boosted after their win, but I do not see the Baggies winning this, so I am going with a draw.
Prediction: Everton 1-1 West Brom
Leicester City vs. Watford (Saturday, 15:00)
Neil: The Foxes almost took advantage of an uncertain Chelsea last weekend but as they entertain an even more out-of-sorts side in Watford this weekend, Claude Puel’s men may fancy their chances here. The current form of Riyad Mahrez has been a real fillip for the home side since December, with the Algerian eyeing further spoils here against a shaky Hornets back line.
The only thing to separate Watford and a third successive league defeat was Abdoulaye Doucoure’s highly controversial handled last-minute equaliser at Vicarage Road, but the visitors may need more than divine intervention to prevent a further slide down the league standings here. The hosts were almost too much for Chelsea to handle last time out and here should be too hot for Marco Silva’s men to stop.
Prediction: Leicester 2-0 Watford
Niall: This feels like it could be a good game. Both sides have goals in them and can lapse at important times in defence. That said, The Foxes just seem in better form than Watford who have struggled since Silva was linked to Everton. I can see them soaking up Watford’s attacks and hitting some nice counters making for an entertaining back-and-forth contest which Leicester win.
Prediction: Leicester 2-1 Watford
Stoke City vs. Huddersfield Town (Saturday, 15;00)
Neil: In Paul Lambert’s first game overseeing Stoke form the stands at Old Trafford on Monday night, the Potters put in a decent shift and should have taken the lead before finally succumbing to the talents of the Red Devil brigade. Stephen Ireland in particular impressed on just his second game back from long-term injury absence, and will be looking for a repeat showing at the Bet 365 Stadium.
In yet another Boxing Day fixture return, the Terriers were held to a 1-1 draw against Stoke just a few weeks ago and might take the same result here as David Wagner’s men attempt to keep the bottom three at arms-length. After last weekend’s resounding defeat to West Ham last Saturday, Huddersfield will be seeking a reaction, but are becoming an unpredictable beast having won, drawn and lost their last three games on the road. I am just leaning towards a draw here.
Prediction: Stoke 1-1 Huddersfield
Niall: Stoke begin life under Lambert with a very winnable game against Huddersfield Town. The Potters are still out of sorts, but a new manager can often lead to a temporary change in form, and given Huddersfield’s struggles away from home, I believe we could see another example of that here,
Prediction: Stoke 2-0 Huddersfield
West Ham United vs. AFC Bournemouth (Saturday, 15:00)
Neil: I will be at the London Stadium this Saturday, and I will be looking for the Manuel Lanzini-Marko Arnautovic tag-team to once again drive West Ham United forward here. As the Austrian continues to lead the line in East London, Lanzini is becoming a far greater influence in the middle of the park and is finding pockets of space former boss Slaven Bilic could only dream of under new boss David Moyes.
Having taking the scalp of Arsenal last weekend, the Cherries will be buoyed ahead of the their trip north to the capital this time out, but may find their hosts in less charitable mood. Unbeaten in almost a month as the Irons are, Bournemouth are also in decent form with eight points from twelve. The two shared six goals at the Vitality during Christmas and I am expecting more of the same here.
Prediction: West Ham 2-2 Bournemouth
Niall: Both West ham and Bournemouth grabbed big wins last weekend that boosted their survival opportunities. Which one can make it two in a row? I see neither. I think Bournemouth will have a boost in confidence after beating Arsenal, but the Hammers are the home side here and will be difficult to beat, so a score draw might be on the cards..
Prediction: West Ham 1-1 Bournemouth
Manchester City vs. Newcastle United (Saturday, 17:30)
Neil: As predicted, Liverpool were the ones to finally take Manchester City’s unbeaten run at Anfield in a roller-coaster meeting at Anfield last Sunday. Having had their record blotted, the task to bounce back is put upon the Citizens against Newcastle on Saturday tea time. Last weekend was evidence that the hosts’ defence can be got at, but the goals are the greater tipping factor going forward.
The Magpies were thrust into further off-field disarray in mid-week after takeover talks collapsed for the proposed sale of the club, with new faces in short supply on Tyneside with just 12 days of the Janaury transfer window remaining. Despite City’s loss I can’t see any way that the visitors will take anything back north with them, but the victory margin may not be as great a one as some are predicting.
Prediction: Manchester City 3-0 Newcastle United
Niall: We saw Manchester City lose for the first time in the league this season against Liverpool last week so it will be interesting to see how they respond. A home game against Newcastle is a good match for the Citizens to settle back into their rhythm and get back to winning ways, and I feel they will respond in a big way.
Prediction: Manchester City 4-0 Newcastle United
Southampton vs. Tottenham Hotspur (Sunday, 16:00)
Neil: Southampton were unfortunate in the extreme to have a win chalked off against them by shall we say dubious officiating at best against Watford last time out. The problem for Mauricio Pellegrino’s men is that goals are still in short supply and it took a double from James Ward-Prowse to even get the hosts off the ground last weekend.
Tottenham Hotspur travel to St. Marys’ having kept their goal-scoring prowess in tact – not least the clinical form of Harry Kane this term. The Lilywhites really are capable of goals from almost anywhere in their side, but with Son Heung-min providing a consistent ally for Kane up front, Spurs are in rude health once more. That threat will surely be too much on Sunday, as the Saints are plunged into further trouble.
Prediction: Southampton 1-3 Tottenham
Niall: This is a classic out-of-form vs in form match-up where there only looks like one winner. If only football was that simple. Southampton do pose problems and could give Tottenham a hard match. However, I am going for a Spurs win and more goals from Kane in the process.
Prediction: Southampton 0-2 Tottenham
Swansea City vs. Liverpool (Monday, 20:00)
Neil: Having knocked out Championship runaway leaders Wolves in midweek, Carlos Carvalhal will now look to carry through the Swans’ form into what looks a rather daunting task as Liverpool travel to the Liberty Stadium on Monday night to round off Matchweek 24. For the hosts to have any remote chance of survival this season, Wilfried Bony needs to stay fit and pick up goal-scoring form, as without the Ivorian the efforts of Jordan Ayew will scarcely be enough – despite a rather underrated showing from the Ghanaian thus far this season.
The Reds are now unbeaten since mid-October, and seem more capable than anyone inside the top four to challenge City for the league title – with albeit slim hopes even then. If that is unattainable, second spot is now very much within reach of Jurgen Klopp’s men such is their fearsome front line. Liverpool are in scintillating form and would beat most sides across Europe right now and could hand out another hiding in the valleys.
Prediction: Swansea 1-4 Liverpool
Niall: It would be very Liverpool to go and lose against the bottom team in the league after defeating Man City the previous weekend wouldn’t it? Whilst their defensive issues are well known, Liverpool have developed some consistency recently and while they can have a come down after their big win last week, this season shows that the Reds are having less lapses.
Prediction: Swansea 1-3 Liverpool
Premier League Matchweek 24 takes place this weekend between the 20th and 22nd of January
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