Premier League Gameweek 19 Preview: Vital Manchester Derby

Premier League

We take a look at some of this week’s Premier League games, including a crunch clash between the Machester clubs in a huge derby and a huge relegation 6-pointer between Everton and Southampton.

Take a look at my predictions for the quarter-finals of the Carabao Cup here!

This Week’s Premier League Fixtures

Aston Villa v Leeds
Man United v Man City
Brighton v Liverpool
Everton v Southampton
Nottingham Forest v Leicester
Wolves v West Ham
Brentford v Bournemouth
Chelsea v Crystal Palace
Newcastle v Fulham
Spurs v Arsenal

Man United v Man City

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This game should be brilliant. The early kick-off on Saturday pits the two Manchester clubs against each other at Old Trafford. The last time these two teams met, at The Etihad, Man City ran riot, winning 6-3. The scoreline could have been a lot worse too, had Martial not reduced the deficit twice in the latter stages of the game.

Man United have come a long way since this game. They have kept 6 clean sheets out of their last 10 games, have won their last 3 games in the league and have kept clean sheets in all of these games.

In all competitions, United have won their last 8 games, with Rashford scoring 7 goals in his last 6 games. Going forward, United are a different animal now. Rashford is on fire, Fernandes cannot stop assisting, Garnacho is proving to be a valuable young addition to the squad, and even in midfield Casemiro had proved the difference, and they look much more assured in these areas now.

Defensively United have been transformed. After conceding 6 against Man City, in their next 10 league games, they have only conceded more than once on one occasion, against Aston Villa. Defending against Man City will be a significant test for ten Haag and Man United, they should pose more threat than Wolves, Bournemouth and Nottingham Forest.

United will be in high spirits for this. Good form, scoring goals, and keeping clean sheets. They have also advanced to the semi-final of the Carabao Cup and also progressed in the FA Cup. This confidence could be vital.

Man City have been in indifferent form lately, which is not something that is said often about Guardiola’s side. They cannot seem to string together a run of results as of late.

Since City dropped points against Brentford, they beat Leeds, drew at home against a struggling Everton, beat Chelsea twice in a week, once in the league, once in the cup, and then lost against Southampton in the Carabao Cup quarter-final.

The loss against Southampton must have knocked confidence out of the players, and the fans. They did not manage a single shot on target, Kalvin Phillips had a shocking game, and their attacking play just did not seem to click. Pepe has come out and claimed that he has something special in store for the United game, and it will be interesting to see what tactical tweaks he makes for this game.

It is not a brilliant time for City to be going through a rough patch, coming up against their biggest rivals, with in-form players such as Rashford and Casemiro, whilst trying to keep pace with Arsenal at the top of the table. It would be a perfect game for City to bounce back and win, but it is going to be difficult for them.

This could be one of the games of the season if both sides turn up. It will be difficult for both sides. City are trying to break down a tough, resilient defence, whereas United will have to try to defend against one of the best attacking sides in the league. I think a very entertaining draw is on the cards here.

Prediction: Man United 2 – 2 Man City

Brighton v Liverpool

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Brighton are another side in indifferent form at the moment. In their last 5 games, they have won 3 and lost 2, failing to put a string of wins together. They were unfortunate in their two losses, however. A loss against Villa, despite Brighton outplaying them, and an extremely entertaining 4-2 loss against Arsenal.

Their 4-1 win against Everton last week certainly put them back on track. They got back to their best with their attacking display, and some of their players are certainly putting themselves on the radar. Mitoma continued his brilliant form with another well-taken goal, taking two players on before finding the back of the net.

Another player that has surprisingly impressed in recent weeks is Evan Ferguson. He, like Mitoma, has scored 2 goals in their last 2 games, and the youngster is certainly proving his worth in the Premier League.

Brighton have not won at home in the Premier League in their last 2 attempts, which is something they will want to put right against Liverpool. If Brighton’s key players turn up, they could turn this into an intriguing tie.

