This week we take a look at some of this weekend’s Premier League fixtures, including a key game for Liverpool as they travel to Crystal Palace, and a huge 6-pointer at the bottom of the table when Leeds faces Southampton.
This Week’s Premier League Fixtures
Fulham v Wolves
Everton v Aston Villa
Leeds v Southampton
Leicester v Arsenal
West Ham v Nottingham Forest
Bournemouth v Man City
Crystal Palace v Liverpool
Tottenham Hotspur v Chelsea
Leeds v SouthamptonEmbed from Getty Images
This is a massive game. The bottom 2 face each other with just a point separating them. A win for either side could move them out of the bottom 3 depending on other results, a draw benefits neither side.
Leeds is really struggling. They still have not been able to bring a manager in and so Michael Skubala will take charge again. The longer Leeds does not bring a manager in, the more trouble they will find themselves in, but they need to make the right appointment to help them in the short term.
Last time out, Leeds suffered a horrendous 1-0 loss against relegation-threatened rivals Everton, allowing them to jump outside of the relegation zone, whilst Leeds dropped to 19th. The most worrying part about this game for Leeds is the fact that they did not manage a single shot on target. It is inexcusable for a side fighting relegation to go to another team in the bottom 3 and not even test the goalkeeper.
Leeds has a chance to put things right against Southampton, by any means necessary. On current form, Leeds are probably the worst team in the league, and it shows. They need to start picking up points against the teams around them, as Southampton, Everton and Bournemouth all picked up wins last weekend.
Who would have expected Southampton to go to Chelsea last week and pick up a win? This is why the Premier League is the best league in the world. Anyone can beat anyone on their day, and Southampton deserved their win.
Name a better duo than James Ward-Prowse and free kicks. This man is an unbelievable talent when standing over a dead ball. He scored yet another free kick against Chelsea, taking his goals tally to 6 for the season. A free kick for Ward-Prowse is essentially a penalty for Southampton, and the longer he can keep this up, the more chance Southampton have of staying up.
Southampton is another side without a manager at the moment. Ruben Selles took charge of their win over Chelsea, and if he picks up another win here, he could find himself with the job permanently. Like Leeds, Southampton needs to appoint the right manager for the short term, to help them pick up points instantly.
This game is absolutely crucial to both sides chances of staying up this season. I am expecting an end-to-end game with both teams going all out for the win. A raucous home crowd could help push Leeds over the line here, and if either side is to win, it will be by a slender margin. A draw here for me.
Prediction: Leeds 1 – 1 Southampton.
West Ham v Nottingham ForestEmbed from Getty Images
This is another big game at the bottom end of the table. West Ham has fallen into the bottom 3 by a single point, and Forest have climbed out of the relegation zone but is still within touching distance.
West Ham followed up their impressive draws against Newcastle and Chelsea with a disappointing 2-0 loss against Tottenham Hotspur. Despite taking 56 minutes to concede the first goal, West Ham was never really in the game. They managed just one shot on target, whilst only attempting 6 shots in total.
This game could have been seen as a free hit for Moyes and West Ham. It would have been difficult for them to turn up and win, but the performance could have been much better. A few weeks ago things looked better for West Ham when they beat Everton, but fast forward 3 games and they are back in trouble.
David Moyes has a knack for keeping teams up, and West Ham is too strong of a team to go down this season, but at the end of the day it is a results business, and they are struggling to beat teams these days.
To add to West Ham’s misery, the European competitions have been starting again, meaning they will be playing on Thursday nights in the Europa Conference League. Will their players have the fitness to play on Thursday nights in Europe and then back in the Premier League on a Sunday? Only time will tell.
Forest on the other hand has been brilliant lately. At one point they looked like a team that would 100% be getting relegated. Yet they have transformed their fortunes. They look like a very difficult team to beat at home and have even held some of the bigger clubs to draw at their ground.
Despite a turnaround in form after the World Cup break for Forest, they only sit 5 points above the relegation zone, so they cannot afford to let this form slip. If they could turn their horrendous away form around, they could find themselves safe within a few matches.
Last time out Forest earned a 1-1 draw at home against Man City, with Chris Wood scoring his first goal for the club, with Forests’ only shot on target in the game. Whilst some would say they were lucky to get a point, they held on against a City team full of attacking stars. Yes, City deserved to win the game, but Forest dug in defensively and kept themselves in the game, and got their reward at the end.
This is a difficult game to call. West Ham is struggling to win games, yet Forest is so poor away from home. Will West Ham finally be able to get a much-needed win on board or will Forest start to pick up away from home? It is hard to tell, and this could go either way. I am going to stick my neck out and predict a slender Forest win here.
Prediction: West Ham 0 – 1 Nottingham Forest.
Crystal Palace v LiverpoolEmbed from Getty Images
Crystal Palace remain to be one team I just cannot predict week in and week out. In their last 6 games, they have managed 4 draws and 2 losses. Each time I think they will get beat, they pull out a surprise draw.
