Premier League Preview and predictions: southampton struggles to continue?

Premier League

We take a look at this week’s Premier League fixtures, including an important game for bottom-the-table Southampton, as they host Roy Hodgson’s revitalised Crystal Palace, and Man City hosts a Leicester side who are really struggling at the moment.

Take a look at my predictions for last week’s fixtures here!

This week’s premier league fixtures

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

Aston Villa v Newcastle

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This has the potential to be the game of the week. 3rd v 6th, both teams are in great form, pushing for a shock European spot. It has all the ingredients to be one of the most entertaining games of the week.

Aston Villa’s revival has been huge. From 16th place when Emery took over, to fighting for a European spot, is nothing short of incredible. They look brilliant under Emery now, full of confidence in front of the goal, and it is exciting to see how far he can take them during the remainder of this season, and going into next season.

Villa’s fine form continued with a routine win against strugglers Nottingham Forest. In a game of very few chances, Villa made theirs count, with Traoré scoring his second goal in his last two games, and Ollie Watkins wrapping it up in the 95th minute, with his third goal in his last 3 games. In the end, a very comfortable evening for Villa, who were rarely threatened by the worst away team in the division.

How far can Emery take them this season? Is a European spot out of the question? They have a very difficult run-in, including the likes of Fulham, Brentford, Brighton Spurs, United and Liverpool, but they have a chance. Their players are in form, they are playing well and look so confident. It will all hinge on how they perform in games like these though.

Newcastle made it 5 wins on the bounce with a very nervy, and slightly fortuitous, win over Brentford at The Gtech Community Stadium. Brentford was the better side in the first half and could have been out of sight. Ivan Toney had a penalty saved, and a goal overturned by VAR in the first half, before the netted Brentford’s second penalty of the evening.

Newcastle improved in the second half, and Joelinton forced an own goal out of David Raya in the Brentford goal, before Callum Wilson teed up Isak, curling one in beautifully to give Newcastle the lead. A game full of drama came to a close, with Newcastle coming away with all 3 points. What makes the win more impressive is that Brentford had not lost at home since they played Arsenal in game week 7. This result for Newcastle is huge.

Good teams win games when they are not playing well, and this is exactly what Newcastle showcased against Brentford. They were not their best, but they got the job done. The result kept them in 3rd, above Man United on goal difference, and strengthened their position in the top 4.

This is such a difficult game to call. Villa has been in great form but has come up against mostly lower-league sides, and Newcastle will be a big test for them. Newcastle will be bouncing after their win against Brentford, which has been a tough game for many a team this season. I want to say that these two teams will play out a score draw, but something is telling me that Newcastle will nick this game yet again.

Prediction: Aston Villa 1 – 2 Newcastle

Chelsea v Brighton

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Lampard returning as Chelsea manager confused me slightly. It did not work well last time, and the fans demanded he is sacked. His time at Everton did not turn out well, being unable to keep them out of the relegation fight, ultimately leading to his being sacked. For him then to return to Chelsea, after two bad stints as manager, does not make sense. Yes, it is only on an interim basis, but there must have been better options out there.

Lampard’s reign started with a 1-0 loss against Wolves, in which Chelsea dominated the ball, yet only registered a single shot on target from 13 attempts. Wolves worked the ball well, and ultimately won the game through a wonder strike from Matheus Nunes. It really summed up Chelsea’s season, all bark no bite, or in other words, all the creativity, no goals.

Chelsea has no chance of finishing in the top 6 now, and their only chance of achieving Champions League football next year is by winning the tournament. Next up for them, Real Madrid. Lampard needs to get his side firing if they have any chance of progressing past Madrid, let alone winning the competition.

Brighton, like Brentford, will feel hard done by in their last game. Brighton lost 2-1 against Spurs at The Tottenham Hotspur Stadium but deserved nothing less than a win. Brighton streamed forward at every opportunity, making life difficult for Spurs. They had 2 goals ruled out by VAR, both for handball. The first, by Mitoma, should have stood. There is no reason that goal should have been ruled out. The second, looked a bit more justifiable.

Brighton’s bad luck continued as Mitoma had a penalty shout turned down after having his foot stood on. VAR deemed that it was not a foul, yet on review, it was a clear foul. PGMOL came out later on and apologised to Brighton for not awarding the penalty. These decisions need to be reviewed properly, how can VAR be making high-profile mistakes like this, especially in a game where both teams are fighting for a top 4 spot?

Brighton needs to put that game behind them now and focus on their remaining fixtures. There are enough points left for them to sneak into the top 4, especially if other teams drop points. They will be without their manager, De Zebri, on the touchline after he got sent off against Spurs, and it will be interesting to see if they are the same team without him instructing them.

Will Chelsea’s bad form continue? Or will Brighton get back on track? Chelsea is so poor lately, and I cannot see them managing to get past Brighton, even if they are playing at home. Chelsea not bringing in a proper striker is really hurting them, and Brighton should profit here.

Prediction: Chelsea 0 – 1 Brighton

Southampton v crystal palace

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Southampton was never likely to get a result against Man City, and they certainly never looked like they were going to get one. In the first half, when City was playing with a back 3, Southampton held City back, with most of the football being played in City’s own half. As the game dragged on, City grew more and more into the game, and Southampton started to sit back. The first goal came, and Southampton never looked like they could recover.

From there on out it was a routine City win. Southampton never looked like getting back into the game. It was a free hit for them, anything other than a loss would have been a big shock. They need to put this loss behind them now and capitalise on this home game, which is one they can get something out of.

Time is running out fast for Southampton. They are running out of the game to pick points up in, and they were going down with a whimper, rather than going down fighting. A season in The Championship next year looks a certainty now for The Saints unless they can pick up a win here.