Liverpool, on the other hand, had their run of 4 games unbeaten ended by Brentford in brilliant fashion last time out. Despite there being no Ivan Toney for the hosts, Liverpool still struggled to deal with the physicality of Brentford and were well-beaten come the end of the match.

They then also struggled in the FA Cup. They should have been beaten by Wolves, who had a perfectly good goal ruled out by VAR, with the match ending 2-2 and being taken to a replay. These signs are worrying for Liverpool, especially when they are trying to close down the gap between themselves and the top 4.

Liverpool do typically turn up for the big games. The last time these two sides met, Leandro Trossard scored a hattrick in an entertaining 3-3 draw, with Firminho scoring twice for The Reds.

Surprisingly, this game could go either way. When Liverpool turn up, they can railroad a team and overwhelm the defence. Brighton have shown that they can be defensively weak, and Liverpool may look to exploit this.

This is a difficult one to call. Brighton have struggled at home as of late, but Liverpool are also not in the best form anymore. This should be a close game, separated by a single goal. I think Liverpool’s struggles this season will continue here, with a slender loss.

Prediction: Brighton 2 – 1 Liverpool

Everton v Southampton

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What a huge game at the bottom of the table this is, 18th against 20th, both teams in dire form in the league, both needing a vital 3 points to kickstart their survival bid, this could be one of the games of the weekend. The importance of this is huge.

Everton beat Southampton the last time these teams met, with Coady and McNeil scoring in the second half, coming from behind to win 2-1. Since then, Everton have won only 1 of their next 10 games, losing 6 in the process.

Everton are going to be with Alex Iwobi, one of their better performers this season after he got injured during their defeat against Man United in the FA Cup. He is going to be a massive miss for them, as when Everton go forward, everything seems to go through him. He has pulled Everton through some games, and their midfield will miss him massively.

One player they seem to be able to rely on now is Demarai Gray. He has scored in Everton’s last two league fixtures and is now their joint-top scorer, alongside Anthony Gordon. They need him to step up and perform consistently now if they have any chance of surviving the drop.

How long does Frank Lampard have left? He is already under heavy pressure, and a loss here would put them level on points with Southampton, meaning they could potentially finish the day joint-bottom of the league. I feel that if they do lose here, Lampard will get sacked.

Southampton are a strange side under new boss Nathan Jones. In the Premier League, they have lost every single game under him so far. The loss against Nottingham Forest proved to be a step too far for some fans, with them audibly displaying their lack of support for Jones and his style of football.

However, outside of the Premier League, Southampton seem like a different football team. Under Jones, they have beaten Lincoln, Crystal Palace and, more surprisingly, Man City in the quarter-final of the Carabao Cup. They have won back-to-back games in all competitions, and they need to bring this form into the league.

Southampton may actually be favourites for this game due to these cup performances, especially after their performance against Man City. They really need to pick a win up in the league, having gone 7 games without a win.

Ward-Prowse is obviously a major player for Southampton. A free-kick specialist is absolutely vital for a team languishing at the bottom of the table. He has only scored 3 times this season but has found the net in 2 of the last 3 games. If he can continue this form, Southampton may find themselves steadily moving away from the bottom of the table.

This could be a brilliant game, and a vital one in terms of the relegation fight. It should be a tight, cagey affair. Neither team will want to lose, or leave themselves too open. I think the form of Southampton after the two cup games, and Everton’s horrendous form, will lead to a third win in all competitions for Southampton, leaving Everton in big trouble.

Prediction: Everton 0 – 1 Southampton

Wolves v West Ham

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This is another crunch match between two sides at the wrong end of the table, with 19th-place Wolves hosting 17th-place West Ham. This game is massive for both sides. A win for Wolves would haul themselves out of the bottom three, whereas a win for West Ham would put some distance between themselves and the Championship.

Wolves have been a much better side since they returned from the World Cup break. They beat a struggling Everton, lost to Man United by a slender goal, and drew against a difficult Aston Villa side. Their performances have been much improved, and that showed during their 2-2 draw against Liverpool in the FA Cup, which they deserved to win.