I thought Palace would get turned over at Brentford, with an easy home win for The Bees. Yet in the end, Palace was unlucky not to come away with all 3 points. Olise assisted Eze, and not for the first time this season, with around 20 minutes to go.
Vitaly Janelt had other ideas, as his 96th-minute equaliser denied Palace a win, and kept up Brentford’s impressive form. It is this kind of lapse in concentration that is holding Palace back.
Palace is slowly getting dragged into the relegation fight. A few weeks ago, they were well clear, yet now they sit 6 points above the drop zone, and with no win in 7 games, it is starting to look worrying. There are teams below them that are better in the form table than them at the moment, and the longer this unbeaten run continues, the smaller that 6-point gap will become.
Is Liverpool back on track and do they have an outside, and the surprising, chance of a top 4 finish? Liverpool have be written off in regards to a Champions League finish this season, spending recent weeks lingering around the middle of the table. 2 wins later and they look like the team that might secure that 4th spot.
Last time out Liverpool certainly impressed. They came up against a Newcastle side who, especially at home, rarely concede and always look defensively solid. Yet 17 minutes in, Darwin Nunez and Coady Gakpo had both scored to make it 2-0 to Liverpool. 5 minutes later, Nick Pope rushed out of his box and accidentally handballed, resulting in him being sent off and missing the Carabao Cup final.
Liverpool dominated the ball after this, but strangely Newcastle was the better team once they went down to 10 men. Liverpool could not make their numerical advantage work, and Newcastle looked more and more likely to get back into the game.
Ultimately, Liverpool won, and they now only sit 6 points behind Newcastle in 5th, and 7 points behind Spurs in 4th. With Newcastle and Spurs both faulting every so often, if Liverpool can continue their current form, they will quickly close that gap and put some massive pressure on the other clubs.
As mentioned previously I absolutely hate predicting a Crystal Palace result. Their form screams that they will struggle in this game, against a revived and spirited Liverpool, but something is telling me they will rise to the occasion here and pull off yet another draw.
I am going to stick with my head rather than my gut here, and predict Liverpool to continue their good form.
Prediction: Crystal Palace 1 – 3 Liverpool.
Tottenham Hotspur v ChelseaEmbed from Getty Images
Spurs are a real mixed bag at the moment. Since losing 4-2 against Man City, they picked up back-to-back 1-0 wins against Fulham and Man City, before going on to lose against Leicester 4-1. Last week they beat struggling West Ham 2-0, restricting them to just one shot on target.
Spurs find themselves in a strange position at the moment. When Conte manages the team, they struggle to score and look incapable of defending, conceding for fun. But when Cristian Stellini takes charge, when Conte is ill, Spurs look a different side. They look exciting going forward and they do not concede. This begs the question, do you get rid of Conte and give Stellini the job permanently? Or stick with Conte?
Spurs are under pressure now. They leapfrogged Newcastle into 4th with their win against West Ham, and have a chance to put some distance between themselves and Newcastle with this game against Chelsea, due to Newcastle’s participation in the Carabao Cup final. They need to keep an eye on the teams below them also.
Fulham, Brighton and now Liverpool are all waiting for Spurs, and Newcastle, to slip up. Liverpool especially will be wanting to capitalise on any dropped points from Spurs. They cannot afford to slip up here, or in recent weeks.
It is hard to watch and understand what is going on at Chelsea at the moment. They spend so much money, in both the summer and January transfer window, and bring in one of the most exciting, young coaches in, from a Premier League rival, yet something is just not clicking.
The fans are growing restless with Graham Potter, with some calling for him to be sacked, but the board seem reluctant. They trust Potter, and see him as the right person to take the club forward, but how long are they going to give him?
The most confusing thing about Chelsea is why did they not buy an out-and-out striker in the transfer window. Yes, they brought Joao Felix in on loan, with a view to a permanent transfer, but they needed someone to come in, hit the ground running, and score goals. They spent so much money on wide players and playmakers, but do not have anyone to finish all the chances they are going to create.
Chelsea is now 4 without a win and suffered a humiliating loss at home against Southampton in their last game. They sit 10th in the league, 10 points behind Newcastle in 5th. They look more likely to finish in the bottom half of the table than the top half based on current form. There are big issues at Chelsea, and they need sorting as soon as possible.
With Stellini taking charge here again for Spurs, I see them winning this game comfortably. Chelsea just cannot get the ball in the net, and Spurs are looking much more confident each week under their assistant manager. A comfortable home win here.
Prediction: Tottenham Hotspur 2 – 0 Chelsea
- Fulham 2 – 1 Wolves
- Everton 1 – 1 Aston Villa
- Leicester 1 – 2 Arsenal
- Bournemouth 0 – 3 Man City