Looking back at my Relegation Run In series, I have to hold my hands up and apologise about my analysis of Roy Hodgson’s return to Crystal Palace. How wrong I was to predict that under him, performances would not improve and they would struggle to stay up. They have been brilliant since Hodgson took back over, and are starting to steer away from the relegation fight at a crucial time.

The most impressive part about Palace’s revival has been how prolific they have been in front of goal. After becoming the first side in Premier League history to register 0 shots on target in 2 consecutive games under Vieira, Hodgson has had them score 7 goals in his 2 games so far, which is a remarkable turnaround.

Palace also impressed me with their game management against Leeds. They went 1-0 down and struggled for the majority of the first half. Their equaliser just before halftime ultimately changed the game for them, but they were much better in the second half. In truth, Leeds could have been out of sight after the first 45 minutes, but Palace held firm and kept themselves in the game.

It is done for die time for Southampton, and they need to attack this game with everything they have got. The only issue with that is that teams are going to expect this and look to counter them at every opportunity, and Palace have players that can really hurt Southampton on the counter. Even if Southampton let Palace bring the game to them, with the form of Olise and Eze, Palace will carve through them. Another win for Hodgson here.

Prediction: Southampton 1 – 3 Crystal Palace

Man city v leicester

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Despite it looking unconvincing at times in the first half, Man City performed professionally against Southampton. Haaland proved his worth again, and De Bruyne became the 5th player to assist 100 Premier League goals. It is an absolute pleasure to watch both of these players, especially playing on the same team together.

Those 3 points put the pressure on Arsenal, and it certainly paid off. Arsenal drew with Liverpool, meaning the gap was cut to just 6 points, with City having a game in hand, and having to play Arsenal by the end of the season. The title race is truly hotting up, and it is hard to predict who will go on and win.

City played in The Champions League in midweek and beat a strong Bayern Munich side 3-0, and if not for Yann Sommer, the score line could have been much worse. City’s squad is big enough, and good enough, to be playing midweek and then again at the weekend. We may see some changes for this game against Leicester, but that should not disrupt their title charge too much.

Like Southampton, Leicester is in big trouble. If they go down, most of their first team could leave, as many of them are too good to play in The Championship. Leicester has worked hard to build a good squad over the last few years, and this poor season could ruin it all.

Dean Smith has been named Leicester manager until the end of the season. They will be hoping for the ‘new manager bounce’, which could kickstart Leicester’s Premier League survival. The squad is good enough, the players just need some confidence and new ideas brought in, which Smith can certainly bring to the table. Will it be enough to keep them up? Only time will tell.

Their loss against Bournemouth last week will really hurt Leicester. This was a game they should have been winning, especially if they have any hope of staying up. Bournemouth is poor on the road, but they got beat comfortably, despite the 1-0 scoreline. Performances need to massively improve.

Despite the new manager coming in for Leicester, City is just too strong at the moment for them to get anything out of this game. City can put the pressure on Arsenal again, who travel to West Ham the day after. Nothing but 3 points will do for City, and I think this will be a case of how many goals the home side will win by.

Prediction: Man City 4 – 0 Leicester

West Ham v arsenal

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West Ham continued their survival fight with an impressive 1-0 win away against Fulham. Fulham have dropped off in recent weeks and is slowly falling further away from a top 6 spot, but that should not take anything away from West Ham. They saw hardly any of the ball, recording just 23.4% possession, yet still managed to register 5 shots on target compared to Fulham’s 3.

They may have been lucky, their 3 points being courtesy of a Harrison Reed own goal, but they were deserving of their win. They carried this form into the Europa Conference League, where they faced Gent, and managed a 1-1. Danny Ings got on the scoresheet in the first half and added time before they were pegged back partway into the second half. A draw away from home is not bad, and if they perform well in the second leg, they could make it to the semifinals.

West Ham is not safe, not yet. They are only 3 points above the relegation zone, but they are showing more than enough to avoid the drop. If they can capitalise on their home games, they should be safe within a couple of games. The teams below them are in horrific form, so they need to pick up points now when it matters.

Arsenal looked in complete control at Anfield last week. Their first-half performance had the air of Champions, they were playing as if they had already won the league. They tore them apart time and time again and could have been out of sight come halftime. The turning point, for me, was the Xhaka and Trent altercation. When you are playing at Anfield, especially when you are winning, you cannot give the crowd a reason to get fired up and get behind the team.

After that, it was a real end-to-end game. If Arsenal got to halftime at 2-0, I believe they would have gone on and won the game, but that Salah goal just before halftime, gave the home side the belief that they could go on and get something out of the game. The second half was brilliant. Two top sides going at each other, end-to-end attacking football, it was thrilling to watch. Firminho got Liverpool’s equaliser, and both sides passed up brilliant chances to win the game, with Ramsdale pulling off two great saves, and Allison rushing out to stop a promising Arsenal counterattack.

Arsenal will feel that they dropped two points there. The result has given City a chance, they have a game in hand and have Arsenal to play. If City every game between now and the end of the season, depending on goal difference, they will win the title. Arsenal is playing under massive pressure now, and it will be interesting to see whether they will cope with it or not.

Will Arsenal bounce back, or will they crack under pressure? Will West Ham pull off another win here? A few weeks ago this would have been a nailed-on Arsenal victory, but it might not be as easy now. I do still believe Arsenal will win here, but it will not be comfortable for them.

Prediction: West Ham 1 – 2 Arsenal

Other predictions

  • Everton 1 – 0 Fulham
  • Tottenham Hotspur 2 – 0 Bournemouth
  • Wolves 1 – 1 Brentford
  • Nottingham Forest 1 – 3 Man United
  • Leeds 1 – 2 Liverpool

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