These performances should bring confidence to a struggling side, and what an important game to get that boost of confidence for. A win against another one of their relegation rivals would be a huge boost for Wolves, especially after beating Everton the other week, and they may want to pick up points whilst they can, as their next two games are against Man City and Liverpool.

It has not been plain sailing for Wolves, however. They were knocked out of the Carabao Cup quarter-finals by Nottingham Forest, losing 4-3 on penalties after drawing 1-1 in regular time. Wolves were the better side in this tie, and their usual lack of goalscoring ability flared up once again, with only one of their five shots on target being converted.

Another manager that will certainly be feeling the heat is David Moyes, where did it all go wrong for him? West Ham were a brilliant side last year, so entertaining to watch, solid at the back, and always provided a good challenge for the big teams. This year, it is the complete opposite. They cannot see to score goals, and they look so frail at the back.

It is strange, as West Ham have done so well in Europe this season. In the Europa Conference League, West Ham have won all 6 of their games, and put on some brilliant displays, with some tipping them as potential winners of the competition. Will their international form continue when the knockout stages resume? Or will their Premier League form affect them here?

West Ham did manage to stop the rot of 5 defeats on the bounce with a 2-2 draw at Elland Road against Leeds. Whilst they were fortunate to get a draw overall, they showed something they have not shown in the majority of their games this season. Composure. They scored from both of their shots on target, which is vital for The Hammers, as they have struggled to score consistently this season.

This, like the Everton v Southampton game, could go either way. Wolves are the better side coming into this game, and they have the home advantage, which is why I am backing them to pull themselves out of the relegation zone here, and put Moyes into more trouble.

Prediction: Wolves 1 – 0 West Ham

Spurs v Arsenal

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This is another stern test for Arsenal and their title credentials. Spurs need to keep up the pace with Man United to try and finish in the top 4. Everything points to this being yet another thrilling tie in this round of fixtures.

Spurs are a strange side. They cannot seem to perform well during the first 45 minutes of football. Whilst they do improve in the second half, if Arsenal manage to put 2 or 3 past them in the first 45 minutes, the game will effectively be over. Conte should have them fired up for this one though, but their lack of goals in the first 45 minutes should be concerning for him.

Spurs were back to their best against Crystal Palace. After their usual first 45 minutes, they blitzed Palace in the second half, with Kane scoring twice in a 4-0 win, taking his tally to 15 for the season. He may have a big role to play in this London derby, and he did score in the reverse fixture, albeit in a 3-1 loss.

For Spurs, the entire game could hinge on their first-half performance. If they manage to end their barren run during the first 45 minutes, then they have a great chance of winning this tie. If they let Arsenal walk all over them, then they could be in huge trouble.

Arsenal will be looking forward to this tie. This is a great chance to prove some of their doubters wrong about their title aspirations. Arteta will have his side prepped for the derby, they will not let the occasion get to their head. It will be interesting to see how they approach this game depending on the Man City result against United. If they can match City’s result, Arsenal will be happy.

Arsenal did slip up last week against Newcastle, and they were unfortunate not to win. Newcastle were camped in their own third throughout the majority of the second half, whilst Arsenal created half-chance after half-chance. Whilst Eddie Nketiah has been good for Arsenal so far, they may have missed Jesus here, as he would have had the ability to unlock a solid Newcastle defence.

They still sit 5 points clear at the top of the table, and cannot afford to relax. City are in this title race for the long haul and will take Arsenal all the way if they need to. City and Arsenal still play each other twice, so every point Arsenal can gain is vital.

This is a tough one to call. I do believe that Arsenal will win this, but it is a derby game, and they tend to throw up surprises, and it all depends on how Spurs decide to play in the first half. I am going to go with the same scoreline from the reverse fixture here.

Prediction: Spurs 1 – 3 Arsenal

Other Predictions

  • Aston Villa 2 – 1 Leeds
  • Nottingham Forest 2 – 0 Leicester
  • Brentford 3 – 0 Bournemouth
  • Chelsea 1 – 1 Crystal Palace
  • Newcastle 2 – 0 Fulham

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